The Temple Builder
“Now, my son, the LORD be with you, so that you may succeed in building the house of the LORD your God, as he has spoken concerning you” (v. 11).- 1 Chronicles 22:2–19
Compared to 1 Kings, 1 Chronicles spends more time relating David’s final words to his son and successor Solomon, for the instructions for the temple in 1 Chronicles 22–29 should be included among David’s last words. But why did the Chronicler, who wrote 1–2 Chronicles, include these words when the author of Kings did not? Because of each author’s specific purposes and audience.
The author of Kings wrote to Israel in exile in order to explain that God expelled the nation from its land because of persistent, impenitent disobedience to the Mosaic covenant. The Chronicler, however, wrote to Israel after the exile, addressing his work to the Israelites who returned to the land after Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon. This audience needed encouragement to rebuild the temple and to recommit itself to the right worship of the Lord. The Chronicler made sure to include these words of David regarding the temple to encourage the returned exiles to rebuild the sanctuary. Like David, the ideal king, they needed to be concerned with the temple.
First Chronicles 22:2–19 emphasizes how David thoroughly prepared Solomon to build the Jerusalem temple by gathering “materials in great quantity before his death,” by revealing that Solomon’s task was given by the Lord Himself, and by commanding the leaders of Israel to assist Solomon in building the temple. Of particular note is the explanation for why Solomon, not David, was to build the temple. The Lord told David that he would not build God’s house because he had “waged great wars” and had “shed so much blood” (v. 8). Because of this statement, many people have concluded that the Lord did not want David to build the temple because he had incurred ritual uncleanness in those wars or because the Lord was against them.
Such a conclusion overlooks the fact that God Himself ordered the war against the Philistines and the other righteous conflicts in which David engaged (e.g., 1 Sam. 18; 30). Since the Lord can command only what is righteous (James 1:13), it cannot be that David was forbidden to build the temple because his wars were wrong. Rather, David was not to build the temple because he was not “a man of rest” like his son Solomon would be (1 Chron. 22:9–10). Though God is a mighty warrior, the consummation of His reign will be characterized by rest for His people from warfare, since all of God’s enemies will have been defeated (Isa. 2:1–4). The relative absence of conflict during Solomon’s reign better typifies that reality.
Although at the present time God’s war against evil continues, that will not be true forever. One day, the battle will end, the universe will be at perfect peace, and we will worship the Lord forever. We anticipate that great day by living at peace with one another and seeking to worship the Lord in all things.
Passages for Further Study