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1 Chronicles 22:2
And David commanded to gather together the strangers.
What we cannot destroy may be usefully employed
Whom we are not able to destroy we may be able to employ in holy service, is a doctrine which is not applicable to persons only, but has a distinct reference to emotions, passions, impulses, and sympathies. We are to hold ourselves in bondage, and often we are to drive ourselves to forced labour, and to become hewers of wood and stone, bearers of burdens, and indeed slaves to our higher manhood. (J. Parker, D. D.)
1 Chronicles 22:3
And David prepared iron in abundance.
It sometimes becomes difficult to say who really did build the temple, so little was left for Solomon to do. Is it not so with all the temples of civilisation? Who built the temple of literature? Who erected the temple of science? Who is the architect, and who the builder of the temple of discovery? The last man is so immediately behind us, that we dare not take credit to ourselves for aught we do; so much has been done in preparation that when we speak of the temple we say it was built by the age, or the generation, or the spirit of the times. (J. Parker, D. D.)
1 Chronicles 22:5
And David said, Solomon my son is young.
The ideal temple
I. The motive which set David to work in preparing for building the temple. This motive was thankfulness for a great mercy--God’s mercy in arresting the pestilence. God sends us deliverances from earthly calamities, not merely, not chiefly, that we may be delivered, but that our hearts may rise in thankfulness to Him. The soul gains more by the effort of thankfulness than the body has gained by deliverance from the physical mischief. The deliverance without the thankfulness is a sheer failure, baulking the providential purposes of God. Life would be brighter and stronger if each mercy were the occasion of a resolution to do some piece of good work for God.
II. The high estimate david had formed of what he had set himself to do: “Exceeding magnifical,” etc. He felt that a great effort was due, first of all to God Himself, as being what He is, and next, for the sake of those who did not know Him--the surrounding heathen peoples, who must not think meanly of what God’s servants thought to be due to His service. If anything is fatal to greatness in human endeavour, in act, in work, in character, it is a stunted estimate of what we have to do. The artist who has no ideal before him, or only a poor and meagre ideal, cannot hope to succeed. It is so with all forms of external enterprise. It is so with the formation of character. If we set out by saying that it is impossible to attain to anything great or noble, most certainly we never shall attain to it. We must make up our minds that the house of the Lord, whether it be material or spiritual, must be exceeding magnifical. No honest student of David’s Psalms can maintain that he was ignorant of the true meaning of spiritual worship; or that he thought more of the things of sense than of the action of the soul in its approach to the Holy One; but his spirituality was not of that unwise kind which imperils the very existence of religion among men by doing away with all the outward symbols of its presence. Worship will not be the less spiritual when man has done his very uttermost in his poor way to express in outward and material structure his sense of the unapproachable magnificence of God.
III. The great distinction of David’s work of preparation for the temple is its unselfishness. One of the sternest lessons a man learns with advancing life is the disabling power of sin. Long after we have sincerely repented of sin it haunts us with its double legacy of a dimmed moral eyesight and of an enfeebled will; and even where these effects do not follow, as in David’s case they did not follow, sin remains with us as a memory which tells us when we would attempt something beyond the work of other men, something heroic, something sublime, something that belongs to the career of the saints, that, other matters apart, we are not the men to do it. The discovery that he would not be allowed to express his devotion in one supreme effort must have caused David a shock which we may not easily take measure of. But David did not think of the temple as having to be built either for his own glory or for Solomon’s glory, but for the glory of God. And so David prepared for it with all his heart.
IV. David’s preparation points to a great truth--the preciousness of work unrecognised by man. David does the work, Solomon is decorated with the reputation. Almost every discovery in science has been led up to by forgotten workers. The discoverer, who, after all, has only taken the last step in a long process, lives in history. A minister rises in his place in Parliament to make a statement which astonishes us by its familiarity with the details of a vast and intricate subject; but while the country is ringing with his praises the fact is that the knowledge which so astonishes England has been brought together by the patient toil of the permanent staff of the department, the toil of clerks whose names are, perhaps, unknown beyond their own families. Much more is this the case with the best work in the Church of Jesus Christ. (Canon Liddon.)
The inspiration of a lofty ideal
We expend our strength according to the ideals which it is our purpose to realise. The man who has not a high ideal of his work will be content with indifference, and with doing as little as possible. How profitable it would be if every young life could say at the beginning of its career, “My life is to be exceeding magnifical: it is to be a life of intelligence, purity, beneficence, holy activity in all blessed service: I will now make preparation for it.” What school-going we should then have! What attentive reading of initial books! What an eager sympathy with the purpose of every tutor! How little we should then make of difficulties! The work of preparation would be done under the consciousness that the temple was already built. (J. Parker, D. D.)
