1 Chronicles 22:2 David gave orders to gather together the aliens who were residing in the land of Israel, and he set stonecutters to prepare dressed stones for building the house of God. 3 David also provided great stores of iron for nails for the doors of the gates and for clamps, as well as bronze in quantities beyond weighing, 4 and cedar logs without number—for the Sidonians and Tyrians brought great quantities of cedar to David. 5 For David said, “My son Solomon is young and inexperienced, and the house that is to be built for the LORD must be exceedingly magnificent, famous and glorified throughout all lands; I will therefore make preparation for it.” So David provided materials in great quantity before his death.
David, perhaps out of a sense of gratitude to the Lord’s faithfulness, wanted to build a house for God – the structure that would become the temple in Jerusalem. God gave assent, but directed David’s son Solomon to build it, not David. So instead of building the temple David set aside building materials in great quantity for his son to use when the time came. If you keep reading this chapter you’ll see there was a staggering amount of gold and silver and other precious materials used in temple construction.
See the top picture above, which is only a model of course. The actual temple was destroyed thousands of years ago, long before Jesus was born. Why was it destroyed? Because God’s people grew increasingly unfaithful over the years, forfeiting God’s protection in the process. Eventually the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, tore down the temple, and carried off all the precious materials to Babylon.
What I find interesting is that God never asked for a permanent structure, much less a lavish temple. God was perfectly fine with a portable tent (middle picture), which is what God’s people had used for centuries as a place to offer sacrifices, seek a word from the Lord, and so on. But David insisted on building the temple just as he’d insisted on taking a count of his warriors. And in the end the lavish expense was a waste, ending up in the hands of idolaters from Babylon.
This passage has me thinking our modern practice of building lavish facilities in which to worship the Lord. I understand the impulse to want to build things that give some hint of the majesty and beauty of God. That said, I’ve been to parts of the world where the church is thriving, where God’s presence is palpable – and where believers worship in a hut, or even under the branches of a tree (see bottom picture).