At the end of David’s reign as King he gathers the people together to commission his son Solomon to take his place as King of Israel. He also charges Solomon to build a dwelling place for the Lord. David had spent years gathering together gold, bronze, and cedar in preparation of the building of the Temple, and now the time has come. He asks the people if they too will give to make a house for God. And they do. In abundance.
As David sees the generosity of the people he bows his head and prays a beautiful prayer of thanks to God. And there, in the midst of his prayer is one line that won’t leave my mind.
“I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.” 1 Chron. 29:9-10
Lately I’ve noticed a trend. In America. In the church. We are obsessed with controlling behavior. We live and die by a list of rules. Behavior modification controls our every waking moments. As followers of Christ we are bombarded with lists of dos and don’ts.
Don’t get me wrong, rules can be good. God has a list of rules Himself, and I’m pretty sure He wants us to follow them.
But it’s not ultimately about following rules. I know plenty of people who’ve never committed murder, adultery, or stolen anything. Yet that doesn’t mean they have integrity. That doesn’t mean their heart is pure.
In Psalm 24 David asks the question “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place?” Is it those who “follow the rules”? No, it is those with “clean hands and a pure heart.” It is those who walk in integrity.
Proverbs 23:7 says “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
It is our heart, not our hands that is our problem. If we want integrity, if we want clean hands, then we must first have a pure heart.
So, why do we spend so much time trying to control behavior if the problem lies in our hearts? Putting a password on our computer will not control our lustful desires. Pouring out the alcohol will not rid us of our longing to self-medicate. And biting our tongue will not rid our hearts of selfishness and pride.
The problem lies in the heart. So what do we do? How do we cultivate a pure heart? Psalm 24 continues “Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek your face O God of Jacob”
Pure hearts are birthed in those who seek Him. Who are persistent in getting ahold of Him. Who, like Jacob will wrestle through the darkest of nights and hold on to God at the expense of all else.
David was intimately acquainted with God. He knew that God tested the hearts of man. He also knew what God hoped to find, integrity.
Thousands of years ago David hoped that through his integrity and through the integrity of his son they might build a Temple that God would be pleased to inhabit. And now, here, today, God is looking for another Temple He can dwell in. The temple of our hearts.