Have you ever been so absolutely committed to some cause, worthy or otherwise, that you spent nearly every waking moment thinking about it? Did that cause, even from time to time, enter into the life of your dreams, because you were so consumed by it? This can happen from time to time in our lives, and when it does happen it can take total control of our lives. The problem is that these sorts of things, as I hinted at a moment ago, can be noble, and righteous and holy things, or they can be evil, nasty, vengeful things that do us no good at all and ultimately lead to our destruction. Such is the nature of the things that take hold of us. The trick is to learn to let go of the things that destroy, and to hold fast to the things that create and that bring glory to God.
King David had a wonderfully noble dream. He wanted, for all the world, to build a fitting house of worship that would bring glory and honor to the God he so loved and adored. David wanted to build a temple that would soar to the highest heavens. He wanted to build a house of worship that would be so awesome and so awe-inspiring, that the very building itself would create an atmosphere of humility and adoration in the hearts of the people who came to worship there. He wanted to have a place where God would dwell, and that everybody who entered it to worship would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were in the presence of Almighty God.
And the idea of creating this place of worship completely consumed David. And our psalm this morning gives us a taste of how David was so deeply preoccupied by this project. It quotes David saying, “I will not enter my house or get into my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.” That’s determination. That’s drive. It’s also a bit of an exaggeration, but its a godly kind of exaggeration. We know that David had to go inside his house. That’s where he lived. And truth be known, as king, he had a pretty decent house for himself, and that house was actually a small part of his motivation for wanting to build a dwelling place for God. If he had a nice house, then the Lord, the Mighty One of Jacob, ought to have a better house in which to dwell. And we know that David had to go to bed at night, and we know that he had to sleep. Otherwise he would have died an early and untimely death. Sleep and rest is how our bodies get restored after the labors of our day. Sleep and rest honors God, who created us. It is our way of emulating God who rested after his work of creation. Rest is why we are commanded to observe the Sabbath.
So what is David saying? He’s saying, my heart won’t rest until I find a dwelling place for the Lord. My heart won’t rest until there is a house of worship that brings honor and glory to the Lord. For David, this project was a labor of love that consumed his whole being. And it consumed his whole being, because at some point in his life, David had an epiphany. He had a “God moment”. Somewhere along the path of his life, David came to fully understand the love and the mercy and the grace and the forgiveness of God. David was no saint and he knew it. David was a sinner, and he had committed many egregious sins. And like most of us, he rued the outcomes of those sins very deeply. He was ashamed of himself, and he bitterly regretted his wrongdoings. He struggled with depression and unworthiness. But somewhere along the way he ran smack-dab into grace and mercy and love and forgiveness. And it transformed his heart. He came to a place in life where he finally realized what God was all about. And he was stunned and amazed and astonished by God, and he was filled with gratitude for all that God had done in his life, and that is why he so desperately, so earnestly wanted to build this house of worship to bring honor and glory to God. When we are stunned and amazed and astonished by God’s love and mercy and grace and forgiveness, we too, will be overwhelmed by gratitude and thankfulness.
But here’s sort of, but not quite, the end of the story. Ultimately, the task of building this awesome house of worship did not fall to David. It was his dream, it was his vision and it was his compulsion, but in the end, it was David’s son Solomon who built the first temple in Israel. And that’s why we call it Solomon’s Temple.
Is that a bad thing? Is it a sad thing? Not at all. It is a reminder to us that God’s work is always on-going in our world, and that God’s timing is not always consistent with our timing. Like David, sometimes God gives us a vision to do something that will bring honor and glory to God. David did not invent the vision of building the temple, God gave it to him. That vision flowed out of David’s gratitude. And sometimes, like David, we are bound and determined with a holy fervor to bring our visions to completion, because we know in the fullness of our hearts that God has given us this vision. And yet, God’s timing may require that we hand off the fulfillment of that vision to others.
In this, there can be great comfort and satisfaction. It is a good thing to set a mission in motion and then to gladly hand it over to others for completion. Many years ago, there was a group of Baptist believers in this community who were called by God to build a house of worship on this very spot. Did they know that in the year 2015 that the fruits of their labors would still be bringing honor and glory to God? Of course not. But they acted in faith and with thanksgiving and gratitude to God anyway. And then they handed their vision over to future generations with the belief that God would continue to work in the lives of those who followed them. And here we are today, carrying on the work of that original vision.
And do we know what the result of our work, a hundred years from now will be? Do we know the future results of the ministries and missions that we begin now, and then hand off to the coming generations? Of course we don’t, but we do our work, and we answer our callings and we dream our dreams knowing that our task is to honor and give glory to God. And in all things, we respond with thanksgiving and gratitude because of what God has done in our lives in terms of grace and mercy and love and forgiveness. And then we leave the timing up to God.
And that’s where I want to finish up this morning. It was David’s deep desire to build a dwelling place for God. He desperately wanted to build a house of worship. He believed with all his heart that this was a way of giving honor and glory to God. But, in the ultimate wisdom of God, that was not to be.
But God didn’t leave David hanging, or even disappointed. God gave David another vision, another dream and another hope that would far surpass his dream of building a temple for the Lord. This promise became the ultimate fulfillment of David’s desire to build a dwelling place for God. That promise begins in verses eleven and twelve. In those verses God promises David that he will be the father and ancestor of many kings over Israel, and that those kings will sit on the throne of Israel forever. And that promise was fulfilled.
But a little more than two thousand years ago, there was a little boy who was born in an obscure little village called Bethlehem. That little boy was a descendant of David through the family trees of both his mother and his father. But in addition to this impressive lineage, this little boy was also the Son of God. And with his arrival, God established a new and permanent dwelling place for himself. That dwelling place was the most wonderful and most awesomely beautiful temple ever imagined by the human heart, because that dwelling place was in the hearts and lives of all who believe.
David’s vision of establishing a house for the Lord was ultimately fulfilled in a way that he could never have possibly imagined. There was a new physical temple in Israel when this new baby was born, and it was beautiful beyond description. We noted that last Sunday. But that temple paled into insignificance when Jesus was born, because no humanly conceived building could possibly be as beautiful as the one God has created in our hearts. God has built his dwelling place forever in our hearts. God has made us beautiful, and for this we are forever grateful.