July 9, 2020
I'm trying to read through the Old Testament chronologically and I am in the book of I Chronicles. I had, what I consider, a substantial insight yesterday about David and his obsession with God's Temple; but ran out of time before I could explore it. It's been on my mind and I want to try and capture my thoughts, as they can be quite fleeting.
Restoring a Nation
Having been reading about David for months now, his life is so big that it could be the lives of 12 different men. His childhood and youth, his brief time as a Princess and long season as an outlaw warrior. Then his time as King.
The first thing he did as King was to use his long and miraculous history as a warrior to bring peace to Israel on all sides. Some of that was diplomacy; but most of it was defending and initiating the battles required to bring rest to the borders of a very tumultuous nation. This nation was fractured and lost because they had done what they thought was right in their own eyes.
And God blessed David at every turn in his military pursuits. We even find out later from God that He brought rest for Israel through David's military leadership so that Solomon could build the Temple.
But holding geographical territory wasn't enough to unite a fractured nation. Everything he did, he first brought together the leaders and discussed. And listened. Building trust and making connections among tribes.
A New Pursuit
Finally, when things were settled he brought together his leaders and began a new campaign. Not military, but religious. He wanted the Ark of God in Jerusalem and regretted that it wasn't done in the time of Saul (I Chronicles 13:3).
In the I Chronicles version of the story it simply says they do it because they thought it was right. But in the II Samuel version is a hint of my recent revelation about David:
And David arose and went with all of the people who were with him to Baale-judah, to bring up from there the Ark of God which is called by the Name, the very name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim. (Notice the present tense.)II Samuel 6:2
Although David seem to want to honor God with this new pursuit, he was rusty in his reading of God's holy Word and failed to follow the right procedures for moving the Ark. This led to a failed mission and a death. David stopped, learned the Word, tried again and successfully, joyfully brought the Ark back and placed it in a tent and had a massive celebration-singing and worshiping the Lord.
If you had been following David's life closely, you might think that he would now go back to battle. They had a whole war season, as referenced in I Chronicles 20, "...in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle..." David had been in battles since youth, including a bear and a lion, apparently, so you would think a man like that couldn't help himself. But something was changing in David. In the chapter immediately following his successful transfer of the Ark of God his first thought is to give the Ark a home.
When I blogged about this the first time, I think I even commented on how David had become very focused on God and honoring him. The Temple became his heart's desire.
God said "No" to David building the temple; but the blessed David beyond measure with the Davidic covenant.
David goes back to warring, probably to collect bounty to go towards the Temple. But he gets focused on the warring part and gets tempted by Satan to take the fateful census. But because our God can use all things for good, that horrible disaster ends in David buying the land for the Temple he so yearned to build.
That brings us back to I Chronicles chapters 22 and following as he makes detailed preparations for the Temple, under the guidance of the Lord, eventually assigning the priests, musicians, officials, and gatekeepers. In my chronological bible after chapter 26, regarding the gatekeepers, it includes Psalms related to the gate.
What I found last night in Psalm 24 gave me a whole new appreciation for David. I would no longer describe his focus on the Temple as an obsession. I now see it as a longing.
He starts Psalm 24 by reminding the listener that everything was made by God and belongs to God.
Then he asks, similar to Psalm 15, who can ascend God's mountain or stand in His holy place. He replies that is has to be a man with clean hands and a pure heart, without idols or false gods.
Then, Verse 7, he must shift to something like a chorus, because the whole tone and feel and audience seems to change.
David cries out to the "gates" and "ancient doors" to lift up so that the King of Glory may come in.
Then he asks, "Who is this King of Glory?" and answers by praising the Lord. Then basically repeats the same type of thing.
I mentioned in my previous post that it felt like David started a proverbs and ended with a worship song.
My Ryrie Bible hypothesizes that David wrote this Psalm for the celebration of the Ark of God arriving in Jerusalem (or an anniversary of it); and maybe that's true. But I wonder if it also could have been one he wrote for the dedication of the Temple, when God would descend once again and inhabit His Throne among His people.
That's the longing I hear in David when he shifts to his "chorus". Open up the gates and the ancient doors that the King of Glory may come in.
I think that was David's single-minded commitment to getting the Ark home and getting a Temple for God. So the Lord of hosts would once again be physically present among His people. Half of David's response to God after hearing of God's covenant with David was to refer to how this would affect the people and nation of Israel.
David loved, loved the Lord and felt very responsible to the people and the nation. The final gift David could give to both of them was a Temple where God could reside and His people could be safe and prosperous.
Maybe it's not that big of a difference for some people; but to me this was a big shift. I think I thought it was, "I'm going to make my God a spectacular Temple." That's the same thing all of the cultures did around the world. No. for David it was, "I am going to make a place for the King of Glory, SO THAT He will physically come once again, as He did before men did what was right in their own eyes. He would sit on His Throne and be their King, as He had designed it for when Joshua passed away.
I tried to explain this revelation to my husband and as I try to explain it here- I just cannot put words around the profundity of the concept in my heart. It's interesting. My husband asked if I was building a Temple for the Lord and I felt a lot of shame because I've eaten so poorly and taken poor care of my already broken body. I was given a Temple and treated like something far less valuable. But part of that was that I think I thought about it all wrong. Like David, this Temple should glorify God but that's not what it was made for. It was made to be a place from which He could reside pour Himself out to the world, whose inhabitants are currently doing what is right in his and her own eyes as we speak.
I now have inside me the seeds of longing that I recognized in David's Psalm last night. I deeply deeply desire that the Lord descend and sit on His Throne in my heart. Him and Him Alone. As the King of Glory. I long for him to do big things through me. That fear and laziness wouldn't be a barrier to anything He wants to do through me for others. I don't know if that within my family or church or community or something even broader that I can't picture yet.
Like David, I have seen my Lord and Savior perform miracles in me and through me and I long for that kind of reckless faith in Him once again. To submit my whole life to The King of Glory and make my heart a place He could cleanse and inhabit.
I think I know why David was so set on building God a Temple. And I want to build Him one too. Amen.
Life up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of Glory may come in.Psalm 24:7