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From the commencement of this chapter to the close of the First Book of the Chronicles we again travel alone, and, with the exception of parallel passages of a merely ordinary character, have no longer the assistance of comparing different descriptions of the same stretches of history. The present chapter relates David's interested and zealous preparations for the building of the temple (1 Chronicles 22:1-5); his exhortations and solemn charge to his son and successor (1 Chronicles 22:6-16); and afterwards his injunctions to the "princes of Israel" (1 Chronicles 22:17-19) to help Solomon.
1 Chronicles 22:1
This verse evidently belongs to the close of the last' chapter, and should have had its place there. It indicates a deep sense of relief that now visited David's mind. We can imagine how he had pondered often and long the "place where" of the "exceeding magnificent" house which it was in his heart to build for the Lord. The place was now found, and the more unexpected and "dreadful" (Genesis 28:17) the method by which it was arrived at, the more convincing and satisfactory, at all events in some points of view. The extraordinary and impressive designating of this spot was in itself a signal for an active commencement of the work, and made at the same time such commencement practicable. Solomon and many others would afterwards often think, often speak, of the "threshing-finer of Ornan the Jebusite" as the place "which was shown to David his father," and which "David had prepared" (2 Chronicles 3:1). Here, then, he builds "the altar of burnt offering," as, on the neighbouring "hill of Zion," he had reared the "tabernacle for the ark."
1 Chronicles 22:2
The strangers. These are plainly called in the Septuagint "proselytes" (τοὺς προσηλὺτους). They were, of course, foreign workmen, who came in pursuit of their trade. The injunctions as to "strangers," and with regard to showing them kindness, are very numerous, beginning with Exodus 12:19, Exodus 12:48, Exodus 12:49; Exodus 22:21 (20); Exodus 23:9; Le Exodus 19:10, 33, 34; Exodus 15:14-16; Deuteronomy 10:18, Deuteronomy 10:19; Joshua 8:33-35. It was not David's object merely to gain cheap or compulsory work (2 Chronicles 2:17, 2 Chronicles 2:18), but to obtain a skill, which immigrants from certain places would possess, in excess of that of his own people (2Ch 2:7, 2 Chronicles 2:8, 2 Chronicles 2:13,2 Chronicles 2:14), especially considering the absorption of Israel in the pursuit of war, which had so largely impeded their study and practice of these the arts of peace.
1 Chronicles 22:3
Iron… the joinings; and brass. The very first Bible mention of metals (Genesis 4:22) places these two together. Whence Solomon got his "abundance" of the latter we have read in 1 Chronicles 18:8; for the "abundance' of the former he would not necessarily go further than his own land. Although the expression, "the land whose stones are iron" (Deuteronomy 8:9), is possibly enough a poetical figure where it stands, yet some of the force of the figure may have sprung from its nearness to fact. The abundant use of iron in a great variety of tools, implements, weapons, and the knowledge of it in bar and sheet, might be illustrated from a large number of quotations from Scripture (Deuteronomy 19:5; Deu 27:5; 2 Samuel 12:31; 2 Kings 6:5; Isaiah 10:34; Amos 1:3; and many others). The "joinings" were the clamps and plates of various size and shape, which held strongly together, whether beams of wood or blocks of stone.
1 Chronicles 22:4
The Zidonians and they of Tyre (see 1 Kings 5:6, 1 Kings 5:9, 1 Kings 5:13-18; 2 Chronicles 2:16-18). The interesting passages in Homer, Herodotus, and Strabo, which speak of Zidon, etc; are in entire accord with what is here said, and are well worth perusal; e.g. 'Iliad,' 6:289-295, "And she descended to the vaulted chamber, where were the garments all embroidered, the works of women of Sidon, whom the godlike Alexander himself brought from Sidon when he crossed the wide sea, by the way that he brought Helen of noble lineage;" 'Iliad,' 23. 743, 744, "And this vessel was of unsurpassed fame for beauty over all the land, for the men of Sidon, cunning artificers, had skilfully wrought it, and Phoenicians had brought it over the dark sea;" 'Odyssey,' 4:615-618, "And it was all silver, but the borders were mingled with gold. It was the work of Hephaestus. The illustrious Phademus, King of the Sidonians, gave it me when his palace sheltered me on my return thither;" 'Odyssey,' 15:424, "I boast to come from Sidon, famed for its skill in the working of brass." Similar references may be found in Herodotus (7:44, 96) and Strabo (1 Chronicles 16:2, § 23. See also 'Speaker's Commentary,' under 1 Kings 5:6).
1 Chronicles 22:5
Solomon… is young and tender. It is impossible to fix the exact age of Solomon as marked by these words. In a "fragment" of Eupolemus he is put down at twelve years of age. Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 1 Chronicles 8:7, § 8) as vaguely supposes he was fourteen at the time that he took the throne. He was the second son of Bathsheba, and can scarcely have exceeded the last-men-tioned age by mere than three or four years. This same language, "young and tender," is repeated in 1 Chronicles 29:1. The reign of Solomon lasted forty years (1 Kings 11:42; 2 Chronicles 9:30). He is called old (1 Kings 11:4) when his strange wives "turned away his heart after other gods." We are not told his age at the time of his death. There are, in fact, no sufficient data for fixing to the year, or indeed within the liberal margin of several years, the age now designated as young and tender.
1 Chronicles 22:7
For my son, the Chethiv shows "his son," the Keri substituting "my."
1 Chronicles 22:8
Because thou hast shed much blood. This is repeated very distinctly below (1 Chronicles 28:3), and appears there again as acknowledged by the lip of David himself. It seems remarkable that no previous statement of this objection, nor even allusion to it, is found. Further, there seems no very opportune place for it in either our 1 Chronicles 17:1-15 or in 2 Samuel 7:1-17. Yet, if it seem impossible to resist the impression that it must have found expression on the occasion referred to in those two passages, we may fit it in best between 2 Samuel 7:10 and 2 Samuel 7:11 of the former reference, and between 2 Samuel 7:11 and 2 Samuel 7:12 of the latter. So far, however, as our Hebrew text goes, this is the first place in which the statement is made.
1 Chronicles 22:9
Shall be born. This is not the necessary translation of the verb. The form נוֹלָד does not express here future time. Solomon was already born when the word of the Lord came to David. On the other hand, we may suppose special emphasis to belong to the clause, His name shall be Solomon. The name designates the man of peace, and the clause is an announcement, probably intended to throw further into the shade the alternative name Jedidiah, which also had been divinely given (2 Samuel 12:24, 2 Samuel 12:25).
1 Chronicles 22:10
The substance of this verse is found also in Nathan's language (1 Chronicles 17:12, 1 Chronicles 17:13; 2 Samuel 7:13, 2 Samuel 7:14).
1 Chronicles 22:12
The father's prayer for the son, and in his hearing, will have often recurred to the memory of Solomon, and may have been the germ of the son's own prayer, which "pleased the Lord" (1 Kings 3:5-14; 2 Chronicles 1:7-12).
1 Chronicles 22:13
The references to olden time, and the pointed reference to Moses, must be regarded as emphatic. In 1 Chronicles 28:20 we find the additional words, "and do it," inserted after the animated and intensely earnest exhortation, Be strong, and of good courage. This inspiriting summons was no new one. It was probably already hallowed in the name of religious language, and would be often quoted (Deuteronomy 4:1; Deuteronomy 31:5-8; Joshua 1:5-9).
1 Chronicles 22:14
Now, behold, in my trouble. The Septuagint, Vulgate, and Luther's translation adopt here our marginal reading, "poverty." Keil, Bertheau, and others translate, with much greater probability, "by severe effort," which translation may be fortified, not only by such references as Genesis 31:43 and Psalms 132:1 (where the same root is found in Pual infinitive), but by the expression evidently answering to the present one in 1 Chronicles 29:2 (בּכָל־כּוֹח), "with all my strength." Moreover, David could not with correctness speak of poverty as characterizing his condition during the time that he had been collecting for the object of his heart's desire. And scarcely with any greater correctness could he speak of the necessary anxieties and responsibilities of his royal office as at all specially marking this period. A hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver. Our sense of dissatisfaction in being able neither heartily to accept nor conclusively to reject this statement of the quantities of gold and silver prepared by David, may be lessened in some degree by the statement found in 1 Chronicles 29:16, that "of the gold, the silver, and the brass, and the iron, there is no number." Milman, in his 'History of the Jews', says upon the general subject of this verse, "But enormous as this wealth (i.e. that of Solomon) appears, the statement of his expenditure on the temple, and of his annual revenue, so passes all credibility, that any attempt at forming a calculation, on the uncertain data we possess, may at once be abandoned as a hopeless task. No better proof can be given of the uncertainty of our authorities, of our imperfect knowledge of the Hebrew weights of money, and, above all, of our total ignorance of the relative value which the precious metals bore to the commodities of life, than the estimate made by Dr. Prideaux of the treasures left by David, amounting to eight hundred millions, nearly the capital of our national debt." It must be noted, however, that Milman himself proceeds, when speaking of "the sources of the vast wealth which Solomon undoubtedly possessed," to bring very enormous sums (whether somewhat less or even somewhat more than the above estimate of Dr. Prideaux) more within the range of the possible, to our imagination. He justly remarks, for instance, that it is to be remembered that "the treasures of David were accumulated rather by conquest than traffic, that some of the nations he subdued, particularly the Edomites, were very wealthy. All the tribes seem to have worn a great deal of gold and silver, both in their ornaments and in their armour; their idols were often of gold; and the treasuries of their temples, perhaps, contained considerable wealth. But during the reign of Solomon, almost the whole commerce of the world passed into his territories." After substantiating by details these and similar positions, he sums up, "It was from these various sources of wealth that the precious metals and all other valuable commodities were in such abundance that, in the figurative language of the sacred historian, 'silver was in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar trees as sycamores.'" Since the date of Milman's words just quoted, however, investigation of ancient weights and measures, and of those of Scripture, has made some advance, yet not sufficient to enable us to arrive at any certainty as to those of our present passage. Assuming that the text of our present verse is not corrupt, and that the figures which it gives are correct, the weight and the value of the gold and silver mentioned are very great, whatever the talent in question. This assumption, however, cannot be relied upon, and it seems scarcely legitimate to interpret the talent as any than the Hebrew talent, considering the silence observed as regards any other. It need not be said here that the exchanges of money value were estimated in these times by so much weight of gold or silver. Further, "the shekel of the sanctuary" (Exodus 30:13; Le Exodus 27:3), possibly the same with "the shekel after the king's weight" (2 Samuel 16:1-26), and which was kept in the tabernacle, and afterwards in the temple—was presumably the standard. The gold talent was double the weight of the silver talent. It weighed 1,320,000 grains, instead of 660,000. The silver talent contained 50 manehs, of 60 shekels each; but the gold talent contained 100 manehs, of 100 shekels each. The modern money equivalents of these weights are very uncertain. Both the silver and the gold talent have been very variously calculated in this relation. Some of the best authorities put the silver talent at £342 3s. 9d; and the gold at £5475. This would make the money value described by this verse nearly nine hundred millions of our money. Other estimates are considerably in excess of this sum, and but few fall below it. Vast as the sum is, we may be helped in some degree to accept it by the statement of Pliny, who ('Nat. Hist.,' 32:15) tells us that Cyrus, in his subjugation of Asia, took half as many talents of silver as are here mentioned, and thirty-four thousand pounds of gold (see articles in Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' on "Money," and on" Weights and Measures"). Among the most valuable works on these subjects are De Saulcy's 'Numismatique Judaique,' and F. Madden's 'Jewish Coinage.'
