Preparing for Worship: God in a Tent

Preparing for Worship: God in a Tent

John Haralson   •   December 22, 2017

Artwork by Jenny and Ryan James


"I will tell His Majesty what a king is. A king does not abide within his tent while his men bleed and die upon the field. A king does not dine while his men go hungry, nor sleep when they stand at watch upon the wall. A king does not command his men's loyalty through fear nor purchase it with gold; he earns their love by the sweat of his own back and the pains he endures for their sake. That which comprises the harshest burden, a king lifts first and sets down last. A king does not require service of those he leads but provides it to them. He serves them, not they him." 

Xeones, speaking about Leonidas, King of Sparta 
From Gates of Fire, by Steven Pressfield


Dear Friends,

Life was good for King David. He was enjoying victory over his enemies; he had established his capital in Jerusalem; and the ark of the Lord had recently come back into the city. 

Yet, something was bothering him. 

David was situated, residing in a well-appointed “house of cedar”, while the Lord was dwelling in a tent. David wanted to build God a house (a temple). Nathan―the faithful prophet of God who functioned as the king’s conscience― thought David’s idea was a good one, and initially encouraged him to pursue what was in his heart.

But that night, God came to Nathan in a vision and told him that David should not build a temple. Instead, God was going to build David a house. There is a subtle play on words going on here. Instead of David building God a house (i.e. a temple), God was going to build David a house (i.e. a dynasty). In both uses of the word “house”, the idea is permanence and stability.

God is making a remarkable promise to David. He is pledging that a descendant of David will alway be on God’s throne to rule over God’s people. 

Ultimately, this promise finds its fulfillment in the birth of Jesus. As the Angel Gabriel says to Mary in Luke 1:

          ...the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.

At the same time, God is also establishing and protecting the primacy of his grace. David wanted to build God a temple; and this was not a wicked desire. However, God reveals to David and to us that a life with him is not primarily about what we do for God. Instead, it is primarily about what God does for us.

This week: 2 Samuel 7:1-11,16; God in a Tent

I hope to worship with you. Order of worship is here.

Please remember that worship this Sunday will be in the evening at 5pm and 7pm. Please join us for our annual Lessons & Carols Service. And, of course, please bring cookies to share for the fellowship time between services!

John