Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible
1 Chronicles 29
David has said what he had to say to Solomon. But he had something more to say to the congregation before he parted with them. I. He pressed them to contribute, according to their ability, towards the building and furnishing of the temple (1 Chronicles 29:1-5). II. They made their presents accordingly with great generosity (1 Chronicles 29:6-9). III. David offered up solemn prayers and praises to God upon that occasion (1 Chronicles 29:10-20), with sacrifices (1 Chronicles 29:21, 1 Chronicles 29:22). IV. Solomon was hereupon enthroned, with great joy and magnificence (1 Chronicles 29:23-25). V. David, soon after this finished his course (1 Chronicles 29:26-30). And it is hard to say which shines brighter here, the setting sun or the rising sun.
We may here observe,I. How handsomely David spoke to the great men of Israel, to engage them to contribute towards the building of the temple. It is our duty to provoke one another to love and to good works, not only to do good ourselves, but to draw in others to do good too as much as we can. There were many very rich men in Israel; they were all to share in the benefit of the temple, and of those peaceable days which were to befriend the building of it; and therefore, though David would not impose on them, as a tax, what they should give towards it, he would recommend the present as a fair occasion for a free-will offering, because what is done in works of piety and charity should be done willingly and not by constraint; for God loves a cheerful giver. 1. He would have them consider that Solomon was young and tender, and needed help; but that he was the person whom God had chosen to do this work, and therefore was well worthy their assistance. It is good service to encourage those in the work of God that are as yet young and tender. 2. That the world was great, and all hands should contribute to the carrying of it on. The palace to be built was not for man, but for the Lord God; and the more was contributed towards the building the more magnificent it would be, and therefore the better would it answer the intention. 3. He tells them what great preparations had been made for this work. He did not intend to throw all the burden upon them, nor that it should be built wholly by contributions, but that they should show their good will, by adding to what was done (1 Chronicles 29:2): I have prepared with all my might, that is, “I have made it my business.” Work for God must be done with all our might, or we shall bring nothing to pass in it. 4. He sets them a good example. Besides what was dedicated to this service out of the spoils and presents of the neighbouring nations, which was for the building of the house (of which before, 1 Chronicles 22:14), he had, out of his own share, offered largely for the beautifying and enriching of it, 3000 talents of gold and 7000 talents of silver (1 Chronicles 29:4, 1 Chronicles 29:5), and this because he had set his affection on the house of his God. He gave all this, not as Papists build churches, in commutation of penance, or to make atonement for sin, nor as Pharisees give alms, to be seen of men; but purely because he loved the habitation of God's house; so he professed (Psalm 26:8) and here he proved it. Those who set their affection upon the service of God will think no pains nor cost too much to bestow upon it; and then our offerings are pleasing to God when they come from love. Those that set their affection on things above will set their affection on the house of God, through which our way to heaven lies. Now this he gives them an account of, to stir them up to do likewise. Note, Those who would draw others to do that which is good must themselves lead. Those especially who are advanced above others in place and dignity should particularly contrive how to make their light shine before men, because the influence of their example is more powerful and extensive than that of other people. 5. He stirs them up to do as he had done (1 Chronicles 29:5): And who then is willing to concentrate his service this day unto the Lord? (1.) We must each of us, in our several places, serve the Lord, and consecrate our service to him, separate it from other things that are foreign and interfere with it, and direct and design it for the honour and glory of God. (2.) We must make the service of God our business, must fill our hands to the Lord, so the Hebrew phrase is. Those who engage themselves in the service of God will have their hands full; there is work enough for the whole man in that service. The filling of our hands with the service of God intimates that we must serve him only, serve him liberally, and serve him in the strength of grace derived from him. (3.) We must be free herein, do it willingly and speedily, do it this day, when we are in a good mind. Who is willing? Now let him show it. II. How handsomely they all contributed towards the building of the temple when they were thus stirred up to it. Though they were persuaded to it, yet it is said, They offered willingly, 1 Chronicles 29:6. So he said who knew their hearts. Nay, they offered with a perfect heart, from a good principle and with a sincere respect to the glory of God, 1 Chronicles 29:9. How generous they were appears by the sum total of the contributions, 1 Chronicles 29:7, 1 Chronicles 29:8. They gave like themselves, like princes, like princes of Israel. And a pleasant day's work it was; for, 1. The people rejoiced, which may be meant of the people themselves that offered: they were glad of the opportunity of honouring God thus with their substance, and glad of the prospect of bringing this good work to perfection. Or the common people rejoiced in the generosity of their princes, that they had such rulers over them as were forward to this good work. Every Israelite is glad to see temple work carried on with vigour. 2. David rejoiced with great joy to see the good effects of his psalms and the other helps of devotion he had furnished them with, rejoiced that his son and successor would have those about him that were so well affected to the house of God, and that this work, upon which his heart was so much set, was likely to go on. Note, It is a great reviving to good men, when they are leaving the world, to see those they leave behind zealous for religion and likely to keep it up. Lord, now let thou thy servant depart in peace.