David and the temple
A fine and delicate sense of the becoming hindered David from building the temple. A voice within him had whispered, “No: however right and praiseworthy the idea, you are hardly the man to carry it out. Your hands are too stained with blood.” When the Divine word came, simply interdicting, it awoke in him at once a Divine perception of the reason and reasonableness of it; and the God-taught, God-chastened spirit within him made him see at once why the work of enshrining the ark, the ark of the holy and awful presence, must not he his.
I. Consider the remarkable self-restraint displayed by david. He who had lived much in camps and on the battlefield, whose will was law through the length and breadth of the land--he could stay himself from prosecuting his daring scheme with the thought of incongruity.
II. The self-restraint of David reveals the intense reality which god was to him, as well as the impression which he had of the character of God. How pure and lofty would be his conception of the almighty Ruler when it struck him as altogether inappropriate and inconsistent that a shrine should be built for Him by one who had been engaged, however patriotically and for the interests of his country, in shedding much human blood.
1. The picture indicates that, although a man of war from his youth, David had never been proud of fighting. He had had dreams perhaps in his father’s fields of quite another sort of career for himself, and could see something far more attractive and desirable; it was not his ideal life; but it was what his lot had rendered inevitable for him and incumbent on him; it was what he had to do, and he did it.
2. Then, ones more, observe revealed here the remarkable preservation of David’s higher sensibilities. Neither the tumult and strife of years of warfare, nor the elation of successes gained by bow and spear, had prevailed to coarsen him, to render him gross and dull of soul. He emerges from it all, on the contrary, sensitive enough to answer readily to the whispered suggestions of seemliness, to be restrained and turned back upon the threshold of a coveted enterprise by a sense of the becoming.
3. Although precluded from doing what he had purposed and wished to do, he did not, as is the case with many, make that an excuse for doing nothing; did not, therefore, sulkily fold his hands, and decline to see what there was that he might do.
4. Then see how his true thought and noble aim survived him, and survived him to be ultimately realised. The temple grew and rose at last in all its wonderful splendour, though he was not there to behold it. (S. A. Tipple.)
Working up to death
We should work up to the very moment of our death. Our last breath should, if possible, help some other man to pray better, or to work more, or suffer with a firmer constancy. Let no man suppose that the world stands still because he dies. God has always a temple to build, and He will always raise up the builders of it, and yet it pleases Him in His condescension to receive our assistance in preparation. (J. Parker, D. D.)
1 Chronicles 22:6-19
Then he called for Solomon his son.
David’s charge to Solomon
I. A father’s privilege.
1. To cherish a lofty ideal for his son. This does not require that the father should undertake to decide the particulars of his son’s career. This would involve the danger of weakening his will, of lessening his power of independent judgment and free choice. I have seen an apricot tree trained to a wall, trunk and branch fastened to it by nails and bands. It made a vine of what was meant to be a tree. If it had been taken from the wall it would have lain limp on the ground.
2. To make the example of his own daily living one which will help and stimulate his son. A wise father will recognise the fact that he commends to his boy, not that which he praises, but that which he pursues. It is not by telling our children what we wish them to become that we mould them most effectually; it is by the evidence which they get from our daily living, as to bur main desire and hope for them. The unintended influence of the home is that which will move them most. The atmospheric influence is more pervasive than that which comes from medicine.
3. He may provide means by which his son may carry out his purpose and friends to help him in it.
II. A son’s advantage. From all that a good father thus can do a son has no small advantage.
1. By the law of heredity.
2. By this harmonious environment a wise father can largely shape the influences under which his son grows up.
3. By the improved opportunity which comes to him as his father’s son and heir. Solomon has but to keep with care what David has acquired with hard work. The son stands naturally upon the platform to reach which the father has come by climbing the steep ladder. Many a son to-day has grand opportunity for noble living which has been gained for him by the toils of those who have gone before him. But only opportunity. There is a sermon in the word opportunity. It is that which is ob portus, over against the harbour; but there your fleet may rot at anchor as readily as it may be submerged at sea. The skilful master must raise the anchor, set the sail, take advantage of the favouring breeze, steer his craft to port, or all the shipbuilder’s skill has been for naught. All the advantages of the most favoured son will amount to nothing unless he will himself arise and build. Honour is not in what is inherited, but in what is accomplished. (Monday Club Sermons.)
David’s charge to Solomon:--
I. That some originate a good work, but are not permitted to execute it.
II. That others may be called to execute work which they never originated.
III. That when called, they should finish the work given them to do. (J. Wolfendale.)
But the word of the Lord came to me, saying.--
God’s word to David
How the word of the Lord came to David we do not know. In what way soever the communication was made to David, the communication itself is of singular moral value.
