Did God want a temple built?
David came up with the idea to build it. God’s response was: “I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” (2 Samuel 7:5-7).
In the building of it, credit most often goes to Solomon. It is the temple “king Solomon built for the Lord.” “He made,” “he lined,” he “partitioned,” “prepared,” “overlaid” and “placed.” Not that Solomon personally did it, but the thing was, it was something Solomon did. In fact, when the temple is dedicated, Solomon fairly well takes all the credit (1 Kings 8:20-21). Admittedly, Solomon built the temple according to the Lord’s specifications, but there is no evidence that God ever asked for a temple to be built, nor that it was His idea.
Throughout, what the Lord wanted was for Solomon and his subjects to be faithful to the God who had given them the resources to build such a magnificent place. Follow His decrees, carry out His regulations, be obedient. The requirement is stated as Solomon begins the temple (1 Kings 6:11-13). It is repeated when the temple is finished (1 Kings 9:4-9).
A temple might unify the people, exalt the reputation of Israel’s God, and be a focal point for worship, but its presence would not ensure God’s blessing. Only obedience would do that, a point becoming more clear by the chapter to the exiled first readers of Kings.