In this week’s Old Testament text, (2 Samuel 7:1-14) things couldn’t be better. King David, at the peak of his rule, enjoys peace in the realm. He comes up with the idea to build a house for God. He reasons to the prophet Nathan, “See now I am living in a house of cedar but the Ark of God stays in a tent.” From the feel of the text, Nathan gives him a fist bump and says something like, “Go for it. You are the man. God is with you.” (not as in “you are the man,” but you get my point.)
Quick question: Why didn’t David reason that since the Ark of God was in a tent that he, too, should live in a tent?
[[side thought: given a choice between the “house of God” and the person of Jesus, people will pick the person of Jesus every time—it begs the question about our own “house of God” or “sanctuaries.” Are they filled with the presence of Jesus? Could that explain why people aren’t beating down our doors? side thought over.]]
Meanwhile back at the ranch, God speaks to Nathan, telling him in no uncertain terms that he had no interest in the cedar upgrade. God tabernacles, but he will not be housed.
In this week’s texts we witness what seems to be one of the fundamental fundamentals (F2) of God’s Kingdom. God does not want a house. He prefers a tent. Said another way, God camps. Said theologically, God tabernacles. In fact, wherever God tabernacles, his agenda is to build a house for the people, not a house built by human hands, and yet a house made of human flesh, living stones, if you will. It reminds me of another country music theologian, Martina McBride, in her song, which says, “Love’s the only house big enough for all the pain in the world.” And immediately my mind races back to the Gospel reading where the people are running all over the countryside arresting the sick and bringing them to Jesus, the house of God, the dwelling place of Love.
So why doesn’t God want a big house? Maybe because it’s a short step from building a house for God to locking him up inside. One of the most fascinating ways we do this is through our worship. Run through the playlist of your favorite worship songs, dig into the grammar just a bit and ask yourself this question: Who is moving in these songs and who is still? Who is the subject and who is the object? Who gets the verbs and are the verbs passive or active? Now take a look at one of the Church’s first songs. Who gets the action there? Take a look as well at the Psalm (23) for the week and look at all the activity accruing to God there.
So what are you seeing in the text this week?