Motivations…

As I read 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 this morning, it strikes me that I think I know what David’s motivations for building the temple were. I needed to step back from the text a bit before I could really see that I don’t know why David wanted to build a temple. It could be that God was living in a tent and David desired to give back to God. I think that is possible but it is not the only possibility.

Pretend with me for a moment…

Imagine a moving to a small town. As you enter the town you see a beautiful building, obviously the best the town has to offer, you ask a local about it, and discover that it is the home of the leader of the church. As you wander through the streets you see a tent, well taken care of, another place of great value but still a tent. Your tour guide informs you that this is the House of God.

I am not sure what I would think. Maybe I would think that these people have their priorities a tad bit backwards or that the person that lives in the magnificent house is very important, maybe even more important than God even.

Maybe David wanted to build a house for God because he wanted the external things of the world to reflect the internal-value system of his people. God needed an amazing temple because he was an amazing God. My guess is that reason is at least partially true. God is an amazing God; it can look bad if he is living in a tent! An amazing God should have an amazing place to live.

But what about…

There is an inspiring Christmas story that seems to have gone viral. People are walking into Kmart and paying off stranger’s layaway tabs. It is an amazing story that gets me all teary eyed when I think about it. Can you imagine not having the money to buy your Christmas gifts but they are randomly paid for by a stranger? Wow, heartwarming. Until I read the comments. Sure most of them were inspirational but not all.

The pessimist in me thinks this is a Kmart marketing scheme,”

“Call me a cynic if you must, but isn’t it strange that Kmart is the store getting all this attention? Why that chain?”

I am not a “cynic,” I think this is an amazing story but I see this commenter’s point. Since, Kmart is getting all of the attention with this story isn’t it possible that this is a marketing scheme? I think we ask this because we know that people are very capable of doing great things in the name of personal gain. We give so we can feel better, we write blogs so someone can say “wow, great blog”, or maybe we give to church so people are grateful for us…

David was human too, and maybe his motivations were not altruistic. I wonder if he wanted to build a temple because he wanted more power. As I read the text this morning I listened closer to God’s response…

”I took you from the pasture… [I] appointed you ruler…I have cut off all of your enemies…I will provide a place for my people…I will give you rest from your enemies” (2 Samuel 7:8-11)

And in the verses that the lectionary skips (2 Samuel 7:12-15)…

“I will raise up your offspring…I will establish his kingdom…I will be his father…I will punish him…my love will never be taken from him.”

“Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me;your throne will be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7:16)

I really wish I knew God’s tone of voice here!

If David’s motivation is altruistic, he simply wants to give to God, I imagine God’s tone of voice would be soft, comforting…

”It’s ok, I know you love me. I take care of you; you don’t need to take care of me.”

If David’s motivation has to do with how bad it looks to live in a great house while he left God in a tent…Maybe God’s tone was reassuring…

”I have protected my people from their enemies, they know I am God. No worries.”

But I can see it another way too. If David’s desire for a temple has to do with personal power, God’s answer is clear and concise, almost a lecture…

”I am the one that has done all of these things, I have big plans for the future, don’t start thinking you can gain more power from anywhere but me.”

I don’t know David’s motivations but I know God did. I believe that God answered to the motivations of David’s heart not just his words.

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