Rev. Dr. Jonathan Chapman is pastor of Westfield Congregational Church in Danielson, CT.
Scripture: 2 Samuel 7:1-14a (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. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 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 ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth 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 for ever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings.
Reflection: On The Move
God has a history of moving. God moved over the waters at creation. God moved in the flames of the burning bush. God moved through the Red Sea making a way for his chosen. God moved in the valley of dry bones, bringing them to life again. God moved in the skies above Bethlehem and in hearts throughout Galilee. God has a history of moving.
And David is ready for God to put down roots. Well, he might not have thought of it that way.
You see, David is embarrassed, ashamed that he’s living in luxury while God’s ark is still shelter in the mobile Tabernacle. It doesn’t seem right to David—that he should have such finery while God has, in David’s mind, a lesser place to reside.
So David sets out to build God a proper home—one fitting the Divine’s power and majesty. But God isn’t having it. Through Nathan, God speaks. “When did I tell you to do this?” God inquires. “When did I tell you to build me a home?"
David’s actions aren’t surprising. After all, in the millennia since this story was first told, we’ve kept building houses for God. We cloak them in our good intentions and soak up their historic value, but as much interest in the houses we build today as God had in the one David was going to construct. That is, God has a history of moving. And despite our well-intentioned efforts to domesticate the Divine by providing a sheltered place to house God’s work, God isn’t having it.
It wasn’t David’s job to build God a home—and it isn’t ours either. Instead, we’re called to move with God where God leads. May we be so bold.
Almighty God, embolden us to use our hammers and our nails to build homes for the people who need them, not the God who doesn’t. Amen.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- For those grieving for more than 604,000 dead due to the Covid-19 disease [Editor Note: this will be the last prayer request of the Covid-19 pandemic, though we recognize that this disease continues to impact lives]
- For the victims and their families of the 346 mass shootings already carried out in 2021 [Editor Note: That number is the exact number of total mass shootings in 2017]
- For those who dealing with massive flooding and storm damage after last weeks weather
- For those grieving as recovery efforts continue after the collapse of a residential building in Miami left more than 90 dead
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the art of storytelling and the joy and understanding stories may bring us
This Week in History:
July 17, 2014 (7 years ago) Eric Garner is killed by a police officer using an illegal chokehold after a confrontation over Garner's history of selling cigarettes illegally. Garner had reportedly broken up a fight when police arrived. During the subsequent confrontation, officer Daniel Pantaleo reached behind Garner and placed him in the neck hold. Garner repeated said "I can't breath" before losing consciousness. He was pronounced dead nearly an hour later. Garner's last words have become a rally cry for activist fighting against the injustices of police use of force against Black people.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”