We have here,I. The solemn address which David made to God upon occasion of the noble subscriptions of the princes towards the building of the temple (1 Chronicles 29:10): Wherefore David blessed the Lord, not only alone in his closet, but before all the congregation. This I expected when we read (1 Chronicles 29:9) that David rejoiced with great joy; for such a devout man as he would no doubt make that the matter of his thanksgiving which was so much the matter of his rejoicing. He that looked round with comfort would certainly look up with praise. David was now old and looked upon himself as near his end; and it well becomes aged saints, and dying saints, to have their hearts much enlarged in praise and thanksgiving. This will silence their complaints of their bodily infirmities, and help to make the prospect of death itself less gloomy. David's psalms, toward the latter end of the book, are most of them psalms of praise. The nearer we come to the world of everlasting praise the more we should speak the language and do the work of that world. In this address, 1. He adores God, and ascribes glory to him as the God of Israel, blessed for ever and ever. Our Lord's prayer ends with a doxology much like this which David here begins with - for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory. This is properly praising God - with holy awe and reverence, and agreeable affection, acknowledging, (1.) His infinite perfections; not only that he is great, powerful, glorious, etc., but that his is the greatness, power, and glory, that is, he has them in and of himself, 1 Chronicles 29:11. He is the fountain and centre of every thing that is bright and blessed. All that we can, in our most exalted praises, attribute to him he has an unquestionable title to. His is the greatness; his greatness is immense and incomprehensible; and all others are little, are nothing, in comparison of him. His is the power, and it is almighty and irresistible; power belongs to him, and all the power of all the creatures is derived from him and depends upon him. His is the glory; for his glory is his own end and the end of the whole creation. All the glory we can give him with our hearts, lips, and lives, comes infinitely short of what is his due. His is the victory; he transcends and surpasses all, and is able to conquer and subdue all things to himself; and his victories are incontestable and uncontrollable. And his is the majesty, real and personal; with him is terrible majesty, inexpressible and inconceivable. (2.) His sovereign dominion, as rightful owner and possessor of all: “All that is in the heaven, and in the earth, is thine, and at thy disposal, by the indisputable right of creation, and as supreme ruler and commander of all: thine is the kingdom, and all kings are thy subjects; for thou art head, and art to be exalted and worshipped as head above all.” (3.) His universal influence and agency. All that are rich and honourable among the children of men have their riches and honours from God. This acknowledgment he would have the princes take notice of and join in, that they might not think they had merited any thing of God by their generosity; for from God they had their riches and honour, and what they had returned to him was but a small part of what they had received from him. Whoever are great among men, it is God's hand that makes them so; and, whatever strength we have, it is God that gives it to us, as the God of Israel our father, 1 Chronicles 29:10. Psalm 68:35. 2. He acknowledges with thankfulness the grace of God enabling them to contribute so cheerfully towards the building of the temple (1 Chronicles 29:13, 1 Chronicles 29:14): Now therefore, our God, we thank thee. Note, The more we do for God the more we are indebted to him for the honour of being employed in his service, and for grace enabling us, in any measure, to serve him. Does he therefore thank that servant? Luke 17:9. No: but that servant has a great deal of reason to thank him. He thanks God that they were able to offer so willingly. Note, (1.) It is a great instance of the power of God's grace in us to be able to do the work of God willingly. He works both to will and to do; and it is in the day of his power that his people are made willing, Psalm 110:3. (2.) We must give God all the glory of all the good that is at any time done by ourselves or others. Our own good works must not be the matter of our pride, nor the good works of others the matter of our flattery, but both the matter of our praise; for certainly it is the greatest honour and pleasure in the world faithfully to serve God. 3. He speaks very humbly of himself, and his people, and the offerings they had now presented to God. (1.) For himself, and those that joined with him, though they were princes, he wondered that God should take such notice of them and do so much for them (1 Chronicles 29:14): Who am I, and what is my people? David was the most honourable person, and Israel the most honourable person, then in the world; yet thus does he speak of himself and them, as unworthy the divine cognizance and favour. David now looks very great, presiding in an august assembly, appointing his successor, and making a noble present to the honour of God; and yet he is little and low in his own eyes: Who am I, O Lord? for (1 Chronicles 29:15) we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, poor despicable creatures. Angels in heaven are at home there; saints on earth are but strangers here: Our days on the earth are as a shadow. David's days had as much of substance in them as most men's; for he was a great man, a good man, a useful man, and now an old man, one that lived long and lived to good purpose: and yet he puts himself not only into the number, but in the front, of those