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1 Chronicles 29:1-9
These verses continue the account of what David said to the whole congregation, respecting his son Solomon and his tender age in view of the great enterprise of building the temple; respecting the public preparations which had been already made, and the gifts of his own individual property—these latter being alluded to, no doubt, for the sake of example. On the faith of them he grounds with tenfold effect his appeal to people and princes to join heartily in the work. The verses (6-9)also contain the statement of the hearty practical response which was made by the "chiefs of the fathers and princes of the tribes," and other varieties of givers, and of the consequent general joy.
1 Chronicles 29:1
The anxiety which David felt on account of the youth of Solomon (repeated from 1 Chronicles 22:5) evidently pressed heavily on him. The additional expression here is to be noticed, whom alone God hath chosen. By this plea, full of truth as it was, we may suppose that David would shelter himself from any possible blame or reflection on the part of the people, from the charge of partiality on the part of his elder children, and any unjust slight to them, and also from any self-reproach, in that he was devolving such a responsible task on so young and tender a man. Palace. This word (הַבִּירָה), by which the temple is designated here and in 1 Chronicles 29:19, seems to be very probably a word of Persian derivation. It is found in Nehemiah 1:1; in Daniel 8:2; but very frequently in Esther, where it is used not only of "Shushan the palace" (Esther 1:2; Esther 2:3; Esther 3:15), as the royal abode, but also of the special part of the city adjoining the palace proper (Esther 1:5; Esther 2:5; Esther 8:14; Esther 9:6). The word is found also in Nehemiah 2:8; but there it carries the signification of the fortress of the temple. There may be some special appropriateness in its use here, in consideration of the circumstance of the fortifications and wall, which flanked the temple.
1 Chronicles 29:2
The six designations of stones in this verse are as follows: —
1. Onyx stones; שֹׁהַם (Genesis 2:12; Exodus 25:7; Exodus 28:9; Exodus 35:9; Exodus 39:6; Job 28:16; Ezekiel 28:13).
2. Stones to be set מִלּוּאִים or מִלֻּאִים (Exodus 25:7; Exodus 35:9, Exodus 35:27; the feminine form of the same word is found in Exodus 28:17, Exodus 28:20; Exodus 39:13). The other meanings of this word are inauguration to the priest's office (Le 1 Chronicles 8:33), and the sacrifice of inauguration (Le 1 Chronicles 7:37).
3. Glistering stones; פִּוּךְ Gesenius says this is the same root with φῦκος, seaweed. From this seaweed an alkaline pigment was prepared, which came to be called by the same word. This Hebrew word also meant a "dye" made from stribium, the Latin name of antimony, with which Hebrew women stained their eyelashes (see also 2 Kings 9:30; Isaiah 54:11; Jeremiah 4:30). Gesenius would translate here "stones of pigment," and understands them to mean possibly marble for covering, as though with a solid paint, the walls.
4. Stones of divers colours; רִקְמָה. This word, which means "variegated," is only in this passage applied to stones. It is applied once to the feathers of the eagle (Ezekiel 17:3); but almost always to needlework or garments, often being translated in the Authorized Version as "broidered" (Judges 5:30; Psalms 45:15; Ezekiel 16:10, Ezekiel 16:13, Ezekiel 16:18; Ezekiel 26:16; Ezekiel 27:7, Ezekiel 27:16, Ezekiel 27:24).
5. All manner of precious stones. The feminine form, יִקָרָה. The simplest idea of the word is "heavy," thence precious, dear, rare (2 Samuel 12:30; 1Ki 5:1-18 :31; 1 Kings 7:9; 1Ki 10:2; 1 Chronicles 20:2; 2 Chronicles 3:6; 2 Chronicles 9:1; Job 28:16; Job 31:26; Proverbs 1:13; Proverbs 3:15; Isaiah 28:16; Ezekiel 28:13; Daniel 11:38).
6. Marble stones; שַׁיִשׁ, the elementary idea of which is whiteness. This word is found only here; Septuagint and Vulgate, "Parian marble." A word akin (שֵׁשׁ), meaning also "white marble" is found in Esther 1:6; So 5:16. The further treatment of these stones will be found on 2 Chronicles 3:6.
1 Chronicles 29:3
Translate, And, moreover, because of my delight in the house of my God, what I have as mine own treasure of gold and of silver I have given to the house of my God, over and above all I have prepared for the holy house. The word סְגֻּלָּה, on the seven other occasions of its use (Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 26:18; Psalms 135:4; Ecclesiastes 2:8; Ma Ecclesiastes 3:17), is found in the Authorized Version as "peculiar treasure" or "special treasure" and once "jewels," but in every instance it is evident that the specialness denoted is at one with the idea of the affection that is borne by a person to his own possession and property.
1 Chronicles 29:4
Respecting the uncertainty of the amounts here denoted, even if the numbers of the present text be accepted as correct, see note on 1 Chronicles 22:14. Bertheau and Keil make three thousand talents of gold the equivalent of thirteen millions and a half of our money, and seven thousand talents of silver the equivalent of two and a half millions of our money—or, if the royal shekel instead of the sacred be supposed to be the standard, they make them the half of those two amounts respectively. Others calculate the value of the gold to reach thirty millions, and of the silver three millions of our money. The situation of Ophir is still considered undetermined. The other occasions on which it is mentioned are as follows: —Genesis 10:29 (1 Chronicles 1:23); 1 Kings 9:28; 1 Kings 10:11; 1Ki 22:49; 2 Chronicles 8:18; 2 Chronicles 9:10; Job 22:24; Job 28:16; Psalms 45:10; Isaiah 13:12. It must be understood also that it is to it that allusion is made in 1 Kings 10:22, where we read that silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks, beside the gold, were imported into Judaea from it. The "almug" tree is also said to have been brought in the same ships which brought the gold of Ophir. The Septuagint always translates by some form of the word Σουφίς (except in Genesis 10:29), which word comes very near the Coptic name for India. There is also a place in India, mentioned by Ptolemy, Ammianus, and Abulfeda, the site of the present emporium of Goa, called Σουπάρα, and which would explain Both the Hebrew and the Septuagint words. An Indian site for Ophir would also well suit the mention of the ivory and the particular wood which the ships brought. On the other hand, the first occasion of this name Ophir finds it placed among the tribes of Joktan's descendants, who occupied South Arabia. It is there (Genesis 10:29; 1 Chronicles 1:23) placed between Sheba and Havilah, beth abounding in gold. There are other considerations that favour Arabia. Many other places have been suggested, and some of them supported by respectable authorities, such as Eastern Africa, South America and Peru, Phrygia, etc. If there be a real question about it, to the prejudice of Arabia, it would be to India we must look. That some of the commodities brought belonged more especially to India, though even in that case the majority belonged undoubtedly to Arabia, is very true. This circumstance throws great probability into the suggestion that whether Ophir were in Arabia or India, it was a great emporium, and not simply an exporter of its own particular produce (see Gesenius, 'Lexicon,' sub voce; Smith's 'Bible Dictionary'). The last sentence of this verse certainly says that the destined use of the refined silver, as well as of the gold of Ophir, was to overlay the walls of the houses. We know that gold was used for this purpose (2 Chronicles 3:5-10). But we do not read of the silver being used for overlaying purposes. We also read that none of the drinking-vessels of Solomon were of silver, as "it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon" (1 Kings 10:21; 2 Chronicles 9:20). It is possible, the order of the-sentences notwithstanding, that the mention of the refined silver is only to pro-pare the way for the contents of 1 Kings 10:5, and that it mast not be applied to the last sentence of our present verse.
1 Chronicles 29:5
The Authorized Version, to consecrate his service, might in this instance seem to be not merely an inaccurate but an incorrect translation. For David's evident meaning was, after rehearsing his own example, to base on it the appeal, Who is… willing to bring all ungrudging handful this day to the Lord? and 2 Chronicles 13:9 might perhaps be cited as a confirmatory instance. But on the other hand, the idiom was evidently, by the witness of many passages, a general one, and the meaning of it is not incorrectly conveyed in the Authorized Version, where service means in every ease active and practical help (Exodus 28:41; Exodus 29:9; Exodus 32:29; Numbers 3:3, etc.). The question now is not one of consecrating heart and affection, but rather of giving the practical proof of them.
1 Chronicles 29:6
The response was hearty; it comprised voluntary gifts from the most of those mentioned in 1 Chronicles 28:1; and described in 1 Chronicles 27:16-31. For the rulers of the king's work, see 1 Chronicles 27:26; 1 Chronicles 28:1. As the more general term "work" is employed, we are not bound to confine the expression to include only those who managed "the substance and cattle" of 1 Chronicles 28:1.
1 Chronicles 29:7
The Authorized Version translation drams occurs also twice in Ezra and twice in Nehemiah. There is no doubt that the coin referred to is the Persian daric, with which the Jews became familiar during the time of their exile. The Hebrew word appears in three different forms.
1. As אֲדַרְכְּמוֹן; here and Ezra 8:27.
2. As דַּרְכְּמוֹן; Ezra 2:69; Nehemiah 7:70-72.
3. As דַּכְרוֹן sA .3; in rabbinical writings, but not in Scripture.
Respecting the possible derivations of the words in the first and second forms, see Gesenins's 'Lexicon,' sub voce, and Conder's 'Handbook to the Bible'. The obverse of the coin shows the image of a king, with bow and spear. The value of the coin is variously computed at thirteen shillings and sixpence or twenty. two shillings and sixpence. Keil suggests that the mention of darics as well as talents in this verse may point to some of the gold being contributed in the shape of coin instead of talents-weight. This does not seem likely, however, because, of course, the daric itself was not in use in Jerusalem in David's time, and any gold coin that was then in use might have received mention on its own account, even if translated also into the daric. The Septuagint translates in this verse merely by the word χρυσοῦς, the Vulgate by solidos. Under any circumstances, the coin is to be distinguished from the δραχνή. Specimens of the daric, both in gold and silver, exist in the Paris and Vienna Museums. The Hebrew word for the ten thousand preceding the so-called drams of this verse is the word for "myriad" (רִבּוֹ, a shortened form of רבּוֹת), found also in Ezra 2:64; Nehemiah 7:66; Daniel 11:12; Jonah 4:11.
1 Chronicles 29:8
For Jehiel, see 1 Chronicles 23:7, 1 Chronicles 23:8 : 1 Chronicles 26:20-22; and for the stones contributed among the other gifts, see Exodus 35:9, Exodus 35:27. Of the same chapter in Exodus, especially in its verses 4-9 and 20-29, the whole of our present passage so vividly reminds us that the difficulty might be to doubt that it was present as a model to the mind of David himself.
1 Chronicles 29:10-20
The majesty and comprehensiveness of this passage—a national liturgy of itself-are in direct proportion to the brevity of it. It includes adoration, acknowledgment of the inherent nature of human dependence, self-humiliation, and confession, dedication of all the offerings, and prayer both for the whole people in general, and for Solomon in particular, in view of his future position and responsibilities. Its utter repudiation of all idea of meritoriousness is very striking. The traces are visible of what may be called snatches of memory on the part of David from various religious odes of his own authorship, as well as from those of others still on record, as, for instance, especially in 1 Chronicles 29:14-17, compared with passages in Psalms 24:1-10.; Psalms 50:0.; Psalms 89:0,; Psalms 39:0; Psalms 90:0.; Psalms 102:0.; Psalms 144:0.; Psalms 7:0.; Psalms 17:0.; and 139. But the unity of this service is abundantly conspicuous, and every sentence seems weighed and measured for the occasion. The scene, reaching its climax in what is recorded in verse 20, must have been one of the utmost religious grandeur and impressiveness. It is true that the very last clause, which couples the reverence done on the part of the assembled multitude to the king, with that done to Jehovah himself, strikes us as an unfortunate conjunction. It does not, indeed, need upon its merits any vindication, considering the tenor of all which has preceded; but it may be felt an extenuation of the form in which the expression occurs, if we suppose that the people viewed their act in the light of part of their religious service at that particular time. In 1 Kings 1:31 the same words express the reverence paid to David, though in numerous other passages they mark that offered to God (Exo 4:31; 2 Chronicles 29:20; Nehemiah 8:6).
