The second book of Samuel (chapter 7) has an amazing interchange between God, King David, and Nathan the prophet about building houses. The use of the term “house” is used to indicate several different things – a dwelling place, a temple, a dynasty, and an everlasting Kingdom of Christ's redeemed. This amazing passage encompasses the reign of David and Solomon, but looks forward to the coming of Christ and his redeeming work. It looks even to the ultimate horizon when God will dwell forever in the midst of living stones, His beloved people.
David had recently been firmly established as king over all the tribes of Israel and had been blessed by God with victory over all the surrounding enemy nations. The nations that hadn't been defeated in battle with Israel came bringing tribute to David and seeking peace. One ambassadorial delegation even built David a beautiful new home. David looked at the beauty of his dwelling place and then wondered why the Ark of the Covenant, the sacramental throne of God's presence, still dwelt in a tent.
David called in Nathan the prophet. “Nathan, does it seem right to you that I live in this amazing palace of cedar while the ark of God is still camped out in a tent?” Nathan picked up on the king's vibe and said, “Do what's in your heart, O King.” So David planned to build a beautiful temple as a fitting “house” for the Lord his God. But that night as he slept, God visited David and gave the king a different vision – God's vision for David and for His people and for the One who would come from David's lineage.
God told David that He didn't need a house. He had never been a house since bringing up the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. In all their sojourning He had never asked for them to build Him a house. It was His pleasure to dwell in the midst of His people and be their God, blessing them and providing for them and fighting their battles. “And besides David, I'm the one who has brought you to this point and blessed you. Do you really think I need you to do something for me? But let me tell you how it will be... Here's what I'm going to do for you.” And God proceeded to tell how He would build David a house, and how one from David's loins (a descendant) would be the one to build God a house.
Now this is going in all sorts of directions at once.
First, these great promises of God to David are usually referred to as the Davidic Covenant, or God's covenant with David. They find an initial historic fulfillment in King Solomon, David's son by Bathsheba. Solomon would be the one to build a magnificent temple for the Lord. Solomon would extend the kingdom and its glory and its renown in the ancient world. And even though Solomon would be disciplined “with the rod of men” for his many wives turning his heart away from the Lord, God would yet preserve the royal line of David in Judah, even generations after the kingdom of Solomon was torn in two in the days of Solomon's son, Rehoboam. The northern kings of Israel would see multiple dynasty changes, but in the south, in Judah, it would be David's dynasty that would endure because of God's love for David and His promise to him.
But there's a longing look to an ultimate horizon in the covenant with David. For there would be a descendant of David's line that would be born in the days of Caesar Augustus. It would be this Son of David that would establish a Kingdom that would be ultimate over all worldly kingdoms and nations, a Kingdom that would endure forever, a Kingdom bringing and extending the very justice and righteousness of God Almighty. It is this King that will reign forever. And it is this King that is building the true Temple of the Lord, the House in which God is pleased to dwell, he himself being the cornerstone. And this house is the redeemed people of God, the New Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb.
You yourselves, like living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ... For it stands is Scripture: 'Behold, I am laying a cornerstone, chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.' (1 Peter 2:4-10)