Updated: Feb 7
When the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”
But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall 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 shall be a son to me.
This is an optional Old Testament selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 11. If chosen, it will next be read aloud in a church by a reader on Sunday July 22, 2018. It is important because it tells how the LORD is not concerned with buildings made of worldly materials, for He is looking for buildings of flesh who will become His servants.
In the first verse where we read, “When the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him,” one can look at this as David and the kingdom of Israel having reached a symbolic Sabbath.
David is now settled into the role of King of Israel. He has overcome all the threats to the safety and security of a nation. He has built a house of cedar in the City of David. All the work of that creation is complete. At that point, “the Lord had given him rest,” which, as the Sabbath was deemed by God to be holy, the “rest” means a focus turned inward, because the outward work is finished.
Seeing that symbolism, look at how David turned to his prophet Nathan, who would be like the court of David’s high priest. One could imagine that the bringing of the ark into Jerusalem called for one to be the man in charge of the tabernacle. Nathan had that position; thus David called upon Nathan to talk about building a permanent house for the LORD for that purpose.
After decades of Saul having to fiercely fight Philistines, Edomites, Amalekites, Ammonites, Moabites, and the kings of Zobah, a time of peace and tranquility had come by David’s rise as King of Israel. This became the final phase of hostilities and the beginning of the establishment of the House of David. That ‘Sabbath time of rest’ can then be seen as holy. David was surely holy, as Nathan said: “The Lord is with you.”
The name “Nathan” means, “Gift, He Will Give, or Given,” which can be hinting at Nathan having the gift of the Holy Spirit, which allowed him to be a prophet. Thus, David speaking with Nathan symbolizes the true nature of a Church of Christ, where two had gathered that the Holy Spirit possessed; and they supported one another as committed to serve God.
With Nathan speaking from the Holy Spirit about David’s relationship with God (he was not simply being a “Yes man” to get in good with the king), we then see how Nathan spoke with God (unsolicited) that night, in a prophetic dream. God told Nathan to remind David that He is a mobile God. Since God freed the Israelites from Egyptian oppression, He had continuously moved with them wherever they had gone. A tent or a tabernacle (a large tent) for which the Ark of the Covenant had been stored meant God was always with the Israelites and not in some place that made moving it quite difficult.
What would happen to God is someone was to overrun Jerusalem and take possession of the city, along with the fixed house of cedar, with the ark inside?
God told Nathan to pass this along to David (paraphrasing): “If you keep Me in a tent or tabernacle, then I will protect Israel just like it was when Joshua and Sampson were sent to judge the people.” Judges are sent when the people recognize they have sinned against God and thus repented their sins, praying for guidance. When a judge of God is in place, the people know to obeyed God’s commands, through that judge. David would be enabled to lead the Israelites to righteous ways of living and thus prosperous times.
That would be known as the House of David, which would always be known as a holy nation under the One God. By the LORD being with David, his Kingdom of Israel would become etched in history as the greatest. The Star of David would become Israel’s shield of identity.
What can be confusing in what God told Nathan is when we read, “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
This can be mistaken for King Solomon, who was an offspring of David, who did build a house” for God, called Solomon’s Temple However, God was not prophesying to Nathan about that young son of David, who was still decades away from birth, but who David would name, through Nathan, to be his successor.
If God came to Nathan to tell him that He did not want a fixed structure to be placed in, which would be like a prison that locked God from the Israelites, then God wanted to be forever free to move with the people as needed. A fixed house would be like the pagan idols other people worshipped, those of other nations, made to be sold and set upon shelves in various house rooms. A permanent temple would be like the statues and monuments to the many gods, like those Paul saw while in Greece. The Greek and Roman temples to their gods have long fallen into ruin, those gods now related with myth. Building a place of brick and mortar for God would be like erecting Him a tomb or mausoleum, meaning God would be seen as dead to the Israelites. Only the memory of God would then be kept alive in a building of stone.
Solomon would begin to lay God to rest in the fourth year of his reign, when he laid the foundation for his Temple for God. Seven years later that tomb would be complete.