1 Chronicles 29:15
Of the seven other clear occasions of occurrence of the word here translated abiding (מִקְוֶה), it bears three times the meaning of "a gathering together" as of waters (Genesis 1:10; Exodus 7:19; Leviticus 11:36). The other four times it is translated in the Authorized Version "hope," either in the abstract (Ezra 10:2), or in the personal object of it (Jeremiah 14:8; Jeremiah 17:13; Jeremiah 50:7). Probably the word "abiding," as drawn from this latter aspect of the word, expresses with sufficient accuracy the intended meaning here.
1 Chronicles 29:17
It may very possibly be that the stress with which David here says, I know, had its special cause. The thought of God as one who "tried" the heart is one often brought out in David's psalms, but a strong conviction of it may have been wrought in David's mind by Samuel's rehearsal of the language God used to him at the very time of the election of David from amid all the other of Jesse's sons (1 Samuel 16:7).
1 Chronicles 29:18
In the imagination of the thoughts of the heart. We have here again a reminiscence of the early language of Genesis (Genesis 6:5; Genesis 8:21. See also our book, 1 Chronicles 28:9; Deuteronomy 31:21). This same word for "imagination" (יֵצֶר) is found in the Authorized Version in Isaiah 26:3, "Whose mind is stayed," etc.; and in Psalms 103:14; Isaiah 29:16; Habakkuk 2:18; in the last three passages translated as "frame," "framed," and "work."
1 Chronicles 29:19
For the palace, see 1 Chronicles 29:1.
1 Chronicles 29:21-25
These verses record "the sacrifices and drink offerings" by which all the service of this day was ratified as it were on the following day; also the solemn "anointing of Solomon to the Lord as chief governor, and of Zadok as priest," with the visible enthronement of Solomon, and the submission to him "of all Israel, of all the princes and mighty men, and also of all the sons of David" (1 Kings 1:49-53).
1 Chronicles 29:21
In this verse the distinction is to be noticed between the sacrifices of thank offerings (זְבָחִים); those of burnt offerings (עֹלוֹם); and their drink offerings, i.e the drink offerings that went with them (נִסְכֵּיחֶם). For the first of these the more specific Hebrew word is שְׁלָמִים (Le 1 Chronicles 7:20; 1 Chronicles 9:4) or זֶבַחָ שְׁלָמִים (Le 1 Chronicles 3:1; 1Ch 7:11, 1 Chronicles 7:13, 1 Chronicles 7:15; Numbers 7:17). The breast and right shoulder were the priest's share. All the rest belonged to the person who sacrificed, and his friends, and must be eaten the same or the next day (Le 1 Chronicles 7:11-18, 1 Chronicles 7:29-34). Other particulars may be found in Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 3:1470, 1471. The last clause of our verse tells us how ample was the feast provided by these sacrifices on this occasion, being in abundance for all Israel The burnt offering is first mentioned in Genesis 8:20; it is the only sacrifice that the Book of Genesis (see Genesis 15:9, etc.; Genesis 22:2, etc.) knows. The offering (מִנְחָה) of Genesis 4:4 is somewhat obscure, but does not appear to have been a sacrifice of blood. This sacrifice was one which was wholly consumed on the altar of fire, and supposed to ascend to heaven. The chief kinds of burnt offerings were
(1) the daily (Exodus 29:38-42; Numbers 28:3-8);
(2) the sabbath (Numbers 28:8-10);
(3) that at the new moon, the Day of Atonement, the three great festivals and the Feast of Trumpets (Numbers 28:11-39).
Beside these, there were the several kinds of freewill and private burnt offerings. The first, seventh, and eighth chapters of Leviticus contain full accounts of the ceremonial. The drink offering is spoken of as early as Genesis 35:14; but those to which reference is here made as appertaining to the before-mentioned sacrifices are more explicitly spoken of in such passages as Exodus 29:40; Leviticus 23:13; Numbers 6:17; Numbers 15:5-24; Numbers 28:10-14.
1 Chronicles 29:22
Evident stress is laid upon the eating and drinking of that day as before the Lord, and upon the anointing of Solomon to the Lord. This latter expression is more forcible than the former. The second time of making Solomon king is explained by 1Ki 1:32-40; 1 Chronicles 23:1. The statement that Zadok was anointed to be priest must probably be understood to describe, either the re-anointing of him (just as "they made Solomon king the second time") on an occasion which particularly invited it; or an anointing which had not been before fully performed. This latter is, perhaps, an unlikely supposition; but at the same time, the fact of any previous ceremony of the kind does not happen to be narrated. Zadok had been joint priest with Abiatbar of the line of Ithamar (1 Chronicles 15:11; 2 Samuel 24:1-25, 29; 2 Samuel 19:11); but now he was anointed under circumstances of special publicity, and at a crisis of special interest, to supersede Abiathar. who had sided with Adonijah, and who was early to be removed altogether from the sacred office (1 Kings 1:7, 1Ki 1:8, 1 Kings 1:32, 1 Kings 1:38, 1Ki 1:44, 1 Kings 1:45; 1 Kings 2:26, 1 Kings 2:27).
1 Chronicles 29:23
For the happy expression, the throne of the Lord, see 1 Chronicles 28:5. And for evidence that Solomon did really exercise royal authority before David's death, see 1 Kings 1:32, 1 Kings 1:45-48; 1 Kings 2:1.
1 Chronicles 29:25
Any king before him in Israel. There were, of course, only two kings "before" Solomon in Israel. The promise of God to Solomon, however, when he was "pleased" with the speech of the prayer which he offered a very short time subsequently, was much larger, and suggests itself to us as what may really have been present to the mind of the historian when he used the less comprehensive words above (2 Chronicles 1:12; 1 Kings 4:12, 1 Kings 4:13).
1 Chronicles 29:26-30
These verses contain last words respecting David's reign, its extent and its length; respecting his death and age, and the succession of Solomon; and respecting the sources of the history of himself, his reign, his people, and other countries.
1 Chronicles 29:26
The words of this verse, not indeed hard to follow here, but marking the close instead of the commencement or career of David's reign over all Israel, are paralleled by the earlier passage, 1 Chronicles 18:14; 2 Samuel 8:15.
1 Chronicles 29:27
In the same way the contents of this verse are paralleled by 1 Chronicles 3:4; 2 Samuel 5:5; 1 Kings 2:11; this last passage giving only seven years instead of the seven years and six months for the reign in Hebron.
1 Chronicles 29:28
We learn from 2 Samuel 5:4, 2 Samuel 5:5, that David was thirty years old when he began to reign in Hebron. He must, therefore, have died in his seventy-first year. That this is called here a good old age shows that the length of human life had now greatly subsided. In comparison of all his successors on the thrones of Judah and of Israel, his age was clearly a "good old age?'
1 Chronicles 29:29
The Hebrew word here translated acts is identical with the words translated three times afterwards in this verse book. A uniform rendering for all might be found in the general word "history" or "acts." The question as to the probable nature of these works, and whether identical with our Books of Samuel, has been treated of in the Introduction. The Hebrew word for "seer," applied in this verse to Samuel, is הָרֹאֶה. And that applied to Gad, though the Authorized Version has the same translation, "seer," is הָחזֶה. There can be no doubt that the word applied to Samuel would, under any circumstances, stand as the higher of the two names, were there any comparison intended between them. This is confirmed by the fact that it is found used only of him (1 Samuel 9:9, 1 Samuel 9:11, 1Sa 9:18, 1 Samuel 9:19; 2 Samuel 15:27; 1Ch 9:22; 1 Chronicles 26:28; 1 Chronicles 29:29) and of Hanani (2 Chronicles 16:7, 2 Chronicles 16:10), whereas the word applied to Gad in this verse is the generic name for seers, and is used several times in the Books of Chronicles of other persons than Gad. At the same time, the parenthesis in 1 Samuel 9:9, to the effect that the word here used of Samuel as seer (הָרֹאֶה) was superseded in later times (as, for instance, at the time of the writing of the Books of Samuel) by the word prophet (נֶבִיא), compared with Isaiah 30:10, points in a somewhat different direction. In the first place, it would indicate that our Authorized Version in Isaiah 30:10 should rather stand, "Which say to the prophets, Prophesy not, and to the seers," etc. While for our present passage it would indicate that no insidious comparison is possible between Samuel and Gad as seers, but rather that Samuel retains the old honoured name by which he had been wont to be called, and that to Nathan is with equal naturalness attached the more modern name—the functions represented being essentially the same, or at least analogous.
1 Chronicles 29:30
The phrase in this verse, The times that went over him, is noticeable as an hapax legomenon. There are, however, not a few phrases more or less nearly approaching it in sense, and all hinging on the word times (1 Chronicles 12:32; Esther 1:13; Job 24:1.; Psalms 31:15; Daniel 7:25). The last sentence of this chapter is illustrated, and most suggestively, by 2 Chronicles 12:8; 2 Chronicles 17:10, 2 Chronicles 17:11, 22-30; Ezra 9:1-15.
1 Chronicles 29:1.-God's choosing, and man's right attitude in the presence of it.
It is very evident that great anxiety pressed upon the mind of David whenever he thought of the youthfulness of Solomon side by side with the magnitude of the enterprise in store for him. Nervousness, however, does not paralyze David, but does make him thoughtful, provident, and careful (as far as he can see the way) to disarm, at all events, the more apparent and threatening dangers. The remoter, human calculation must fail to gauge, and must leave with humble trust and humbler confession of its own limited powers. Notice in this connection —
I. THE SIGNIFICANT ASSERTION ON THE PART OF DAVID OF GOD'S ACT OF CHOICE. Addressing all the congregation of the people, and consciously facing all the perils of the situation—not blinding himself to them nor trying to cloke them from others—David says, "Solomon my son,… is yet young and tender, and the work is great;" but in the middle he finds opportunity to insert this suggestive qualification, "Whom alone God hath chosen."
1. God's choice, God's call, where they can be truly asserted, are the unchallengeable vindication of whatsoever may seem unusual, unreasonable, even unjust. He has legitimate power over all that he has made. He gives not account to any one of his doings. The things most unexpected are what he frequently brings to pass. This is David's tacit answer to all his elder children, if they are murmuring in their hearts; this his pronounced vindication of himself before "all the congregation of the people," if they should censure him, that in one and the same breath he makes Solomon his chief heir and successor and responsible for so great a work, and yet betrays an unfeigned anxiety as to his fitness and competency for the position. It suffices to clear him of the suspicion of an unpaternal partiality, on the one hand, in his family, and in his nation on the other hand, of a weak and unpatriotic favouritism.
