Advent Blog Post 4 - by Lauren Cooper
2 Samuel 7:1-16
A couple of weeks ago marked four years that we’ve lived in our current house near Garfield Park. As I reflected on that, I realized that four years is the longest I’ve lived in any house--ever. While I’ll admit to wanderlust deep in my bones, I had never considered myself quite so nomadic until I started doing the math. But we did move every few years when I was growing up (across the country twice and then blocks away). And living in both Chicago and Seattle for ten years after college meant a regular shuffle of roommates and apartments. Total count? 19. So needless to say, home as a location has always felt kind of temporary.
All that said, I do like the idea of home being something more permanent and I understand the desire of King David in 2 Samuel 7. Feeling comfortable and settled in his own home, David declares that he wants to build a permanent house for God, replacing the portable tabernacle that was housing the Ark of the Covenant. But, through Nathan, the Lord tells David that this isn’t what we wants. In fact, we know that David’s son Solomon did build a temple, but it was destroyed, rebuilt, and destroyed again. A physical dwelling won’t work—and isn’t necessary.
What message does David get in response?
The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.
What does this look like? Through Jesus, God provides His permanent presence in a house that stands forever. Not the physical building, obviously, but through us. The house—His kingdom—that will stand forever is the community of believers in whom the Holy Spirit lives. We are the living stones, providing structure for this spiritual house and—because of Jesus—making an impact that far outlasts anything physical or temporary.
When I reflect on every place I’ve lived, I realize that it’s really never the building that make a place feel like home. And length of time in a place doesn’t necessarily mean anything either. It’s always something that rises above anything physical or tangible. When I think about my college semester in London (which, though my shortest residence, remains the most magical five months of my life), what made it feel like home in such a short time had nothing to do with my tiny dorm room. It was the non-sanctioned bonfires in the back field with our new English friends, where we’d laugh at the strangeness of ourselves and share secrets until the sun started peeking up over the horizon. And still, it was temporary—and it fades over time.
During this season of Advent, we’re reminded that in a world full of temporary things, God provides something permanent that can satisfy the longings of our hearts. As we wait and anticipate and sit in our weariness this December, we are comforted by the knowledge that, through the birth of Jesus, God gives us His permanent love. A love that is intentional, enduring, and without condition. It’s this permanent feeling of home that we hope for through a covenant that lasts forever.