When the king was settled in his palace, and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, 2 the king said to the prophet Nathan, “Look! I’m living in a cedar palace, but God’s chest is housed in a tent!”
3 Nathan said to the king, “Go ahead and do whatever you are thinking, because the Lord is with you.”
4 But that very night the Lord’s word came to Nathan: 5 Go to my servant David and tell him: This is what the Lord says: You are not the one to build the temple for me to live in. 6 In fact, I haven’t lived in a temple from the day I brought Israel out of Egypt until now. Instead, I have been traveling around in a tent and in a dwelling. 7 Throughout my traveling around with the Israelites, did I ever ask any of Israel’s tribal leaders I appointed to shepherd my people: Why haven’t you built me a cedar temple?
8 So then, say this to my servant David: This is what the Lord of heavenly forces says: I took you from the pasture, from following the flock, to be leader over my people Israel. 9 I’ve been with you wherever you’ve gone, and I’ve eliminated all your enemies before you. Now I will make your name great—like the name of the greatest people on earth. 10 I’m going to provide a place for my people Israel, and plant them so that they may live there and no longer be disturbed. Cruel people will no longer trouble them, as they had been earlier, 11 when I appointed leaders over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies.
And the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make a dynasty for you.
16 Your dynasty and your kingdom will be secured forever before me. Your throne will be established forever.
Have you ever seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? Indiana Jones (Indy) is a Callender family favorite to the point where film lines seem to just become a part of everyday speech. It’s a fun, fictional film where they loosely pull some religious ideas or themes for the plot. One point that they make that I found to be rather compelling from a young age is towards the end where the villain’s (Elsa and Donavan) and Indy are faced with a difficult choice: in a room full of chalices, they are to pick the true Holy Grail. In the movie, the idea is that drinking from it would bring eternal life and Indy’s father has been deeply wounded and needs saving. Elsa (seemingly on-purpose) picks the most extravagant gold and emerald chalice for Donavan to drink from. He ages rapidly and turns to dust. Indy, ever the archaeologist, looks for a chalice that a carpenter would use. It’s the simplest, smallest, least impressive looking one in the bunch and is ultimately the right choice.
“You have chosen … wisely” is a well used quote in my family.
In today’s text, King David really actually has his heart in the right place even if “he chose … poorly” (sorry, I had to do it). David see’s his own extravagance and realizes that God’s chest is simply in a tent so he wants to build God a cedar temple just like the one he has. God seems to find this to be ridiculous and responds almost like, “If I wanted a cedar temple, don’t you think I’d already have one?” God was the one who created cedar, planted the seeds in the earth and gave trees life. David doesn’t seem to understand that luxury is not the way to honor God. He’s projecting his own wants onto what God apparently must want. David doesn’t fully grasp what dynasty and kingdom can really mean. God is in the old, patched-up, over-crowded tent. God doesn’t stay within an extravagant mansion but meets us where we are: in the lowliness of being born in a stable or the simplicity of carving tableware out of wood. God is not one of wealth and excess but of humility and generosity.
When we read this text during the week of Christmas, may we remember that God is in shaky church videos filmed in pastors houses where they’ve scooted their kids mess out of frame. God is in chipped tea cups clinked amongst old friends. God is in presents wrapped with two different kinds of paper when the roll kept running short.
“You call this archaeology?!”
By Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
During the week of Christmas, it can be tough to even take a breath with so much to do. It can be even more difficult this year with tough decisions to make. Pause this morning, and I mean really pause. What is one thing you can do today to honor God? Remember that it doesn’t need to be extravagant or showy.
Prayer: Carpenter Lord, forgive us for when we get caught up in trying to honor you with extravagance that everyone can see. Have your Spirit move through us each time we awkwardly prop a door open with our elbow for someone else to walk through, when we throw that extra dollar in the tip jar or when we call our friends to say, “I’m sorry but maybe in a few months.” Deliver us. Amen.