Scripture: 2 Samuel 7: 1-9 (NRSV)
Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 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.' Nathan said to the king, 'Go, do all that you have in mind; 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: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, 'Why have you not built me a house of cedar?' Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.
David thinks of building a temple for God. Why not? The enemies were subsiding, even quieted for now. He had time to think, to ponder greater things. It would be a place, David thought, to house the ark of God, rather than having it move from place to place, as if having no home for the Divine. God had been good to him, giving David great wealth and material things. He had weathered many storms and battles in life. I am sure he had access to the best healthcare available at the time and his retirement plan would rival anyone we know today. He has a sanctuary for himself and even his people now have a fair and functioning city to live in, but what about God or maybe the things of God? What about a house fit for God?
It is hard to fully enjoy the gifts and blessing we enjoy, when those around us struggle for survival. It makes us uneasy when we see flags, symbols of hate and racism fly, and we know people who are denied the right and access to voting. We are uneasy when we see citizenship denied to many who speak other than English as their first language, or children who attend schools that are less than, while still others attend schools that are equipped with more than we could imagine. David had time to think, to ponder greater things.
Any of us can celebrate the things that we have amassed over our lifetime. God has been good to us. But what about God's house? When we see it slip further into financial decline, do we ponder greater things. When people attend church out of social obligation rather than personal and faithful commitment, do we ponder these things? When God's accommodations, in some places seem in real distress, while our personal outlook may be sunny and bright, is the church under the cloud of neglect?
David is reminded of how good God has been to him. From modest beginning, he has risen to greatness, and made a name for himself. Giving back to God, given the way he was blessed so, was not so much to ask. It weighed heavily upon his thinking. He pondered. He acted.
Dear God, the giver of gifts to me, help me to understand and respond to the needs of other, to give back, in order to truly give my love and devotion to you. In the name of the Holy One who gave all for me. AMEN