1 Chronicles 22:15
So too 1 Chronicles 28:21; 2Ch 2:7, 2 Chronicles 2:17, 2 Chronicles 2:18; as well as 2 Chronicles 2:2-4 of the present chapter.
1 Chronicles 22:16
Arise… and be doing. The first and last words of Ezra 10:4 are found here, and note may be made of the similarity of the expression.
1 Chronicles 22:17-19
These verses contain David's command, accompanied by urgent argument, to the princes of Israel, to render their hearty assistance.
1 Chronicles 22:17
All the princes; i.e. those who held positions of authority as commanders, leaders, elders, heads of tribes, and chiefs of the fathers (1 Chronicles 27:22; 1 Chronicles 23:2; 1 Chronicles 28:1).
1 Chronicles 22:18
The whole of this verse should have been suggestive of memories thrilling with interest. What David says here is equivalent to the declaration of the perfect fulfilment of the promises of nine hundred years ago. By faith of those very promises how many generations had lived! What journeyings, suspense, punishment, and struggle, the intervening centuries had witnessed! And now at last it is given to the lip of the aged David to pronounce the termination of a nation's prolonged conflict, its entrance into peace, and the fulfilment of the most impassioned wishes, ima-ginings, end prayers of the patriarchs, of Moses, and of a long line of the faithful. It was well for David that he could not foresee and did not know how near the culminating of a nation's glory and prosperity might be to its woeful fall and prolonged decay. The analogy that obtains in this respect between the history of an individual and of a nation is as remarkable as it should be instructive and turned to the uses of warning.
1 Chronicles 22:19
To bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and the holy vessels of God. To settle these in a fixed home had now been of a long time the consuming desire of David's heart (so 1 Chronicles 15:1; 2 Chronicles 5:2-4). Into the house that is to be built. The preposition לinstead of אֶל, before "the house," is to be noticed here (1 Chronicles 25:26; Nehemiah 10:35). Also the Niphal participle, הַגִּבְנֶהַ, here translated "that is to be built," is to be noticed. The meaning of David would be better met probably thus: "Arise, build the sanctuary… to bring the ark… into the house (then) builded to the Name of the Lord."
1 Chronicles 22:8.-Religious enthusiasm in old age-a model soliloquy.
This soliloquy exhibits the settled thought of years past. The house that is to be builded for the Lord, remaining still to old age, the imperial thought of David's heart. And we may notice that —
I. THE PURPOSE THAT IS HALLOWED IN OWNING FOR ITS CHIEF OBJECT THE WELFARE OF THE CHURCH OF GOD IS ONE THAT DOES THRIVE WELL EVEN TO OLD AGE. Other designs, projects, and purposes are, it is tree, often seen to flourish to old age as matter of fact. But in innumerable instances how much better it had been if their fascination had been long before resisted, and their tyrannous demand on the force that so plainly threatens to ebb had been long since denied them! They unduly consume strength of mind and body. They inappropriately occupy the strength of the heart. They have really nothing in common with the momentous future that is so imminent. They often contrast painfully and repulsively with it. Far otherwise was it now with David's purpose, and with such as are in any analogy with it. In his faithful heart a holy purpose had been cherished. It still stands fast, and harmonizes well with age—with the thoughts appropriate to age, with the experience and correcter judgments of age, and with its near prospects.
II. THE PURPOSE THAT IS HALLOWED IN HAVING FOR ITS DISTINCT OBJECT THE WELFARE OF THE CHURCH OF GOD OFFERS AMPLE ROOM FOR THE EXERCISE OF A NOBLE AMBITION. "The house… must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries."
1. An exalting force in bureau character finds exercise and abundant scope at a time when it might otherwise be on the decay, or, if not on the decay, able to find no really worthy object.
2. It finds exercise not merely healthful to the person who exhibits it, but of widespread usefulness. Beside personal aspiration after heaven, its beatific visions, its perfect holiness, there is distinctly an ambition which shall become a dying bed—the ambition to leave with the world what will be a continuing and growing blessing to it, and a lasting witness for God and his truth. In no way, other things being equal, is blessing so surely given as when directly given in connection with spiritual work, and with that grandest enterprise, the Church of God. Where all other grandeur of earth must fade therefore, and the eye has become passionless to all other, its brightest colours, the Church of God, as well material as spiritual, has been known to enter a successful competition with whatever else occupied a dying hour.
III. PURPOSES HALLOWED THROUGH THEIR CONNECTION WITH THE CHURCH OF GOD WILL NOT TOLERATE THE RISK OF THEIR GREAT OBJECTS BEING PREJUDICED BY ANY CAUSES AVOIDABLE. Even though natural relationship might have tempted the risk, and Divine designation might have been pressed into some warrant of it, David does not for a moment yield to it. He does promptly and with guarded zealous forethought, acknowledge to the danger, and do the best to provide against it. Religious principle ought to overcome hereditary instincts, and the ties of nature ought not to override those of diviner origin. "Whoso loveth father or mother more than me," said Jesus, "is not worthy of me." David was doubtless very proud of his son, very tender of him; but he was justly prouder of the work of his God, and justly tenderer of it and its secured welfare. Genuine holy purposes seem to own to a native circumspection. They seem to possess a secret safeguard within themselves. Of these it is not true, and it is not said, that the children of nature are in their generation wiser than they. The forethought, then, that works so largely in human life, and is so fruitful of various good, shows to great advantage in such conduct as that of David at this crisis. There are, indeed, senses in which it may be said almost to belong to nature to consider and to act for following generations. For so "the husbandman plants many a tree, no berry of which he can reckon on living to behold." But it is the work of something more than nature, higher than nature, when holy purposes waken vigour, fire, enthusiasm, and zealous labour in old age. And strikingly are such purposes distinguished from those "good intentions" which have won for themselves a proverbial and a bad character.
1 Chronicles 22:8.-The stain of blood.
We distinctly read here, as also in the stricter parallel of this place (1 Chronicles 28:3), that it was because David had "shed blood abundantly," had "shed much blood on the earth" in the sight of God, had "made great wars," that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "Thou shalt not build an house to my Name." After the death of David we find Solomon—so far as we may go by his language—seeming to put a somewhat different shade of interpretation on the matter. He does not, indeed, say anything different from the truth, or necessarily inconsistent with it; but perhaps moved by a son's filial dutifulness, he purposes to omit those aspects which were the more painful aspects, and grievous to a son's lip to enlarge upon. He says (1 Kings 5:3), "Thou knowest how that David my father could not build an house unto the Name of the Lord his God for the wars which were about him on every side, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet." This version is also quite consistent with the indications of our compiler (1 Chronicles 17:1), and with those of 2 Samuel 7:1. With one fuller, however, and more plain-spoken, from the honest lip of the father himself to his son, not of the son to the outer world, we have here to do. And we are taught —
I. THAT AS SURELY AS JUDGMENT IS GOD'S STRANGE WORK, SO SURELY WOULD HE THAT THAT WORST JUDGMENT, WAR, AND THE SHEDDING OF FELLOW-MAN'S BLOOD SHOULD BE THE STRANGE WORK OF HIS PEOPLE. If there be times when these be necessary, yet are they intrinsically "strange work," and are emphatically by the Divine will to be so regarded. The man who has been but the bare instrument of this kind of thing among his fellow-men on earth, shall not be the man whose hands shall be honoured to rear the temple of God, the Church of love and peace, and of the perfecter brotherhood of humanity.