who must acknowledge that their days on the earth are as a shadow, which intimates that our life is a vain life, a dark life, a transient life, and a life that will have its periods either in perfect light or perfect darkness. The next words explain it: There is no abiding, Heb. no expectation. We cannot expect any great matters from it, nor can we expect any long continuance of it. This is mentioned here as that which forbids us to boast of the service we do to God. Alas! it is confined to a scantling of time, it is the service of a frail and short life, and therefore what can we pretend to merit by it? (2.) As to their offerings, Lord, says he, of thy own have we given thee (1 Chronicles 29:14), and again (1 Chronicles 29:16), It cometh of thy hand, and is all thy own. “We have it from thee as a free gift, and therefore are bound to use it for thee; and what we present to thee is but rent or interest from thy own.” “In like manner” (says bishop Patrick) “we ought to acknowledge God in all spiritual things, referring every good thought, good purpose, good work, to his grace, from whom we receive it.” Let him that glories therefore glory in the Lord. 4. He appeals to God concerning his own sincerity in what he did, 1 Chronicles 29:17. It is a great satisfaction to a good man to think that God tries the heart and has pleasure in uprightness, that, whoever may misinterpret or contemn it, he is acquainted with and approves of the way of the righteous. It was David's comfort that God knew with what pleasure he both offered his own and saw the people's offering. He was neither proud of his own good work nor envious of the good works of others. 5. He prays to God both for the people and for Solomon, that both might hold on as they began. In this prayer he addresses God as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a God in covenant with them and with us for their sakes. Lord, give us grace to make good our part of the covenant, that we may not forfeit the benefit of it. Or thus: they were kept in their integrity by the grace of God establishing their way; let the same grace that was sufficient for them be so for us. (1.) For the people he prays (1 Chronicles 29:18) that what good God had put into their minds he would always keep there, that they might never be worse than they were now, might never lose the convictions they were now under, nor cool in their affections to the house of God, but always have the same thoughts of things as they now seemed to have. Great consequences depend upon what is innermost, and what uppermost, in the imagination of the thoughts of our heart, what we aim at and what we love to think of. If any good have got possession of our hearts, or the hearts of our friends, it is good by prayer to commit the custody of it to the grace of God: “Lord, keep it there, keep it for ever there. David has prepared materials for the temple; but, Lord, do thou prepare their hearts for such a privilege;” establish their hearts, so the margin. “Confirm their resolutions. They are in a good mind; keep them so when I am gone, them and theirs for ever.” (2.) For Solomon he prays (1 Chronicles 29:19), Give him a perfect heart. He had charged him (1 Chronicles 28:9) to serve God with a perfect heart; now here he prays to God to give him such a heart. He does not pray, “Lord, make him a rich man, a great man, a learned man;” but, “Lord, make him an honest man;” for that is better than all. “Lord, give him a perfect heart, not only in general to keep thy commandments, but in particular to build the palace, that he may do that service with a single eye.” Yet his building the house would not prove him to have a perfect heart unless he made conscience of keeping God's commandments. It is not helping to build churches that will save us if we live in disobedience to God's law. II. The cheerful concurrence of this great assembly in this great solemnity. 1. They joined with David in the adoration of God. When he had done his prayer he called to them to testify their concurrence (Now bless the Lord your God, 1 Chronicles 29:20), which accordingly they did, by bowing down their heads, a gesture of adoration. Whoever is the mouth of the congregation, those only have the benefit who join with him, not by bowing down the head so much as by lifting up the soul. 2. They paid their respects to the king, looking upon him as an instrument in God's hand of much good to them; and, in honouring him, they honoured God. 3. The next day they offered abundance of sacrifices to God (1 Chronicles 29:21), both burnt-offerings, which were wholly consumed, and peace-offerings, which the offerer had the greatest part of to himself. Hereby they testified a generous gratitude to God for the good posture their public affairs were in, though David was going the way of all the earth. 4. They feasted and rejoiced before God, 1 Chronicles 29:22. In token of their joy in God, and communion with him, they feasted upon their peace-offerings in a religious manner before the Lord. What had been offered to God they feasted upon, by which was intimated to them that they should be never the poorer for their late liberal contributions to the service of the temple; they themselves should feast upon the comfort of it. 5. They made Solomon king the second time. He having been before anointed in haste, upon occasion of Adonijah's rebellion, it was thought fit to repeat the ceremony, for the greater satisfaction of the people. They anointed him to the Lord. Magistrates must look upon themselves as set apart for God, to be his ministers, and must rule accordingly in the fear of God. Zadok also was anointed to be priest in the room of Abiathar, who had lately forfeited his honour. Happy art thou, O Israel! under such a prince and such a pontiff.