1. Say that the Lord delivered the message immediately in audible words, we have then the doctrine that God will not permit men of blood to end their career as if they had been guiltless of blood-shedding.
2. Say that David uttered these words out of the depths of his own consciousness, then we have the doctrine that there is a moral fitness of things that hands stained with blood should not be put forth in the erection of a house of prayer. The house of God is to be a house of peace, the sanctuary of rest, a Sabbatic building, calm with the tranquillity of heaven, unstained by the vices and attachments of earth. (J. Parker, D. D.)
Behold, a son shall be born to thee.
A son predicted
I. Son of David; so was Christ.
II. A man of rest; so was Christ.
III. The giver of peace; so was Christ.
IV. He had a significant name; so has Jesus Christ.
V. He was a glorious king; so is Christ.
VI. His great work was the building of the temple; so is the work of Christ. (Biblical Museum.)
The prediction of Solomon’s birth
This is a forecast which is full of moral instruction; it shows how God knows every man who is coming into the world, what his character will be, what function he will have to discharge, and what will be the effect of his ministry upon his day and generation. The Christian believes that every event is ordered from above, that every man is born at the right time, is permitted to live for a proper period if he be obedient to providence, and that the mission of every man is assigned, limited, and accentuated: all we have to do is to say, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” and to obey what we honestly believe to be the voice from heaven. (J. Parker, D. D.)
1 Chronicles 22:11-13
Now, my son, the Lord be with thee.
A father’s prayer for his son
I. For the possession of moral qualities.
1. Wisdom and understanding.
2. Strength end moral courage.
II. For the presence of God.
III. For successful undertaking. (J. Wolfendale.)
Condition of successful effort
I. Personal fitness.
1. Wisdom to direct.
2. Strength to work.
II. God’s presence to help in its prosecution.
III. Loyal obedience to god: “keep the law of the Lord.” (J. Wolfendale.)
The qualifications needed
I. The source from whence they come.
II. The design for which they are given. (J. Wolfendale.)
Keeping God’s law
I. God’s will is a law.
II. This law should be kept.
III. Obedience to this law is wisdom. (J. Wolfendale.)
We have read that Solomon was young and tender, young and timid; it would seem as if David, recognising the timidity of his son, specially charged him to cultivate courage, bravery, fearlessness. This was training up a child in the way he should go. We are too fond of training our strongest faculties, and thus we are tempted to neglect the weaker side of our nature. Find out the weak side of a child’s character, and address yourself assiduously to its cultivation. We should seek to fall the empty sack, not to overcrowd the full one. Bring into play the muscles that are most difficult to get at, and do not overtrain those which afford the fairest prospect of immediate results. When we complain of a weak memory, or a hesitant will, or a defective imagination, we should address ourselves to the cultivation of that which is in special need of culture. (J. Parker, D. D.)
1 Chronicles 22:14
Now, behold, in my trouble I have prepared for the house of the Lord.
Great enterprises for God
I. That great things done for God look poor in the sight of the noble souls by whom they are done. “Now, behold in my trouble,” or as rendered in the margin, “in my poverty,” or as it is given in the margin of the Revised. Version, “in my low estate,” “have I prepared for the house of the Lord.” Speaking after the manner of men, David had really made great preparations for his sacred design. It has been calculated that as much gold was used in the building of the temple as is usually stored in the vaults of the Bank of England, and toward this lavish expenditure David made a large contribution: “A thousand talents of silver.” This is reckoned such an incredible quantity that some scholars suspect that an error has crept into the text. Brass and iron, timber and stone, were also prepared in abundance. Yet the king does not regard his gifts with complacency--there is no trace of pride or boasting; on the contrary, he feels that his offerings are poor and inadequate. It is ever thus with noble souls; however great in the sight of the multitude is their work or sacrifice, they mourn over it as over a mean and incommensurable thing. If any man thinks that his sacrifice for the cause of God is notable and adequate, there is something wrong with the size of that man’s soul.
1. Whatever we are, we are poor by the side of what God is. The god in many an idol temple is a poor creature indeed when compared with the splendid fabric in which it is worshipped; it is a shock to turn from the gorgeous workmanship of the shrine to the stained, ugly, contemptible idol. Exactly the contrary of this was true in regard to Solomon’s temple. However glorious the building, it was yet an unworthy footstool of the God whom Israel knew and worshipped. The God of Israel was the Eternal; the Creator of earth and heaven; the only wise God; the God of truth and without iniquity, just and right; glorious in holiness, delighting in mercy, doing wonders. When tempted to spiritual pride and vanity let us be humbled by “the beauty of the Lord.” If you wish to gain a true estimate of yourself do not measure yourself by your neighbour; judge yourself in the sight of God, and your righteousness shall fade as a leaf. The sight of God makes the millionaire a penitent, and as penitents we must strive to build His house again.