That temple would not be “the throne of his kingdom forever,” as Solomon’s death meant the split of Israel into two kingdoms, with the northern kingdom erecting a duplicate temple in Bethel. That temple would be destroyed by the priests of Baal, while the Temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed by the conquering Babylonians, centuries later.
The ruins of Jeroboam’s temple built in Bethel.
Because of that history, the truth of God’s prophecy to Nathan is He foretold of an “offspring after” David (“from the root of Jesse” – Isaiah 11:01 & 11:10, repeated by Paul in Romans 15:12), which was Jesus of Nazareth (born in Bethlehem). As a descendant of the Tribe of Benjamin, as having a heritage from Bethlehem, and in the line of David, Jesus came “forth from that body.” Jesus Christ would establish “his kingdom” (Christ the King”) on earth and “build a house for God’s name” (Christianity), sent by God to “establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
The Persians would rebuild a Second Temple in Jerusalem. The Herodians would spend many decades beautifying that building (Herod’s Temple). Then the Romans would destroy that physical building and once again a building made of stone and mortar would prove to be temporary, at best, far from one lasting forever.
Jesus Christ would be killed, buried in a tomb, then resurrected so he could teach his disciples to become him reborn. After Jesus ascended to heaven, to sit at the right hand of God, Jesus Christ was sent back to the earthly realm the next day, being reborn into a new house of God that can never be destroyed. The Holy Spirit breathed the Ark of the Covenant into new tabernacles, who were mobile Apostles. That spread of the House of God into Apostles has not yet ceased. This is the truth of what God told Nathan.
Jesus was the temple of the LORD. The Ark of the Covenant, which held the Law of Moses, being placed within an Apostle then fulfills how Jesus said God writes His laws on the hearts of His faithful. That lost ark no longer sits in a tent, tabernacle, or cedar house, as God rests between the cherubim in the hearts of true Christians. This makes every Apostle-Saint, who have all been reborn as Jesus Christ, be the throne of God that sits inside the covering that is the Holy Spirit, as the everlasting house of God.
As an optional Old Testament selection to be read on the ninth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry should be underway, the message is to be the place where God is enthroned. A true Christian is called to realize that Jesus is not in heaven waiting for all hell to break loose on earth, before he swoops down on a white horse, with fire in his eyes and a double-edged sword to smite all evil coming from his mouth. A true Christian IS JESUS CHRIST, reborn on the earth to serve God, just as Jesus of Nazareth did two thousand years ago. A minister is thus the House of God, not some fixed building on Main Street (a building that is vacant more than it is filled).
A minister reads how Nathan said to David, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you,” and realizes the “mind” of David was greater than the brain of a smart human being. Long before God sent His Son to be born as Jesus, giving him the Mind of the Christ, God sent the same Mind to all those who judged Israel by setting the standard of righteousness in the land. David had the same Mind of Christ leading his actions, because God was in his heart.
In fact, the Hebrew that has been translated as, “do what you have in mind, because the Lord is with you,” actually says “heart,” rather than “mind.” The Hebrew segment of words, “kōl ’ă·šer bil·ḇā·ḇə·ḵā,” actually state, “all that [is] in your heart.” As the heart goes, the mind will follow.
The brain acts naturally, needing the heart simply for a supply of blood, but the brain acts without any need for emotions. The inner works of the human body are naturally controlled by the base brain lobe (the medulla). Still, man has a bigger brain that those of animals. When the spiritual heart controls the brain’s functions, then the mind of the soul amends natural acts. When God is within one’s heart, then the Holy Spirit has joined with one’s soul, meaning the Christ Mind leads one to reject natural acts that are not righteous.
David and Nathan had the same mind, although they were in different physical bodies. God was in both of their hearts, so their brains did not lead their actions. They sacrificed self to the Will of the LORD. Jesus was the same and so were his Apostles, who each were reborn as their Savior.
This is a lesson learned by those who become ministers of the LORD; and it is the lesson taught to seekers of truth. When God is housed in a mobile minister, then the problem of getting the seeker to come to a church is solved. The ark is in the tent of the Holy Spirit, moving as directed by God, so the temple of the LORD can go to the seekers.