“After the king [David] was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.” 2 Samuel 7:1-2
David meant well. He wanted to build God a marvelous temple to live in as a gesture of thanksgiving for all the Lord had done for him. The Lord had been his guide, his refuge, his warrior in the battles David faced. David knew his strength came from God alone.
But God tells him it is not what He wants. The people were beginning to come city dwellers, but most of them were still wanderers, Bedouins. God wanted to stay in the midst of His people. He was saying, “David, I know you mean well and you are thankful. But don’t box Me in away from the people who need Me. I will show You how to thank me, by keeping on serving Me and teaching the next generations about Me.”
Isn’t that still true? We want to praise God and honor Him for all the blessings He has bestowed on us. We build mega buildings to worship in and spare no expense on the sound systems, A/C and carpeting. There is one being constructed in my area that will have a huge aquarium on either side so the people will feel like they are walking through the parted Red Sea when they come in. All through history we have built gilded altars and grand cathedrals, sparing no expense. All good intentions.
But God is not limited to a building. Church is for our benefit. He dwells in our hearts and wants to be in the midst of His people, whether it is in a state of the art building or a revival tent, or in the work place or on the playgrounds. If we really want to thank Him for all He has done for us, then like David, He only wants one present in return- our loving obedience to continue to serve. Yes, we can have attractive comfortable buildings to worship but only if they can attract people in. But perhaps we should concentrate more on attracting them by giving our time and service to them first. Then bring them inside for a rest from the enemies of the culture in which they have imprisoned.
Heavenly Father, keep us mindful of those who are not in worship with us. The ones on the street corners and alleys. In the offices and workshops. The down and out, and the poor in spirit. Whether they wear designer clothes or thrift shop rags, they are Your people out there who need to be served. Instill in us the desire to be Your servants to them, to bring them to know You. As we leave our centers of worship, renewed and rested from the battles of this life, let us go forth with Your Spirit shining through us and Your Son in our hearts, ready to help others, to proclaim Your name and find You there amidst Your people. Amen.
“They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in place inside the tent and David… after he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. He gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women.” 2 Samuel 6:17-19