2. Whatever we do is poor by the side of what God does. We must notice how both David and Solomon cast side-glances at the vastness and magnificence of the temple built without hands. “But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less the house which I have builded.” Whatever they might build was narrow and mean in comparison with heaven and the heaven of heavens. It is a fine discipline to compare our best workmanship with the work of His fingers. The chemist can produce an artificial rainbow, but nobody will mistake the stage rainbow for God Almighty’s rainbow. It is well in a generation of intellectual power and artistic skill to put our creations by the side of God’s marvellous doings so that we may not forget. “In my poverty have I done this,” is the confession of every noble artist who criticises his work in the light of nature’s perfections and the glory of the world.
3. Whatever we give is poor by the side of what God gives. What a magnificent giver God is I We see that in the boundless, infinite outpouring of the riches of nature. And we see that supremely in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ. “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.” If we take our richest gift and grandest sacrifice to Calvary they dwindle into nothing in sight of the Cross. Then it is that we pour contempt on all our pride. So in the sight of God’s personal perfection, and in remembrance of His gifts and works, David felt his talents of gold, his ingots of silver, his forests of cedar, his quarries of marble, his abundance of iron and brass were trivial; they did not pay his debt to God, they simply acknowledged it. If, then, when at our best we are poor, let us not live below our best. David, at least, did his best; let us do ours. Let us not mock God by any paltriness of spirit.
II. Great things must be attempted for God in the face of the most discouraging conditions. David certainly proposed to do great things for God. He had set his heart upon building a house for God that should “be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries.” Familiar as were the nations round about with wonderful architecture end splendid adornments, David proposed to build a sanctuary for the true God that should eclipse them all. But no sooner did he attempt to work out his pious design than he became conscious of the crippling disabilities of human life, of the narrowness and hostility of the human environment. We have a fine time of it whilst we dream and design; the imagination and emotions know nothing of narrowness, difficulty, or defeat. I should like to see the temples you never build; I should like you to hear the sermons I never preach. But as soon as we essay to turn thought into fact our troubles begin. It is always a critical moment when we proceed from idealism to action. It was so with David. He no sooner attempted to take the temple out of his heart and plant it on Mount Zion than he became conscious that he was poor, afflicted, and of low estate. But--and here is the lesson--all the great work of the world has to be undertaken and carried out with the sense of disheartening difficulty and discouragement. Whenever we thoughtfully look at the splendid achievements of industry, science, literature, and art we feel that an infinite pathos enters into the contemplation. The angels “who excel in strength” may do splendid things with a touch, a breath, a look, but we mortals in poverty and weakness and suffering have built up the whole magnificent fabric of civilisation. And all the great work of the Christian world has been done in similar strenuousness and sacrifice. Not out of a superabundance of wealth, learning, leisure, and opportunity has the Church of Christ floated into power and universality, but in defiance of circumstance does it win its widening way. In what deep poverty Christianity had its origin! Christ is the supreme example of the fact that glorious work must be done in profound discouragement. II David built his golden house in poverty, did not his greater Son in a far deeper poverty build His Church which is becoming the refuge of men of all nations, languages, and tongues? The Cross is the grand symbol of His life and work and mission. Indeed, the primitive Church wrought out its great task of evangelisation and establishment amid unparalleled difficulties and a great fight of afflictions; and through successive generations the expansion of Christ’s kingdom has been a series of victories over manifold limitations, oppositions, and persecutions. If you are prepared to do anything for God that is in the least degree worthy of Him, gird yourself and be ready to face almost overwhelming difficulty. If you mean only little things for God, you will have little trouble in doing them; and if you mean less things than that, you will have no trouble at all; but if God has put a great thought into your heart it will mean a sacrifice and a battle. You never do a really large thing easily. The work you passionately desire always looms impossible. Circumstances fetter you, but you must resolutely work in fetters. Physical weakness must not deter you. Do not excuse yourself because you have no leisure. Half the work of the world is done by men who have no time, and who therefore make it. Do not allow the gathering infirmities of age to quench your zeal and effort. Put into the narrowing range of work higher qualities of faith and devotion. Do not even allow private sorrows to deny or discount your public service. When a young Greek soldier complained that his sword was short, a veteran instantly answered him, “Then add a step to it.” And I say to you who find yourselves short of time, short