II. THAT THE PREVAILING BENT OR HABIT, OR MERE OCCUPATION OF OUR PREVIOUS LIFE, WILL NOT UNFREQUENTLY AT SOME CRITICAL MOMENT, AND ONE WHICH WE MAY IMAGINE TO BE OF SUPREME IMPORT, DECIDE THE LOT THAT SHALL FALL TO US, OR BE FORFEITED FOR EVER. Sin may be forgiven, the tyranny of evil habit may be broken, the usurper of the heart's throne may be dethroned, circumstance may have been almost revolutionized; but in hard fact, the things that have been cannot be made as though they had not been, nor shall we be counted as though they had not been. Some stains are very stubborn things. And they are not superstitiously but legitimately regarded such. The stain of blood is notoriously of this description. Two such contrasts as Cain and David attest it. Contrasts violent as the savage sacrifices of heathendom through unnumbered ages and those of revelation illustrate it. But the tremendous demonstration itself may be held to come from the mark, the sprinkling, the efficacy of that blood of which they once cried out, let it "be on us and on our children." On these both the dreadful stain of it, and the infinite virtue of it, have been from time to time, and still are, and shall be. Yet how many important and solemn illustrations of the same principle there are which shall fall very far short of those that bloodshed offers, David's habit in this sort, nevertheless, our typical warning all the while! The element of doubtfulness in your profession, your business, your tactics, your line of well-known conduct awhile, may prove to lie just in this, the irresistible suspicion which they shall inevitably engender in the better part of human nature, in its higher instincts—in a word, in the humaner portion of humanity. That suspicion need be voted no freak of caprice, of superstition, of mock purity. It is a suspicion of the kind safe to incur itself. And it may be distinctly noted that it is incurred:
1. By the unwelcome, unsavoury nature of the actual deeds asked or involved. Though haply it be necessary that these be done, yet in good men's minds there shall be a veiled revulsion from the touch of the hand that is the minister of them.
2. By the quality of character, which they are plainly calculated to beget or to foster. One that may betoken disparagement of thought, of feeling, of human inalienable rights, which should be held ever sacred.
3. By their resolute owning to the endowment of an unavoidable tenacity of life. They have a name to live, though not an enviable name. They will make their name to be heard when their doer would heartily wish they had never lived at all. They insist on reappearing, and brighten out to vision at times the most inopportune.
III. THAT HE WHO NOW REFUSES THE NOBLER SERVICE OF DAVID, THOUGH ACCEPTING THE PURPOSE OF HIS HEART, IS HE SOME OF WHOSE MIGHTIEST TITLES SOUND OF BATTLE AND VICTORY. The force of the lessons suggested to us by this passage certainly suffer no loss when we note an inconsistency which justifies itself in the very speaking of it. Vengeance, retribution, ultimate punishment, human blood, human life, lie all specially within the one supreme jurisdiction. And though doubtless God devolves the execution of these into the hands of others, the right of them he does not devolve. For David, for kings, for statesmen, for every man, the danger is that he encroach a hair's breadth upon such a right. Now the Lord of hosts, the God of armies, the mighty Man of war, the Captain, the Avenger, the glorious Victor, is he alone to whom could safely attach the vast trust of human life and destiny, and the prerogative of the unquestioned disposition of them. It is he who, those titles of his own notwithstanding, pronounces the word that David shall not be the honoured builder of the temple, that olden type of the Church. Not because the object was not a good one, not because the purpose of David's heart was an impure or mingled one, but because it had fallen so often to David to pour on the ground the life-blood of his fellows which the Church comes to save, therefore was the prohibition peremptory. Nor is any respite of allowance granted to the indisputable fact, that many of David's wars had been under Divine sanction and by Divine command. Yet is there herein no mystery of Divine sovereignty to be pondered, no inscrutableness of "the things hidden" to be adored. For human feeling, human instinct, reason's convictions and calmest utterances justify and approve the verdict.
1 Chronicles 22:11-13.-The aged king's charge to his son and successor.
The language of David to his son here, and shortly afterwards to the princes of the kingdom, indicate well his recognition and lively memory of the fact that stone and wood, gold and iron, will need willing hands, earnest minds, devoted hearts, and that even the best material of doctrine and truth will lie dead without the energy of the will and the living Spirit. The present utterances of David's lips, though somewhat various, go together to make what may still be correctly called one charge. And this charge is formulated in words of —
I. DIRECT ADDRESS AND INCITEMENT. David uses the direct human means, he looks upon his son. He speaks as a father to his son. With these natural aids of human look and voice he appeals to him, and remembers that the memory of them may possess an influence of incalculable helpfulness at some critical moments in time to come. It is not sufficient that we think and pray over God's work and over others. We must use that word as a weapon, and wield it with all such force, both of kind and of degree, as may be open to us. So to preaching and teaching the best, the purest, and the most prepared of Divine truth, we must add the instrument of appeal. That appeal must be in God's name, and must consist of his truth, but it must still be our appeal, warm with the love and sympathy of the heart of a fellow-creature, and quivering with the anxious tones of a fellow-creature's voice. And in carrying out these methods, however undesignedly, David:
1. Announces the opportunity that lies before his son. He will not suffer any risk in the matter, but constrains his son to look at the opportunity, secures his surveying it in something of its proper dimensions. Solomon was very young still; but youth often under-estimates the dimensions of the things that are greatest of all. Just as the vast scenery that the eye looks on for the first time seems to have been over-described and exaggerated, till the truth grows on the eye day after day, and month after month, and that eye becomes educated to estimate magnitude more correctly. David, therefore, fixes attention, at all events, upon the grandeur of the opportunity which has now fallen to the lot of a very young man—"Build the house of the Lord thy God."
2. Emphasizes the value of the suggestions arising from a father's experience. David has not concealed from his young son what it had been in himself which had stood in the way of his accomplishing his own desire. It is not always to be expected, nor always wise or right, that a father "make a clean breast of it" to a young son. But David has done this now, and adds advice, and the tones of an earnest deep feeling which failed not to betray itself.
3. Urges the far more potent inducement of the Divine designation. "Build the house of the Lord thy God, as he hath said of thee." If somewhat veiled, this is in effect the strong argument enwrapt in St. Paul's exhortation, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12, Philippians 2:13). What a tremendous force has developed itself from the midst of all the weakness of human powers, when these have heard and surrendered themselves to the Divine call! Nothing so disarms as the consciousness that God and his truth are against you; and nothing fills the heart with such true fire and such abiding, growing determination as the happy contrary.
4. Appeals to the principle of sanctified courage. "Be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed." The strength, the courage, the fearlessness, not such as should have to be shown against any outer foe, but against the foe who must be feared from within: To fear responsibility rather than to dare it, is one thing; to run away from duty, from high endeavour, from difficult enterprise because of responsibility, is another thing, and an ignoble thing. Against temptation of this kind even a man's natural courage should largely defend him, much more should godly courage.
II. INDIRECT ADDRESS, AS OVERHEARD, FOR INSTANCE, IN THE SUGGESTIONS OF FERVENT PRAYER. Of all malevolent influences, one of the most disastrous is when the impression is produced upon one that he is "prayed against." Of all tendering, melting influences, one of the most effective has been observed to be when genuine prayer has been overheard; the person praying unconscious thereof, and the person prayed for convinced of the same. But in this case David wishes his young son to hear and knew his prayer and deepest desires for him. And Solomon hears therein:
1. The prayer that speaks gentle, thoughtful affection. "The Lord be with thee"—the unchanging, almighty, unerring Friend. This petition, too familiar to our ear, too little familiar to our thought, knows no limit of time, sets no bound to help, begs constant mercy, constant love.
2. The prayer that suggests the memory of need—the need of "wisdom and understanding." Amid high position, great power, immense wealth and glory, David will not have his son forget the need of that "wisdom and understanding" which were more precious than rubies, and above all price. Nor will he have him forget that from God alone are these to be derived. And the exceeding importance that David attaches to the possession of these is further indicated by the word "only." If only these are given by the Giver of all good, if only these are treasured by his son, all else may be trusted to go well.
3. The prayer that honours obedience. Solomon must "keep the Law of the Lord his God;" he must "take heed to fulfil the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel." His principle, his idea, his habit—none of these must look the way of doing his own will, ruling for his own ends or glory. He is but a vicegerent over God's people, and follows in this respect the greatest exemplars and models of his people from most ancient, most honoured times. God had so "charged" Moses concerning Israel, that Moses had for the most part been obedient and "faithful as a servant;" and David prays that a similarly gracious, condescending, and commanding "charge" may be vouchsafed to Solomon, and heard and "kept" by Solomon.
4. The prayer that authoritatively pronounces the embryo blessing. "Then shalt thou prosper." So this charge, both for its matter and for its manner, for its following the precedents of wise human means, and for its imploring the Divine blessing and unhesitatingly avowing the perpetual need of Divine interposition, was well adapted to produce lasting impression on Solomon. What could the loving father and the dying king do more for his people, for his son, for his God?
1 Chronicles 22:19.-The aged king's parting injunctions to the princes of his kingdom.
There both seems to have been, and on many accounts it is likely that there was, much savouring of the despotic in the position of the kings of Israel, and this even in their best times. It was in part the purposed and just result of their Divine call to the office they were to hold. And the despotic disposition was often as inconspicuous as could be desired, The characteristic evils of the despotic temper did not push themselves into any prominence, did not even make themselves visible, so long as that king divinely designated remembered faithfully to hold himself at the sovereign disposal of the King of kings. But when this was not the case, they developed rapidly and disastrously. It is nevertheless abundantly plain that, when the authority and voice of the good king sounded most absolute, the facts of human life and character were not disregarded. Full account was made of them, and the nature of human society was religiously respected. Hence, at the present time, David calls on the princes of the kingdom, as well as on his own son and successor. He calls on them to close up their ranks round him, and addresses them as though they were truly the responsible props of the throne. He intreats them to co-operate with Solomon as sympathizing fellow-labourers in a grand religious enterprise. Such association of subjects with ruler is necessary to bind together strongly and safely the framework of any community fit to be called sound. Disintegration inevitably sets in with the deceitful interstices often found between class and class, or between ruler and ruled. We may notice here how David —
I. SKETCHES THE ELEMENTS OF A NATION'S OPPORTUNITY. These elements in the present instance are found in:
1. The fact that there is trustworthy ground for being sure that the Lord is on the side of his people. He is with them, and if so, they may feel that they have One with them far greater than all they who are against them. Confidence in a good cause is a great moral help and support. The confidence that comes of knowing that in the last resort one has a strong friend, is often a great strength. But to have God on one's side is to have both these in one. It is to have all in one. He will not be found with a bad cause. And he brings unerring wisdom, perfect knowledge, and an omnipotent arm into the field. Nor is the consciousness of the presence and favourable regard of the Lord of less significance when not the works of war but those of peace are m question. Thought and works of skill and cunning invention, of beauty and of wisdom, memory and reason, and the highest attempts and successes of imagination, all lie open to his inspiration. "The inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding" (Job 32:8). And an even special stress is repeatedly laid upon the effects of this condescending presence upon the intelligence and the humble works of man, as, for instance, in the matter of the preparation of the materials used in the construction of the tabernacle of the wilderness (Exodus 31:1-6). And this may be called the central element in David's suggestions as to the opportunity now before his nation.
