Now when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, 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: Would you build me a house to dwell in? (2 Samuel 7:1-5 ESV)
…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 fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come 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 to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David. (2 Samuel 7:11-17 ESV)
King David built a comfortable palace for himself, and felt a little guilty that His God still had a “house” that was a tent called the tabernacle. Of course, trying to place God, a Spirit who is everywhere at once, in a little tent is rather absurd. But God, wanting a relationship with men where they could have a home with Him, condescended to man’s finititude and told the Jews to build a tent where God could dwell with man.
The tabernacle was patterned after the heavenly dwelling place of God. It is that heavenly home where He invites all who belong to Him to dwell with Him for all eternity. The portable structure seemed to be appropriate for a God who was “wild” and not controlled by man’s restraints. YHWH (lit. “I am who I am, I will be whom I will be”), the God of the Jews, would go wherever He wanted to go whenever He wanted to. It certainly helped the Jews to have this tent to meet with their redeeming God as they wandered through the wilderness and as they settled into the promised land. But now the land was settled. The King had a palace. And God still had a tent. This did not sit well with David, so He asked His God if he could build Him His own palace – the temple.
God’s response was that David’s son (Solomon) would indeed build God a temple. And while David would not build God a house, God would build David’s “house” – his royal family line. From David’s royal family line would come the greatest King ever, the Messiah, or anointed One. The Messiah would build God’s Kingdom that would inhabit the entire world, not just a palace. But the Kingdom of the Messiah was not just a physical place for man and God to dwell together, it would also be an internal, spiritual home. The Messiah will ultimately provide an entire new heaven and new earth in which God’s subjects will dwell with Him as family. But He also gives His subjects new hearts, in which the infinite God would dwell. Man and God both have a new home. The question is, does God feel at home in your heart?