The House That David's Son Built

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“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! Yet have regard to the prayer of Your servant and to his plea, O Lord my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that Your servant prays before You this day, that Your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which You have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that You may listen to the prayer that Your servant offers toward this place” (1 Kings 8:27–29).
Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ!
This is the house that David’s son built. It was an impressive structure in size and beauty, befitting its prominence and purpose. The temple functioned as God’s royal palace and Israel’s national center of worship. By its symbolism, the sanctuary taught the rule of the Lord over the whole creation and His special headship over Israel. The inside ceiling was 180 feet long, 90 feet wide, and over 200 feet at its highest point. It was built to last, crafted of the finest materials: stone cut so skillfully at the quarry there was no need for additional dressing on site or mortar to hold it together; trimmed inside with cedar boards from floor to ceiling; overlaid and decorated with silver and gold; furnished with cast bronze and iron.
Solomon had spared no expense or effort. In order to complete the massive project, he had conscripted labor, drafting 30,000 men to send to Lebanon. They would be one month in Lebanon and two months at home. Solomon also had 70,000 burden-bearers and 80,000 stonecutters in the hill country, besides 3,300 overseers. Completed in seven years’ time, it was an engineering marvel, perhaps the most significant achievement of Solomon’s reign. A dream come true.
Actually, it was a dream of his father, David. So, before proceeding with Solomon’s prayer of dedication, let’s first go back a few years.
For so much of his life, David had been caught up in the business of war. A courageous warrior, he had carried out some of the most successful military campaigns in Israel’s history. But he found himself in a unique situation, at least as far as his life was concerned—a time of rest and peace. We’re told that “the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies” (2 Kings 7:1).
As David relaxed and enjoyed his beautiful new palace, something struck him as being terribly wrong. It didn’t seem right that he should be living in such splendor, in a palace with walls lined in beautiful cedar, while the ark of the Lord was kept in a tent. David began to dream a great dream. He would build a house for the Lord! It would be a house made of wood and stone—a permanent place for the ark of the covenant to be kept. There was nothing selfish about this thought; he was not out to make a name for himself. He wanted only to glorify God.
David shared his plan for this temple with Nathan, his good friend and counselor, who also happened to be his pastor. Nathan was most enthusiastic in his response to David’s proposal. By all means, Nathan said, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you” (2 Samuel 7:3).
That very night the Lord handed down a message for David through Nathan: “Would you build Me a house to dwell in?” He asked (2 Kings 7:5). These were not easy words for Nathan to pass along or for David to hear. But there was no mistaking what God was saying. His answer to David’s proposal was no. It wasn’t that God was punishing David for something in his past. And it wasn’t that God had no use for David. It was just that it was not God’s plan that David build a temple for Him. God had other things for David to do. “David,” He said in effect, “I’ve appointed you to be a king, a builder of My nation, not a builder of the temple. You’ve been given the gift of ruling My people. I’ve blessed you in such a way that all your enemies have been subdued. But your hands are stained with blood, and I want a man of peace to build My temple, a house for My name.”
God’s no to David in one area was not to be taken as no in every other area of his life. God sometimes closes one door so that He might open another more suited to us. The Lord assured David that he would be used to build His house, but not as he had anticipated. “When your days are fulfilled, and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish His kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of His kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:13).
The immediate fulfillment of those words was that Solomon, David’s son, would be the one to build the temple. But included in that promise was an even greater promise. God said, “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before Me. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16).
This promise to David was like the one made to Abraham, more clearly defined. “David, the Savior will come from your family, and in Him your throne will be established forever.” Anyone who has ever heard the Christmas story knows of the fulfillment of this promise. Mary and Joseph went down from Nazareth to Bethlehem, because they both were of the house and line of David. Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
The temple would be prominent in Jesus’ life and ministry. Forty days after His birth, Jesus was brought to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord (Luke 2:22). Twelve years later, He was found in the temple, “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46). Shortly before His death, Jesus cleansed the temple of those who had made it a den of robbers rather than a house of prayer (Luke 19:48). He taught the people each day in the temple, even as His opponents sought how to put Him to death (Luke 22:1).  
Jesus, is the fulfillment of the temple. His once-for-all bloody sacrifice brought the forgiveness to which all the blood of beasts spilled in Solomon’s temple could only foreshadow.
Jesus is the temple. When His opponents ask for a sign to demonstrate His authority to cleanse the temple, Jesus says, speaking of His own body: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). Christ’s human body, where God dwelt and was made manifest, was given as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world. His resurrection is proof that the sacrifice was accepted. 
