Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent
“Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent!” There is something right about David’s concern; Nathan initially tells David to do what he has in mind. As David did, we ought to look at the Lord and be moved to action out of love for what we see. David looks at what he has and realizes that he has something that the Lord lacks, so he proposes to fill this supposed gap. This is what we sometimes do with our Christmas gifts, our “sacrifices.” We give what we have, what we like, hoping and expecting that the gift will be received with the same delight we would have if we received it. Though the Lord turns down the house of cedar before David can build it, God’s response to David contains a great tenderness, moved by David’s goodwill.
Through Nathan, God tells David: “It was I who took you from the pasture and from the care of the flock to be commander of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went.” Since God has given David all that he has, God says to his king, with gentle humor, “should you build me a house to dwell in?” And yet, a house is to be built, not so much by David as by God: “The LORD also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you.” This, of course, is the “house of David,” not a house of cedar, but a house of flesh. God speaks of a house to be formed from David’s descendants, not unlike a family name that some of us may be proud to have in our own family. But really, God refers to one heir in particular, of whom God says, “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.”
In the fullness of time, when the Lord establishes this house in his Son, David will be long gone, and so will his house of cedar. Nonetheless, David’s desire for the Lord to have a house does not go unfulfilled. The house that the Lord establishes for David in the flesh of his Son is also the Lord’s own house. “At this the Jews answered and said to [Jesus], “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty- six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body” (Jn 2:18-21). The house of God and the house of Man coincide in the body of Christ, offered for us. Jesus gives us his self, his very body, so that we might become part of that body. He does not ask for a house of cedar or three tents on a mountain. He asks for us, that he might abide in our flesh, and we in his, that the world might encounter the living God in the temples of our bodies, when we can say “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).