When King David was settled in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies, the King said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” - 2 Samuel 7:1-2 (NRSV)
I hate camping.
Camping is a thrifty way to vacation. It’s also a huge hassle: the complex packing and unpacking; the loud, drunk people at the adjacent campsite with the yappy dog; the mosquitos; the frightful bathrooms. I understand King David’s misgivings about God having to camp while David stays indoors.
David had just scored a decisive victory against the Philistines and marked his reign over both Judah and Israel by bringing the ark of God into Jerusalem. In a moment of rest, he finds himself thinking it odd that a mere mortal like himself lives in a grand post-and-beam cedar house, while the Almighty Master of the Universe dwells out back in a tent. God should have a temple, a big one!
Then the word of the Lord comes to David through the prophet Nathan, “I’ve lived in a tent since I brought your ancestors out of Egypt. I don’t want a house. I like the freedom and mobility that comes from camping!”
A house for God was eventually built anyway, a big one in the middle of Jerusalem. That might come as a relief for those who resist camping. It also says how uncomfortable we are with a free-range God. We prefer God to stay where we put Them, a God who affirms and mirrors our values, biases and preferences.
Holy Camper, help me remember your address is everywhere. Today, let me see you there.
- Do you identify as a camper, or a glamper, or a strictly indoors kind of person? How do you experience God, both indoors and outdoors?
- The author suggests that we are uncomfortable with a “free-range God.” What are the risks of a God who continually moves? What are the risks of a God who stays put?