of money, short of strength, short of opportunity, “Add a step”; in other words, make up for the deficiencies of material, opportunity, and instrument by an intenser resolution, enthusiasm, and sacrifice. “Well,” you reply, “a man can do no more than he can do!” Now that sounds like a very deep philosophical saying that you must take slowly in, but in fact it means nothing. Men never know what they are, what they can give, what they can do, until their soul awakes. “Stir up the gift that is in thee.” “Out of my trouble have I done this,” might have been the confession of Tycho Brahe, who made his great discoveries without a telescope, showing that what an astronomer chiefly wants is not a big glass but a big eye. “Out of my trouble have I done this,” might have been the confession of Christopher Columbus, who crossed the Atlantic in an old tub that we should hardly use to-day for a Newcastle collier. “Out of my poverty have I done this,” might have been the plaint of Turner, who painted some of his masterpieces with colours mixed in broken teacups. “Out of my trouble have I done this,” says John Milton, old, poor, and blind, as he enriches the world with “Paradise Lost.” “Out of my low estate have I done this,” says John Bunyan, when he gives you out of Bedford jail the Land of Beulah, the Palace Beautiful, the shining ones, the country that is green the year round, the city of gold and glass, which when we see we wish that we were there. Do not wait until you have “spare time,” “spare cash,” or “spare” anything else; do your best with things as they are, and faith, which is the genius of the heart, will surprise you and the world. However poor and inadequate our work may seem, God will prosper and multiply it in an extraordinary degree. David felt his poverty, but God brought the thought of his heart to the utmost fruition. “Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord, and the king’s house; and all that came into Solomon’s heart to make in the house of the Lord, and in his own house he prosperously effected.” (W. L. Watkinson.)
One worker preparing for another
Let us notice--
I. That david had zealously done his part.
1. He had gathered the materials. Many a man collects people together, and yet he has not the fashioning of them--he does not see many conversions.
2. He fashioned some of the materials.
3. He prepared the way for Solomon’s temple.
4. He found the site for the temple. We do not always remember the men who prepare the sites for the Lord’s temples. Luther is remembered, but there were reformers before Luther.
5. It was David who received the plans from God.
6. He gave a solemn charge to others.
7. Have you done your part?
II. David had done his part in trouble.
1. David thought little of what he had prepared. It is those who do little for the Lord who are like a hen with one chick--they think a great deal of it.
2. It was a proof of his sincerity. David in the day of his trouble, when his heart was ready to break, still went on with his great work of providing for the house of the Lord.
3. It was an incentive to service.
4. It must have given an elevation to David’s whole life.
III. David’s work fits on to the work of another.
1. This is the order of God’s providence in His Church. I am told that my venerable predecessor, Dr. Rippon, used often, in his pulpit to pray for somebody, of whom he knew nothing, who would follow him in the ministry of the Church, and greatly increase it. He died and passed to heaven about the time I was born. Older members of the Church have told me that they have read the answer to Dr. Rippon’s prayers in the blessing that has been given to us these many years.
2. But this is a terrible blow at self. Self says, “I like to begin something of my own, and I like to carry it out; I do not want any interference.” There are some who do not want any help; they are quite up to the mark; they are like a waggon and four horses, and a dog under the waggon as well.
3. I believe that it is good for the work to have a change of workers.
4. This creates unity in the Church of God.
5. This leaves a place for those who come after. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
And thou mayest add thereto.--
So David encourages Solomon to arise and build the temple. The king had done his best to facilitate the building, and now he urges the young prince to come forth and do his part. It may be appropriate to reflect a little upon the fellowship of service, to remember our mutual limitations and responsibilities, and to encourage one another in service.
I. Let us observe the circumscriptions of human service. David could not take in hand the whole business, and build the temple independently of Solomon and everybody else. He soon discovered his limitations, and knew that if the great enterprise were to be carried out he would have to take Solomon into partnership, and Solomon would have to take the nation into, partnership.
1. We are subject to personal, constitutional circumscriptions from which we cannot escape. We have a certain gift and susceptibility, and within the lines prescribed by our special endowment we can work happily and effectively, but we make sorry work when we attempt anything beyond those lines. We have all heard of the mathematician who, on hearing “Paradise Lost” read, wished to know what it proved. Well, it proved that a cell was wanting in his brain, and that he soon gave himself away when he got off his own proper ground. We talk of “all-round” men, but strictly speaking such men do not exist. All have the defects of their qualities with strange work. We may easily get into a place that we do not fit; easily attempt work for which we have no faculty.
