Walter G. Wasser

Pursuit of Sacred:Lessons from Temple Construction

I want to share with you a story that has been on my mind lately, one that holds a timeless lesson about the pursuit of sacred endeavors and the importance of peace in our lives.

The story begins with King David, a figure revered in religious texts for his wisdom, courage, and devotion to God. Among his many aspirations was the desire to build a magnificent temple, a sanctuary where the presence of the Divine could dwell among his people.

David’s longing for this temple is beautifully expressed in the Book of Psalms, where he writes:

“Surely I will not come into the tent of my house, nor go up into the bed that is spread for me; I will not give sleep to my eyes nor slumber to my eyelids until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.” (Psalms 132:3-5)

His heart was set on this noble task, and he began preparations, making plans and gathering resources. However, despite his earnest intentions, David would never see his dream realized. Instead, it was his son Solomon who would go on to build the temple in Jerusalem.

But why was David, the great king and psalmist, prevented from building the temple himself?

The answer lies in a conversation he had with the prophet Nathan, recounted in the Book of Chronicles. David expressed his desire to build a house for God, but God’s response, delivered through Nathan, was unexpected.

“You have shed much blood and have waged great wars; you shall not build a house in My name because you have shed much blood on the earth before Me.” (I Chronicles 22:7-8)

These words may seem harsh at first, but they reveal a profound truth about the nature of sacred work and the prerequisites for engaging in it. David, for all his virtues, had been a warrior king, leading his people in numerous battles against their enemies. While his actions were often justified and necessary for the defense of his kingdom, they left a stain on his hands that rendered him unfit to build a house of peace and worship.

This refusal was not a condemnation of David’s character or his achievements. Rather, it was a recognition of the spiritual purity required for such a monumental task. The temple was to be a place of peace, a symbol of unity and harmony among God’s people. It could not be built by hands that had been stained with bloodshed, no matter how noble the cause.

So David, humbled by God’s decree, accepted his fate and passed the torch to his son Solomon, who would fulfill his father’s dream and build the temple according to God’s design. And under Solomon’s reign, the temple would indeed become a beacon of light and hope, drawing people from all corners of the earth to worship the one true God.

The narrative of David and the temple isn’t merely a historical anecdote; it serves as a poignant reminder of enduring themes.

Recent events signal a resurgence of the age-old struggle against formidable adversaries bent on our destruction. Yet, echoing the resilience of our forebears, we courageously confront these challenges anew. Amidst the chaos, our solidarity shines through as we rally to the defense of Israel, confronting adversaries with unwavering resolve.

Remarkably, it’s not just the seasoned defenders who answer the call; our youth, too, step forward with unwavering determination. In a society often characterized by self-interest, their selflessness stands as a beacon of hope. The dedication of these young individuals underscores a profound commitment to our collective survival, defying the prevailing narrative of self-absorption.

As the dust settles after the relentless battles against our adversaries, perhaps in the aftermath of this formidable conflict or the next, a moment of reflection beckons. It may be time to revisit the Solomonic mission, to envision a nation dedicated to the sacred task of rebuilding the Temple and recommitting ourselves to divine service. In the wake of our trials, let us not only defend Israel but also rekindle our spiritual purpose, embracing our role as emissaries of God. As we strive to fulfill Israel’s mission in the world, the vision of a rebuilt Temple stands as a symbol of our enduring faith and dedication to divine service.

About the Author
The author is a specialist in nephrology and internal medicine and lives with his wife and family in Jerusalem.
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