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Saturday, July 13th, 2024
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 17

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-27

Chapter 17

And Nathan the prophet said, [Good,] do all that is in your heart; for God is with thee. And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord spoke to Nathan the prophet, and said, Go and tell David my servant, Thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not build me a house to dwell in: for I have not dwelt in an house since the day that I brought up Israel unto this day; but I have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another. Wheresoever I have walked with all Israel, did I ever speak a word to the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people, saying, Why have ye not built me an house [of crystal, no] of cedars? [Sorry.] ( 1 Chronicles 17:2-6 )

I would like to say that I think that it is wrong for us to judge. We do not know the true motives of man and we only assume what motivations might be. However, in the same token, I would like to say that I don't think that God has ever required that we build for Him some fancy place to worship Him. I believe that God can be better worshipped in nature than in a building. I only wish the weather permitted for us to worship outside. I think that it would be a much more fitting cathedral to just worship God outside.

In the Old Testament when they, when God instructed them in the building of the altars, God said, "I don't want you to bring any tool on the stone. I don't want you carving fancy stones and all. Just take the plain rock without bringing any tool on it and set it up for the altar." Because God didn't want people's attention to be distracted from Him to some fancy ornamentation that man had built.

Now, I don't really feel that God has changed. I don't think that God is wanting to attract people to fancy architecture or to fancy ornamentation. I think the more natural that we can be in our worship of God, the more we are closer to the real heart and intent of God. As natural as possible. And as I say, if the weather would permit, I would rather worship God outside. I love to go up to the conference center and I like to take the classes outside and just sit there in the pine needles. And you get that smell of the pine needles, and you get the sound of the wind through the trees, and you hear the blue jays, and the squirrel is running up the tree and all. And I love to worship God in that kind of a cathedral. With the blue sky above, and just nothing of man's handiwork. Nothing of which you can glory in the work of man.

Now God said, "Hey look, ever since I've been with you I've been in a tent. Moving from place to place. And in all the time, did I ever say build me a house of cedar? Have I asked for anything like that? No, I didn't. I'm content with the tent."

We've been praying what we should do here. We, of course, probably we could use, let us put it that way, a much larger facility. It would be nice to be able to have just two services on Sunday morning. As long as the Lord gives me strength, I love the three; I don't mind it. But it would be nice if we could have a larger church where we wouldn't have to put people over in the overflow auditoriums to watch on close circuit TV. It would be great if we could all be gathered together in one place to worship the Lord. And we have the money that we could do it. And the Board has been discussing. We've got the property and we've been discussing building. But we, more or less, came to the conclusion that since we feel the coming of the Lord is so near it will be better to take the money and use it in outreaches to get the Gospel out to people than to spend it in a building. And so we can go through the inconvenience of having to put people over there and people... Of course, fortunately the weather is nice and some people are fortunate enough to sit outside. We've talked about getting some speakers like we had for the Easter Sunrise service and put them out there so people could come and start sitting out there in the lawn. And the overflow could just be out there on the lawn, and you just sit out there and worship the Lord. We don't know what to do. We do need larger facilities, and we're praying about them. I even looked at some plastic cathedrals. That is, plastic domed kind of thing. Pretty sharp, actually, and very inexpensive, and they just take steel girders. Sort of a glorified kind of a tent. And my wife doesn't like it but...

But David desired to build a house for God. He said, "Hey look, I'm living in this palace. This house is cedar and God is living in a tent and I want to build a house." And Nathan said, "Oh, that's great, do what's in your heart." And God spoke to Nathan and said, "Go back, tell David not to build Me a house. He can't do it. I've been in a tent all the while. I got used to tents, sort of like it. I've never asked him to build me a house of cedar."

Now knowing that this would be a disappointment to David, the Lord said to him.

And thus say unto my servant David ( 1 Chronicles 17:7 ),

Oh, I like that. Oh, that God would say that, "My servant Chuck." Wouldn't that be neat? To have God talk of you that way? My servant. What a joy and what a privilege.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I took you from the sheepcote, even from following the sheep, that you should be the ruler over my people Israel: and I have been with thee whithersoever you have walked, I have cut off all your enemies from before thee, I have made thy name like the name of the great men that are in the earth. Also I will ordain a place for my people Israel, and I will plant them, and they shall dwell in their place, and shall be moved no more; neither shall the children of wickedness waste them any more, as at the beginning, and since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel. Moreover I will subdue all thine enemies. Furthermore I tell thee that the LORD will build thee a house ( 1 Chronicles 17:7-10 ).

