In many ways, God first designed to use the nation of Israel as a chosen and holy priesthood, a missional launching place for His glory and the epicenter of modeled worship. Throughout the Old Testament, examples of non-Jewish worshippers (Gentiles) prefigure the opening of the early church when all would see that YHWH was the only God, Lord Most High. Jethro the Midianite, Ruth the Moabitess, the Queen of Sheba, and Rahab of Jericho are but foretastes of the universality of the New Testament mission. Indeed, God’s heart for his namesake is often appealed to as a reason for the preservation of Israel so that other nations would not mock or lord over Israel and subsequently the Lord her God. Much has been made of Jonah’s refusal to take part in the missional work to the hostile Ninevites, which is indeed emblematic of Israel’s refusal to honor God as a priestly nation. However, an intriguing question must be posed as to the way that Israel would function as a spiritual nation: In constructing the Temple, did King David’s subsequent interpretation keep with what God truly intended him to do? A closer examination of 1 Chronicles 17 shows God’s refusal to allow David to build may not just be in part because of David’s sin of being a man guilty of bloodshed but possibly because His desire was not for an earthly temple in the first place.
When David desires to build a temple he does so on the initiative that his house of cedar he dwells is in is a better condition than the Ark of the Covenant. And while Nathan the prophet initially confirms that such a temple-building desire is good (I am not questioning David’s spirit either), notice what happens when God intercedes—God objects. And God objects not only because David is not worthy but because the Lord has not asked for such a dwelling…”for I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up Israel to this day but I have gone from tent to tent and from dwelling to dwelling” (1 Chron. 17:5). Notice that God’s first objection is that the Lord has never asked for such a dwelling.
When God does tell David that his offspring would build the Temple, he does not specify Solomon, which is of course David’s interpretation. However, Solomon was an even more ill fit for building the Temple with his forced labor, enormous taxation, and a heart that fled from God to the gods of his thousand wives and subsequently their gods.
Indeed, God the Father shows that it is the Messiah, not Solomon, who the Lord has in mind: “…I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for me, and I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who has before you, but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever” (1 Chron. 17:11-14). The syntax and phrases are too alike the Messianic promises found in Psalm 2 and then requoted in Hebrews 1 to be anyone but God’s own Son Jesus Christ.
In doing some looking, these two articles have been helpful: “Why Was David’s Plan to Build the Temple Prohibited by God?” (focus on David’s bloodguit specifically) and “A Temple Made by Human Hands” (focusing on further illuminiating why constructing a temple and having a spiritual temple were two very different things).
Your thoughts are welcome as iron sharpens iron…