God forbids that David build His house because David has “shed blood” (1 Chronicles 28:3). What is the significance of this statement, and how does Solomon get a pass for some of the sins he will later commit? Recall that the book of Leviticus draws a great deal of attention to blood. Blood is the life of the body (Leviticus 17:14), a woman’s bloody menstrual discharge makes a woman ceremonially unclean (Leviticus 15:19), and by blood alone is atonement made (Leviticus 17:11). Also remember that these laws focus on how Israel is to live with God’s tabernacling presence in their midst. Blood can defile, but innocent blood can make clean. Israel’s tabernacle must remain unstained by blood yet be perpetually cleansed by blood.
Years later, at the time of our reading, as God chooses to permanently dwell in this temple, the indication is that war and the shedding of a great amount of blood have defiled David and made him unfit to build the temple. It will take a different king who has not shed the blood of others to build a fit habitation for God. Of course, God chooses Solomon for this work, but ultimately the temple Solomon builds by God’s call will prove inferior to the one a much greater King will build by shedding his own innocent blood (John 2:19).