These verses bring king Solomon to his throne and king David to his grave. Thus the rising generation thrusts out that which went before, and says, “Make room for us.” Every one has his day.I. Here is Solomon rising (1 Chronicles 29:23): Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord. Not his throne which he prepared in the heavens, but the throne of Israel is called the throne of the Lord because not only is he King of all nations, and all kings rule under him, but he was in a peculiar manner King of Israel, 1 Samuel 12:12. He had the founding, he had the filling, of their throne, by immediate direction. The municipal laws of their kingdom were divine. Urim and prophets were the privy counsellors of their princes; therefore is their throne called the throne of the Lord. Solomon's kingdom typified the kingdom of the Messiah, and his is indeed the throne of the Lord; for the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to him; hence he calls him his King, Psalm 2:6. Being set on the throne of the Lord, the throne to which God called him, he prospered. Those that follow the divine guidance may expect success by the divine blessing. Solomon prospered; for, 1. His people paid honour to him, as one to whom honour is due: All Israel obeyed him, that is, were ready to swear allegiance to him (1 Chronicles 29:23), the princes and mighty men, and even the sons of David, though by seniority their title to the crown was prior to his, and they might think themselves wronged by his advancement. God thought fit to make him king, and made him fit to be so, and therefore they all submitted themselves to him. God inclined their hearts to do so, that his reign might, from the first, be peaceable. His father was a better man than he, and yet came to the crown with much difficulty, after long delay, and by many and slow steps. David had more faith, and therefore had it more tried. They submitted themselves (Heb. They gave the hand under Solomon ), that is, bound themselves by oath to be true to him (putting the hand under the thigh was a ceremony anciently used in swearing); or they were so entirely devoted that they would put their hand under his feet to serve him. 2. God put honour upon him; for those that honour him he will honour: The Lord magnified Solomon exceedingly, 1 Chronicles 29:25. His very countenance and presence, I am apt to think, had something in them very great and awful. All he said and all he did commanded respect. None of all the judges or kings of Israel, his predecessors, made such a figure as he did nor lived in such splendour. II. Here is David's setting, that great man going off the stage. The historian here brings him to the end of his day, leaves him asleep, and draws the curtains about him. 1. He gives a summary account of the years of his reign, 1 Chronicles 29:26, 1 Chronicles 29:27. He reigned forty years, as did Moses, Othniel, Deborah, Gideon, Eli, Samuel, and Saul, who were before him, and Solomon after him. 2. He gives a short account of his death (1 Chronicles 29:28), that he died full of days, riches, and honour; that is, (1.) Loaded with them. He was very old, and very rich, and very much honoured both of God and man. He had been a man of war from his youth, and, as such, had his soul continually in his hand; yet he was not cut off in the midst of his days, but was preserved through all dangers of a military life, lived to a good old age, and died in peace, died in his bed, and yet in the bed of honour. (2.) Satiated with them. He was full of days, riches, and honour; that is, he had enough of this world and of the riches and honours of it, and knew when he had enough, for he was very willing to die and leave it, having said (Psalm 49:15), God shall receive me, and (Psalm 23:4), Thou art with me. A good man will soon be full of days, riches, and honour, but will never be satisfied with them; no satisfaction but in God's loving kindness. 3. For a fuller account of David's life and reign he refers to the histories or records of those times, which were written by Samuel while he lived, and continued, after his death, by Nathan and Gad, 1 Chronicles 29:29. There was related what was observable in his government at home and his wars abroad, the times, that is, the events of the times, that went over him, 1 Chronicles 29:29, 1 Chronicles 29:30. These registers were then in being, but are now lost. Note, Good use may be made of those histories of the church which are authentic though not sacred or of divine inspiration.
Monday, February 20th, 2017
the Seventh Week after Epiphany
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