4 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: It is not you who will build me a house to dwell in. 5 For I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up Israel to this day, but I have gone from tent to tent and from dwelling to dwelling. 6 In all places where I have moved with all Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” ’ 7 Now, therefore, thus shall you 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, 8 and I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.
This is God’s response when David wants to build God a house. It’s a noble desire, right? David lives in an awesome palace with fine wood-paneled walls and the best of everything, shouldn’t God have a great house?
It’s reasonable and maybe a little humble or maybe it’s pious and trying to not feel guilty for living so luxuriously. The guy did, after all, live for years on the run in caves.
But God was there in the caves and He was there in the wilderness. It’s almost like building a house for God would either disappoint David because God would never stay cooped up at home or it would disappoint God because there is no way it would ever be good enough or big enough.
Paul would later say to the smart folks in Athens:
Nor is God served by human hands, as though he needed something, since He is the one who gives life, breath, and everything else. – Acts 17:25 CEB
God is so great that He really doesn’t need a thing from us. He doesn’t even need our worship. But He’ll take it. He’ll take whatever we have to offer Him, like a grandparent taking yet another funky crayon drawing and hanging it on their fridge.
But as we give things to Him and serve Him, He wants to keep it all as gifts of gratitude. Worship and all kinds of service are best when they are our thankful response to God. God didn’t need a house to live in. He was glad that David thought of it and intended to do it, and their relationship improved because of it.
That is the best position for any worship or offering we would bring to God. It’s not going to buy us righteousness or give God something He needs, but if it’s the thing we can come up with to express our love to Him, He’ll take it.
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