2. The absence of external causes of anxiety and apprehension. Worldly care is no doubt a part of the necessity, the discipline, the improving education of the present life. But the distraction of it often has hindered the noblest developments of the powers that lie in human nature. These noblest efforts need the "united heart," the undivided zeal; and if you are to soar aloft, yours must be an unbroken wing. A nation's life has times without number illustrated all this on a large scale. By severe effort the individual may occasionally triumph over distraction, but the mass are interested in and follow but one thing at a time.
3. The sense of restfulness now the portion of the people. Their own dwelling-place, home, the earthly Canaan, at all events,—these are now their portion. And the spontaneous suggestion of them is some grateful earnest tribute forthcoming to their Giver. Home is for rest; rest is for work. Security is not to produce the fruit of sluggishness, but to yield that kind of "quietness and confidence" that shall make into strong, calm, determined purpose.
II. MAKES A STRONG APPEAL TO THE LEADERS or THE NATION TO USE TO THE FULL THE OPPORTUNITY. This appeal is twofold.
1. It asks the enthusiasm, the devotion, the full affection of heart and soul, in the first place. These must be "set to seek the Lord God." They must not be left to take their hopeful chance, or chance more or less hopeful; they must be charged to rise to their higher selves. "My soul, wait thou only upon God." Some men of God of old recognized very distinctly how it devolved upon them to take their own heart, to talk, reason with it, urge it, "stir up its good gift," and lay upon it its solemn responsibility, its high privilege.
2. It asks the honesty of action. Great affections will pine without the bracing effects of exercise and trial and strenuous enterprise. Innumerable great purposes have come to ruin; and the wreckage has been visible enough and mournful enough. But the inner invisible wreck that has come of purposes great and holy, which never saw the light, never dared the breath of criticism, nor the winds of opposition, has been a thousandfold mournful and fatal. So David specifics, if not details, yet the leading divisions of practical duty now. "Arise… build the sanctuary.,, bring the ark of the covenant,… and the holy vessels into the house," when" built to the Name of the Lord."
HOMILIES BY J.R. THOMSON
1 Chronicles 22:5.-Preparation for the temple.
A site having been secured for the house of the Lord, the next thing to be done was to make what preparations were possible in view of the great undertaking. David's forethought and liberality, as described in this passage, are deserving of our admiration. Not permitted to do the work himself, he was allowed to commence and carry forward preparations for the construction of the temple. The considerations which led to this course of action were —
I. THE GREATNESS AND GLORY OF THE WORK TO BE EXECUTED. A house for the Lord, the Eternal, whom "the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain," a house which should be "exceeding magnifical," obviously needed vast and prolonged and costly preparation. Masonry, metals, cedar-wood, joinery,—all were made ready beforehand by the provident generosity of the king. Thus, when the time came to build, it was found that much was already prepared for the workmen's hands.
II. THE YOUTH AND INEXPERIENCE OF THE PRINCE WHO WAS TO CARRY OUT THE PROJECT. As this was David's own son, it was natural that a kind consideration of the difficulties of the enterprise committed to him should govern David's conduct. Great interest gathers round a young monarch, especially if he comes to the throne at a time when great things are expected of him, or when his position is encompassed with difficulties. Solomon was "young and tender," and it was natural and right that his experienced father should take measures to lighten the burden which Providence designed to fall upon the youthful and inexperienced.
III. HIS OWN INTEREST IN THE WORK. David would fain have undertaken the great enterprise himself. His mind conceived the purpose which his son was appointed to execute. He sacrificed self, and sank his personal ambition in the great project. Reverence and gratitude to the God to whom he owed so much induced him to acquiesce in the appointment of Divine wisdom, and to further the undertaking, if not in his own way, yet in God's.
1. The construction of the Lord's spiritual temple is a work in which it behoves all Christians to take a deep interest. There groweth "an holy temple unto the Lord." In this temple Christ's people are not only living stones, they are active builders. They wrong themselves and their Saviour, if they are absorbed in their own petty plans and negligent of this great cause which should excite the attention and sympathy of all.
2. Even though our part in this work be subordinate and unnoticeable, we should not slight the privilege granted us. Our work may be underground work which no one sees, or preparatory work which no one values at its true worth. But if God has assigned it to us, let us count it an honour to work for him.
3. In the service of God we may be fellow-helpers one of another. As David and Solomon wrought in harmony, so should all the builders in the spiritual temple. Sympathy and co-operation distinguish the sanctified activities of the Lord's servants.
4. Our time for work is short. Death will soon call upon us to lay down the implements of toil. Let us therefore work while it is day, "for the night cometh when no man can work."—T.
1 Chronicles 22:11-13.-Fatherly wishes and prayers.
David was not satisfied to make material preparations for the erection of the temple at Jerusalem. He had something more valuable than metals and stone and timber to give his son, in view of the great work which it should devolve upon him to execute. He gave to Solomon his counsels and his prayers. In these verses David —
I. LAYS DOWN THE CONDITIONS AND QUALIFICATIONS OF SUCCESSFUL WORK FOR THE LORD. These are:
1. Intellectual gifts," wisdom and understanding." If bodily strength is a gift from the Lord, much more is vigour and versatility of mind. A curse when employed in the service of self and sin, these endowments become a precious and unspeakable blessing when consecrated to the cause of God.
2. A position of influence and authority. Solomon had "charge concerning Israel." All who by birth, station, position, or office have special influence over others have also special responsibilities. This is true, not only of political, but also of social and educational influence.
3. Reverent regard to God's will. Solomon's strength was in "keeping the Law of the Lord," in "taking heed to fulfil the statutes and judgments which the Lord charged Moses with concerning Israel."
4. A fearless and courageous spirit. This seems natural to some men; but in those naturally self-distrustful courage may be cultivated by an habitual reliance upon the grace and promises of God.
5. Above all, the presence of the Lord. If he be with his servants, his work shall prosper in their hands. Here David also —
II. EXPRESSES HIS HEART'S DESIRE AND PRAYER ON HIS SON'S BEHALF. We read David's heart in these utterances. Whilst his judgment as to the conditions of prosperity are Laid down, how devoutly does he desire that success may crown Solomon's efforts, that the work of the Lord may be accomplished! It was natural to the King of Israel to shape his wishes into prayers; the wishes of so pious a man could be nothing less than prayers. His heart's desire for his son was this—The Lord be with thee! give thee all qualifications and all help in his service!
1. Regard and seek all means of usefulness. Especially should the young prize every means of serving their generation according to the will of God. Nothing is to be despised or rejected which can tend to bring about an end so desirable.
2. In the acquisition and employment of all means of usefulness, neglect not those habits of prayer which will tend to make those means abundantly efficacious.—T.
1 Chronicles 22:16.-Be doing.
When David had done all that lay in his power, he commended the rest to his son Solomon. The son was not to rest in indolence because the father had wrought with zeal and given with liberality. Nor, because assured of the approval and the help of Heaven, was he to remit diligence and devotion. This David clearly impressed upon him in addressing to Solomon the brief but stirring admonition of the text: "Arise, and be doing, and the Lord be with thee." The summons may well be addressed to every Christian heart.
I. MAN'S NATURE IS ACTIVE. We are made, not only to think and to feel, but to do. The contemplative man, if his contemplations have no influence upon his life, is justly despised. "In all labour there is profit." "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."
II. THE DEMANDS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE ARE FOR ACTION. The world in which we find ourselves corresponds to the nature with which we are endowed. In every position of life there is a loud call for activity. Without exertion and labour no good can be accomplished.
III. THE SUMMONS OF TRUE RELIGION IS TO ACTIVITY. The sloth of men may sometimes misinterpret religion; may endeavour to persuade them that all they need is to believe the truth, and to feel deeply when religious truth is addressed to them. But the Scriptures give no countenance to such errors, but teach us to "show our faith by our works," and so prove the sincerity of our love.
IV. THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST IS AN EXAMPLE OF ACTIVITY. He both did the will of his Father and taught men to do likewise. This was his meat and drink; of this he never wearied. "He wrought the works of him that sent him while it was day."
V. THE BLESSING OF GOD MAY BE EXPECTED TO REST UPON SANCTIFIED ACTIVITY. The Holy Spirit of God alike inspires, directs, and prospers the labours of his people.—T.
1 Chronicles 22:18.-Best on every side.
David had a word of encouragement, not only for his son, but for the princes of the kingdom. Solomon would need their aid in achieving his great undertaking. The king pointed out to them that the peace and prosperity established by Divine Providence were an indication of his will that, relieved from foreign anxieties, they should devote themselves to the service of Jehovah at home, in their own land, their own capital. "Hath be not given you rest on every side?"
