I think I can understand why David wanted to build a house for God. After all, it hardly seemed fitting for David to be living in a palace while God's sanctuary was a tent. God's response says something about the God that we serve. He didn't need a house; he was completely content with his sanctuary being portable in a tent and never said anything about wanting to have a building. God is a God that goes to his people.
It occurs to me that God's greatest glory is not reflected in a building made of brick and mortar and overlaid with gold and other precious material. This may be impressive, but this is not God's ultimate temple. Even though it may be impressive to the eyes, the work and art of human hands can in no way even begin to capture the glory of God.
Instead of David or some other man building God's house, God told David that it would be God who makes the house. God said he would raise up a descendant of David who would build God's house, and God would be the one to establish the throne of his Kingdom forever.
Solomon, David's son, built a marvelous temple for God. At the dedication of the temple in 1 Kings 8, Solomon prays to God about the temple. Whenever they needed to repent and return to God, whenever they needed to turn to God to help, whenever they needed to pray to God, they would pray toward this temple and God would hear. But Solomon recognized at the dedication that God does not dwell in temples made with hands. God's throne is Heaven, and the earth is his footstool. The whole universe is God's temple.
Therefore, the house that God told David God would build is not the temple that Solomon builds. That temple is only a shadow of what God had in mind. It would be another descendant of David who would build God's ultimate temple. This is why Matthew specifically pointed out how Jesus was descended from David in his genealogy in the first chapter. Jesus would be the one who would build God's house, and it would not be anything like the temple Solomon built. In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul said that Jesus himself is the foundation of God's house. In 1 Peter 2, Peter said that we are all living stones in God's house. Ephesians 2 says that we, God's people, are God's dwelling. God's temple is made up of Jesus as the living foundation, and us as the living stones. In other words, God's temple and dwelling place is not a man made building, but a God made and redeemed people.
This reminds me that God is not confined to a place. Like the tabernacle that was mobile, God moves about all over the place in his people. This also reminds me that God is living and active. He is not a mute, dumb, dead idol. He is the living God and works in us and through us. God's sanctuary is a holy place, which means that we, his living stones, are holy and live according to God's purposes and not our own. God's sanctuary is never an item that is complete that sits at a certain place for people to look at. It is always growing, always being built, always getting new living stones added to it, and always on the move. Like the sanctuary that people could turn to in order to connect with God, those who do not know God can learn of God and find God through us. People don't go to the temple, the temple goes to them.
Lord, please prepare us to be your sanctuary. May we be true and loyal to Christ and never defile ourselves with actions and thoughts that are contrary to your will. May we remain pure and holy. May our lives reflect the righteousness, holiness, and beauty of you. May we serve as priests, turning the eyes of all around us to you. May people see your glory shining in your sanctuary, your temple, your house, which is what we are.