A House for David

by Rabbi Jeffrey Adler

In I Chronicles 17, David is troubled by the lack of a solid house for the presence of Adonai. He feels guilty that, while he lives in a magnificent palace on Mount Zion, the Ark of the Lord resides in a tent.

His love for God is so great that he wants to do his best for the Lord, and, so, he tells the great Jewish prophet, Nathan, that he plans to build a great temple worthy of the Presence and worship of the God Who had taken him from shepherding flocks of sheep to shepherding the population of the 12 tribes of Israel. Nathan thinks this is a marvelous idea and encourages the king to go ahead with this wonderful plan.

The problem is that, surprisingly, Adonai does not share David or Nathan’s enthusiasm. He goes on to say that in all the years that God had created, led, and blessed Israel, He had never commanded any of the nation’s great leaders- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua…- to build Him a house. God “does not live in houses built by hands…”. He lives in the lives of His people. No building can house a Creator Whose “Glory fills all the earth”. The Heavens declare His Glory. While He does, in Torah, say the day will come when there will be a permanent site for sacrifice and offerings (Deuteronomy 12), the Lord is less concerned with having an earthly house as in building one for David, a dynasty that will include the Savior/Messiah and endure forever. That is exactly what He tells Nathan to tell David. God promises him a house and a son who will build it.

We, ourselves, often, understandably, fixate on what we are supposed to do for God. Know that He is more interested in what He can do in and for us.

May the Lord bless you and build in your lives an enduring and beautiful edifice!

Rabbi Jeffrey Adler is president of the Board of HaShomer and also Rabbi of Sha’arey Yeshua in Indianapolis, IN.