I. OBSERVE THE NATURE OF THE REST HERE SPOKEN OF. It is not rest from labour; that, except for temporary relaxation, is, for the most part, not desirable in this world, where so much has to be done for God and for man. It was rest from their enemies, rest from war, rest from hindrances, disturbances, harassments; from the aboriginal inhabitants of the land, and from the heathen tribes and nations around. It is a blessing for any nation to be at peace.
II. CONSIDER THE MEANS BY WHICH THIS REST WAS SECURED. The reign of David had been, on the whole, one of strife and warfare. Such a condition of things was not desirable on its own account, for its own sake. The end of effort, counsel, even war itself, is the rest of peace.
III. CONSIDER THE PURPOSES FOR WHICH SUCH REST IS INTENDED. Not for sloth, luxury, and self-indulgence; but in order that the work of God may go forward unhindered, and with growing and conspicuous prosperity. It was a noble use to which the peaceful reign of Solomon was put—the erection of the temple unto the Lord. And whenever God in his providence grants a nation rest on every side, it is a probation of national faithfulness, to see whether the precious opportunity will be used aright for the development of national resources, for the advancement of education and social well-being, and for the furtherance of genuine and practical religion.—T.
1 Chronicles 22:19.-Arise, and build.
Before the old king died, he wished to see his successor's work in train and order. Accordingly, both to Solomon and to the princes, David addressed stirring words of admonition. And as what he had most at heart was the erection of the temple, it was natural that he should lay the greatest stress upon this vast and glorious undertaking.
I. Note first, as here described, THE NATURE AND CHARACTER OF THE BUILDING. It was "the sanctuary of the Lord God;" it was to be built "to the Name of the Lord." A Divine dwelling, a habitation for the Most High, a holy place. In all this an emblem of the temple of our Saviour's body, and of that spiritual house which is the temple of the Holy Ghost.
II. Remark next, THE PURPOSE OF THE BUILDING. It was to contain "the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and the holy vessels of God." That is to say, it was not only the locality of God's manifested presence, but it was the scene of sacrifice and worship and the centre of the nation's religion. This gave a practical and political significance to the erection of the sanctuary.'
III. Instructive is the account given of THE DISPOSITION AND SPIRIT OF THE BUILDERS. The work was not to be done mechanically, or from a feeling of constraint. They were to "set their heart and their soul to seek the Lord their God." That is, they were to undertake the work as one distinctively religious, and from a religious motive and with a religious aim.
1. Let everything that is God's engage your sympathy and interest and zeal. Let each Christian hear the voice from heaven saying to him, "Arise, and build."
2. Let God's work be done in a devout and religious spirit. In serving the Lord seek him, and he will be found of you.—T.
HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON
1 Chronicles 22:6-16.-Successful service.
David's charge to his son Solomon will furnish us with the conditions of all successful work done in the Name of Christ and for the extension of his kingdom. We may remark, preliminarily, that our leisure time cannot be better spent than in Christian work. Solomon was to have time for internal administration. His father had defeated and subdued all the national enemies. In the midst of protracted "peace and quietness" (1 Chronicles 22:9) he would have an ample interval in which to build a house for the Lord. The time which the labour of others, or our own toil, has secured to us we spend most admirably when we give it to the direct service of the Divine Master. The conditions of successful work for him are —
I. SECURING DIVINE DIRECTION. "Only the Lord give thee wisdom and understanding" (1 Chronicles 22:12). David clearly felt, as this "only" indicates, that everything would utterly fail if God did not grant his Divine succour. That failing, everything must prove to be a failure.
II. ENSURING PERSONAL FITNESS. (1 Chronicles 22:7-9.) David was rendered personally unfit for the work by his much fighting. It was not fitting that a man of war should build the temple of the God of love. The two things did not go well together. It was far more becoming that Solomon, the "man of rest," should execute this work. Our guilty past may have been pardoned, our occupation may not be absolutely wrong, our surroundings may not be censurable, our position may not be blameworthy, and yet there may be something about one of these which makes it unsuitable for us and desirable for some one else to do the work which is required to be done.
III. MAINTAINING PERSONAL INTEGRITY. (1 Chronicles 22:11-13.) "Prosper thou, and build the house… that thou mayest keep the Law of the Lord thy God. Then shalt thou prosper, if thou takest heed," etc. God distinctly promised to be Solomon's Father, and to establish his throne (1 Chronicles 22:10); but this prosperity must depend on loyalty and the keeping of the Law. Without the maintenance of our moral and spiritual integrity we cannot expect to be prospered in any work we do for God.
IV. MAKING ALL DUE PREPARATION. Solomon would have found himself overtasked and unable to do as he did if David had not "in his trouble prepared for the house" (1 Chronicles 22:14-16). The aged king may be said to have laid the foundation of the building by all the pains he took to collect material and make everything ready for his son to begin the work. We never strike a better stroke in the service of God than when we are engaged in the work of preparation. Moses in Horeb, Paul in Arabia, the Master himself in the quiet home in Galilee and the still more quiet resting-place of the mountain-fold and the seaside of after days, we ourselves in the chamber of communion and at the study desk, are "working for God," for we are doing that which is positively essential to true, abiding issues in the field of Christian labour.
V. ACTING IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE REVEALED WILL OF CHRIST, "Build the house of the Lord… as he hath said of thee" (1 Chronicles 22:11).
VI. CHERISHING THE CONFIDENCE WHICH IS CLOSELY ALLIED TO STRENGTH. "Be strong, and of good courage" (1 Chronicles 22:13). There is a confidence which is presumption, and which will be dishonoured; but there is a confidence which is in the truth and in God, and which is a large element of success. Where the diffident are defeated, the assured and courageous win. Let the Christian workman fee! that behind him are Divine promises which "cannot be broken," and he will advance boldly and strike successfully.
VII. MAKING THE WAY PLAIN FOR OUR SUCCESSORS. (1 Chronicles 22:6-16.) Nothing is more hateful than the spirit of "apres moi le deluge." No worthy Christian workman will be content unless, like David, as he considers who and what are to come after him, he feels a devout thankfulness that he has made a plain path for his successors, in which they may walk in peace, honour, and usefulness. We may place by itself as a condition of success which is involved in some of the foregoing, but yet which deserves to be mentioned separately, cultivating and exhibiting the spirit of devotion. Thrice in this paternal counsel does David invoke the presence and blessing of Almighty God (nets. 11, 12, 16). It is in the spirit of conscious dependence on God and earnest uplooking to him for his Divine help (Psalms 30:10) that the workman of the Lord will render successful service to his Master and mankind.—C.
1 Chronicles 22:17-19.-The wisdom of the strong.
We may take the "princes of Israel" as types and representatives of the strong men, the leaders in the kingdom, or Church, or society of which they are members, those who are responsible for the measures which are adopted, for the course which is chosen, for the principles which are professed. Thus regarding them, we may gather from the text —
I. THAT IT IS THE WISDOM OF THE STRONG TO GAIN THE FAVOUR OF GOD for themselves and for the community. "Set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God' (1 Chronicles 22:19); i.e. strenuously and perseveringly endeavour to gain God's approval, to do his will and win his smile. That is the "beginning of wisdom" and the end of it, in all cases now, with all leaders everywhere. They are to do this by
(1) taking earnest heed to his revelation of himself;
(2) accepting him who is the Manifestation of his mind and will;
(3) fashioning their own lives and directing those of others according to his holy Word.
II. THAT THE WISDOM OF THE STRONG IS IN MAKING THE MOST OF FAVOURABLE OPPORTUNITY. David urged the princes to activity on the ground that the time had come for action. "Is not the Lord your God with you? and hath he not given you rest on every side?" etc. (1 Chronicles 22:18). Now that the energy of the people needed not to be devoted to the art of war, it was most fitting that it should be given to the building of a house for the Lord. The time of peace is the hour of national industry and progress, when the useful arts and religious institutions should receive particular attention. It is the part of wise and conscientious leaders, in the Church as well as in the state, to watch for the time of opportunity, to make the utmost of the "golden hour," to strike when the blows will tell. Carefulness or negligence in this matter may make all the difference between success and failure. These are favourable times for
III. THAT IT IS THE WISDOM OF THE STRONG TO BUILD UP THAT WHICH HOLDS THE MOST SACRED THINGS. "Build ye the sanctuary of the Lord God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and the holy vessels of God, into the house" (1 Chronicles 22:19). The princes could do nothing better for Israel than build the house in which the ark would abide; for the Lord himself would dwell above the mercy-seat, and so long as Israel worshipped purely in the house they were building they might count on his presence and his favour. Our leaders do well to incite us to build
(1) houses of the Lord in which he himself will dwell, and receive the homage of his people and teach them his truth;
(2) institutions—Churches, societies, families—in which the holy principles Christ has taught us shall be incorporated;
(3) national character, which shall contain and embody those pure and righteous habits which are found in the lifo of the great Exemplar. These are of more value than all the "holy vessels" which David's zeal could collect.—C.