2. We are subject to circumscriptions of circumstance. We see this in the case of David. He had gifts and aspirations which the trend of events did not permit him to exercise and develop. The sword was thrust into his hand when he would have preferred the harp; he was condemned to deal with politics when he longed to write poetry; he was shut up to empire-building when he felt the passion strong to temple-building. We possess faculties that our life does not permit us to cultivate, aspirations that we may not gratify. Some birds have little or no song in the wild state, although they have highly developed song muscles which they can turn to excellent account in other and favourable circumstances. Our environment is often too strong for us, and we must coerce ourselves into the performance of duties for which we have little or no inclination.
3. And then we all suffer from the circumscription of time. “David prepared before his death.” We have only life’s little day for our large, manifold, and strenuous speculations. “We are strangers and pilgrims, as all our fathers were.” And this is just as true of the higher service of the race as it is true of intellectual, political, and material service. We are restricted to narrow bounds, and can do only here a little and there a little.
II. Let us, however, observe to our encouragement the continuity of human service. What David could do he did, and what he could not do he passed on with confidence to Solomon. There is wonderful continuity and coherence in the action of man. Leo Grindon says: “Nothing so plainly distinguishes between man and brutes as the absolute nothingness of effect in the work of the latter. Unless the coral isles be esteemed an exception, of all the past labours of all the animals that ever existed, there is not a trace extant.” No; the irrational creatures have been sagacious in an extreme degree, they have been active and energetic from the beginning, powerful, clever, but there is no conservation of their work, no perpetuation, no accumulation. It ceases with the life of the individual or with the existence of the special community. Myriads of bees, birds, ants, and beavers, curious, restless workers, but nothing of their creations and fabrications survive. But it is strangely different with man. Frail and fugitive as the individual may be, we have the ability to bequeath our small personal contribution to the general and increasing wealth of the race. There is a physical law in the animal world which economises the experience of the individual for the benefit of the species, but we have the immense advantage of a social law which preserves and perpetuates in an extraordinary degree the services and sacrifices of the humblest individual. We see this in the intellectual world. Our glorious things in literature and art are the legacies of our gifted ancestors. The architecture of Assyria, the astronomy of Chaldea, the pottery of Etruria, the science of Egypt, the art of Greece, the jurisprudence of Rome, the moral science of Palestine, have come down to us corrected, enlarged, perfected by successive generations. Bees have been making comb for ages, and yet there is nothing to show for it to-day; but swarms of golden bees from Homer to Tennyson have filled a million cells in the British Museum with immortal sweetness. No phonograph has caught and preserved the music of the birds, although they have piped from the morning of time; but the songs and symphonies of ancient minstrels stir our souls with deep thoughts and passions. And once again we see this continuity of service in the national life. Our fathers bequeathed us this great empire. Your toils and sacrifices will be conserved, they will be added to the general stock, they will survive for ages. Here is our grand comfort and encouragement. Real work is wealth that moth and rust do not corrupt.
III. Observe, lastly, to your encouragement, the complementariness Of human service. What David could not do Solomon could do. What is missing in one man is found in another; what is lacking in one man’s service is supplied by the service of another. We see at a glance that men are wonderfully different from each other. Living things and creatures have always an individuality more or less sharp. Artificial things are uniform. The roses on my drawing-room paper are surprisingly alike--exactly the same size, the same colour, the same number of leaves, the flowers grow at precisely the same distance from each other, grow at the same angle, are identical in form and colour whether they grow at the top of the room or the bottom, whether they get the sun or the shade, and they never vary with the seasons; but the garden outside has no uniformity. The roses are all sizes and colours, grow at all angles, and not the roses only but other flowers of a thousand shapes and dyes and perfumes. So in society. David has a character of his own, so has Solomon. And this individuality becomes the sharper with education. Culture intensifies individuality, civilisation spells differentiation, godliness means individual distinction. And because we are different we often think severely of one another. The multitude of teachers utterly unlike each other unconsciously conspire to bring out the whole truth. “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas,” and yet the threefold, the thousandfold, ministry is necessary to bring out the infinite truth. Amongst the great company of preachers, each with his singular appreciation of truth and righteousness and grace, the world gets the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. And so the multitude of workers, utterly unlike each other, cover the whole field of service. As geologists, astronomers, chemists, and many other workers in nature complete the circle of the sciences, so the various servants of Christ and humanity, guided by the sovereign, universal Spirit, take up all kinds of gracious work so that all needs may be ministered unto and the whole race be visited and blessed. “Moreover there are workmen with thee in abundance, hewers and workers of stone and timber, and all manner of cunning men for every manner of work.” “Thou mayest add thereto.” It is a matter of obligation. Are we to receive all and do nothing? Some people add very little to anything. But we all feel how ignoble are such parasitic souls. Solomon felt that it was an obligation to build, and we are awfully guilty if we shirk the work which God has so manifestly committed to us. “Thou mayest add thereto.” It is a privilege to do so. When God built the world He did it altogether without our intervention. We were not there when He laid the foundations of the earth. We had no hand in piling the Alps. We did not dig a trench for the Atlantic. We did not adorn the firmament with golden star and silver crescent and crimson cloud. We did not plant the oaks of Bashan or the cedars of Lebanon. The rainbow owes nothing to our paint-pot. God did it all. “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Thine hands.” But God has granted to us the glorious privilege of being His fellow-workers in building up a regenerated humanity. Our thoughts, gifts, sympathies, prayers, tears may go into this new creation whose glory shall eclipse that of sun or star. “See that no man take thy crown”--that is, see that no man does thy work. (W. L. Watkinson.)
