by Stuart Brogden
Many think David was commanded by God to build a temple. What sayest Scripture? Let's look at several places where building the Temple is discussed.
2 Samuel 7:4-7 (HCSB) But that night the word of the LORD came to Nathan: “Go to My servant David and say, ‘This is what the LORD says: Are you to build a house for Me to live in? From the time I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until today I have not lived in a house; instead, I have been moving around with a tent as ⌊My⌋ dwelling. In all My journeys with all the Israelites, have I ever asked anyone among the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel: Why haven’t you built Me a house of cedar?’
2 Samuel 7:11b-16 (HCSB) “‘The LORD declares to you: The LORD Himself will make a house for you. When your time comes and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up after you your descendant, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he will be a son to Me. When he does wrong, I will discipline him with a human rod and with blows from others. But My faithful love will never leave him as I removed it from Saul; I removed him from your way. Your house and kingdom will endure before Me forever, and your throne will be established forever.’”
In the first passage above, YHWH asks the rhetorical question, "Why haven't you built Me a house?" The clear implication of verses 4 - 7 is that YHWH never asked for a permanent house; He had commanded the tabernacle be constructed. In verses 11-16 YHWH declares that He will make a house, not mere man. He grounds this in the promise of the Messiah, who will be a son of David; His kingdom will be forever.
Many get sidetracked by the second part of verse 14: When he does wrong, I will discipline him with a human rod and with blows from others. How could this be true of the Son? While Jesus had no sin, God made Him Who knew no sin to BE SIN for us (2 Cor 5:12); in 1 Peter 2:24 we see that Jesus bore our sins in His body. Peter also told us, He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him. For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place. (Acts 2:23 and 4:27-28)
It was the Father's plan that His Son would build His house and that the Son would be punished as if He had done wrong, punished by the blows of men.
But there's more. In 1 Chronicles 22, David makes preparations to build the temple, saying in verse 5, “My son Solomon is young and inexperienced, and the house that is to be built for the LORD must be exceedingly great and famous and glorious in all the lands." Then this:
1 Chronicles 22:6-10 (HCSB) Then he summoned his son Solomon and instructed him to build a house for the LORD God of Israel. “My son,” David said to Solomon, “It was in my heart to build a house for the name of Yahweh 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. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies, for his name will be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel during his reign. He is the one who will build a house for My name. He will be My son, and I will be his father. I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’
Nowhere in Scripture do we see hint of God telling David what he tells Solomon here. What we see here is a misapplication of what Nathan told David in 2 Samuel 7, with David declaring Solomon is the son promised to build the house for God, whose kingdom will never end. One thing Nathan told David that makes it impossible for Solomon to be the son is When your time comes and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up after you your descendant, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. Solomon was an adult when David died - the son spoken of would come from David's lineage after David rested with his fathers in the grave.
David, a man after God's own heart, was still only a man. His fatherly affection and his heartfelt desire to build a glorious temple for the glorious God blinded him to the truth. David changed some of what Nathan had told him and David added to what Nathan had told him; and David told Solomon things that did not apply to him.
It is clear that God commanded the infant nation of Israel to build the tabernacle, using material plundered from the Egyptians (Ex 25:1-6 & Ex 12:33-35); He gave them explicit instructions for every detail of the tabernacle (Ex 25 - 28). This was because the tabernacle - not the stone temple - was patterned after the heavenly things (Heb 8:1-5). In 1 Chron 3 - 5:1 we see the details of the temple Solomon built; no record that God gave instruction to him for this building. It would appear that David and Solomon, like most Jews, had an earthly view of the kingdom and missed the glorious view of the eternal, spiritual kingdom that Abraham searched for and found, that was revealed to Isaiah.
But there's more. In 2 Chronicles 7, after Solomon has built the temple and dedicated it, YHWH consumed the sacrifices offered and His glory filled the temple. YHWH appeared to Solomon in a dream, telling him that He had chosen that place as a temple of sacrifice; that His eyes, heart, and name would be there forever (verses 1, 12, 16). YHWH then tells Solomon, As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, doing everything I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and ordinances, I will establish your royal throne, as I promised your father David: You will never fail to have a man ruling in Israel (verses 17, 18), and However, if you turn away and abandon My statutes and My commands that I have set before you and if you go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot Israel from the soil that I gave them, and this temple that I have sanctified for My name I will banish from My presence; I will make it an object of scorn and ridicule among all the peoples (verses 19, 20).
Please note: YHWH keeping His name in the temple forever was conditional upon Solomon keeping His statutes and commands. God condescended to honor Solomon and identify with the temple if Solomon was faithful. Solomon did not keep YHWH's statutes and commands, he did turn away and abandon them. 1 Kings 11 reveals Solomon loved many foreign women that YHWH had told him not to do (verses 1, 2); he followed other gods, was not completely devoted to YHWH, and he built high places and altars for many idols (verses 4 - 8). The LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from Yahweh, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. He had commanded him about this, so that he would not follow other gods, but Solomon did not do what the LORD had commanded. Then the LORD said to Solomon, “Since you have done this and did not keep My covenant and My statutes, which I commanded you, I will tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant." (verses 9 - 11)
Solomon did as national Israel had done - broken YHWH's statutes and commands. YHWH tells Solomon the kingdom will be TORN from him and given to his servant - which would be Jeroboam and ultimately Jesus. There is no natural son of David who fits the bill Nathan announced to David, who would be pleasing to the Father in all He did. When Jesus came, He said His food was to do the Father's will (John 4:34); in John 6:38 He said He came from heaven to do His Father's will. And in Matt 7:21 we read that those who do the Father's will are the ones who inherit heaven; And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:40). Jesus said to the leaders of Israel, "See, your house has been left to you desolate." (Matt 23:38) The kingdom that will truly last forever is the kingdom Jesus was announcing throughout His earthly ministry, the kingdom which rules the New Covenant. This rule is among us as inaugurated; will be consummated when He returns to judge the nations, gather His people, and make all things new.
The temple Jesus is building is what Peter spoke of: Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for ⌊your⌋ salvation, since you have tasted that the Lord is good. Coming to Him, a living stone—rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God— you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:2-5) Paul likewise spoke: So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. The whole building, being put together by Him, grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord. You also are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22) Like His kingdom, His temple is spiritual, not temporal and carnal.