2. God's choice—his call, the persuasion of his decree—is the one source of confidence to the innermost heart of the man, who must otherwise often be the tortured victim of anxiety, of doubt, of mystery. In human life there may often be not one word of worldly wisdom to be urged for a course for which the individual heart nevertheless may have not so truly its own reasons as God's own reasons. The thing that conspicuously fails to justify itself before the eye of the whole world may find its sovereign raison d'etre in what was the dictate of an unmistakable inspiration. The grain of seed was of heavenly sowing. The spot where it fell was lighted by the light of God's eye. The germinating and all the subsequent stages of growth to the very ripening of it were all watched and favoured by Divine tending. The result is secure. And that result stands good and the fruits of it have spread far and wide, when all the criticism with which it was assailed has perished ignominiously. The strength of the martyr has, of course, been rooted in this, and the paradox has been times without number witnessed of the gentlest, meekest, and most self-surrendering standing the strongest, speaking the most dogmatically, and refusing to surrender a jot of what they held. So with healthiest communication God visits the very heart of mankind, and. in reaching one so deeply, so surely, influences millions, and colours the complexion of centuries succeeding. Whatever natural apprehension remained now on the mind of David, it was he who most felt of what a load of responsibility he was relieved when he could say of Solomon, "Whom alone God hath chosen."
3. The conviction of God's choice, call, or decree being in question inspires, not force, confidence, comfort only, but also reverence, unquestioning submission, implicit obedience. This proved already by the conduct of David and his own careful exhortation of Solomon and, so to say, education of him for his future place, is also abundantly evidenced in the tone of his present address to the people in alluding to the subject. Perhaps no aspect of the character of God given us by revelation has met with more irreverent, sceptical, and quibbling treatment than this from that part of the world "that knoweth not God." Yet, in strictest harmony as it is with all the original facts of the spontaneity of One who must needs be a sovereign Creator if he be any at all, the deepest things involved in the choice and the call and the decree of God must be the deepest, coolest springs of reverence, resignation, and loving obedience to the other part of the world. Then we sing —
"When my dim reason would demand
Why that or this thou dost ordain,
By some vast deep I seem to stand,
Whose secrets I must ask in vain.
"When doubts disturb my troubled breast,
And all is dark as night to me,
Here as on solid rock I rest —
That so it seemeth good to thee.
"Be this my joy, that evermore
Thou rulest all things at thy will.
Thy sovereign wisdom I adore —
And calmly, sweetly trust thee still."
II. THE FIRM ASSERTION BEFORE THE NATION OF WHAT IT IS THAT GIFTS ANY WORK OF MAN WITH TRUE DIGNITY, WITH GENUINE IMPORTANCE. "The palace is… for the Lord God." This is to put things in their right places—God, heaven, immortality, the unperishing first of all.
1. A sound religious principle is bravely upheld before all. There is none of the bated breath and the semi-suppression offered to it which are so often offered to the principles of revealed religion.
2. A most neglected aspect of religious practice is here brought into prominence. Truths and principles of religion, acknowledged by the lip, are too often ignored in practice. The prayers we say, the praise we sing, the adoration we ejaculate, are not unfrequently dishonoured to the degree of being rendered worthless through the next deed we do or fail to do. It is not the tender, the immature, the inexperienced, the incompetent who, untrusted in statesmanship, untrusted in the professions of human life, are to be indifferently or recklessly trusted with the affairs of "the kingdom." And even when God calls such, man, both prince and people, the skilled and the experienced, are only to hear more practically the call to rally round the Lord's choice.
3. The non-performance of human work for God is sufficiently guarded from confusion with the non-meritoriousness of human work for God. The distinction, abundantly plain to all who have eyes to see, is often treated as though it were among the inscrutable mysteries. To such an extent is this pretence carried that the neglect of a high and conscientious performance of works for God is assumed to be warranted by the mere fact that no merit lives in them in their aspects Godward. Yet the leas of meritoriousness the more peremptory may be the demand that that humble quotum of duty be punctiliously and as heartily performed. How healthy, how natural to an unsophisticated conscience and judgment, sounds the tone of David's language now, "The work is great: for the palace is not for man, but for the Lord God" I Will anything in modern days pass muster to be given to God, to the Church of Christ, to his work? Yet this is the spirit of much language we hear, of much more conduct we witness. In the gifts of the hand, in the gifts of the mind, and in the gifts of the heart, the weak and poor, the blind and blemished and lame, are too frequently presented to the temple of the Lord, to the Church of Christ, to the highest office of the ministry of Christ's gospel. The work is not held great, just because it is of an ecclesiastical cast. It would have enlisted tenfold to an hundredfold interest or enthusiasm if it had been of a civic, of a patriotic, or of a domestic sort. So David thought not, did not, whether now in the last hours of mortal life or in the days. when. youth. "glowed, strength "abounded, and the heart loved to sing of" Jerusalem as its chief joy and God as its Strength and Portion for evermore."
1 Chronicles 29:2-9.-A pattern for religious devotion.
There is much religious feeling that fails of fruitfulness. It resembles often the fragrant blossom of the early spring on the fruit tree, and which promises well even beyond the time of the setting, but still fails most disappointingly of bringing fruit to perfection. These failures are generally easily traceable in each successive instance to their proper cause. But when so traced the mischief is done, the forfeiture is suffered, and the wisdom comes all too late. The real composition of genuine religious devotion, the elements necessary to practical religious devotion, are well illustrated in this series of verses. They have much in common with the characteristic marks of Christian compassion. Either of these principles is very often found to pine, just as though for want of stamina. To prevent this disappointment and waste would be to add an incalculable amount to the growth of goodness and to the benefit of the world. And the pattern good for religious devotion exhibited to us here shows the following characteristics: —
I. IT SEEKS AN INDIVIDUAL OBJECT. The house to be builded for the Lord, the temple, is now the thought of David's heart and the object of what remains to him of earthly life. And of this he might truly say in the language used long after by St. Paul, "This one thing I do." This was confessedly in David's time, and from the point of view of his nation, a very great enterprise; yet it was one thing to think of and another to do. How much time and feeling and earnestness are frittered away, counting for nothing except mournful moral reflection in the retrospect, with those who wait to do anything until they might, as they fondly imagine, do all, or, if not all, might embrace a very large compass in their beneficent aspiration I Universal observation rebukes the large foible. The useful men have been those who have steadily and with determination pursued one thing at the time. This is the first healthy sign of religious devotion, when with heart and hand it weds itself to one object of zeal and pursuit. Concentration of purpose, of affection, of energy, is as much the secret of great usefulness directed to the very highest ends as it is of that poor travesty of it, earthly success, so often mistaken and mishonoured as the equivalent of usefulness.
II. IT STUDIES ITS OBJECT WITH DISCRIMINATING, PAINSTAKING CARE. We are often tempted to buy off individual responsibility by doing just what others do, and giving just what others give, and suffering ourselves to be borne on the general stream of opinion, or on the old stream of opinion, as though no individual judgment, or conscience, or conviction were possible to us. This, however, is the very opposite of what we do when we feel our own individual interest to be concerned. If we are to give reality and honesty to God's work and grace and finish to our work for man, for Christ's sake, it must be by this latter "rule" that we are guided. And very lovingly and heartily must we resign ourselves to its methods. How carefully David had surveyed in thought the whole and every part of the one work to which he had "set his affection "l The gold, and silver, and brass, and iron, and wood, and onyx stones, and glistering stones, and stones of divers colours, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance,—all the variety of them had been imagined and provided for, or all the weight and purity of the metal had been measured and contracted for. Thought and discrimination and pains had been spared in nothing of all these. The circumspection and minuteness of care and fond anxiety which men know so well to spend on themselves and their own transient, temporal interests, David now spends on the work of God. Such exercise of religious devotion throws thrilling interest and unwonted animation into any holy work, and invokes with unerring importunity Heaven's abounding blessing.
III. IT PURSUES ITS ANXIOUS PREPARATIONS, AND, IF NECESSARY, PURSUES THEM FOR A LONG TIME IN SILENCE, OR IN COMPARATIVE SILENCE. Nothing less needs ostentation, nothing less warrants display, than our work for God. When any man is deeply conscious that it is God's work that he has in hand, then he feels it is God's glory that he has at heart, and this dispenses with all craving for notice and applause. This latter is poor food for any one whomsoever who has already known and tasted the other. Now, the case of David at the present time was such that what he was doing must needs have been known. It could not have been hidden in his own heart or anywhere else. Yet it is plain that he had for some time been patiently, and with no needless publicity, making his zealous preparations. He was certainly far from finding himself in the position of Noah when planning and building the ark—the object of ridicule, hindrance, and jeering of the people. No, nor, on the other hand, is he continually sounding the trumpet and calling attention to himself and his doings. But now the ripe moment had come when the loving and patient preparations of one must be handed over, not exactly to another, but into the trust of the representatives of a nation as well It was a moment when it was needful that the deeds and the purposes of David should no longer simply escape into the knowledge of others, but be formally and solemnly announced to all a listening people. The work of Christ in the world loved silence, patience, hiddenness long time. Neither he nor his kingdom nor his chiefest servants "come with observation," nor live "with observation;" yet the longer the delay and the humbler the obscurity, the more effective and heart-stirring will the final "manifestation" be. The self-denial, the deep interest, the long labour of the humblest faithful servant will be proclaimed before a kingdom and in a kingdom which shall have gathered all others into itself, and by the King of kings himself.
IV. IT GIVES OF ITS OWN SUBSTANCE. The temptation is great with some leaders of the people merely to lead, to direct, to administer. And when this is the case the deficiency will very generally express itself somewhere before long. Enthusiasm will be wanting in the followers. In their minds an irresistible sense of unreality will get awakened. With a good conscience, indeed, David can appeal to the liberality of others by a simple reference to his own example. "Of his own proper good," i.e. "private substance," he had contributed largely. The influence of such an announcement is at least twofold.
1. It attests the honesty of the leader.
2. It speaks more strongly than any words could urge the powerful, sometimes omnipotent, stimulus of example.
V. IT OWNS TO AN INTRINSIC ZEAL IN APPEALING TO OTHERS. One can almost imagine David saying to himself, after all that he has thought, prepared, done, still this further, "Woe is to me if I do not testify with my dying lips, and testify in this way—by appealing earnestly to others!" True enough, there is preaching that is of the weakest. Its feeble tones, its timid essaying of its vocabulary, its apologetic style, bespeak its insincerity, at all events its untrustworthiness. It has no ring about it. But the devotion that is real is confident in itself. If it sometimes seem to overstep the threshold of moderation, it is ashamed to stay this side of it. The very best zeal for inflaming others is that which consumes self. So the "greater Son of David" came to a time when the truest utterance of his pure life was this, "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up." The highest Christian devotion has never failed to find this voice: "Who is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?" Who is willing to consecrate himself this day unto the Lord? Who is willing "to fill his hand," and bring such handful to the Lord? These are the appeals that are likely to be heard by all classes of men, the rich and the poor, people and princes. And they sound the keynote; they constitute themselves just the watchword; joy is awakened unfeigned in every heart; praise leaps to the lips of all. Then men "offer willingly and with perfect heart." The scene—an inspiration itself would not have had its place on the page of God's Word, but for the religious devotion, real, practical, of which David unconsciously offers us an illustrious example, model lesson.