1 Chronicles 22:16
Arise therefore, and be doing, and the Lord be with thee.
David’s charge to Solomon
This charge has respect to and gathers force from--
I. The past. Upon the life and conscience of Solomon were concentrated the considerations and responsibilities which arise out of--
1. The relations of the family covenant. Solomon was a sou of promise.
2. The influence of parental example.
3. The Divine faithfulness.
II. The present. From the present several motives and , encouragements are drawn.
1. Problems have been solved, paths of duty have been made clear, and avenues of effort and usefulness have been opened up.
2. The present was made rich in material which had been prepared and laid up in the past.
3. These preparations brought within the reach of Solomon opportunities such as had been enjoyed by no one before him. The preparation of means and material create opportunities. Providence has created for every Christian greater spiritual opportunities than Solomon enjoyed, and the responsibilities arising out of these opportunities are solemn and urgent.
4. All these motives, arguments, and considerations, drawn from the past and present, unite in a resistless appeal for action: “Arise and be doing.”
III. The charge has respect to the future.
1. Encouragement in his undertaking. Solomon had the promise of the Divine presence and blessing.
2. He was also encouraged in his undertaking by the fact that in the accomplishment of it the desires, hopes, and prayers of pious ancestors would be fulfilled.
3. By thus fulfilling the pious desires of godly ancestors, Solomon set in operation spiritual agencies which carry down to future ages blessings in ever widening streams of diffusive beneficence.
1. In our work we use materials and agencies which have been prepared by kings, prophets, apostles, and martyrs. All the achievements and improvements of modern science and civilisation are available in Christian work.
2. In the kingdom of God them is a place and a sphere for talents and service of all kinds. (S. J. Wilson, D. D.)
Christian activity and its reward
I. Every good man has an important work to do in his day and generation.
1. We have much to do for ourselves in the cultivation of our own minds, the improvement of our hearts, and the faithful application of our various talents.
2. We have much to do for the conversion of others.
3. We have much to do for God.
II. It behoves us to address ourselves to this work with activity, zeal, and energy.
1. Reason dictates this.
2. Gratitude impels it.
3. The brevity of life calls for this.
4. The solemn account we shall have to give should further stimulate us to zeal, activity, and energy.
5. The example of Christ tells us to “Arise and be doing.”
III. When occupying our talents in the exercise of our best efforts we may confidently look for the presence and blessing of God. “And the Lord be with thee.” This might be rendered, “The Lord shall be with thee.”
1. There is a general presence of God with His people, which they enjoy in common with all mankind.
2. There is an especial presence of God with His people, which is the promise of His covenant.
Reflections: This subject will--
1. Reprove the idler.
2. Admonish those who are attempting to work without due dependence upon God.
3. Heaven is a place of ceaseless activity. (George Clayton.)
A new year’s exhortation
I. The sphere of Christian service.
II. The manner of Christian service.
1. Be ready and on the look-out for something to do.
2. Let us find something to do.
3. When you’ve finished one job, set about another. “Be doing.”
III. The vower of Christian service. “The Lord with thee.”
1. His presence will quicken our energy.
2. Will lighten our labour. (R. S. Latimer.)
Inactivity the “dry-rot” of young men
In-activity is the “dry-rot” of thousands of Christian young men. You will never gain a good appetite for God’s Word, or a flush of joy on your countenance, until you lay hold of some earnest, self-denying work and keep at it. Nothing will impart such a holy vehemence to your prayers as to spend an hour by a sick-bed, or in close labour with an impenitent heart. Nothing will stiffen your muscle more than tough up-hill work in behalf of some unpopular cause or moral reform. The only cure for indolence is honest work; the only cure for selfishness is self-sacrifice; the only cure for timidity is to plunge into duty before the shiver benumbs you; the only cure for unbelief is to put Christ to the test every day. Prayer must kill unbelief, or else unbelief will kill prayer. The Christian warfare is not a single pitched battle; it is a campaign for life. You may often imagine that you have attended the funeral of some besetting sin--and lo! it is on its feet again next morning! You won’t fire the last shot until the gates of glory welcome you in among the crowned conquerors. (T. C. Cuyler.)
