The story of David and his desire to build a temple for God is recorded in 2 Samuel 7. By this point in David’s life, a lot of water had passed under his bridge. He’s been:
- in the pastures as a boy, shepherding his father’s sheep
- in the courts of King Saul, soothing him with the music of the harp,
- on the battlefield, facing the Philistine giant, Goliath,
- in the wilderness, on the run when Saul and his men sought his life,
- in the palace, as king of Israel, shepherding God’s people.
At rest from his enemies, he has an overwhelming desire to do something for God. He was acutely aware of the fact that the ark of the covenant sat in a tent, while he sat in a palace (v. 2). (There’s something to be said for David’s sensitivity here). He determined to build a house (temple) for God. It wasn’t to be of course (God had other plans), but the point here was the desire in David’s heart to do something more than simply say “thank-You” to God.
It’s good to be thankful. It’s good to count our blessings, offer our praises, and say our prayers. It’s even better to live a thankful life. It’s good to serve food to people in need on Thanksgiving and Christmas; it’s even better to help care for their needs on a year-round basis.
A couple of centuries after David, the prophet Micah asked:
With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. (6:6-8)
Rather than presenting a boatload of offerings at the prescribed times of sacrifice, Micah informs Israel that God instead desires a lifestyle of justice, mercy, and humility.
It was their anniversary. His wife shocked him by requesting that instead of taking her out, he should go out with another woman. “What are you talking about?” he wanted to know. “Your mother,” she said. And of course, she was right. His mother had been a widow for nineteen years and somewhere in the midst of pursuing a career and raising a family, she’d received the short end of his attention stick. So he took her out. The plan was dinner and a movie, but they enjoyed dinner and talked so much, they never made it to the movie. It was just a few weeks later that his mother died of a heart attack. In the mail, just a day or two later, came a receipt from the restaurant where he had taken her. It seems his mother had paid for him to take his wife there. There was a note that said, “You will never know what that night meant to me. I love you son.”
Thankfulness is a lifestyle, not a seasonal celebration. We treat it that way when we have a sense of priority and urgency about how we treat the people and the opportunities around us—whether it’s serving food to the hungry or spending time with a loved one.
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” (Ephesians 5:1-2).