1 Chronicles 29:10-20.-The last thanksgiving of the royal life in its varied elements.
Perhaps David had been in some doubt as to how his address would be received. If received favourably, he may have been in doubt as to the practical response to it for which his heart longed. And even if of this also he felt he might make quite sure, yet there was the hour of his own last great effort now past. That effort had been made with whatever demand on body and mind went along with it, and the suspense is over. Great hearts alone can know great joys. There are few greater joys than are found in relief from the strain of anxiety, from the burden of long preparation, and the Conscious weight of responsibility. But when the natural welling up of joy from such causes coincides with an unparalleled success, and this in matter of religious moment, then every possible element seems present. And a good heart gives itself up to a transport, which can find no sympathetic expression but at the foot of the throne of thrones itself. And hither does David now betake himself; but not alone—hither he leads also a nation. These verses contain more than thanksgiving. They may, however, be appropriately enough called the service of thanksgiving. And the service appropriates in impartial measures the characteristics of majesty and comprehensiveness. Here are unqualified thanksgiving, profound adoration, the confession of creature dependence, and the humiliation befitting it; here are meditation and reminiscence, and all symptom of moral sympathies in strongest activity; here is petition, fervent petition, for the present and for the long future of the palace, the people, and the son himself of David. The opening sentence of this service gives its key-note and bespeaks its main design. In its rich variety, however, as a whole, let us notice —
I. ITS STATELY ASCRIPTION. "Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our father, for ever and ever? What words can do they are intended here to do. They sometimes do the more for their fewness, and they are few here. This word "blessed," when applied to the Divine Personage, is a picked, choice, word of the spiritual vocabulary that is open to a creature approaching the Creator. It is the word of highest and most refined effort. Human exclamation has done its best, has touched its highest note, when, having passed through thanks, gratitude, praise, glorifying, magnifying, and, if there be any other, it soars on this note, and rests and poises itself as it were on this note: "Blessed be thou, Lord God." The soul that has striven to give his due to the Lord God, yet striven too anxiously in vain, flings itself on that one remaining word, and, lost in admiration, it breathes the simplicity and sincerity of an impassioned genuine fervour into it, and must be content. This word "blessed," when applied to the Divine Being, is confessedly a familiar one to our ear, to our lip; but, if estimated by the freight it contained now, has contained times without number, and may this day contain, it is one owning to priceless sacredness and beauty. And it is this, not so much for what it speaks, but for the fact that when first speech most fails, it comes the only volunteer to bear Heavenward what we mean. Note, again, the telling accompaniments of this ascription in the time-view of it.
1. It stretches backward to the birth of the favoured and now enrapt people, "Lord God of Israel our Father."
2. It stretches forward, far, far further, "For ever and ever."
II. ITS ADORING ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF GOD'S SOVEREIGN, UNIVERSAL PROPRIETORSHIP. To give to God his own even in language is a thing often forgotten. Thought is careless to do it. Faith is sleepy to do it. Aspiration's effort is weak on wing to try it. Men grovel in the use of even the infinitesimally small, and forsake the mighty inspiration of the mere attempt at a survey of all. But what source of comfort and of undelusive strength it should be for the creature to rehearse to himself the infinite fulness, the glorious riches of his Maker, Father, God! That the contrast should seem appalling, great even to overwhelming, is not the just and legitimate result of the meditation and acknowledgment. To be timid, anxious, uncertain, is the portion for those who know not on what they have to depend, or who do know that he on whom they depend has himself but impoverished means! But the weakest creature is strong, comforted, blessed, whose eye of faith surveys this wealth of possession, these boundless surroundings of the supreme Being. Yes; we leave unsaid, unthought, the exalting sovereign truth now (as fully as it is simply) recited by David and his people. "Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all, and in thine band it is to make great, and to give strength unto all." We may distinguish in the beautiful riches of this descriptive and this majestically picturesque sketch of the infinite Being:
1. The intrinsic attributes given to him.
2. The absolute universal possession perceived in him.
3. His position and consequent active rule.
4. His bestowments of such things as "riches and honour."
5. His bestowments of such other more intrinsic vital gifts, as "to make great" and "to give strength," There are gifts for the hand, but there are other gifts for the very springs of one's own life.
These assimilate, as it were, with our spontaneous force, and the human then shows more or less Divine. God owns all; and great is the all which he owns. And he gives. He is not more adorable for the all that he has than he is for the all that he gives. And it is very interesting to observe, as by the help of this passage, how difficult is it to divorce the possessing of God from his bestowing—all creation itself, the overflowing of his fulness.
III. ITS SIMPLEST PRONOUNCED THANKSGIVING AND PRAISE. When the adoring ecstasy is passed, then reason and justice, though on the humblest scale, are to resume their place, and the creature, debt of thanks and praise is to be paid, sacredly, simply paid, with the lip. To this David leads his people with himself: "Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious Name."
IV. ITS UNQUALIFIED DISCLAIMER OF ALL MERIT ON THE PART OF KING AND PEOPLE. To not a rag of self-righteousness will David permit the whole gathering of his nation to lay claim. Have they given? they have given what was first given to themselves. Have they given heartily? they have given to the Giver himself. There has been no merit in their doings. No;nor can there be any meritoriousness about themselves. For what are they? There is not the substance in them of which merit could be made, nor the root to them of which it could grow, nor the continuance belonging to them by which it might ripen. Their life, their home, themselves, are all dependent just on mercy, and their hopes lie in infinite loving-kindness. And it was the same with their fathers before them. To such material and such a history merit cannot find where to attach.
V. ITS UNFALTERING APPEAL TO CONSCIOUS INTEGRITY. David disclaims all merit, but he claims confidently before the all-seeing, the heart-searching One, his own "uprightness," i.e. pure motive and sincere zeal. Few things have owned to more various quality under one face than the profession of zeal for the glory of God. Religious zeal O, no doubt, religious zeal, but nine-tenths of what is named religious zeal is a far different thing. It is the hybrid ecclesiastical zeal. And ecclesiastical zeal is not merely a thing very inferior always, but often absolutely antagonistic to the genuine thing, religious zeal. That David protests his own zeal and heartfelt pleasure in the great work of the temple-building may seem unnecessary, and his object in doing so may seem somewhat obscure. Yet probably all found here is true to nature. First, he could not be wrong in formally dedicating at this time, with express rehearsal of it, his own work and his own giving to God. But further, as we shall see, his doing so may have been the suggestion of what he brings next into prominence. That is in reality grafted upon his own enterprise and is best introduced by it.
VI. ITS EMPHATIC EXPRESSION OF A DELIGHTED AND UNUSUAL SYMPATHY Some of the most subtle flattery that the human heart offers to itself, and then most eagerly receives, consists in its very ready assumption of moral .and spiritual superiority. The Pharisee, as portrayed by the master Limner himself of human characters, is never extinct. But in form less gross, in effect more insidious, the essence of the Pharisaic spirit perpetually reappears to some degree or other, and in some form or other. To affect a zeal for the good and the right, an appreciation of them, a sympathy with them far in excess of those of others, is a common foible, ay, a vice of the pseudo-spiritual. Nor are there wanting instances where the spread of knowledge, of presentation of facts, in a word, of legitimate inducement, are suppressed, lest an enthusiasm now confined to one or a very few should become general, and lest an envious distinction should be forfeited, born of singularity alone. Sincerity's death-knell is sounding then most surely. But now, if David recite his own zeal, and appeal to the all-searching One to see and try it, he does so in truth to pave the way for delighted and sympathetic celebration of the facts that so many are "like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind" (Philippians 2:3). To witness the indications of a right state of heart in others, and to witness them with unaffected joy, mark the life of holy sympathies, and the health of one's own spiritual state. The Apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans (Romans 1:32), speaks of it as the direst condemnation of certain that they "not only do" things of the worst moral significance (which might possibly be done. under the force of strong present temptation), but that they also "have pleasure m them that do them. St. Paul is there stigmatizing certain immoral sympathies, as marking the depths of deepest degradation. On the other hand, we are prone to slight the value of intense moral sympathies with goodness. But in fact, the presence of these measures the real strength of a new nature very accurately. And the example of David invites our notice of them here. He brings into special prominence the right feeling and the right doing of the people, and utters his own unfeigned joy because of them.
VII. ITS APPROPRIATE AND EARNEST PRAYER. All will fail if it be not "sanctified by the Word of God and by prayer." Feeling, purpose, aspiration, and the right beginning of doing may yet all fall through. Promise may soon die off, or it may die off somewhat later. Only it will die off, unless there be given to it from above the needed element of perpetuity. How much there is of the future of ourselves, and of those unspeakably dear to us, which we relegate to the mere domain of hope, flattering, fond, frail, false hope! We do so often with mistaken humility; under the impression that we can do nothing else for the future, that we must not allow excessive anxiety about it, that "Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof." But we are then forgetting the force of prayer, and that it is largely of its nature and privilege to "reach a hand through time to catch… a far-off interest." David offers prayer, and the right prayer. Had his nation but lived by that prayer, their grandeur would have survived, an unparalleled grandeur, to this day. Notice, therefore, in the prayer:
1. How David makes this the One burden of it—that the thing of right present appearance and of happy promise may be "for ever," may be "stablished," may be "kept."
2. How he asks that this perpetuity may be derived from deepest source, "the imagination of the thoughts of the heart;" "the stablished heart;" "the perfect heart."
3. How he invokes God by the titles that might by supposed most to move Deity, and most to call his children trustfully and gratefully to his feet. Many a temple, palace, castle, would we build; for many such would we "make provision." But they never are builded. And they are not builded because we forget that "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build." And we have left unmade the most necessary "provision" of all, if we have forgotten to sanctify our enterprise by submitting it to the "Lord God of our fathers" and of ourselves, and begging him to give of his own stability and enduringness to those whose hands are to build.
VIII. ITS CLOSE, HEARD AMID THE ECHOES OF ONE UNANIMOUS OUTBURST OF PURE ADORATION. It may be reverently said that the abdicating king—abdicating because he was abdicating the present life—"gave the word, and great Was the company of them that published it. "The "word" consisted of a summons to "bless the Lord God." And that word was heard and obeyed by the vast throng. Though many an occasion may invite large numbers of mankind to unite to one end, yet in no one employment could the vast family of man so justly, so enthusiastically unite as in a "work and worship so Divine" as here described. Are we not here studying a "type" indeed? Do we not listen herein to rehearsal of what some day—even if "far off, at last "—Heaven shall listen to, as it arises from earth, and of what earth itself shall raise, when earth itself is raised to heaven? So this service ended. So we believe the service of earth will end; and so that of heaven begin, never, never to end. God shall be all and in all. He shall be to each and to all the eternal All in all. Oh for the dawning of that moment when, at the signal of an inner impulse, the innumerable congregation itself shall fall prostrate in irrepressible adoring, and as though snatching at this word, "Now bless the Lord your God"!
HOMILIES BY J.R. THOMSON
1 Chronicles 29:1.-Youthful service.
1. David's words bring before us a tender worker. Solomon was yet young, and his father seemed to regard him as peculiarly insufficient for the position Providence was preparing for him. Perhaps his character thus far was unformed; and it may have been his accession to the throne which was the occasion of his recognizing his responsibilities, and preparing himself for his kingly duties.
2. They bring before us also a great work. The young monarch was to build a palace, not for man, but for God; to carry out a magnificent and costly scheme—a work which should be of lasting importance, both for Israel and the world. There was an apparent want of correspondence between a worker so tender and inexperienced, and a work so vast. Yet it was the Divine appointment that Solomon should build the temple; and events proved that, with God's blessing, he was able to carry out the great undertaking. The lesson of this verse is that there is Divine authority for youthful consecration and service; that there is no real inconsistency between a tender worker and an important work.
I. THERE IS A SUMMONS, ADDRESSED TO THE YOUNG, TO WORK FOR THE LORD, There was nothing peculiar or exceptional in the requirement made of Solomon. The kind of work entrusted to him was special; but there was nothing special in his call to work for the Lord. Every young person who hears the tidings of the gospel, who receives the Divine revelation, is under an obligation to work for Christ. When you enjoy the privileges, you are subjected to the claims, of religion. Jesus, who cells you to rejoice in his love, calls you to engage in his service. In detail, God by his providence will point out to you how you may glorify him; in principle, the service required of you will be the same as that required of Solomon. A cheerful mind, a willing heart, an unmurmuring submission, a lifelong devotion,—these are what .Heaven delights in. A truly Christian life is, in any case, a great work. You have a palace to build for God; and all holy thoughts and righteous deeds and wise and kindly words are as stones in the edifice—an edifice to be reared to God's glory. How many are the admonitions we find in Scripture to youthful piety and consecration! —
"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth!" "My son, give me thine heart!" "Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My Father, thou art the Guide of my youth?"
