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Q. Why Couldn’t King David Build the Temple?

I’m curious why God forbade David from building the temple? I know 2 Samuel says it’s because David had blood on his hands, but I also know David was following God’s will by purging the Promised Land of pagan worship. This seems contradictory to me. Any thoughts?

Answer

My sense is to let the biblical explanation be the explanation. David was a “man of blood.” No king of Israel was completely free of bloodshed, I suspect, but David did his share and then some.

Note these words of David to Solomon:

“But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and have waged great wars; you shall not build a house to My name, because you have shed so much blood on the earth before Me. 9 ‘Behold, a son will be born to you, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to 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 forever’” (1 Chronicles 22:8-10, NAU).

This seems entirely consistent with the purpose of the temple, as indicated in 1 Kings 8, Isaiah 56:7, and in our Lord’s summary in Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; and Luke 19:45-46:

45 Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’ but you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” (Lk. 19:45-46 NAU)

David was a “man of blood” in that he killed many Gentiles. It would seem strange / unbecoming for him to build a house of prayer for all the nations. Solomon was much more a man of peace, and thus he could build a house of prayer for the nations without any inconsistency regarding God’s purpose for the temple.

I hope this helps,

Bob

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