Jesus is the temple, God’s gracious presence with His people, the place of His glory and name, a house of worship, prayer, and forgiveness, for all of God’s people. St. Paul writes of this mystery: “For in [Jesus] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven making peace by the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:19-20).
In addition to seeing the day of His son and Savior, David also was given the privilege of preparing for the building of the temple. He had the delight of seeing his people give generously for the project. It is estimated that the gold and silver, wood and stone, the bronze and iron that were collected for the construction would cost billions of today’s dollars. That’s the wonderful thing about God’s nos. Though at first they may appear to be depriving us of some joy, in reality they are designed to give us more. How wrong to think we know better than God!
This is the house that David’s son built. Solomon gathers the people to dedicate it. Appropriately, he chooses the Feast of Booths, the week in which the Israelites gather to remember their own dwelling in tents as God led them to the Promised Land. Now, 480 years later, God Himself will move His presence from the tabernacle tent to Solomon’s magnificent temple. Until He does, however, the temple is like a lifeless body; God has not yet made it His home. But the priests, accompanied by a choir of Levites and a band of 120 priests blowing on trumpets (2 Chronicles 5:12), carry the ark to the Most Holy Place. When they set it down, God shows His presence in a visible way. A cloud, like the one at Sinai, fills the temple so that the priests are no longer able to minister there.
Then Solomon says, “The Lord has said that He would dwell in thick darkness. I have indeed built You an exalted house, a place for You to dwell forever.” Then the king turns around and blesses the people by reminding them of how God has kept His promises. God had chosen David to be king. God had chosen Solomon to succeed his father. God has now chosen a particular place to record His name. Intimately bound up with those promises is the promise to send the Messiah, the great Son of David (2 Samuel 7:12, 13), who will build a house for the Lord, and who will literally dwell within His temple of believers forever.
St. Paul tells us that Solomon’s temple was a shadow prefiguring God’s holy temple of believers, the holy Christian church. “For through [Jesus] we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:18–22).
There are several obvious similarities between Solomon’s temple and Christ’s body, the Church: (1) They both are the home of the triune God. God dwelt in the temple in Jerusalem; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit dwell among believers. (2) They both are the place where God accepts sacrifice. From the day of the temple’s dedication, sacrifices were to be offered to God only at Jerusalem. In the New Testament, God’s temple of believers is called a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). They alone can rightly offer sacrifices of praise to God. (3) They both are the place where God blesses His people. The ark of the covenant was (among other things) a reminder that God had delivered His people from bondage in Egypt. The people who make up God’s temple of believers are a blessing to others when they proclaim the Gospel of deliverance from sin.
Following the blessing, Solomon takes his place before the people. With his arms stretched out toward the heavens, he kneels down and speaks a solemn prayer of dedication: “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like You, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart; You have kept with Your servant David my father what You declared to him. You spoke with Your mouth, and with Your hand have fulfilled it this day” (1 Kings 8:22–24).
The wise king goes on to express his wonder: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house that I have built! Yet have regard to the prayer of Your servant and to his plea, O Lord my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that Your servant prays before You this day, that Your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which You have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that You may listen to the prayer that Your servant offers toward this place” (1 Kings 8:27–29).
“You can’t put God in a box,” they say. “The finite is not capable of holding the infinite.” It sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? But what if God wanted to be in a box? What if He wanted to have one special place to record His name, to answer the prayers of His people? Could He do it? Of course! The God able to place Himself in a virgin’s womb can certainly put Himself anywhere else He wishes.
This is the house that David’s Son built. This is where the God who deigns to dwell on earth comes to you, for you. The infinity, omnipresent, eternal God whom heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain condescends to come to you, in His Church, through His means of grace.
Though Solomon’s temple is no more, God hallows you as His holy temple in Baptism. There in the water and Word, God placed His triune name. The Holy Spirit brought you to saving faith in Jesus. He now dwells in your heart, and by His work you daily strive to honor our gracious God in all you think, do, and say.
This is the house that David’s Son built. As His holy temple, His holy priest, you can come to the Lord anytime, anywhere, with your prayers and petitions in Jesus’ name, confident that your heavenly Father hears you and will answer you favorably for Jesus’ sake. Sometimes His answer is “yes,” other times, it’s “no,” but you can be sure that it is always for your good.
This is the house that David’s Son built. Here in this holy house, He comes to you in, with, and under the bread and wine, giving you His very body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins and the strengthening of your faith.

This is the house that David’s Son built. As you come here and confess your sins, you receive absolution from Christ Himself through His called and ordained servant. Indeed, you are forgiven for all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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