II. THERE ARE MANY ADVANTAGES IN YOUTHFUL CONSECRATION TO THE LORD'S SERVICE.
1. It is advantageous to the worker. A sound basis is thus laid for a noble character. There is scope for development. A direction is given to the active nature which there will be no occasion to reverse or alter.
2. It is advantageous for the work. There is time for doing it thoroughly and consistently. The youthful worker can adapt himself to the work, and his interest in it will deepen as the years pass on. Youthful enterprise and energy will tend to its vigorous prosecution. Enthusiasm and perseverance combined, under the guidance and with the blessing of the Holy Spirit of God, cannot fail to forward the sacred enterprise, to advance the rearing of the spiritual structure.
3. It is acceptable to him who provides the work and qualifies the workman. God cannot but be pleased when his own work is taken in hand and carried on by those whom he himself has designed for it.
1. Let the young seriously consider the call of Heaven, readily accept the trust, and prayerfully seek guidance and help for its fulfilment. God comes to you and says, "Son, go work to-day in my vineyard."
2. Let all Christians encompass youthful workers for Christ with interest, sympathy, and supplication. As David commended the young prince, his son, to the considerate sympathy and support of the mighty men, priests, and counsellors, so would we beg all mature and experienced servants of the Lord to uphold their younger friends and colleagues by affectionate interest and prayers.—T.
1 Chronicles 29:3.-Affection for God's house.
It would be absurd to compare David's attachment to the projected temple to a Christian's attachment to any material structure. The tabernacle and temple occupied under the old dispensation a position no building can now occupy. The true comparison is with the spiritual temple, the house of God—the great edifice constructed of living stones, even of consecrated hearts.
I. REASONS FOR DAVID'S AFFECTION TO THE LORD'S HOUSE.
1. Mainly his attachment to the Lord himself, in whose honour it was to be reared.
2. Secondarily, the fact that the project was one which he himself had formed.
3. And further, his knowledge that the work would be accomplished by his own loved son.
II. PRACTICAL PROOFS OF THIS AFFECTION.
1. His own most liberal gifts in preparation for the work.
2. His encouragement to his people to give with generosity.
III. RESULTS TO THEIR OWN HEARTS. They could not cherish such feelings of interest, affection, and attachment, and manifest their feelings in so practical a way, without reaping some harvest of profit in their own souls. Their deep and disinterested joy in their gifts is an evidence of the benefit which they received. This example should encourage Christians to cherish and display a religious attachment towards the Church purchased by our Saviour's blood.—T.
1 Chronicles 29:5.-Consecrated service.
These words are an appeal of David to the nobles, and' to the people generally, to contribute towards the building of the temple of Jehovah at Jerusalem. Ha himself set the example of liberality; and his subjects generally followed the example he gave. "Who then," asked he, "is willing to fill his hand this day unto the Lord?" As these gifts were really an expression of the devotion that animated the hearts of the Israelites, the English Version may be said to offer rather an enlargement than a perversion of the language. And the question is one which may be addressed to all hearers of the gospel. For all are called upon to give themselves and all they have and are unto the God who made them, and the Redeemer who bought them. We have here —
I. A CLAIM AFFIRMED. Religion not only offers a blessing, it requires a service. Salvation is the substance of what God gives; consecration is what God demands. Salvation is from past sin; consecration is for future life and service. God has a right to the surrender of our will, the devotion of our powers, the offering of our possessions, the service of our hands. The heart is his first demand; our labours, our influence, our liberality, will all follow. This is a just claim. It is founded on Divine right and authority; for he is our Creator and King, He has a powerful claim upon our gratitude; for he has treated us with bounty, and he has given us his Son to redeem us from iniquity and from destruction. We are for ever dependent upon him, who is our Lord and Judge; and, in giving unto him, we do but give him his own.
II. THE RESPONSE EXPECTED.
1. A willing response. In fact, there can be no unwilling response. God does not use constraint, and a grudged offering would not be acceptable to him; for it is our affection and devotion that he desires.
2. An immediate response. "Who is willing this day?" To-day is not too early; to-morrow may be too late. The old have no time to lose. The middle-aged and busy should not leave decision until old age comes, if come it should. But it is chiefly from the young that an immediate acceptance of the invitation of the gospel is desired, that so they may spend a whole life in his delightful service. "To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart."
III. AN APPEAL URGED. "Who is willing?" All who are capable of understanding the entreaty and the ground upon which it is based; all who enjoy religious privileges, who hear God's Word, Christ's gospel, are under a sacred obligation to yield themselves a living sacrifice unto God. Motives, inducements, persuasions,—all are brought to bear upon the soul. A most honourable and happy service, the most desirable recompense, the profoundest satisfaction,—all are proffered to you upon the terms of unconditional surrender, complete consecration. "Who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?"—T.
1 Chronicles 29:9.-Generosity and joy.
There was true unity between king and subjects. It was a national movement in which they joined, and it was a national emotion which they shared.
I. THE CAUSE TO WHICH THEY GAVE. It was their own cause, but in a higher sense it was the Lord's. It was for the glory of Jehovah and for the spread of his worship and obedience that the temple was to be reared; a cause this which justified all their enthusiasm and all their liberality.
II. WHAT THEY GAVE. They offered of their own substance, and according to their several ability; and their gifts were appropriate, costly, and generous.
III. How THEY GAVE. "The Lord loveth a cheerful giver;" and such givers Israel furnished on this occasion in great abundance. They gave willingly, and not simply in conformity to their sovereign's example. They gave with a perfect heart; i.e. from disinterested, devout, and pious motives.
IV. THE CONSEQUENCE OF THEIR GIVING. "They rejoiced." A simple but very expressive account of the feelings of both monarch and subjects. They felt by anticipation the truth of our Lord's saying, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." The selfish and niggardly are ever the miserable; the sympathetic, liberal, and self-denying are ever the happy and lightsome of heart.—T.
1 Chronicles 29:10-19.-David's blessing.
One of the closing acts of David's life was a public acknowledgment of God's favour, and a public entreaty of God's blessing upon his people and upon his son. It was a sacred and solemn act of devotion, and only inferior in sublimity to the invocation and prayer of Solomon upon the occasion of the dedication of the temple. The aged king acted, not only as the civil ruler, but as the religious leader of Israel. Gathering the princes, the warriors, and the multitude together, he, as their representative, offered spiritual sacrifices of adoration, thanksgiving, and prayer before Israel's God. We observe, in this address to Heaven, a combination of the several parts of which devotion should be composed.
I. THE RECOGNITION OF THE DIVINE CHARACTER. In 1 Chronicles 29:11 and 1 Chronicles 29:12 the attributes of Jehovah are celebrated with devout reverence, and in language of memorable beauty and eloquence. The propriety of such an invocation is manifest. When we draw near to God, it is not simply to bring our sin and want before him; it is to bring his holiness and greatness and beneficence before our minds. The Lord Jesus, in the prayer known as the Lord's Prayer, has given us an example of such adoration; for the petitions are prefaced by a reverent invoking of the Divine Father.
II. THE BLESSING OF GOD'S NAME. The contemplation of God's power, majesty, and dominion fails to produce its due result, unless it awakens our hearts to grateful praise. 1 Chronicles 29:13, "We thank thee, and praise thy glorious Name." Prayer without thanksgiving cannot be acceptable; what God has done, what he has given, must be acknowledged by those who have fresh favours to implore.
III. HUMILIATION AND CONFESSION. The language of 1 Chronicles 29:14 and 1 Chronicles 29:15 is marvellous for sublimity and pathos, has wrought itself into the speech and the prayers of men. Feeble, finite, dependent, and short-lived denizens of earth, when we come into the presence of the Unchangeable and Eternal, it becomes us to cherish a sense of our utter unworthiness. We cannot even undertake to engage in the service of God without feeling that for that service we are altogether unfit. Confession of sin and humiliation before the All-holy must be part of all truly acceptable devotion.
IV. INTERCESSION. In 1 Chronicles 29:18 David prays for Israel at large; in 1 Chronicles 29:19 for his son Solomon. For his people the king's chief desire was that the Lord would "prepare their heart unto himself." Their allegiance to Heaven, their spiritual good, their qualification for whatever work God should call them to undertake,—such were the blessings the aged king sought on behalf of his subjects. And for his son, how earnestly and appropriately did he plead! His prayer was that Solomon's character and his lifework might alike be acceptable to God. A prayer so comprehensive, so devout, so suited to the circumstances in which it was uttered, surely deserves the attentive study of those who would draw near to God in such a spirit as may justify the expectation that he will draw near to them.—T.
1 Chronicles 29:20.-Worship.
David was a true leader; for he not only directed, he preceded his subjects in the path of duty. If he called upon his soldiers to fight, he led them to the field; if he desired the princes to offer gifts, he first himself gave munificently; and if he would have his people worship, he himself set them the example. Thus, upon the occasion of presenting offerings towards the building of the temple, the king summoned the inhabitants of Jerusalem together, and in their presence and hearing addressed to Heaven the adorations and petitions recorded in this chapter. Only after this did he use the language of the text, "Now bless the Lord your God."
I. THE NATURE OF WORSHIP: in what worship consists. Worship of some sort has been general among all nations. Revealed religion directs and consecrates what seems a natural tendency; and both the Old Testament and the New contain many admonitions to, many examples of, true and acceptable worship.
1. True worship is spiritual. "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." It consists in the recognition of the Divine attributes, the acknowledgment of the Divine reign, and gratitude for Divine mercies—gifts, forbearance, loving-kindness. Nothing is more hateful to God than the language and posture of worship from which spiritual devotion is absent. Of the insincere he speaks with indignation, "This people draweth near unto me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." Silence is compatible with true worship; insincerity is not.
2. A devout heart will find expression for its sentiments. "The people bowed down their heads, and worshipped." Language is an assistance to the intelligent worshipper, though an unuttered aspiration or affection is heard and accepted by God. And attitudes of kneeling, standing, bowing the head, stretching forth the hands, are all appropriate as expressive of the feelings of the devout worshipper. It is only when they are substituted for spiritual worship that they are bad and displeasing to him who searches the hearts and tries the reins of the children of men.
II. THE OBJECT OF WORSHIP: to whom worship is due. The congregation of Israel "worshipped the Lord, and the king." Yet the homage offered to David was civil, not religions; and there could have been no danger of confusing the one with the other. Whilst the heathen worship gods many and lords many, to us there is but one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. The Christian adores and blesses God in Christ. Notice that he is:
1. Your God. The Israelites were reminded of this; and we all are summoned to regard him as ours; for he has made us and redeemed us, and by his own Spirit renewed us, so that we are his and he is ours.
2. And he is also your fathers' God. The Hebrews knew him as "the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob." And we can exclaim, when we approach him, "Doubtless thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not." The fact that God made himself known unto the fathers of mankind, that our parents or ancestors knew and acknowledged him, adds a pathos and a power to our prayers.
