A dwelling place for God? Really!?! When God is everywhere, in everything, Creator of this vast Universe that we dwell in, yet He promises to dwell in us? This is beyond what my finite mind can comprehend. It sounds a little bit like an unlimited God without any confines whatsoever allowing Himself to be stuffed and squeezed into an infinitely “too small” of a place to contain His greatness. Impossible!
The psalmist David wanted to build a dwelling place for God. That’s preposterous! A dwelling place for God? I can’t even wrap my mind around it, but that’s what the Bible says in 2 Samuel, Chapter 2. I just read it again this morning. Verse 1 — “Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies all around, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains.” It’s obvious that this thought really bothered David, that he was living in a lavish cedar house (cedar, the best, most valued of his day) but that the ark of God was in a mere tent. You know, “It’s the thought that counts,” right? I think God was certainly touched or impressed with the thought behind David’s desire to build Him a house, but in a gentle way His reply affirmed the absurdity or reality of carrying out such a gesture. God replied to David through Nathan the prophet saying: “Go and tell My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Would you build a house for Me to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt, even to this day, but have moved about in a tent and in a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about with all the children of Israel, have I ever spoken a word to anyone from the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?'”
God, in essence told David, “Thanks but no thanks. Let me build you a house instead.” You see, dwelling in a tabernacle was God’s design from the very beginning. It is the express image of royalty clothed in humility, of God dwelling in flesh, of Heavenly treasure in earthen vessels, of Emmanuel — God with us. It speaks of the great mystery of God, of immortality putting on mortality, of divinity dwelling in humanity, of a great, big God dwelling in little ‘ol me, of the impossible being made possible in such ways that His ways are past finding out. God tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
The heart of the matter in the end was for David to realize that God’s ways, God’s design cannot be improved upon. The main design of God in this mystery of humility is to make and keep mankind little in his own eyes, when he is most in danger of being lifted up and prideful by the magnificent gifts of God! God has done this, placed this treasure in jars of clay “to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Cor. 4:7); as a result, that “no one can ever boast in the presence of God” 1 Cor. 1:29), but that all who have received this treasure might continually cry, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory, for the sake of Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness!” (Ps. 115:1)
No way can we become or build or make ourselves a dwelling place for God. Only in HIM! Only in allowing God to build a house for us instead. Then like David, we too say: “Now, O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. So may it please you to bless the household of your servant, so that it might remain forever in your presence, because you, Lord GOD, have spoken, and from your blessing may the household of your servant be blessed forever.”
Lord, I humbly ask YOU to build in me a dwelling place for YOUR Spirit forever. Amen.