When King David was settled in his palace, and YHWH had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, King David said to the prophet Nathan, “Look! I’m living in a cedar palace, but God’s chest is housed in a tent!”
Nathan said to the king, “Go ahead and do whatever you are thinking, because YHWH is with you.”
But that very night YHWH delivered a word to Nathan saying, “Go to my servant David and tell him that YHWH says, ‘You are not the one to build the temple for me to live in. In fact, I haven’t lived in a temple from the day I brought Israel out of Egypt until now. Instead, I have been traveling around in a tent and in a dwelling. Throughout my traveling around with the Israelites, did I ever ask any of Israel’s tribal leaders I appointed to shepherd my people, Why haven’t you built me a cedar temple?’”
“So then, say this to my servant David, ‘this is what YHWH Omnipotent says, I took you from the pasture, from following the flock, to be leader over my people Israel. I’ve been with you wherever you’ve gone, and I’ve eliminated all your enemies before you. Now I will make your name great–like the name of the greatest people on earth. I’m going to provide a place for my people Israel, and plant them so that they may live there and no longer be disturbed. Cruel people will no longer trouble them, as they had been earlier, when I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies.”
“Furthermore, I alone will establish your house. And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you. Your successor will come from your own body, and I will establish your dynasty. It is they who will build a Temple to honor my Name, and I will establish your throne for an eternal dominion. I will be mother and father to you, and you will be my child. When you err, I will use the rod as any parent might, and I will not spare the rod. But I will never withdraw my love as I withdrew it from your predecessor, Saul, whom I removed from my presence. Your family and your dynasty will last forever.” Nathan reported to David everything: all the words and the entire revelation.
2 Samuel 7: 1-17
When I was seven years old there was nothing better to me than an afternoon of wrestling. We would gather around the TV to watch the Junk Yard Dog, Hulk Hogan, Koko B. Ware, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Ted DiBiase, The Legion of Doom, and Andre the Giant battle it out as they help to fashioned our worldview.
The WWF at that time was populated with good guys and bad guys. The good guys were easy to spot. They smiled. They do good. They help out their friends. They are fair and virtuous. They obey the rules. They hold the fans with great regards and display gratitude towards them. They seek to win the match without injuring their opponent.
The bad guys, they were easy to pick out too. They love to inflict pain on their opponent. They do not follow the rules. They hold the fans in contempt and often lash out at them with derogatory language. They do no good.
When I was a kid there was a clear distinction between the good and the bad. This carried over in to my burgeoning morality and was reinforced by the strict religious beliefs I was being offered from my grandmother and in the small conservative religious school I attended. My world became one of clear, concise neatly defined paradigms that offered safety, protection, and prosperity, as long as I kept my “good guy” boundaries enact.
I brought to middle school my love of wrestling and a binary moral ethic that supported my boundaries. I managed to escape middle school in one piece and entered high school with that same love of wrestling and that same “us and them” worldview.
As I passed through the various levels of school, I held on to my love of wrestling. I took it in to college and on through to my twenties. But as I got older something started to happen. With a combination of the blurring of the lines between good and bad in the world of wrestling entertainment and my awakening to a complexity of personalities, morals, ethics, emotions, and circumstance that differed from my own, that good/bad binary ethical and moral boundary that I protected over the years was no longer sufficient to assist me in living in the world and not being of it. My binary ethical structure isolated me from the world and in increasingly dangerous ways, exposed my inability to meet people where they were. My worldview was in dire need of reassessment and I had no idea how to do this. In my zeal to forge a new worldview I became a character in a play about life.
Living with an isolated worldview is dangerous. Take King David for example, he was a mix of here and there and everywhere. David had lust, passion, and courage in his God-like heart. There was no lukewarm in him. He embraced the trappings of his humanity as much as he embraced the call to divine agency. David was complex, profane, mundane, and divine.
In the twilight of his days David reflects upon the things that have slipped out of his hands. His conquests and glory faded with time. He is left to wonder about a better way. Life seems to do that to people. Living from moment to moment without pause is like having a beautiful garden and never stopping the work long enough to sit amongst the flowers and take it all it.
Awakening to the need for a modified worldview David proclaims he will build a temple to God. But God has another idea. God will not call David to build the temple. Then God takes David to task. In a move similar to the one that Job gets, God puts the relationship back in to perspective. God is God and David is not.
The line is drawn. The divine is still divine and we are present in the profane with an eye to the divine. How often have we found ourselves in a situation similar to this?
We have the best of intentions. It will be a one-time thing. It’s not really cheating. It will be for the best. We Convince ourselves that this is what God wants for us, wants for others. Leaving humility on the side of the road we venture forth, in to a foggy worldview populated with God knows what.
A few years after I got saved and after the third or fourth baptism I got caught up in the Presbyterian Church (USA). I became part of a wonderful group of young Christians while in college and got super involved in youth ministry and the college group. We would wrestle with the Word together. I would wrestle with “their” worldview and Biblical interpretation all the time.
I wanted desperately to figure out who I was and what I believed. I had no idea how to get there. I wanted real answerers for the things I felt and needed a way to process the things I had seen in life. I could not take “Jesus” and “because it’s in the Bible” as my answers to everything.
One year we went to this super-charged youth-centric revival gathering just before my last fall semester of university began. College aged folks from all over the Southland would show up and parade around wearing their Christian labels. Literally, everyone seemed to wear a t-shirt with some sort of Christian moniker on it espousing their beliefs in cute and contemporary ways. It was the perfect situation for me.
I desperately wanted to meet my partner, my divine puzzle piece and settle down. No dice. In my love lorne fervor I just wrestled with the humanity present in me. I spent many hours in prayer trying to shed this mortal coil. I would stay up in to the night praying that God would take away my myopic focus on meeting a partner and build ramparts around my heart that would take me to where I needed to be and hopefully that would draw me nearer to my partner.
I heard that Bill Graham had a vision about Gods call on his life in the chapel there at the camp this gathering was being held. So, I planned to spend the night begging God to show me the way. I chugged a six-pack of soda and grabbed my hoodie and hiked over to the chapel. I walked in to the darkness and disturbed a couple in there “praying.” They left to pray elsewhere.
I Prayed and prayed. I prayed some more. I tried bargaining with God. I begged God. I tried reverse psychology on God and then tried reverse, reverse psychology on God. I tried to reason with God. I prayed, begged, and pleaded so much that I fell asleep. Billy Graham gets the vision and got a nap.
What I learned that night and am continuously reminded of is that it is not about us. It is about God. This is God’s gentle remind that we are a mere reflection of the Omnipotent YHWH. If God wants something God doesn’t beg, barter, or plead to get it. God does not wrestle with us for God’s benefit. God wrestles with us, strives with us so that we might benefit and learn to be divine in the face of this profane and fallen world.
So, why does an Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent creative being of unimaginable time and space keep reaching out to us?
I do not think that it is all that noble of a reason. Perhaps, God is figuring it out just like us? Who knows for sure? I believe God does this out of love. The God I have known in my life never strays, doesn’t abandon, and always loves. God wants to be in relationship with us. If this is not why God does it than I have no clue. I also have no time for fear and worry.
If God wants a temple than God will build a temple. God is on the outer reaches of my understanding as much as God is within reach of my finite limitations. God is God and I am not.