III. THE WORSHIPPERS. David summoned "all the congregation" to worship, bless, and praise the Lord.
1. All men have abundant reason to bless the Lord. He is "good unto all" His bounty, care, watchfulness, and long-suffering, have been experienced by all. No wonder that the psalmist in so many passages calls upon all people—all nations—to praise the Lord; summons young men and maidens, old men and children, to praise the Name of the Lord.
2. All men are in the gospel encouraged to present acceptable worship to God through Jesus Christ. The Saviour reveals the Father as the Object of worship, and himself provides the new and living way of access, and offers the intercession which secures Divine acceptance and approval for the believing worshipper. "I will," says the Apostle Paul, "that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."
1. Do you worship God yourselves?
2. Do you admonish and encourage others, especially the young, to bless and praise the Lord?—T.
1 Chronicles 29:22.-Church and state.
When Solomon was anointed to be chief governor, and Zadok to be priest, Israel acknowledged dependence upon God and loyalty to God in the two realms of civil and ecclesiastical life. The Hebrew nation was a theocracy, and however it may now be possible to separate between these two realms, it was not possible the. Without entering into any controversy, we may accept from this text the following suggestions: —
I. BOTH CIVIL AND ECCLESIASTICAL LIFE ARE FROM GOD. Our Creator has constituted us social beings, and social we are and must be. By this necessity it is established that mutual help and due order and subordination are from God. All attempts to violate these fundamental principles of human nature have issued in disastrous failure.
II. THE SAME PERSONS ARE UNITED TO BOTH ORGANIZATIONS ALIKE. A man's being citizen is not inconsistent with his being a member of a Christian Church. So far from there being any incompatibility between the two relations, they are mutually helpful each to the other.
III. IN BOTH RELATIONS MEN NEED REPRESENTATivES, LEADERS, ADMINISTRATORS. As in Israel there was king and priest, so in modern Christian society we not only need sovereigns, presidents, judges, legislators, etc; but we need also bishops, pastors, mode-raters, add officers of various kinds.
IV. ORGANIZATIONS AND OFFICIALS, BOTH CIVIL AND ECCLESIASTICAL, ARE INTENDED FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD. The end of such institutions and appointments is to be sought, not in private interests, or emolument, or power, but in the well-being of the body politic.
V. CIVIL AND ECCLESIASTICAL POWERS MAY BE HELPFUL TO EACH OTHER. States are bound to protect the Churches in the profession and propagation of religious faith with all possible liberty. And Christian Churches are under a sacred obligation to seek the order, welfare, and peace of the community. The relations between spiritual springs and political mechanism will often involve difficulty, but from the relations themselves there can be no escape, for they are divinely ordained.—T.
1 Chronicles 29:28.-David's death.
Aristotle quotes Solon's saying that no man should be called happy until his end. One reason for this much-controverted dictum, no doubt, was this—that a bureau life may be marked by prosperity up to a certain point, at which fortune may turn her wheel. This was, of course, not a Christian view of life; we have learned to look at the problem as one rather of character than of fortune, and to sympathize with the estimate of the all-seeing and heart-searching Lord and Judge. The circumstances mentioned in the text must be taken in conjunction with the rest of the narrative, if we would have a scriptural view of David's prosperity and felicity.
I. HIS AGE "A good old age" is not here what we should call such; for David's life does not seem to have exceeded seventy years. Yet it was not cut short; and, as he was suffered to live for the appointed term of life, he had opportunity to carry out his plans and to see their success. He was, in the expressive Hebraism, "full of days."
II. HIS RICHES. These were acquired by the industry of the population and by the spoils of war. They enabled him to adorn the metropolis which he had won by his sword, and to make preparation for building the temple of his God.
III. HIS HONOUR. He had been raised from the sheepfold to the throne. He had been fortunate in his counsellors and his generals. His victories had given him a widespread renown. And in his spiritual lyrics he had laid, all unwittingly, the foundations of a far wider and more honourable fame. As "the sweet singer of Israel," and "the man after God's heart," he is known throughout the Jewish and the Christian world.
1. The life of David is one fitted to encourage our confidence in Divine providence. The man himself felt, and the sacred historians felt, that there never was a more signal instance of an individual being called forth by God's voice and qualified by Divine discipline for a great work in life. It gives peace and dignity to our life to be ever assured that "our times are in God's hands," and that he will use us for his glory.
2. The life of David is a warning against yielding to temptation. He gave way alike to sins of the flesh and to sins of the spirit, and again and again proved his fallibility and infirmity. Well may each reader of his biography lay to heart the lesson: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall;" "Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation."
3. The life of David shows how possible it is to serve God in different ways. He was a soldier, a poet, a king, a religious leader; and in all capacities he glorified God. We may have few gifts, but we may learn that the use of one gift is no excuse for the neglect of another.
4. The life of David reveals the true secret of happiness and usefulness. He was one whose fellowship was much with God; hence his strength. Read his psalms, and you will be convinced that this was so. It is thus that strength and fortitude are to be sustained.
5. The life of David shows us that, during this earthly existence, a good man may begin a good work which shall continue after his death. David did not abide for ever, but he prepared a throne for his son; he did not build the temple, but he put all things in train with a view to the work. Let us live so that when we are no more here others may say, "He being dead yet speaketh."—T.
1 Chronicles 29:28.-Solomon's accession.
The book which has been so largely occupied with the acts and the reign of David, closes with the accession of his son. It is an exemplification of the old saying, "One generation passeth away and another generation cometh." Each generation has its own work to do, and has then to make way for its successor. David's part was to conquer by valour and power; Solomon's part was to reign in magnificence. David prepared for the temple; Solomon built it. Everything that a father could do to facilitate a son's work David certainly did for his successor, who entered upon a heritage of peace and power.
I. THE FOUNDATION OF SOLOMON'S THRONE WAS LAID IS RELIGION. They "anointed him unto the Lord;" he "sat on the throne of the Lord." These expressions, taken in connection with the narrative of the events following Solomon's accession, indicate that he began his reign in a truly religious spirit, with a desire to consecrate his position and influence to the glory of God.
II. THE COMMENCEMENT OF SOLOMON'S REIGN WAS MARKED BY THE ALLEGIANCE OF THE PRINCES AND THE OBEDIENCE OF THE POPULATION GENERALLY. With conspicuous loyalty the ancient captains and chiefs of David transferred their allegiance to his youthful successor, and the people who had been dazzled into obedience by the exploits of the father, at once and cheerfully submitted to the sway of the son.
III. THE PROGRESS OF SOLOMON'S REIGN WAS DISTINGUISHED BY PROSPERITY AND BY MAJESTY. This glory is by the chronicler justly attributed to the favour of the Lord. The "royal majesty" of the youthful occupant of the throne exceeded anything before known in Israel. The following Book of Chronicles is an abundant proof of this. During the first part, at all events, of this splendid reign, Solomon was faithful to his trust and to his God. He was a type of the Prince of peace, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and whose dominion endureth throughout all generations.—T.
HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON
1 Chronicles 29:1-9.-The path of progress in Christian enterprise.
In the history of a nation or of a Church it frequently occurs that some great enterprise has to be carried through, like the building of the temple of the Lord on this great occasion. What, then, are the successive steps in the progress of the work?
I. PERSUASIVENESS on the part of those who project it. David was in a position to command, to require, to enact. But he evidently felt that this was an occasion on which it was far better to persuade. After pleading the youthfulness of his son (1 Chronicles 29:1), the sacredness of the work (1 Chronicles 29:1), the energy he himself had shown in the matter ("With all my might," 1 Chronicles 29:2), the affection he felt, and the personal sacrifices he had made (1 Chronicles 29:3, 1 Chronicles 29:4), the consideration he had shown for the various necessities of the case (1 Chronicles 29:5), he appealed to the congregation, "Who then is willing?" If King David, under the Law, thus resorted to persuasion rather than to enactment, much more may we under the gospel. The spirit of the gospel is the spirit of persuasion. We need not wish for "compulsory powers;" we should rejoice that the better way is given us of convincing by argument, of affecting by entreaty, of winning by earnestness. And, on the part of those who are influenced, there must be —
II. WILLINGNESS. "Who then is willing?" (1 Chronicles 29:5). "Then the chief of the fathers… offered willingly" (1 Chronicles 29:6). Nothing is gained of any vital consequence until the heart is willing, until every barrier of indifference and objection is broken down, and our will consents to go in the path of service, of contribution, of activity.
III. EAGERNESS. David had shown not only readiness, but eagerness. He "prepared with all his might" (1 Chronicles 29:2); he "set his affection to the house of his God" (1 Chronicles 29:3). The people were not only prepared to respond to the king without demur, they consented cordially; "With perfect heart they offered willingly" (1 Chronicles 29:9). A very great step is taken when willingness passes into eagerness; when those whom we ask to serve not only come forward, but walk in the path of usefulness with elastic step, as those who have a heart as well as a hand in the undertaking.
IV. SERVICEABLENESS AND SUITABLENESS. David gave of the spoils of war (1 Chronicles 29:2), and also of his own personal property (1 Chronicles 29:3), things which would be of practical value for the work before them—goLd, silver, etc.; so did the people (1 Chronicles 29:7, 1 Chronicles 29:8). And not only generally serviceable, but specially suitable things he and they took care to offer; "Gold for things to be made of gold," etc. (1 Chronicles 29:2). David was mindful of the thought that commoner as well as rarer metals would be of use, and he furnished both. We must bring to the work of the Lord
(1) that which is practical and precious (gold and silver), than which we esteem as valuable for the purposes of human life; and
(2) that particular contribution which the special service demands—not cleverness when kindness is wanted, not learning when sympathy is demanded, not counsel when money is the only thing that will avail, not refinement when rugged simplicity is the desirable thing, etc.; gold for the things of gold, brass for the things of brass, etc.
V. GLADNESS. "Then the people rejoiced" (1 Chronicles 29:9). The outcome of devoted work for Christ and man is heartfelt joy. There is no deeper, stronger, purer joy than that of "consecrating our service unto the Lord" (1 Chronicles 29:5), and doing this with the "perfect heart" of entire willingness, giving ourselves freely and lavishly for him who gave himself for us. It is "more blessed to give than to receive." They who do not know the joy of the people at Jerusalem on this occasion, the joy of hearty devotedness, haw not ascended to the summit of human blessedness.
VI. CONTAGIOUSNESS. David communicated his enthusiasm to the people. Their fire of devotion was caught from the flame that was burning on the altar of his heart. Similarly their joy was communicated to him. "The people rejoiced… and David the king also rejoiced with great joy" (1 Chronicles 29:9). Unhappily, evil passions are extended through this channel of contagiousness; one mind passes on its sinful principles and unholy excitements. But, happily for the world, goodness is as diffusive as evil. We catch animation, zeal, consecration from one another; we light our lamps from the fire that burns in our brother's heart; we pass on our joy in God till "all the congregation" "rejoice with great joy" in him and in the victory of his cause.—C.
1 Chronicles 29:10-22.-Rejoicing before God.
The verses present to us a scene of sacred joy. Israel had seen and would see few happier days than this, and its joy was godly. David's end drew near, and they might, as patriots, have entertained some very serious anxieties as to the future of their country. But all these, if such there were, were forgotten in the joy of devoting themselves to the service of God by large contributions to the house which was soon to rise. Concerning this sacred gladness, we remark —
I. THAT IT RESTED ON CONSCIOUSNESS OF PERSONAL INTEGRITY, and belief in the integrity of others (1 Chronicles 29:17). if we realize that God is one who "tries the heart, and has pleasure in uprightness," we shall not venture to rejoice if we have not within us that sense of spiritual rectitude which will allow us to say with David, "As for me, in the uprightness of my heart," etc.; with Paul, "I have kept the faith;" with John, "If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God" (1 John 3:21). If we rejoice as those who are members of a community (family, Church, or nation), we must also believe that our fellows also are right in the sight of the heart-searching One, even as David was able to add, "Thy people which are present here."