HOMILIES BY F. WHITFIELD
1 Chronicles 22:1-5, 1 Chronicles 22:14.-David's preparation for building the temple.
David was now in the last years of his reign, and these were spent in making preparation for the building of the temple. In order to procure the necessary workmen, he commanded to gather together the strangers in the land of Israel or the descendants of the Canaanites whom the Israelites had not destroyed when they took possession of the land, but had reduced to bondage. The number was so considerable that Solomon was able to employ one hundred and fifty thousand of them as labourers and stone-cutters. Of these David "set masons to hew wrought stones to build the house of God." Solomon was but a tender youth—not yet in his twentieth year—and the work to be executed was so great that David determined to make all the preparation he could himself. The materials prepared were many and costly. Iron, brass, and cedar trees; the two former without weight, for they were so abundant. But of gold there was one hundred thousand talents, and of silver one million talents. As the talent was one thousand shekels, and the shekel according to the Mosaic weight worth about two shillings and sixpence, the silver would thus amount to £375,000,000, and the gold to £450,000,000. This money seems to have been the fruit of the spoils of the wars in which David had been engaged. This enormous sum was at once laid out for the Lord's house. Thus all the accumulation of David's life is here consecrated to God. Thus should it be in the life of every true Christian. His money, his talents, his time, his opportunities, are all the Lord's and are to be consecrated to his service. "Ye are bought with a price." The Christian is in one sense the poorest man in the world, for all he has belongs to the Lord; yet he is the wealthiest, because God himself is his. We have no right to take a walk without it is the Lord's will, nor spend a penny unless as he would have us do it. When a man becomes the Lord's, everything he possessed passes over to him who has bought him. And he is but a steward of all he possesses, and soon to be called to give an account of his stewardship.—W.
1 Chronicles 22:6-16.-David's charge to Solomon.
This was a solemn charge delivered by David in view of his death. The shadow of death makes everything solemn. But while we hear the charge to Solomon, it is impossible not to perceive from David's words that "a greater than Solomon is here." The throne of Solomon was not established "for ever'" It is a promise of God which, like many such promises in the Old Testament, look forward to the kingdom of the Messiah, in whom alone they receive their literal and perfect fulfilment. Let us listen to their perfect consummation: "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:32, Luke 1:33). Unless we notice the unexhausted promises and prophecies of the Old Testament, we shall read God's Word to little real profit, and it will be full of difficulties and perplexities. David connects in this charge two things which are inseparable—successful building and taking heed to the Law of God. If a man is to build well he must be a man of God. All successful building is inseparable from a heart under the constant influence of Divine truth. "Arise therefore, and be doing," says David, "and the Lord be with thee." God can only be with us as our own hearts are abidingly under the power of his Word; and if he be not with us, how can we build? "Except the Lord build the house, their labour is but lost that build it; except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." The secret of all true rising in life, of all progress and attainment, is for the heart to be under the influence and constant guidance of the Word. Life will, in the end, be "life's labour lost" without this.—W.
1 Chronicles 22:17-19.-David's charge to the princes of Israel.
After charging so solemnly his son, David turned to the princes of Israel, giving them an equally solemn charge to help his son Solomon in his great work. Every line of this charge to the princes is replete with spiritual instruction. The first line is a precious one: "Is not the Lord your God with you?" The presence of God is the Christian's great power for all work. "Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world." Moses knew its importance when he said, "If thy presence go not with us, lead us not up thence." The second line is equally precious: "Hath he not given you rest on every side?" The true Christian has indeed found "rest" in Christ the true David, and for the reason assigned here in David's third line—"for he hath given the inhabitants of the land [the Canaanites] into mine hand." Every enemy the child of God has is in the hand of Christ. Every sin he has committed, as well as the broken Law, and everything else that shut him out from God, have all been laid on Jesus. Everything that could injure or stand in the Christian's way, in the present or in the future, is all in the hand of Jesus. "Subdued" is the word written by Christ's cross on all his sins, on all his foes, on everything against him. Nay more: in all these things "he is more than conqueror through him that loved him." This being so, to what end is it all? David tells us: "Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God." Every affection, every desire, every energy, every aim, everything within us, is to be "set." And where? Christ-ward. On him who has done such great things for us. And does such grace tend to sloth or indifference? Far otherwise. "Arise therefore." Get up out of sloth, out of sin, out of earthliness of every kind. Get higher. "Nearer my God to thee, nearer to thee." And how is this rising to show itself? "Build ye the sanctuary." Let every thought and energy, every heart and every hand, be put to build up the kingdom of God—the true sanctuary of God in this world. And the last word in this charge is the climax—the great end to which everything points: "Build ye the sanctuary of the Lord God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and the holy vessels of God into the house that is to be built to the Name of the Lord." Observe the sanctuary was fur this end—"to bring in the ark of the covenant and the holy vessels." So is it now. That ark is Christ. The "holy vessels" are everything that pertains to that ark. This is the great end of every building—to bring in Christ and everything that is of Christ. Is the sanctuary the believer's soul? Then let Christ and everything Christlike be brought in there. Is the "sanctuary" a Church—any of the Churches of Christ or the entire Church—the body of Christ? Then see that the ark is brought in and its vessels-Christ and everything that will glorify him. The house was "to be built to the Name of the Lord." This Name is on the Christian, on every Christian Church, on every Christian duty, on every Christian nation, on every Christian work. See that the ark and its vessels are where the name is. See that we have not the name without the ark and its vessels. We may have the name in baptism, in the Holy Communion, in the Church and its ordinances, but the grand question is, "Are the ark and its vessels there?"—W.
HOMILIES BY R. TUCK
1 Chronicles 22:2-Alien help in God's service.
David was willing to employ those who were not Israelites in the work of building the temple, and this is recorded as an indication of liberality and large-mindedness. By the "strangers" mentioned here we are to understand "aliens," the non-Israelite population of the land; and we have no ground for assuming that the persons he employed were necessarily proselytes. From 2 Chronicles 2:17 we learn that David took a census of these aliens, with the design of employing them in forced labours, as hewers of wood and stone, bearers of burdens, etc. It does not appear that the Israelites, as a people, have ever displayed mechanical or constructive skill. Their bias has been towards agriculture and trade. It is often somewhat anxiously questioned whether sanctuary belly—aid in church-building, and maintenance of Christian worship and work—can properly be received from worldly persons, who cannot be supposed to give themselves to God through their gifts in support of his service. Wider and nobler views of God's relations with men, and claims upon the service of all men, would make such questioning impossible. Exclusive feelings—caste sentiments—grow upon us only too easily; but they are always mischievous; they need to be carefully watched and repressed; and Christians, above all men, should cultivate the most liberal and generous sentiments. It should be their joy in God, that "the God of the whole earth must he be called." Keeping in mind that the object of this homily is to correct the "narrowness" which is too often the marked feature of pious sentiments, we consider —
I. ALL SOULS ARE GOD'S. "All souls are mine." George Macdonald well writes, "We are accustomed to say that we are bodies, and have souls, whereas we should rather say that we are souls, and have bodies." Paul pleads with the Gentile that we are all the "offspring of God." And our Lord, in his teaching on the mount, revealed God as providing for and overshadowing all, "making his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sending his rain on the just and on the unjust." All souls are to come under the Divine judgment, and that judgment must be based on Divine dealings with men, and men's response thereto.
II. ALL LIVES SHOULD BE CONSECRATED TO GOD. By the claims of creation, relation, and providence, God urges upon every man the duty of surrender to him. See the familiar answer to the question, "What is the chief duty of man?" When Paul urges the Romans to "present their bodies a living sacrifice," he does but express the demand made by the God "in whose hand our breath is, and whose are all our ways." If this be established as a universal principle, then these two things follow.
1. All man's service he claims. Whatever a man can do, God has the right to ask him to do for him. Illustrate by the sentiments of earlier times, in regard to a king's right to claim the service of any member of his kingdom, day or night. God has the infinite right to make such claim; and the godly man fully recognizes it, and says —
"Take my body, spirit, soul;
Only thou possess the whole."
2. All man's possessions are for God's use as he may require them. Not merely what a man is he is for God, but what a man has he has for God. David fully recognized this, and in presenting to God the gathered material for the temple, he said, "Of thine own have we given thee." So when a worldly man gives of his property or time to God's service, we should feel that he is imperfectly and incompletely doing a part of the duty which rests on every man. Nothing of human service can be alien to God; and nothing should be alien to his people in working for him. We may encourage every man to do something, or give something to God, in the hope that, by-and-by, they may come to love God's service, and God himself.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 22:2-5.-Willingness to do what we may when we are forbidden to do what we would.
For reasons sufficiently defined, God did not allow David to build his temple; and David received the Divine refusal in a right spirit. It might have crushed him, and led him to feel that he could do nothing; but he nobly decided that if he might not actually build, he would gather the materials for building, and make all necessary preparations. Too often, when a man's particular plans are hindered, he throws up Christian work altogether. We therefore commend the really beautiful example of the pious David. A man should be cheerfully willing to do what he can when he cannot do what he would.
I. THE PLACE FOR MAN'S WILL IN RELIGIOUS WORK. He ought to purpose, devise, and plan great things, and expect that his enterprise and energy will serve the gracious Divine purpose. Man's will is not broken down by a true piety; it is rather quickened and renewed, though toned with submission to the Divine will.
II. THE PLACE FOR THE DIVINE WILL IN RELIGIOUS WORK. That will must be regarded as the final court of appeal, and reference must be made to it. The good man's last word is, "If the Lord will, I shall live, and do this or that." Illustrate by the expression used in the Acts concerning Paul's travelling plans, "The Spirit suffered us not." We recognize the place of the Divine will in personal experience; we should also recognize its place in relation to Christian work. God does not always permit us to do what our hearts desire to do. The blocks in our way are Divine hindrances.
III. THE TRUE SUBMISSION IS ACTIVE OBEDIENCE WITHIN DIVINE LIMITS. Most unworthy is the sullen refusal to do nothing because we cannot have our own way. True humility finds expression in cheerfully doing what God will let us do.
Apply to Church life. God expresses his will often by putting disabilities in our way, but he at the same time opens up other ways for us. If we are willing to do what we may, we shall find it fits in for the outworking of God's perfect plan.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 22:5.-Right ideas concerning God's earthly sanctuaries.
David's language in this verse is striking and suggestive, and it expresses a right feeling in relation to God's worship, and the places in which his worship is offered. He says, "The house that is to be builded for the Lord must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries." David did not desire a merely grand building, but rather one whose magnificence should be of such a character that it would draw universal attention to Jehovah and magnify his Name. "The temple was to have, as it were, a missionary character and office in proclaiming the Name of the Lord to all nations." The principles illustrated in this sentiment of David's may be thus dealt with.
