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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 17

The Biblical IllustratorThe Biblical Illustrator

Verses 1-10

1 Chronicles 17:1-10

Now it came to pass, as David sat in his house.

The king’s proposal

David’s proposal.

1. A noble purpose.

2. A generous purpose.

3. A purpose commended by the prophet.

God’s disapproval of David’s proposal.

1. God knows all our purposes.

2. God often hinders the accomplishment of our purposes.

Reasons for God’s disapproval of David’s proposal..

1. It was something entirely new.

2. It was untimely in its beginning.

3. David was not the right man to build. (J. Wolfendale.)

Our inspirations require to be revised

There are extemporaneous inspirations in life which have to be revised, amended, and in some instances discarded altogether. A judgment is not always right simply because it is sudden. There have been days upon which we have been perfectly sure that our duty lay along such and such lines; everything concurred to prove the providence of the situation; circumstances and impressions combined to show that a well-defined line of action had been actually described by the Divine finger. It is precisely where duty appears to be so plain that vigilance should be most on the alert. (J. Parker, D. D.)

David forbidden to build the temple

Some men are great only in intentions. If words were deeds, and dreams realities, they would be the flower and crown of their generation. But life slips by unutilised. The future of hope never becomes the present of fact. They are no more than glorious idle dreamers. Not so with David.

David’s pious employment of his leisure. He had long been like a pursued mountain-bird. And when Saul could pursue him no more, when he had come to the crown of Judah, it was an assailed crown. But at last there was rest for David. No tent of the warrior. It is “his house” he is in, his new mansion, his cedar palace. Therein he “sat.” He has leisure. How does he use it? Seeking some excitement of pleasure wherein to escape the oppression of self-consecration; the unwelcome voice of clamorous duty? When he went forth to conflict he said, “The battle is the Lord’s.” And now he felt, “My leisure is the Lord’s.” So as he sits in his beautiful mansion, the palace which the Tyrian builders had built, he was comparing its elegance and splendour with the meanness of the tabernacle in which he had placed the ark. The comparison pained him. He will build a temple for the Lord. With such thoughts as these he occupied his leisure. Leisure! It is the very thing that some seem never to get, and others getting, seek to escape. With some life is a long, seldom-pausing battle with want. With others, when the respite comes, they are eager soon, having no mental or spiritual resources, to get back again into the familiar toil wherein they find the only life they care to live. Few and brief may be our opportunities of leisure. All the more reason that they should be for our highest refreshing and renewing by being dedicated to God. How a man spends his leisure will tell much of the man. David’s employment of his speaks well for him.

God should be honoured with our substance. David felt God to be worthy of the best. He desired to build Him a house. The largest liberality would be only poor acknowledgment, a slight expression of his affection. David had built a palace. He was not wrong in this. Comely symbols these of kingly power. Let the rich and great dwell in stately houses. Let the owners of wealth possess what only the wealthy can buy. As David did more for himself, he desired to do more for Him to whom he owed his all. That should be the rule of our conduct. Do our riches increase? There should be a proportionate increase of what we dedicate to God. A matter, this, little considered by many.