II. THAT IT WILL BE ACCOMPANIED WITH A SENSE OF OUR OWN LITTLENESS AND UNWORTHINESS. (Verses 14, 15.) Whatever angelic, heavenly piety may be, that of man on earth always includes humility. In the conscious presence of God we must feel our own nothingness; the exceeding smallness of our brief span of life, "We are strangers before thee and sojourners," etc.; our unworthiness to do anything for the holy and eternal One, "Who am I,' etc.? The sense of our own insignificance and ill desert is one of those marks of genuineness which we should see with satisfaction in ourselves and others, the absence of which may well lead us to ask serious questions as to the genuineness of our piety.
III. THAT IT UTTERS ITSELF IN ADORATION. (Verses 11, 12.) There are no nobler words in which human reverence has found expression before the Divine Sovereign than these. We do not care to analyze them; we use them; we take them on to our own lips as we find them; they perfectly voice our own hearts' homage. All joy before God should, be profoundly reverential, and here David gives it simple but admirable utterance.
IV. THAT IT EXPRESSES ITSELF IN THANKSGIVING, and in thankful acknowledgment (verses 10,13,16, 20). David himself "before all the congregation" (verse 10), and then at his desire all the congregation itself, "blessed the Lord God of their fathers" (verse 20); he and they thanked and praised him (verse 13). David freely and frankly acknowledged that, in giving to God, they were but presenting to him that which was his own: "Of thine own have we given thee" (verse 14). When we contribute to the cause of God we should bear in mind that God claims all that we have; that at any time he may be pleased to resume it; that we do but willingly make over to some special work of his that which he has entrusted to us for his glory and the well-being of his children.
V. THAT IT FINDS AMPLE ROOM FOR PRAYER. (Verses 18, 19.) In the midst of our gratitude and joy we remember our dependence on God. And this is no jarring note; it does not anywise detract from our thankfulness or our gladness of heart. Let praise always pass into prayer, both for ourselves and (as here) for others, and especially for those whose youth or other insufficiency makes them to be peculiarly in need of help from above.
VI. THAT IT ENDS IN CONSECRATION AND COMMUNION. (Verses 21, 22.) The whole scene ended in burnt offerings and peace offerings, in sacrifice and sacred festivity. Our piety finds its worthiest expression in devoting ourselves and our substance to the cause and kingdom of Christ, and also in communion with our Lord and with one another.—C.
1 Chronicles 29:22-30.-David and Solomon: contrast.
"They made Solomon the son of David king" (1 Chronicles 29:22). "Then Solomon sat on the throne… instead of David his father" (1 Chronicles 29:23). "And David died in a good old age . and Solomon his son rejoined in his stead" (1 Chronicles 29:28). We have our thought directed to the respective virtues of the two king, father and son, and the comparative value of their life and reign. In some respects they are open to comparison, but in others to contrast. Both were
(1) kings of united Israel;
(2) servants of Jehovah;
(3) writers of inspired and immortal literature.
But we are more struck with the contrasts than the likenesses between the two. We gather from a survey of their lives and public careers —
I. THAT THE END AND THE BEGINNING OF A COURSE DO NOT ALWAYS ANSWER TO ONE ANOTHER. Who could have supposed that of the shepherd lad of Bethlehem it would be written, "lie died full of days, riches, and honour" (1 Chronicles 29:28); that a prophet of the Lord would write of "his reign and his might" (1 Chronicles 29:29, 1 Chronicles 29:30)? His path was an ascending one: from a shepherd he became a victorious combatant, a leader of a band of men, the king of a tribe, the monarch of the land, the sovereign who raised his country to the fulness of its dominion, and impressed on it the love of the Law of the Lord. Solomon began his course as the chosen heir of the beloved king, "magnified exceedingly in the sight of all Israel," etc. (1 Chronicles 29:25), receiving the subjection of all within the kingdom, from the court to the peasantry (1 Chronicles 29:24); he ended his career with no little disapproval in the hearts of those who lamented his spiritual defection, and with no little alienation on the part of those who groaned under the exactions of his magnificence. Let us regard the lowly as those whom God may have fitted and destined for rank and power; let those who are exalted by birth and circumstance remember that there is a downward as welt as an upward path in estimation and influence.
II. THAT BRILLIANCE IS WORTH LITTLE IN COMPARISON WITH SOLID WORTH. David's reign would compare ill with that of his son in respect of brilliancy. His palaces, his retinue, his table, his exchequer, his navy, the outward grandeurs of his reign, were but slight and insignificant in comparison with those of Solomon. But the contribution of David to the unity, consolidation, religious truth, moral excellency of his people was immeasurably greater than that of his brilliant son. In all that is desirable to look back upon at the end of life or from the "other side the river," David's work was better and nobler far. Far more to be desired the life that adds to the virtue, godliness, strength, stability of the community than the one which flashes beams of brightness that fade with the passing day. Better far than any amount of "royal majesty" is the influence for good which lives in human hearts when ours are still in death, and which tells on human lives when ours are closed for ever.
III. THAT PASSING INCONSISTENCY IS LESS TO BE DREADED THAN CONTINUOUS DECLINE. We still look back with unfeigned regret on the lamentable inconsistencies of David; but these were bitterly repented of, and heartily repudiated by himself, and were forgiven by God. Unmeasurably worse was the steady spiritual decline of Solomon, which took him down from the heights of holiness to the deep and miry places of ungodliness and vice. Best of all, the day wherein the sun shines serenely from morning till evening; but better far the day on which the storm sweeps swiftly by and leaves the heavens clear, than that which begins with a brilliant morning, but passes into a clouded noon, and ends in a starless, drenching night. Strenuously and patiently should we strive against "the one dark hour which brings remorse," for that leaves a long, deep shadow on the path of life; but with still more devout and determined energy must we contend against "the sin that burns into the blood," for it is that which decides our destiny, which "will brand us after of whose fold we be."
IV. THAT DIVINE WISDOM IS LOFTIER THAN HUMAN PRUDENCE, and the service of example than that of painful warning. Solomon's writings are not without many passages of sacred import, but the strain of them is rather human than Divine. They teach us rather how to adjust ourselves to our human relations than how to abide in the favour and rise to the resemblance of God. But David's psalms bear the mark of a Divine hand; they breathe throughout the inspiration of God; they take us up to the throne of the heavenly King; they help us toward the possession of his likeness. Solomon, in his most fascinating work (Ecclesiastes), warns his readers from the perilous snare by recounting his own sad experiences. He says to us continually, "Be not as I was; shun the path I trod, that you share not the fate I suffer." But David, in his immortal songs, invites his readers to accompany him along the path of life, to resort with him to the throne of grace; he pours out of a full heart the devotion, gratitude, and sacred joy of which his pages are full, and says for ever to the Church of God, "Walk with me in the way of wisdom, drink with me the waters of life; let us partake, together, the truth which is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb; let us gather, together, the heavenly treasure which will make richer than the fine gold of earth, which will make 'rich toward God," even rich for evermore."—C.
HOMILIES BY F. WHITFIELD
1 Chronicles 29:1-5.-David's further address to the congregation.
David gives an explanation at the commencement of this chapter why he himself had prepared so much for the house of God, viz. that Solomon himself was as yet young and tender, and the work was great. But David assigns the true reason why the work was great, viz. that the house was "not for man, but for the Lord God." It is true that the house was a great one, and that the work was great in a natural point of view. But all such thoughts are lost or sink behind that which alone makes anything great—the Lord God. There are two ways of estimating greatness—one that strikes the mere outward sense, and one that looks at God. It may be that the building is only a hut, but if it is to the Lord it is infinitely greater than the grandest building ever erected by the art of man. And because it was for the Lord, David had prepared for it "with all his might." It is this motive which gives power and strength and delight and earnestness to all work. But it was not only as a king David had thus prepared. In this world men may separate the office from the person; but not so in the kingdom of God. God's claims on men are not only official but personal; not only as kings, but as Christian men. David had prepared so much (see 1 Chronicles 29:2) as Israel's king, but he bad also prepared so much of "his own proper good" (see 1 Chronicles 29:3). A minister of Christ has not only to walk worthy of his vocation as a minister, but also as a man; not only in the pulpit and parish, but as a man in all the private relations of life. Having fulfilled both of these relations to the house of God, he can now make his appeal to others. He has set the example: who will follow it? "Who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?" "Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do" (Philippians 4:9). And consecration is simply to "fill the hand". "He has his hands full" is a familiar saying. Yes; it is every faculty of the man—body, soul, and spirit taken up with the Lord and his work. No room for anything else. Not even a grain more can the hand hold. "To me to live is Christ." All our secular work done to him. Thus life becomes transfigured. And this is not for to-morrow. It is "this day." God asks for it now. Two of God's requirements there are which admit of no to-morrow. One is the salvation of the soul: "Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation." Another is consecration-dedication to God:" Who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?" It is not so much a command as an appeal It must come from the heart or it cannot be accepted. "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" (Isaiah 6:1-13.) is made to the heart of the prophet. That heart had "seen the King," and out of the fulness of a love that had penetrated its inmost recesses it exclaimed, "Here am I, Lord; send me." So it was here. All the princes and rulers and congregation of Israel responded to this appeal from one whom they loved, and offered largely and "willingly." No wonder all was joy. The king, the princes, the congregation, were overflowing with joy. It was the response of a "perfect heart," a true, whole-hearted, joyous surrender of themselves and all they had to the Lord. This is the spring of all real joy. It is nowhere else—an unconditional surrender of ourselves and all we have to him "who loved us and gave himself for us."—W.
1 Chronicles 29:10-24.-David's prayer and blessing.
In this blessing we observe how everything is ascribed to God—greatness, power, glory, victory, majesty, riches, honour, the kingdom; all are his and from him. What an exalted view of God is here! And there follows that which always follows on man's side, "humility" (1 Chronicles 29:14-16). God's greatness bows down the soul in conscious littleness. We are "strangers," "sojourners;" our days a" shadow" and" none abiding." In order, then, to be humble, we should ever have God's greatness and God's grace filling the soul The eye on God, and there is no room for the creature but in the dust. David's prayers close with one for the people (1 Chronicles 29:18) and one for Solomon (1 Chronicles 29:19). He prays for the congregation, that God would keep them ever in this frame of heart, viz. of willing, joyful, whole-hearted surrender of themselves and all they had to him; and also that their hearts might be ever set towards God himself. For Solomon he prays that God would give him an undivided heart. And this whole-heartedness would show itself first in relation to God and his truth—"To keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, thy statutes, and to do all these things;" and secondly, "to build the palace for the which I have made provision." This is ever the Divine order in David's mind—God and his truth first, and the work of God next. And finally, he calls upon the whole assembly to praise the Lord, which they did, bowing before the Lord and the king, and worshipping. In order to seal their confession thus made in word and deed, they proposed a great feast on the following day, consisting of a thousand bullocks, a thousand rams, and a thousand lambs, with drink offerings and thank offerings to correspond. Thus ended the consecration, the prayer and praise, viz. in joy and "great gladness." These are ever the results, and there never wilt be joy and gladness in the Lord without them.—W.
