In 1 Chronicles 17:1, David’s thoughts turn to building a temple for the Lord. The king sent for the prophet Nathan and said, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of the covenant of the Lord is under a tent.” The discrepancy bothered David. Why should the king’s house be a palace, while the house of God was just a tent?
At first, Nathan encouraged David to follow through on his desire to build a temple for the Lord (1 Chronicles 17:2). Yet that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, changing their plans: “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: You are not the one to build me a house to dwell in’” (verse 4). God then points out that, in all the long history of the tabernacle, He never once rebuked Israel’s leaders for not building a permanent temple (verses 5–6). Rather than David building a temple, God decided to allow David’s son to oversee this work (verses 11–12).
In response, David offered a prayer of praise: “You, Lord, are God! You have promised these good things to your servant. Now you have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Lord, have blessed it, and it will be blessed forever” (1 Chronicles 17:26–27). David considered God’s word as a tremendous blessing that affirmed his son would also serve as king.
First Chronicles 22:8 sheds some light on God’s decision not to allow David to build the temple: “You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight.” David’s background of shedding blood in times of war was God’s reason for choosing David’s son instead (see also 1 Chronicles 28:3). God wanted a man of peace to construct the temple, not a man of war. His house was to be “a house of prayer for all nations” (Isaiah 56:7).
Since David was forbidden from building the temple himself, he helped to gather materials and prepare the plans for the temple’s construction. He said to Solomon, “I have taken great pains to provide for the temple of the Lord a hundred thousand talents of gold, a million talents of silver, quantities of bronze and iron too great to be weighed, and wood and stone. And you may add to them. You have many workers: stonecutters, masons and carpenters, as well as those skilled in every kind of work in gold and silver, bronze and iron—craftsmen beyond number. Now begin the work, and the Lord be with you” (1 Chronicles 22:14–16).
Solomon faithfully fulfilled this command during his reign, leading Israel to the height of world power. David’s desire to build a house for the Lord was noble, but God had other plans. David’s reaction to God’s nixing his plan is a model for us. When things do not go as we planned—when God closes a door—we should continue to praise the Lord and then move on in a new direction. Rather than complain about what we can’t do, we should do what we can, giving God the glory.