The king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” - 2 Samuel 7:2
David's statement, wrapped in a question, is descriptive more than prescriptive.
David wanted to build a "house for God."
It was not his job or calling, but he did have the right sort of sentiment and a sentiment that would grow and be given space to be fleshed out in his son's calling.
He felt conviction that he lived in a nice house and the symbol of God's presence lived in a tent. The tent had worked during the days of travel and conquest. Now things were settling down. An historically brief golden age was emerging, a dynasty of a united kingdom that would exist for a relatively short time had begun.
Jerusalem would be the political and religious center of all the children of Israel in a way that would last a season before division, scattering, and infighting took hold.a long succession of evil, oppressive rulers would be punctuated by a few kings who were as sincere as David.
It would never be exactly the same again after the tragedy of the divided kingdom. Civil wars, fragmentation, occupation, destruction, rebuilding, more occupation, and eventually, Herod and the Romans.
After Herod builds a temple more to his honor than God's and uses it as an economic engine, Jesus steps forward denouncing empty religion and faith in any edifice.
The final temple was ultimately destroyed.
Jesus predicted it and then pointed to the temple of his own body which would be destroyed and rebuilt in three days.
A tent had been very appropriate for a God on the move through the wilderness.
It was a rather nice tent at that.
Today, God prefers temples that move around more like tabernacles.
Back to David and his desire. Things were settling down and when things settle down, they settle in and institutionalism becomes the norm.
Perhaps David's desire was misguided or perhaps it was predictive or it may have just been a step toward the next phase of development.
It may have been all of those at the same time.
The truth is, we have no more Jewish temples and the only temples that have ever been prescribed and described for the Jesus movement have been those made of individual and collective flesh and blood.
But still, there is a principle that this verse illuminates.
Why should God be given less prestige, honor, and prominence than our social, political, economic, and personal structures?
Why should we treat God as an addendum to our lives?
Why should we give so little credence to ultimate and eternal values and so much to our own comfort and security?
Me first! Us first! America first! Anything first other than God, followed by the things people, and causes God cares about is sacrilegious and idolatrous.
But that is where we live and who we have become.
There is a house to be built, but it is not always the house we think it is.