Solomon, Temples and The Body

And David the king said to all the assembly, “Solomon my son, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced, and the work is great, for the palace will not be for man but for the Lord God. 1 Chronicles 29:1 (ESV)

Y’all I am quoting from First Chronicles, what? It’s an actual book in the Bible in case you were thinking otherwise. It’s back before Psalms and Proverbs, but after Genesis. It chronicles (heh) the Davidic kingdom moving forward from David to Solomon. The transition of the kingdom (and an uprising from an angered son not taking the throne) is laid out as well as David’s heart for building the temple of God.

God gave direction to David that he would not build the temple but that his son, Solomon would. And so here is where we pick up in the story. David is giving instruction to his son, whom is young and inexperienced but that God has chosen to complete. If we blink, we miss it, but the work is great. It’s not that it would be a large scale task, because obviously it would be.

The emphasis here is that the work is great because it’s for God, not for man. It is the most worthy of consideration in what is done. It was for God Himself that the work would be done. The temple was constructed to be where God’s Presence could be with the people of Israel, where the designated priest would go in for the people to give sacrifices and offerings to God, to cleanse the people and give praise on their behalf. The construction of the temple and all the intricacies of it are detailed throughout Scripture.

If I am honest with y’all, I often flip through those pages whether it’s from a devotion or a reading through the Bible plan. But something has switched in my mind and heart on this. Because it’s Scripture…God-breathed….intentional for inclusion in God’s instruction and word to us. So I see the work of the build was arduous, hard and sacrificing work. But the people were willing to give because they were loyal to serving God.

When I read about the temple, I cannot help but look to the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Our bodies are now the temple. We are the ones now carrying within us the very presence of God in the Holy Spirit with us into everything. But that also means we are the ones called just as David did there in 1 Chronicles to do the hard work of crafting the temple. The very dwelling place of God in Spirit is within us for us to bring our praise, our confession and our sacrifices to and through. He prompts us to go before Christ as our Intercessor, our High Priest. It is hard work, building upon the Cornerstone of foundation that is laid in Christ, seeking to give the most valued things of our lives over to Him in order for Him to be praised and glorified within us.

Just like the “young and inexperienced” Solomon who was alone called to the work of building the physical temple, we are called to the work of the temple of our bodies, of consecrating and sacrificing in order to bring God praise, glory and honor. Just like Solomon, am I aware of my need for divine direction and my own limitations in the work? Do we see our need for others to come along with us to assist us in the building up of our temples, our own selves, in order to be the embodiment of who God would have us be, living temples for Him?

Defining Work

Recently I was talking with my sister about jobs and career and degrees. We both are first generation college grads, and both of us have Master’s degrees in the education field. As I was launching into a bit of an emotional monologue about the use of degrees in jobs she stopped me with, “You need to get over that.”

 

Without realizing it, I had elevated this education to a place of importance, of stature that was bordering on idolatry in my life. I had made it more important than God’s design for me. I didn’t fully grasp this until I read the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 2:

Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind…Therefore I turned my heart and despaired of all the labor in which I had toiled under the sun.

(v. 17, 20 NKJV)

I saw how I had placed my work, the labor of my life, as the thing to be obtained, to define me and make me find meaning in it. I did it all without realizing it. It was a slide I hadn’t seen myself take and ultimately it left me just as Solomon states, despairing and hating.

If I am truly honest with y’all I was a nasty person to be around in some of those moments. I contributed to the hate and despair as I let my job and my work seep into every ounce of my life, laboring out of a place of idol worship rather than out of the overflow of Christ. It wasn’t work as worship, I had switched it around and made my worship be my work. I sought the meaning of my life in the work I did, and ultimately it crushed me and left me empty.

It does that to us all if we allow it, if we pursue after meaning and definition from our work for our lives. We see how Solomon shows us plainly, cautioning us that he’s done it…every bit of it, and yet it was lacking, it left him empty. It ultimately gained him nothing but emptiness and despair.

But when we seize our work as a gift from God, that it is from His hands instead…that we aren’t relying on our work to be what defines us, but instead relying upon God, then we find nothing is better, that joy is found. Because it’s not about us in that work, it’s not about the work itself, it’s about God. It’s the good found only in Him, what He gives us, that we are then able to rejoice in. We are able to meet the stressors of a job situation, a career move, job loss with the focus on what He is telling us rather than what that job says about us.

When we are able to accept the truth that our jobs, positions, degrees, etc. aren’t what give us definition, then we are able to see the way God chooses us for them, whether a lifetime, a season or somewhere in between. It’s in that we can Amen to Solomon’s follow-up words:

Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor.

(v. 24, NKJV)