Sermon on 2 Samuel 7:1-16
The craziest thing about our Christian faith is that it is completely built upon God’s decisions for us, not ours about God. Our faith derived from a God who comes to us in Jesus, without us asking, and brings peace and reconciliation with God, without our input. He dies for your sin without your suggestion. Coming, as Paul writes this morning, to bring warring parties to an end. No more can there be us and them. In Paul’s day it was the circumcised vs. the uncircumcised. It was one group who said that they had right access to God because of some fleshly thing. Something changed in them that that could be seen so people will notice. Then Paul comes in and says, all flesh means nothing. What you see of yourself that you think makes you more god-like than others? Nah. Every law you think that makes you right in the eyes of God is gone. Now your righteousness is based on Jesus and his flesh being broken, his blood spilt for you.
When we step away from Ephesians and Paul, and go to 2 Samuel and David, we discover something similar. David has become king over all Israel. He lives in a beautiful palace made of cedar, think of a tribal chieftain’s house, and each day he gets up for the morning sacrifice at the tent he pitched for the ark of the covenant, the symbol of God’s presence with Israel. He sees that tent, looks at his house and thinks – Somethings wrong. The God I worship, whom I think is Almighty, high above me is living in a blood-stained tent, where it stinks of sacrifices and incense, where rats and bugs can invade, and I am living in a mansion. Let’s build God a mansion.
What does God say? Not no, but – why? Why build me a house like yours? Did I ask for that? Did I command it? Ever? No. I don’t need it. But I will let you do it. Well not you David, but your son.
First thing we see here is God’s call upon David. In the church we use the word vocation. This idea that I am called to a particular office, to particular work. This can be multi-faceted. So, examples are that I am called to the vocation of husband to Carry, also father to Liesl and Josiah. I am called as pastor to you. I am called to the vocation of son, of citizen, taxpayer, etc. All these offices we fill throughout life.
When I was in high school I wanted to go to the Olympics. In college, one too many injuries sidelined that, but I could have told you when I was 16, I am going to the Olympics in the discus throw. I am called to this. Turns out that is not the case. So now I will live vicariously through Josiah. Maybe. But that was not a calling for me.
God comes to David and says to him that he will fulfill this dream of David, but not for David. David, God says, your son will build me a house where my name will dwell. Not you. Your son, when he is king, he will do it. And how does a son become king, David? That’s right, a death. So that’s right David, the temple will happen, but you will never see it.
How often is that us? We desire for something to happen, to be involved in it, but God has other ideas in mind. Where a particular dream you have of something, a particular project you want to work on may not be yours to finish. You may start it, but it becomes someone else’s work. God being at work in you to limit you for the sake of his work in others.
Now, let’s call that sermon “A”. Sermon “B” - The amount of times God says “I” here, making himself the subject of the verbs in 2 Samuel 7:5-16 should absolutely astound us. 23 times I think? 23 times we hear God making himself the center of his work for Israel; in and for David; in and for you even. God telling us that he is the God of rescue in taking the Israelites out of Egypt. A God of movement who is not locked down to one place, and one place only. Who is with us wherever we go. A God who raises up and tears down leaders. Who takes shepherds from the fields, a humble occupation, and makes them leaders in his kingdom. A God who is the one who makes names great. Who makes people great. A God who provides a place for his people to dwell. A God who is the one to grant rest. God being the focus. God being the initiator. God being the one who speaks and does these things for our sake.
God eventually adds this to the life of David. Instead of you building me a “house”, I will make your house great. Your dynasty splendid. After you have died I will raise up your child and establish his kingdom forever. The longevity of power and prestige being in the hands of God. Here the full reading in 2 Samuel 7 is attributed most notably to Solomon. That Solomon will come along and build the house where God’s name will dwell.
But it is also here that as Christians we see in this partial history, and partial prophesy. History of David and his house. Prophecy of Christ. This contract God makes with David is on God. God says, and so he will do. He did not do the same with Saul. But if you continue reading this summer from 1 Samuel to 2 Kings, you discover that the line of David remains on the throne until the Babylonian captivity. Until the exile. God fulfilling his promise. But even more, Christ coming as the forever fulfillment. Christ as the Son of David, in the genealogy of David, being one who is king. Crowned with thorns and enthroned on a cross only to die and rise that he might sit at the righthand of the Father as we confess each Sunday.
That’s Sermon “B”. Sermon “C” - In the Gospel of John, chapter 2, Jesus clears the temple of the moneylenders, remember? It’s one of our favorites, right? Wild eyed Jesus and a whip. But then the religious leaders come to Jesus and ask, “What sign can you show us to prove you have the authority to do this?”
He says – Tear down this temple and I will raise it again in three days.”
The leaders snerk and say – it took 46 years to build this thing, who are you kidding.
But the disciples, it says, later realized he was talking about his body. Christ Jesus being the place where God’s name dwells. The new temple of God crafted not to be a location, but a person who has done this work for you. Being God’s presence with you.
Now, yes, we can have the discussion of church buildings and synagogues. Places that we often call the house of the Lord. A place to gather for worship. Yes, you don’t have to come to church for Christ to be present with you, but you should come to church because it is the one place, the one time during the week in which you should know for certain that God’s name is dwelling in and among you. Christ being preached to you so that you might remember that he is your temple. The person of Jesus becoming your foundation throughout all of life, being the culmination of God’s promises giving to you his presence for no other reason then that he wants to. You being the church. The house. The temple. The assembly with God’s name placed on you in your baptism. God working in you and upon you, without your permission. Jesus the invader and initiator. The house of the Lord being the place where Christ dwells. So that when you leave this place you are the house of the Lord. A representative of Christ in the world, but also the place where God has chosen to dwell for your sake. Giving you his name. Loving you, not because you deserve it, but because you need his presence.
The world works so hard to keep you from this truth. It works so hard to make adventure or success the goals of life. Affluence being a sign of God’s blessing, we think. Instead, God says no. God being the one who works as he wills. He chose that tent for a time that you might know he is the God of the messy things. The impermanent things. The God who has no problem dwelling in and among sinners because it is for your sakes that he acts and works. Where you are. Where you go.
I love this parallel account in 1 Chronicles 22. We don’t ever read from 1 Chronicles. It’s not included in the lectionary ever. I looked it up. In 1 Chronicles 22 David is speaking to Solomon rather than God to David - “My son,” David said to Solomon, “It was in my heart to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, but the word of the Lord came to me: ‘You have shed much blood and waged great wars. You are not to build a house for my name because you have shed so much blood on the ground before me. But a son will be born to you; he will be a man of rest.”
God saying no temple for the man of blood, but for the man of peace and rest? Yes. Now take this picture of David and Solomon. Man of blood, and man of peace. Father and son. One with the vision, the other with the job.
Now, think of The Father and the Son. God and Christ. Christ becoming that man of blood to be the man of peace for you. God, here in this promise to David, fulfilled only partially by Solomon, building a temple made from human hands, is completed in and for you in Jesus. Jesus being a man whose blood shed for the world, has brought you peace as Paul says. That all the things that cause us to war against each other, that have divided us, that have made us think we are the ones to build temples and kingdoms, God says – No. Because the temple is Christ, the Kingdom is the Lord’s, and that is a good thing. Because if it were up to you or I, how bad could it get? Our defining of the parameters of the house of God or of the Savior? God forbid. But it is up to God. Not me. Not you. Thanks be to God. Amen