You know, every once in a while the Lord speaks to me of what He has done for me. And I just am overwhelmed. And quite often when I start, you know, getting in my flesh a bit and I think, "Oh, it'd be so nice to have this. Or that would be great." The Lord speaks to me and says, "Hey, haven't I done enough for you already? Look what I've done. Aren't you satisfied? If you want, I'll do more, but aren't you satisfied?" Oh Lord, so satisfied, so satisfied.

God just said, "Hey, David, look what I've done for you, man." Now David was wanting to do something for God. God says, "No, I don't you to do anything for me, David. Let me tell you what I've done for you and let me tell you what I'm going to do for you." You know, so often ministers are constantly telling people, "You ought to be doing this for God. You ought to be giving more for God. You ought to be sacrificing more for God. You ought to be praying more for God. You ought to be you know witnessing more for God." And they're always emphasizing what you ought to be doing for God. God says, "Hey, hey, no, no. I want to tell you what I've done for you and what I want to do for you."

It's interesting the New Testament really emphasizes what God has done for man, but we hear so little preaching on that. So much of the preaching is what man ought to be doing for God. And you hear so little of what God has done for you. And yet the whole emphasis of the New Testament is what God has done for you. And so what I do for God is only a responding to what God has done for me. You see, my natural response for what God has done for me is all God is looking for. Hey, He's done so much for me. I just respond to it. That's the truest service. That's the truest praise. That's the truest worship that you can offer to God is just responding to what He has done. Knowing and responding to the work of God is the true motivation behind anything that you ever do for the Lord.

You never should be doing out of an endeavor to obligate God to do for you. "Now let's get out and really work for God so that God will bless and our church will grow. Let's get out and praise the Lord tonight so God will bless us." You see, work so God will bless it. No, that's the opposite emphasis of the New Testament. The emphasis of the New Testament is what God has done for you, respond to it.

Paul spends the first three chapters of the book of Ephesians telling the people what God had done for them. "Thanks be unto God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: According to his abundant mercy wherewith He hath chosen us before the foundation of the world. And predestined that we should be adopted as sons and has redeemed us by His blood, even forgiven our sins. That we might have this glorious inheritance in Christ Jesus. And then He sealed us with His Holy Spirit of promise" ( Ephesians 2:3-13 ). All of what God has done for them. And he spends three chapters telling them. Then after telling them all that God has done, he said, "Now walk worthy of the call" ( Ephesians 4:1 ). Respond to God. Respond to the work of God.

Peter emphasizes what God has done. "Thanks be unto God." You see it always begins with, "Thank God for what He has done!" Thanks be unto God who "hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is incorruptible, and undefiled, and fades not away; that is reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God" ( 1 Peter 1:3-5 ). Oh, that is what God has done for you! You say, "Well, don't I have some part in there?" Yeah, he gets to that. But notice he puts God's part first. Never man's part first. Never is it man's part first. It's always God's part first, and then man's response to it. So looking at Peter again. "Thanks be unto God who hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, fades not away, reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God." That's all God's part. And then he gives you your part through faith. So easy, just believe it. Just believe it.

Oh how glorious it is what God has done. And God begins to unfold for David. "Look David, I took you from the sheepcote, from following after the sheep. I made you the ruler over my people and I've blessed you. I've given you, I've subdued your enemies before you. I've established you in the land. And if that's not enough, I'll even do more for you, David. And I'm going to do more because, David, I'm going to establish your house through you. My King is going to come. David, you're going to be, from you the Messiah is going to come."

And as God began to tell David what He was going to do for him, it was too much for David. He said, "O Lord, what can I say? What can I say?" Someone has said that when prayer reaches his ultimate, words are impossible. "What can I say, God?" Too much. The realization of what God has done for you. And that's what we need to know. Paul even prayed them for the Ephesians that they might know that God might give them the Spirit of wisdom and understanding. That they might know God. And that they might know what was the hope of their calling and the exceeding richness of God's grace towards them in Christ Jesus and the exceeding power that God has made available to us. Knowing what God has done is so important. And in those days, shepherds who will teach them the knowledge of God.

And that's what the church needs today. They need to hear more of what God has done for them, rather than being pushed into works for God. Paul, what you ought to be doing for God, that's what you hear all over the place. That's the wrong message. What we need to know is what God has done for us. To know God, His glorious power, His beauty, His majesty, His goodness. And then we respond to what God has done for us.

Father, we thank You for what You have done for us. Your goodness. Your blessings. Lord, they're too much. You're too much. And Lord, we love You and we thank You. Oh, how we thank You, Lord, for Your beautiful work that You have wrought. How we praise You, Lord, for that power of Your Spirit that we see at work around us day by day, as You are gathering day by day a mighty host, as the host of God. O Lord, help us, help us to understand more fully how much You really do love us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 17". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/1-chronicles-17.html. 2014.
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