It was a high and festive day when King David brought up the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. He set up a proper Tent of Meeting in the courtyard. Keep in mind that the city was still rather primitive at that time. The “palace” was still part fortress and not all that large. David had built it up somewhat from the old Jebusite fortress he had captured early in his reign, but it was still rather small. It was a walled enclosure standing on the lower extension of a much larger ridge, but this lower extension had the advantage of steeper sides and was relatively narrow, very easily defended. Even better was the presence of a fresh water spring just below the the crown of this ridge.
Still, his small fortified palace was sumptuous by the standards of his day. And here was the Ark of God’s Presence out in a tent in his courtyard. Surely he could honor his God with better accommodations? God sent a prophet to inform David that this was not the time for such things. At this point a significant portion of David’s kingdom still lived tents. Indeed, his little capital was growing fast, with tents clustered all around, the housing of choice until more permanent structures could be built. This was a nation born of nomads serving a God who owned all Creation. For now, the symbolism of God’s “house” as a tent was appropriate.
David was chosen to establish something more important than mere walls; it was his job to assert the authority and power of God on behalf of Israel. When every nation around them had been subdued and/or turned into supporting allies, it wouldn’t matter what your house was made of. God promised to deliver all of this into David’s hands, but it still required him going to war. That was his job. This divine presence in the form of shalom in its fullest meaning as the one place on earth where mankind could see and know God was far more important than what any mere man could build. There was time enough for the symbolism of a fancy city with a fancy temple later for David’s heir.
It was not lost on David that this meant God intended to establish a dynasty after his name and to favor the whole nation through this arrangement.
You can read the rest of this message here at Kiln of the Soul blog.