I. THE DUTY OF CONSERVING SPIRITUAL CONCEPTIONS OF GOD. "God is a Spirit: and they who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." The unity and spirituality of God are foundation and essential truths of religion. How jealously they were regarded is indicated by the strong expressions of the two first commandments. We must as anxiously guard them from doctrines or sentiments that imperil them, as Israel must guard them from idolatrous customs. No earthly thing adequately represents God. No earthly figure or image properly fits him. And no earthly dwelling may be thought of as containing him. The omnipresence of Jehovah is beyond our power of apprehension; yet we may conceive of him as coming under no kind of human limitations. Material figures and forms of thought greatly help us, but none can know the Almighty to perfection. In our day of pronounced atheism, it is the. more incumbent on us to witness fully concerning the immaterial and spiritual nature of God. Men may resist our representations and descriptions of God, and find these stumbling-blocks in the way of their conceiving God himself; and therefore we should ever cherish high, mystical, and spiritual thoughts of the great Source of all being.
II. THOUGH WE MAY NOT REPRESENT GOD HIMSELF, WE MAY REPRESENT THE SPHERE AROUND HIM. Moses and the elders did not represent the being or person of God himself; only the glory of the "sapphire" round about him. Isaiah did not see him who sat on the throne; only the splendour of the throne, and the attitudes of the attendant courtiers. Heaven is so fully described in the New Testament as the sphere where God dwells, in order to relieve us of distress on account of the impossibility of picturing to us God himself. We see the cloud that shrouds him, and the fire that is an emblem of him; and we are taught to see in the vast blue dome of the sky the abode where he dwells. And being thus fittingly impressed, we are encouraged to argue out the question—What must he be, whose "robe is the light, whose canopy space"?
III. OUR REPRESENTATIONS SHOULD WORTHILY EXPRESS OUR CONCEPTIONS OF THE DIVINE SURROUNDINGS. This is the ground on which we consecrate architectural genius and artistic skill to the building and the decoration of our sanctuaries. If we may represent the surroundings of God, we must try to represent them worthily. The palace of the great King of kings ought to be "exceeding magnifical." God's own representation of his surroundings is sublime creation: the blue, star-studded dome of sky; the many-sounding, vast sea; the everlasting mountains; the harvest-laden plains; the million-flowered earth. Our representation—in our temples and churches—should be the ideal beauty of each age; classic, Gothic, or otherwise, as fits the sentiment of each age. Illustrate what proper moral impressions are produced by our cathedrals, abbeys, and churches towering above the houses of our cities, and made our architectural models. It is a right and true feeling which leads us to build magnificent temples and churches, and to arrange beautiful and artistic services. Yet we must jealously keep the feeling that these are, at best, but suggestions of the "surroundings" of God, and they leave the infinite mystery of God himself wholly unrevealed.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 22:7, 1 Chronicles 22:8.-The grounds of Divine refusals.
God would not permit David to build his temple, and he was graciously pleased to signify to him the grounds on which this refusal was made: "Because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight." For illustrations of the bloody character of David's wars, see 2 Samuel 8:2, 2Sa 8:5; 2 Samuel 10:18; 2 Samuel 12:31; 1 Kings 11:16. David's mission did not appear to consort with David's wishes. He did not, however, see an unfitness which God recognized. A man must let God tell him what he may do and what he may not; and full willingness thus to receive Divine direction is a high sign of the true submission. No man ever finds it easy to give up his long-cherished wishes.
I. A MAN MAY WILL MORE THAN HE MAY PERFORM. Distinguish carefully between willing, or seriously purposing, and mere wishing. A man's sentimental wishes mean nothing, and cannot stand in place of right deeds; but a man's definite plans and purposes may be as true expressions of character and righteousness as actual deeds could be; and so God may say, "Thou didst well that it was in thine heart." One of the gravest troubles to the earnest man is the impossibility of carrying into effect one-half of what he can purpose and desire to do. The artist has his visions of more and better pictures than he can ever paint. The author plans more and better books than he will ever write. The Christian resolves upon nobler works than he will ever accomplish, and a nobler life than he will ever live. From this common fact an important argument for man's immortality may be drawn. There must be the larger sphere in which man may find the room which he vainly seeks here.
II. A MAN'S PROVIDENTIAL PLACE MAY PUT HIM IN LIMITATIONS. David was where God had lint him, and in his wars he had been doing the work which God required him to do; and yet he found his very life-work limited him; and his very faithfulness to God hindered his accomplishment of his own cherished desires. So it often is still. A man's providential place is one he never would have chosen. A man's life-work is one that prevents his following out his own wishes. At this men often fret, fancying themselves fit for far higher work than is given to their charge. But the true-hearted man accepts the Divine overruling and the painful limitations, learning to say calmly, "My times are in thine hand," and thankful that in some sphere he may carry out the Divine purposes of grace.
III. THE DIVINE REFUSAL OF A MAN'S PERSONAL WISH IS ALWAYS WISELY BASED. God sees influences and consequences which the man himself may fail to discern. God works ever for the larger good of the whole, and his sphere takes in wider considerations than any individual can reach. God's estimate of what a man is, and is fit for, may well differ from a man's own estimate of himself. And God's sensitiveness to what is befitting we may be sure is keener and altogether more refined and subtle than any man's. Enough that we are sure all God's decisions are based on the judgments of infinite wisdom, and never on mere eccentricities of feeling.
IV. YET THE PURPOSE WHICH A MAN MAY NOT EXECUTE MAY WIN THE DIVINE ACCEPTANCE. David's intention was acknowledged graciously, and the next best thing was given him. His son should do what. he might not do; and that son should do it as soon as David had passed away. And even more than this: the preparation work David was himself permitted to arrange, and the plan he might devise; so that, after all, the temple that was ultimately built was more David's than Solomon's.
Plead that a man does well who has great things in his heart; but he must be sure that Divine providences and leadings—and nothing else—keep him for carrying them out and giving them practical effect.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 22:9.-The mission of the men of rest.
The anticipative description of Solomon, as the man conceived by God to be fitted for the work of building his temple, is this—"He shall be a man of rest." Very remarkable is the fact which may constantly be observed, that successors in office are usually marked contrasts in character, disposition, and modes of working. This is often observed in clergymen and ministers, and it is very marked in the succession of Solomon to David. The connections between the two we often cannot trace, and it seems as if the one could not possibly carry on to its completion the work of the former. Yet what seem to us to be contrasts may seem to God to be relations, the one becoming an actual preparation for the other. There are times when the work of God in the world needs the men of battle—the Davids and the Wellingtons; and there are other times when God needs the men of rest—the Solomons and the Gladstones. It may be well to show what gracious work for the well-being of mankind has always been done in times of peace and by men of peace. And yet such times have their peril, and round again comes the necessity for the rougher ages of conflict and intenser feeling. These points may be dealt with under several headings. Before presenting these, a few sentences from F. W. Robertson's lecture on Wordsworth may be given, as suggestive of the mission of the men of rest. He says, "I will remark that Wordsworth's was a life of contemplation, not of action, and therein differed from Arnold's of Rugby. Arnold is the type of English action; Wordsworth is the type of English thought. If you look at the portraits of the two men, you will distinguish the difference. In one there is concentrativeness, energy, proclaimed; in the eye of the other there is vacancy, dreaminess. The life of Wordsworth was the life of a recluse. In these days it is the fashion to talk of the dignity of work as the one sole aim and end of human life, and foremost in proclaiming this as a great truth we find Thomas Carlyle… In opposition to this, I believe that as the vocation of some is naturally work, so the vocation, the Heaven-born vocation of others, is naturally contemplation."
I. WHAT MAY BE DONE BY "MEN OF REST" IN THE NATIONAL ORDER? Explain the perilous sentiments, painful conditions, and sense of exhaustion left from war-times. Harvests soon wave again where heroes shed their blood, but the moral condition of a nation cannot soon be recovered from the evils of war. New sentiments have to be inculcated, and the arts of peace have to be cultivated. Show how much peace-loving men do in our day towards keeping the nations, in their disputes, from seeking the fearful arbitrament of war. Nations ought to thank God more for her great peace-leaders than for her great war-victors.
II. WHAT MAY BE DONE BY "MEN OF REST" IN THE SOCIAL SPHERES? In war-times social evils are neglected, and suffered to grow rank, as ill weeds do in the untended garden. And the good things of education and artistic culture, and the right development of the family life, are lightly esteemed. The "men of rest" find out the prevailing evils of an age, reveal them in satire, or poetry, or picture, or moral teachings, and devise schemes for national and social reformations. Illustrate from some of the social and educational schemes of the last sixty years of comparative peace since Waterloo. Recall names of men who have done good social work.
III. WHAT MAY BE DONE BY "MEN OF REST" IN THE RELIGIOUS WORLD OF THOUGHT AND LIFE? Apply to Christian doctrine. Men have framed doctrinal schemes in times of conflict—conflict of opinions and conflict of nations—and the man does an infinite good to Christian thought who, only in small degrees, relieves from Christian doctrine the mischievous war associations, and puts in their place the truer family ones. But we may apply also to Christian worship and Christian life. Mystical and spiritual insight of the fuller truth is given only to the "men of rest." Solomon's times remind us that peaceful ages have their own perils, and peaceful men their own temptations.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 22:10.-Early signs of the filial relation.