1 Chronicles 22:19
Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God.
Seeking after God
I. The occasion on which this injunction was given.
II. The injunction itself.
1. The great object of our life.
2. In what way we are to prosecute it.
(1) Avail yourselves of the opportunities afforded for public usefulness.
(2) Begin with the surrender of your whole souls to God. (C. Simeon, M. A.)
The important search
I. The object searched.
II. The method of search.
2. Resolutely. (J. Wolfendale.)
Building the temple
The great aim of missionary work, at home and abroad, is the same. This great work may be illustrated by the text. We have--
I. The heart set upon God.
1. All work for God must begin with ourselves (Acts 22:28; 1 Timothy 4:16).
2. It must be heart-work, not merely duty, custom, or sympathy.
3. There must be a deliberate setting of the heart and soul upon God as our God, reconciled in Christ, fixedly His (Psalms 57:7; Deuteronomy 10:12).
4. There must be continued seeking God, in prayer, meditation, holy living.
II. The building-work going on. The living Church is God’s sanctuary. He dwells in the hearts of His people (John 14:23; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Corinthians 3:16). The work of Christ’s followers is to build the sanctuary.
1. By gathering souls out of the world around to Christ.
2. By gathering souls into the Church, uniting in one body in Christ.
III. The sanctuary used for God. Union in the Church must be--
1. For consecration. The temple is not for ornament, nor for the admiration of the world, but for God.
2. For worship: “Bring the ark,” etc. The ark shadows forth the great propitiation (Romans 3:25). This must hold the first position in the Church, heart, ministry (1 Corinthians 2:2).
3. For service: “Bring the holy vessels,” etc. Each vessel has its use. (J. E. Sampson.)
“Set your heart”
Let us take this exhortation--
I. In its reference to God’s own people.
1. What are they to seek? “The Lord your God.”
(1) By endeavouring to obey Him in everything.
(2) In building up His temple. It should be the main object of our life to seek the Lord by building up His Church.
(3) By doing everything to God’s glory.
2. How are they to seek? “Set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God.”
(1) With fixity of purpose: “Set.”
(2) Have an intense affection towards God’s service and glory.
(3) With an energetic use of the intellect. We ought as much to speculate and scheme to glorify God as we meditate how to advance our business.
(4) By the union and concentration of all our faculties.
3. When are we to seek the Lord? “Now.” Now is the only time worth having, because it is indeed the only time we have. When did David mean by his “now”?
(1) Now that they had an efficient leader--Solomon.
(2) When God is with you.
(3) When God gives rest. “Hath He not given you rest on every side?”
II. In its reference to those who are converted.
1. Set your heart on true religion, and be not content with the outward form of it.
2. Seek the Lord Himself.
3. Seek Him at once with all your heart. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
In the struggle of life many men and women are hampered and depressed by the memory of past weaknesses, errors, and sins. The hours of their real spiritual prosperity are overshadowed and embittered by the recollection of their spiritual adversities. It is one of the wise and helpful laws of our nature that in freeing ourselves from weakness and sin we do not free ourselves from the memory of them. The value of the experience lies in the lesson we learn from it, and the truest repentance is often witnessed by the poignancy of the sorrow, and both the lesson and the sorrow have their roots in memory. But, while we are not to forget that we have sometimes fallen, we are not always to carry the mud with us; the slough is behind, but the clean, clearly-defined road stretches ahead of us, skies are clear, and God is beyond. We were made for purity, truth, and fidelity, and the very abhorrence of the opposites of these qualities, which grows and deepens within us, bears testimony that our aspirations are becoming our attainments. The really noble thing about any man or woman is not freedom from all stains of the lower life, but the deathless aspiration which for ever drives us forward and will not let us rest in any past, whether good or bad. That which makes us respect ourselves is not what men call a blameless career, but the hunger and thirst after God which makes all our doing unsatisfying and inadequate to us. Better a thousand times the eager and passionate fleeing to God from a past of faults and weaknesses, with an irresistible longing for rest in the everlasting verities, than the most respectable career which misses this profound impulse. The past, remains with us to remind us of our perils and our constant need of help, but it ought not to haunt and oppress us. The real life of an aspiring soul is always ahead, We are not fleeing from the devil, but seeking God. (Lyman Abbott.)
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Chronicles 22". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29