Good wishes are never lost. David told Nathan the prophet his desire to rear a temple for the Lord. We are not surprised to find that the prophet, with prompt approbation, encouraged the king to the great undertaking. The work was good, but was David the man to undertake it? To Nathan at night came a Divine intimation that he was not. To war’s rough, sad business he was Divinely bidden. But because of its connection with its inevitable horrors he was bidden back from the pious enterprise on which his sublime and earnest ambition was set. What a verdict is thus passed upon war! What then? Does David’s pious intention count for nothing? It counts for much. Beside which he had his own important special work to do, to give his people rest from their foes and consolidate the kingdom of Israel. His good wish had not been in vain. He was forbidden to build the temple, but God would build him a family, and the world’s needed glorious Deliverer was to be the “offspring of David.” A greater honour than he sought came to him. God was pleased with his pious wish, and fulfilled it in a nobler way. Think not little, then, of good intentions that are hindered from becoming more than intentions. You may have desired to do some larger work for God; you may have intended to consecrate your whole life to some holy ministry--to the ministry of the Gospel in this land or far hence among the heathen; but you were hindered. In circumstances God said, “No, not in this way; in some other”; and, perhaps, you look back and say, “My life is so unlike what I had hoped. I drew the consecrated plan, and God’s viewless, but undeniable, hand blotted it out. My wish was all in vain.” No, say not that. The desire was good. It will be fulfilled; if not here, yet in higher service than otherwise had been yours--in that bright and holy city beyond death. Cherish large and holy desires. Precious seeds, you may be unable to sow them in any human heart, in any field of earth; but heaven shall receive them. There they shall come to richest harvest. You shall find them again--not baffled and scattered, as here, but in noblest service, in heaven’s eternal praise. David was not to build the temple. But he knew it was to be built. The honour was reserved for his son. “He,” said God, “shall build an house for My name.” If hindered from an undertaking ourselves let us remember that our prayers and effort may help another to do it. (G. T. Coster.)

Verses 7-11

1 Chronicles 17:7-11

Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote.

God in personal life

God elevates men from the lowest to the highest station in life.

God helps men to do the work for which they are elevated.

1. By His constant presence.

2. By continual victories.

God honours men for faithful performance of the work to which they are elevated.

1. Honoured in reputed life.

2. Honoured in peaceful death. (James Wolfendale.)

From the sheepfold to the throne

David is thus presented to our thought as the type of youths rising from lowly to lofty positions, and rising by virtue of conditions and qualities essentially the same. What are these conditions and qualities? To say that God chose David and put this high honour on him does not at all answer the question. Why did the Divine choice fall on him? God’s choice of agents and bestowment of honours are not made capriciously, without ground of personal merit in the subject. Our task is to study the human elements, to estimate the subjective factors in this problem of growth and greatness. David was the man after “God’s own heart,” not absolutely, but because he was the best of his nation and age for the work he was called to do.

There was in David a substantial ground of personal worth, of susceptibilities and tendencies upon which to build a life of greatness.

His life was swayed by a great purpose.

He had great courage.

1. Physical.

2. Moral.

He exhibited, through all these years of preparation and development, great fidelity to trusts imposed.

He had great faith in God.

All his estimable qualities were fed and fired by habitual and genuine religious devotion. (C. H. Payne, D. D.)

The remembrance of our early history should be a stimulus to gratitude

While many Americans are looking up their remote ancestors to provide themselves with a crest and coat of arms, a few follow the example of early English families and adopt some emblem which suggests a noteworthy incident in their own history. One millionaire, not ashamed of the source of his wealth, has a derrick engraved on his seal. Another family enriched by the manufacture of furniture has adopted a tree as a crest. The most interesting of these modern symbols, perhaps, is found engraved on the plate and books of a family of Pennsylvania Friends, who would probably be unwilling to call it a crest. It is a cat carrying a rabbit in its mouth. There is a legend to explain it. The first of a family to emigrate to this country was the father of eleven children. He sailed in the same year as Penn, and died on the voyage, leaving his wife to land alone with her helpless flock. She had a grant of land, but no money. They took refuge, as did many of the first emigrants to America, in a cave dug out of the side of a hill. Winter came on. Provisions failed. The widow saw her children grow pale and weak for want of food. The day arrived at last when there was not a grain of meal in the barrel. She fell on her knees and prayed in an agony of supplication. When she arose she smiled, her children said afterwards, as if she had seen an angel coming with bread. Going out she saw no angel, but the cat with a freshly killed rabbit in its mouth. The rabbit made a good meal, of which pussy, we may be sure, had a full share. The family, which has been a prosperous and influential one, preserves this symbol of their early history to commemorate their gratitude to God. (Daily Paper.)

Verse 14

1 Chronicles 17:14

But I will settle him in Mine house and in My kingdom for ever.

The everlasting establishment

First of all, let us offer a word or two upon the kingdom. Much is written in Scripture about kingdoms and empires.

