King David thought that he should build the Temple, but God told him otherwise through his prophet Nathan. God tells Nathan to tell David that the Temple, the holy House of God, will be built after David has died.
These verses are at the end of Nathan telling him to stop his plans –
1 Chronicles 17:11-14
11 And it shall come to pass, when thy days are fulfilled that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will set up thy seed after thee, who shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He shall build me a house, and I will establish his throne for ever. 13 I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my lovingkindness away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee; 14 but I will settle him in my house and in my kingdom for ever; and his throne shall be established for ever.
Note that God says God will “…set up thy seed after thee” after David has died. Clearly, this is not referring to his son Solomon, who was already alive at this time. God is talking about a descendant of David who will be born after David has died.
David seems to understand this when he talks to God a little later.
1 Chronicles 17:16-17
16 Then David the king went in, and sat before Jehovah; and he said, Who am I, O Jehovah God, and what is my house, that thou hast brought me thus far? 17 And this was a small thing in thine eyes, O God; but thou hast spoken of thy servant’s house for a great while to come, and hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree, O Jehovah God.
Note David’s words in verse 17 – “…for a great while to come”. He is aware that this is in the far distant future.
Then David, like Abraham, tries to take matters into his own hands. Either he misunderstood what he seemed to understand earlier, or he just thought he’d get a head start on things.
1 Chronicles 22:6-10
6 Then he called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build a house for Jehovah, the God of Israel. 7 And David said to Solomon his son, As for me, it was in my heart to build a house unto the name of Jehovah my God. 8 But the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build a house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. 9 Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days: 10 he shall build a house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever.
At no point did God tell David why he didn’t want him to build the Temple. Being a man of war wasn’t the reason he was prevented. It just wasn’t time yet. Solomon can’t be the one that God wanted to build it, because God talked about bringing forth a seed of David (a descendant of his) after David had died. Also important to realize is that at no point in the intervening chapters did David hear from God directly – it was always through a prophet, either Nathan or Gad.
David keeps telling himself this story, and it keeps being wrong. This is a little later –
1 Chronicles 28:5-7
5 And of all my sons (for Jehovah hath given me many sons), he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of Jehovah over Israel. 6 And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts; for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. 7 And I will establish his kingdom for ever, if he be constant to do my commandments and mine ordinances, as at this day.
God didn’t choose Solomon. David did. David wanted the Temple built, and he wanted to make sure it happened.
Let’s go back to the beginning.
1 Chronicles 17:4-6
4 Go and tell David my servant, Thus saith Jehovah, Thou shalt not build me a house to dwell in: 5 for I have not dwelt in a house since the day that I brought up Israel, unto this day, but have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another. 6 In all places wherein I have walked with all Israel, spake I a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to be shepherd of my people, saying, Why have ye not built me a house of cedar?
If God wanted a house, God would have asked for one. God would have made it happen. God was happy dwelling in a tent or a tabernacle. God was happy being free and not stuck in one place.
But David wouldn’t listen, and made sure that there were plenty of materials ready. He didn’t leave it to chance, but most importantly, he didn’t leave it to God.
1 Chronicles 22:2-5
2 And David commanded to gather together the sojourners that were in the land of Israel; and he set masons to hew wrought stones to build the house of God. 3 And David prepared iron in abundance for the nails for the doors of the gates, and for the couplings; and brass in abundance without weight; 4 and cedar-trees without number: for the Sidonians and they of Tyre brought cedar-trees in abundance to David. 5 And David said, Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be builded for Jehovah must be exceeding magnificent, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death.
Interestingly, some of the materials that were used for the Temple were gotten from David waging war. In 1 Chronicles 18 we learn that David went to war against the Philistines, the Moabites, and the Syrians. From those spoils came a huge amount of brass, which Solomon used to make the brass reservoir, pillars, and vessels. So much for not wanting David to build the temple because he was a man of war!
God does what God wants in God’s time, and in God’s way. We keep acting like it is all up to us to do. We have to wait patiently, knowing that God is in charge.
(All translations of the Bible are from the American Standard Version, which is in public domain.)