God gathers up into one expressive, suggestive, and satisfying term the relation in which he would stand to Solomon. That term could be no other than Father—"And I will be his Father;" "He shall be my son." The revelation of the Divine fatherhood was the distinctive mission of Christ. The commendation of the filial spirit was the special duty of the apostles. These may be illustrated as introductory to the subject on which we now more particularly dwell; which is, the Old Testament indications of the fatherhood of God and sonship of men. It must be admitted that the term Father as applied to God in the Old Testament is only a figure of speech, designed to bring out and express God's affectionate interest in his people; and the Lord Jesus Christ, by his own sonship and teaching, brought to light those comprehensive, inspiring, and ennobling views of the Divine fatherhood which we now know and properly regard as characteristically Christian. The figure of God as a Father was an aid to the complete apprehension of God, but it is now the one all-including conception of God, which is at once the foundation of theology and of faith. In this, as in so much else, the Old Testament prepared for the New. In reviewing Old Testament references to God as a Father, we notice—
I. THE TEACHING OF THE PATRIARCHAL RELIGION. It has not been sufficiently considered that the first relation in which God placed man to a being outside himself was that of father. Eve was part of Adam's self. Cain was Adam's son. The most essential relation of human beings is that of the parent and children. This highest and most necessary relation was the shadow and revelation of the Divine relation. For a long period the patriarchal system kept the fatherhood prominently before the minds of men. The great tribal father—patriarch—was the earthly representative of the Divine Being, through whom right ideas concerning God and his relations with men were reached. Note that, in the very first form of fatherhood, rule, authority, governance, were essential elements: the father was virtual king, and much more.
II. THE SON-LIKE ATTITUDE OF TRUE PIETY IN EVERY AGE. The good man is conceived as a son; and the very ideal of goodness is an obedient, affectionate, and submissive son. Illustrate from Isaac's relation to Abraham, especially in the matter of the required sacrifice. But fully illustrate from the Book of Psalms. The more perfectly the spirit which the psalmist wins and seeks is apprehended, the more clearly it appears that it will go into the one word "sonship." The submission of reverence and confidence, with the obedience of tenderest affection, are chief features of sincere piety, and as certainly precise features of good sonship. The son-figures, as used in the Old Testament-such as in the text—should be given.
III. THE NEW FORCE PUT INTO THE RELATION BY THE PROPHETS. Giving prominence to the spiritual over the ceremonial and governmental, the prophets cannot be satisfied with a kingly representation of God, or a priestly. They want to present a Divine relation to men which is more than official, other than official; so they use the parental figure, and the terms "father" and "son." Illustrative instances may be found in Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 63:16; Isaiah 64:8; Jeremiah 31:9; Ma Jeremiah 1:6; Jeremiah 2:10, etc. God in judgment will certainly be misapprehended unless we see him to be the Father-God in judgment, and are willing to take our illustrative figures from the father, wisely, judiciously, and with a view to the highest good, chastening his child whom he loves. "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth." In a similar way every relation of God may be taken, and the importance of accepting the last and fullest revelation of God, as Father, may be shown to be necessary to its proper apprehension. We should rise from such preparatory and suggestive figures of speech as this in the text, to the high Christian conception of God as the "Father of Jesus," the "holy Father," the "righteous Father."—R.T.
1 Chronicles 22:12, 1 Chronicles 22:13.-Conditions of prosperity.
Solomon was distinctly informed that continuance of prosperity depended entirely on his continuing faithfulness to Jehovah. The "throne of his kingdom was to be established for ever," but only then should he prosper, if he "took heed to fulfil the statutes and judgments which the Lord charged Moses with concerning Israel." God's positions for his servants, and promises to them, are always dependent on conditions; no Divine promise is ever unqualified. None fail to take into due consideration the character and the conduct of those to whom the promise is made. Illustrate by the great covenant made with Israel; by the assurances given to Joshua (Joshua 1:7); and by such prophetic declarations as Isaiah 1:18, Isaiah 1:19; Isaiah 55:1-3, Isaiah 55:6, Isaiah 55:7, etc. There is always an if attached to the Lord's promise, but it is always virtually the same if—"if ye be willing and obedient." We may say that there are four conditions on which prosperity is dependent.
I. WE MUST WORK FOR GOD. Having this as our supreme aim; and not being, even in any subtle ways, set upon mere self-seeking. Full loyalty to this supreme motive is quite consistent with giving due place to inferior motives. And the daily culture of spiritual life bears directly on this working for God; keeping ourselves ever as in the "great Taskmaster's eye."
II. WE MUST WORK IN THE SPIRIT OF FAITH AND DEVOTION. Of faith, as trust, making us lean on Divine strength; and devotion as keeping our souls fully open to Divine influence. Carrying the spirit of prayer into daily work.
III. WE MUST WORK IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAW. Both that written in the Book, and that ever freshly written by the Spirit on the "fleshy tables of the heart."
IV. WE MUST WORK WITH ENERGY AND GOOD WILL. Wisely and skilfully combining the human powers that guarantee success, with the trust in God on which success must ultimately depend. The man who trusts most always works hardest.
On these conditions the true prosperity must come; but it may be such as men will not so name.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 22:14-16.-One man's work for God fits into, and follows on, another man's.
David was the preparer for Solomon the builder, and it is not for us to say which part of the work was the more important. Both together went to the execution of the Divine purpose. So, in every age, "one soweth and another reapeth," but the sower ever prepares for the reaper. Every man may cherish the conviction that his work has its place, and, if he faithfully does it, it will be sure to fit, and help towards the realization of the good Divine thought for the race. This may be illustrated in science: the inventions and discoveries of one age prepare the way for the advances made in a later age. Franklin would be as much amazed as any of us with the modern mysteries of telegraph and telephone and electric light, and yet, by his discovery, he distinctly prepared the way for all these developments. The same may be seen in relation to our Lord's life-mission. It could not have been all that we know it was, if it had been a sudden and unconnected thing. Patriarch, and lawgiver, and psalmist, and poet, and prophet, and Baptist, may fairly and truly say that they took part in the redemption of the world, since each one, in his sphere, helped to prepare the way for Christ.
I. ISOLATE ANY MAN'S LIFE, AND IT MAY SEEM TO BE A FAILURE. Do this with any of the world's great men, in Scripture or in history, and nothing can be made of their careers. In their connections only can their meaning and purpose be unfolded. This reveals the reason for the imperfection in our estimate of the life-work of any man who lives and dies among us. His personnel fills our vision. We see him. He is isolated; and we cannot well see how he fits into his place. Men have to die, their stories must become history, before we can cease to isolate them. No man can hope to be fairly judged by his own generation. And no man can efficiently judge his own work. Even our Lord's life-mission cannot be apprehended if we venture to separate him from his historical associations. Apply these considerations to the distress into which good people sometimes get respecting the value of their work. It seems to be brief, worthless, cut off while incomplete. So we may think when our eyes are fixed. only on it; but the view is incomplete and therefore unworthy. It may well be corrected by a larger vision.
II. CONNECT ANY MAN'S LIFE WITH THE PAST AND THE FUTURE, AND IT WILL BECOME PLAIN HOW HE FITS INTO THE DIVINE PURPOSE, AND AIDS THE HUMAN PROGRESS. This we may, indeed, be only able to do in part, but we can do it sufficiently to assure our hearts that he who has the perfect vision sees the fittings and relations of each man and each man's service. We can see some of the ways in which men at once serve their generations, and prepare for the generation that is coming.
1. Some men have to drag and hold back a too hurried and perilous advance. This is the work given of God to the conservative-toned men among us.
2. Some men have to keep up the standards, in morals and opinion. These may be men of battle, who are keen to discern and quick to resist evils; or they may be men of contemplation, who lift up seemingly unattainable ideals.
3. And some men have to advance the standards. These are the men whom we regard as "before their time," who, at some peril to their own reputation, and much to their own comfort, bring us foreshadowings of the truths which are to be the commonplaces of the next generations.
God always has other men ready to take up our work when we drop it. A beautiful and effective illustration may be drawn from the struggle for the standard at the Battle of Lutzen, where Zwingle fell, as described by D'Aubigne in his 'History of the Reformation.'—R.T.
1 Chronicles 22:19.-Work for god must be done with heart and soul.
"Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God." Scripture uses several terms for the composite being, man, but it may be questioned whether, without undue forcing, we oar form, on a Scripture basis, either a dualistic or tripartite theory of man's being. We find the term body, as indicating the physical being, set in relations with an external world by its five senses; the term heart, as inclusive of the mind and the affections, set in relations with the world of thought, and the world of fellow human beings; and the term soul, as the equivalent of that spiritual being which is set in relation with God, and has its life only in him. But, though these may be the stricter meanings and uses of these terms, they are often used in Scripture as figures of speech; and a man is said to work with his heart when he likes to do what he is undertaking, and a man is said to do a thing with his soul when he does it with a will, with energy and perseverance. It will afford some effective contrasts to consider conceivable ways of working for God, and the illustrations of each will be at once suggested, so that they will need no more than statement.
I. WORK FOR GOD MAY BE BY ACCIDENT; either of place, or circumstance, or association.
II. WORK FOR GOD MAY BE BY COMPULSION; as may be illustrated in the case of Cyrus, of whom God says, "I girded thee, though thou hast not known me." God makes even the "wrath of man praise him;" and bad men have, unwillingly, done his sow-reign will.
III. WORK FOR GOD MAY BE DONE THROUGH WORKING FOR SELF; one who seeks only' his own ends may find that, without credit or blessing to himself, he has really served God.
IV. WORK FOR GOD MAY BE DONE HALF-HEARTEDLY. We may "fear the Lord, and serve other gods."
V. WORK FOR GOD MAY BE DONE, AND SHOULD BE DONE, WITH CULTURED BODILY POWERS; WITH HEART-JOY IN GOD; and WITH THE INSPIRATION OF THE SOUL'S DEVOTION. Of such work for God the Lord Jesus Christ presents the highest type; but the example is—as a human example, within human reach.—R.T.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 22". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19