1. That the “house” or the “kingdom” which Jehovah claims as His own is a kingdom which originated with the Lord. It rose not up in the mind of mortals first. It grew not up of Nature’s materials. It was not brought forth, and set up, and established, by the arm of man, or by the conquests of warriors, as many other kingdoms are. It originated in the wisdom, grace, and power of the Most High. Moreover, not only does this kingdom originate with Him, but it is so formed and constituted as to glorify the Lord. “My glory,” saith Jehovah, “will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images.” In the formation and constitution of the kingdom which God calls His own--“Mine house and My kingdom”--the subjects are a royal seed; of royal blood; of royal birth; “kings and priests unto God.” My hearer, of what kingdom art thou? If thou art not of the kingdom of God’s grace, thou art of the kingdom of darkness, a slave of Satan, and on the highroad to destruction.

2. Yet further observe, the laws are immutable.

3. Then further, I notice the privileges, the high spiritual privileges of the kingdom. Pardon, peace, joy in the Holy Ghost.

I come to the investiture of the king.

“I will settle him in Mine house and in My kingdom.” Solomon was settled for a time, and reigned long and peacefully over Israel; but he is not reigning now. “A greater than Solomon is here.” He is invested with sovereignty, absolute and universal: “I will settle Him in My kingdom.” He is invested with sovereignty, absolute and universal. “I have set My King upon My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord has said unto Me, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance and uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.” Moreover, if we speak of His absolute sovereignty for a moment, you know it is written expressly, that “none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?”

This national establishment; for there is that word in my text--“establish.” There is a great deal said in Scripture about establishment. Immutable decrees are the basis of the establishment. Oh! I could bring out some twenty or thirty instances under my own notice in which all the schemes and powers and efforts of men have passed by; and God, in a moment and by a word, through some of His sent servants, has accomplished it all.

The glorious perpetuity--“I will settle Him in Mine house and in My kingdom for ever; and His throne shall be established for evermore.” (Joseph Irons.)

Verse 16

1 Chronicles 17:16

Who am I, O Lord God, and what is mine house, that Thou hast brought me hitherto?

The greatness of Divine favours

They infinitely surpass human desert.

They fill all times from remotest past to distant future.

They spring from sovereign mercy.

They are beyond all human comprehension. (J. P. Lange.)

Verses 17-22

1 Chronicles 17:17-22

And yet this was a small thing in thine eyes, O Lord.

A model of devout thanksgiving

Over what he rejoices.

1. Over great blessings received.

2. Over yet greater blessings promised.

In what spirit he regards these favours.

1. As utterly undeserved by himself.

2. As the gift of God’s sovereign grace. (J. P. Lange.)

God’s relation to His people



The relation God bears to His people.

1. He has chosen them out of the world.

2. He has given Himself to them in a peculiar way.

3. He avows that relation to them before the whole universe.

What under that relation we may expect at his hands.

1. The care of His providence.

3. The communications of His grace.

3. The manifestations of His love.

4. The possession of His glory.

What under that relation He is entitled to expect from us.

1. That we be a people to Him.

2. That we give ourselves to Him. (C. Simeon, M. A.)

Verses 23-27

1 Chronicles 17:23-27

Therefore now, Lord, let the thing that Thou hast spoken concerning Thy servant.

True prayer

It is--

Grounded on God’s promise.

It regards God’s honour solely (1 Chronicles 17:24).

It ascribes all to God’s free grace.

It appeals to God’s faithfulness.

It receives the fulness of God’s blessing. (J. Wolfendale.)

That Thou wilt build him an house.--

Domestic piety

They who have charge of families should cherish an earnest regard for their welfare.

Those who have the care of families should make it their chief anxiety to impart to them religious instruction. Seeking their spiritual welfare we shall--

1. Strive to be the means of their conversion to God.

2. This we should do because converted families are scenes of harmony and love.

3. This only can impart abiding consolation under bereaving providences.

4. It will be thus we shall provide the means in our religious households of future usefulness to the Church and the world. (W. G. Barrett.)

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Chronicles 17". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tbi/1-chronicles-17.html. 1905-1909. New York.
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