From tent to Temple: This oft-used cliché captures what is lost and what is gained in moving from provisional to permanent, from flexible to rigid. There is much to gain from the stability of staying in one place. If we doubt the advantage of such security, we can ask a few of the world’s sixty-five million refugees how they feel about tents. However, consider the growing popularity of tiny houses that can be packed up and moved with minimal effort, which allows flexibility.
God likes the flexibility of moving where the Spirit blows and sends Nathan to tell David as much. Later when God has a Temple, God refuses to stay put, moving out with the people of the diaspora, off to Babylon with the exiles, and to the ends of the earth once the Gentiles are grafted onto the stump of Jesse.
David, however, has a house of cedar and reigns from a fortified city. Such fortification isolates us from the winds of change and the possibility that God will do a new thing in our midst. We must stay open to the winds of change, also known as the Holy Spirit, and to God’s new possibilities in our midst. Perhaps this is why God eschewed the offer of a temple: to show us divine possibility measured against human probability.
Humans are more likely to resist change, even when that change is good for them. Humans choose to play it safe, even when doing so compromises their values. Humans will more likely avoid conflict, even when speaking up can address dissension. Divine possibility welcomes change that enables justice, forfeits safety for faithfulness, and speaks the truth in love. When we choose the temple, we cannot allow it to box us in. More importantly, we can never allow it to wall others out.
Save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore; let the search for thy salvation be our glory evermore. (UMH, no. 577)
David was God’s anointed king over Israel. He believed God desired a house, a Temple worthy of God. But God wanted David to understand that only God can build things that truly last. Thus, God promised to construct a dynasty from David’s family. From this line will eventually come the ultimate King, the Messiah, who will rule God’s people forever. The Messiah will complete God’s work of uniting all people as children of God, and the author of Ephesians declares that this has happened through Christ. All God’s people—Jew and Gentile—are now part of a holy, spiritual temple. In Mark, Jesus shows that part of being a great king is showing compassion. He puts aside his own desires to help those in need of guidance and healing.
• Read 2 Samuel 7:1-14a. Do you prefer stability or flexibility? What are the advantages of each?
• Read Psalm 89:20-37. What has been your experience with organizations or churches that are leader-dependent?
• Read Ephesians 2:11-22. When have you found yourself employing binary thinking: black and white with no shades of gray? How has that limited your focus?
• Read Mark 6:30-34, 53-56. When have you had an experience of illness or accident that left you isolated from community? How did that increase your awareness of others in that situation as you moved to health?
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