David’s love for God fills every word of Psalms. More than anything else in life, David yearned for God; to serve him and to come close to him. David’s love for God culminated in the Temple. Though he did merit to build the Temple, that task was left for his son Solomon, the vision for the Temple began with David (see II Samuel 7, I Chronicles 17).
David refers to his vision of the Temple in Psalm 65:
Praise befits You in Tzion, O Hashem; vows are paid to You; all mankind comes to You, You who hear prayer…Happy is the man You choose and bring near to dwell in Your courts; may we be sated with the blessings of Your house, Your holy temple. Psalm 65:2-5
Not only did David make many of the preparations for the construction of the Temple, he also purchased the spot where the Temple would stand (II Samuel 24:15-25). And once that place was chosen, Jews have forever been attached to the site. We direct our prayers toward that hilltop in Jerusalem, and we are unable to bring our sacrifices anywhere else.
What did David see that made him choose that particular mountaintop?
When I was five years old, I read a Bible book intended for children that related a popular Jewish legend about the site of the Temple. It described how David prayed to God to reveal to him the site of the future Temple. One night, a voice from heaven told David to go outside. The voice guided him to a field situated on a hilltop.
David came to the field in the middle of the night. He saw that it was divided in the middle by a low stone wall. Then, he saw a strange sight. Two men stood on opposite sides of the wall, some distance apart, unaware of each other. Each man was picking up sheaves of wheat from his side of the wall and dropping them onto the other side. This same scenario repeated itself again the following night. It continued to repeat itself until one night, the two men met and embraced.
Confused, David demanded an explanation.
‘We are brothers,” explained one man. “We inherited these fields from our father. But I am single and have simple needs. My brother has several children. So, now that we have finished harvesting, I am giving my brother some of my wheat so he will not worry about feeding his family.”
The other man was surprised.
“It is true,” he said. “But I was worried for my brother who has no children to sustain him in his old age. So I was giving him more wheat so he could save money for many years.”
David was stunned at the explanation. He immediately realized that this site of brotherly love was the appropriate place to build God’s Temple. And David chose to establish his throne in the same holy city.
Though this story has no ancient Jewish origin, it taught me a lesson that remains with me to this day. God’s house was built on love.
Love is all-encompassing, including the past, present, and future. The eyes of love see past exterior appearances. The eyes of love see the true essence of everything and everyone.
It pains me when I read news reports that label the Temple Mount as a “flashpoint of violence.” That is not what David saw when he first glimpsed the field on the hilltop, and it is not what I see when I ascend to the Temple Mount.
The Temple Mount is, according to Jewish tradition, the point from which God created the world and through which he continues to sustain it. And God created and sustains the world through love.