1 Chronicles 29:26-30.-David's death.
Our book ends with David's death. He had reigned forty years, viz. seven years and a half in Hebron (1 Kings 2:11), and thirty-three in Jerusalem. And the Spirit of God writes his obituary: "He died in a good old age." Many an age is "old," but not "good." But David had set God before him through life, and God sets the crown upon it in these words. The Bible obituaries of good men are short. There is no parade, no lengthened record on marble monument or polished stone. They need none. Their record is in heaven. In this they form a striking contrast to the fulsome epitaphs of this world. The greatest of men in Bible history have short records. "So Moses died, and the Lord buried him." Is that all, and of such a man! Yes; for it is the life that should speak and not the death; and that life is the character of the man, whatever the world may say of his death. "Full of days, riches, and honour," all worthy of a record because consecrated to God. Our days are only "full" when thus used. What empty days fill up the lives of most around us—days of which an unseen hand has written "vanity," but for which the soul must give an account to God! It is said here that a record is given of" the times that went over him." There were "times" of sorrow and "times" of joy, times of trouble and times of rest, times of weakness and times of strength; but when God is in them there are no empty days. They were full because God was in them. In the midst of all the changes and chances of this mortal life may such be our days!—W.
HOMILIES BY R. TUCK
1 Chronicles 29:3.-Personal sacrifice for God's service.
It is a very easy thing for a man to recognize and admit that people should give of their substance for God's service. And it is as easy a thing to urge other people to do their duty in this respect, and to give for God's service. But it is never for any one an easy thing to do our own duty in this matter, to make our own personal sacrifices, and to take our full, fair, noble share in religious gifts and works. Precisely in this the soundness of David's religious principle is declared. He asked no man to do what he was not prepared to do himself. He would even, by his own personal sacrifices, be an inspiration and help to others; on the example of his own generosities lifting them up to nobler things. David might have satisfied his conscience by devoting to the service of God a portion of that national wealth which was entrusted to his keeping as king. We are often tempted to be very liberal with other people's money or with public money. David felt that such giving cost no personal effort or sacrifice, and so could not carry to God the expression of his own devotion and love. Nothing could satisfy his feeling save a large offering from his own personal and private property. This voluntary gift was selected with the greatest care; the gold was that of Ophir, esteemed the finest in the world, and the amount was three thousand talents of gold, and seven thousand talents of refined silver.
I. A MAN HAS WHAT HE MAY CALL HIS "OWN PROPER GOOD." It is quite true that we really have nothing, and that what we seem to have is God's, and only entrusted to our charge. But it is equally true that God does permit us to cherish the sense of possession, and to feel that some things are ours. The distinction between mine and thine lies at the basis of social morality; and if we can have nothing ours as separate from God, we can have something ours as separate from our fellow-men. If the distinctness of a man's property is recognized in the common social relations, it may also be recognized in the higher religious spheres; a man's "own proper good" having this for its peculiarity, that it is under the immediate control of the man's own will. Press the importance of recognizing the responsibility attending on the sense of personal possession, and the trust of our "own proper good."
II. IT IS IN RELATION TO ITS TREATMENT AND USE THAT A MAN'S CHARACTER GAINS EXPRESSION. In public a man makes himself appear oftentimes other than he is. He is revealed in private life. So a man may be very generous indeed in voting away public and society money; and his mean character be shown up in his miserable distributions from his "own proper good." Money is one of the most searching tests of character. Illustrate how some men hoard and reveal their acquisitiveness; others spend wastefully, and reveal their sensuality or love of self-indulgence; yet others use carefully and thoughtfully, and so reveal their caution and, it may be, the power of their religious principle; and yet others again give largely, and reveal their open and generous dispositions. God finds out the very depths of a man's nature by giving to him a greater or less trust "of his own proper good."
III. IN CONNECTION WITH IT, THE RELIGIOUS PROFESSION GETS ITS SEVEREST TESTINGS. In these days, when wealth is so suddenly acquired, we see too often religious men fail, and become indifferent and worldly. Few can stand the increase of riches. Few, indeed, care to pray Agur's prayer. When men make money, the impulse that grows into a passion is to keep it from God, and keep its use to one's self. And what God asks is that the growing wealth should be so consecrated to his service that it may help to keep the man's heart true.
Appeal—How would God judge you in respect of your "own proper good"?—R.T.
1 Chronicles 29:15.-Man but a sojourner.
Before "life and immortality" had been "brought to light," the brevity of man's life on the earth seems to have caused much distress, even to godly people. There is a wailing tone about many of the Old Testament references to short life and remorseless death that seem but little in advance of the despairings of the pagan, who cried after his passing friend, "Vale, vale, aeternum vale!" A few specimens may be given. "For what is your life? It is even a valour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." "All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field; the grass withereth, the flower fadeth, because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass." "My days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no good. They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to the prey." "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope." "Let me alone; for my days are vanity." There is, happily, another side to the Old Testament representations, and the pious men of the olden times looked away from swift passing life, and from the sorrow of death and separation, to the unchanging stability of the everlasting God, and the high and eternal hopes that rest upon his gracious provisions and promises. Transitoriness is the condition of present being, not for us men only, but also for all the created things with which we have to do. All nature tells of change and passing away; things are here for a little while, and then they vanish away. The winter snow falls lightly, and lies in its white purity—mystic, wonderful—over all the land; but soon it soils and browns and sinks away. The spring flowers that come, responsive to the low sunshine and the gentle breath, are so fragile, and they stay with us but such a little time, and then pass away. The summer blossoms multiply and stand thick over the ground, and they seem strong with their deep rich colouring; and yet they too wither and droop and pass away. The autumn fruits cluster on the tree branches, and grow big, and win their soft rich bloom of ripeness; but they too are plucked in due season, and pass away. The gay dress of varied leafage is soon stripped off by the wild winds; one or two trembling leaves cling long to the outmost boughs, but by-and-by even they fall and pass away. Down every channel of the hillside are borne the crumblings washed from the "everlasting hills," as we call them, that are, nevertheless, fast passing away. All around us is speaking of change and decay. The writing is on wasting rock and crumbling peak, on the old tower and the ivied wall, the flowing stream and the autumn tints,—'Here is no rest.' Man and his world are but sojourners. Recall Coifi, the ancient Briton's, figure of man's brief life as a bird, coming out of the dark and flying through the lighted hall away out into the dark again; and illustrate and enforce the following points:—The brevity of man's life on the earth is designed to —
I. MAKE SERIOUS THE PRESENT. Its voice is, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might. It says:
1. What has to be done should be done quickly.
2. What has to be done must be done earnestly.
3. And seeing the time is so short, and so much has to be accomplished, we need much grace for the doing.
II. GLORIFY THE FUTURE. By giving us the assurance that it is the home where we are to stay.
III. SET THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE IN RIGHT RELATIONS. Convincing us that we are here for some important purpose and mission; and that we are here on our way home, getting ready for the life at home by the experiences of our sojourning-time.
Should we then, as Christians, grieve that life is short, and we are only here on earth awhile as the stranger who turns aside to tarry for a night? Surely not, if we keep close home to our hearts the conviction that we are homeward bound.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 29:17.-The assured acceptance of the sincere.
"Hast pleasure in uprightness." It is a characteristic of David that he makes constant appeal to his conscious integrity and expects to gain Divine acceptance for his sincerity and uprightness. But this, conflicts with the Christian notion that a man cannot be accepted for anything in himself, and so it needs consideration and explanation. We have often to notice how certain words get a stiff, rigid, and limited meaning fixed upon them, through their use in the expression of theological opinions and creeds. Illustration may be taken from the terms grace, law, faith, justify, eternal. Joubert says, "The trick of personifying words is a fatal source of mischief in theology." The words "integrity," "righteousness," have suffered at the hands of theologians, and their larger and more comprehensive meanings are almost lost sight of. David can stand before God, and appeal to his personal righteousness, and ask to be judged by his integrity. Our Lord implies that a man may have a righteousness, when he says, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees," etc. The words will not stiffen into one rigid meaning. Sometimes they mean right-heartedness, sincerity, and show us a man at heart centred on God and virtue. At other times they refer to that renewed state into which we are brought by the regenerations of the Holy Ghost. Illustrate the first of these two meanings from David's career. This great impression had been left on him from his own experiences, and to it he gives utterance as life closes: "I know that thou hast pleasure in uprightness." Throughout his career—save in halting moments—David was right at heart. We have a way of speaking of men as being "good at bottom." If we say that as any excuse for men's sins, we are miserably and shamefully wrong. If we say it with due recognition of human frailty, with fitting discernment of life as the conflict of the human will over the disabilities that surround the man, then it may be a true and worthy expression. Many men around us—yes, even we ourselves—are, like David, "good at bottom." The "desire of our soul is to the Divine Name." We are pilgrims, indeed, who have come in at the gate, and right by the cross, even if men or angels do find us wandering out of the way into By-path meadows, and sleeping in arbours, and losing our rolls. David's example permits us to realize and rejoice in our conscious integrity; not proudly, in any way of self-confidence or self-conceit, but humbly, in a thankful recognition of "grace abounding" to usward. David's sincerity and integrity come out when we compare him with King Saul. Saul failed altogether, and fell away from God, because his sins were sins of will; neither his heart nor his life were right with God. David stumbled, but he did not utterly fall; because, in his case, the will was only forced to consent to sin, and it sprang back to God as soon as the force of bodily passion that held it down was removed. David only failed in the body-sphere; Saul failed in both the body and the soul spheres. It would have been better indeed if, like Samuel, heart and life had both shown, throughout his career, the harmony of goodness; but God and man recognize the acceptableness of sincerity of heart, even if qualified by some failings of life. But, from the Christian standpoint, it should be earnestly pressed that sincerity, which is acceptable to God, is properly one of the after-signs of Divine renewal; and that we all need to be made right—converted, regenerated—ere we can be set right and kept right, and dare ask God to search and see whether we are sincerely and wholly his.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 29:28.-Honoured in death by God and man.
This was the case with King David. "He died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour." With the reverent love of a whole nation round him, they bore him to his royal tomb. "David died, according to Josephus, at the age of seventy. The general sentiment which forbade interment within the habitations of men, gave way in his case, as in that of Samuel He was "buried in the city of David," in the city which he had made his own, and which could only be honoured, not polluted, by containing his grave. It was, no doubt, hewn in the rocky side of the hill, and became the centre of the catacomb in which his descendants, the kings of Judah, were interred after him." "The only site which is actually consecrated by traditional sentiment as the tomb of David, is the vault underneath the Mussulman Mosque of David, on the southern side of modern Jerusalem. The vault professes to be built above the cavern, and contains only the cenotaph usual in the tombs of Mussulman saints, with the inscription in Arabic, 'O David, whom God has made vicar, rule mankind in truth.'" Observing how honoured in death King David was, and how honoured in memory King David is, though his life was so checkered and so seriously marred with wilfulness, indulgence, and sin, we are reminded of the lines often quoted from our greatest national poet —
"The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;"
and we ask—Are these lines, in any large and important sense, true; and must we so invert our fixed notions as to admit that the good in our lives is temporary and fading, while the evil is permanent, and must go on, with its mischievous influences, when we have passed away? We cannot think this. What is true about men—especially such public men as David—may be stated under three headings.
I. EVERY MAN'S LIFE, WHILE BEING LIVED, IS SUBJECT TO CRITICISM. We must all accept of this condition. We must not wonder if the criticism finds out and unduly magnifies the evil that may be in us. Though often a source of much bitterness and trouble, and often painfully depressing to the earnest man, it is, on the whole, healthy that public men should be thus exposed, and must take count of the fact that their fellows will never let their wrong-doings or wrong teachings hide away or work in secret. It is more true that the "evil of a man" lives while he lives.
II. IN THE TIME OF A MAN'S DEATH CRITICISM IS DISARMED. Such a time has a strange calming and solemnizing influence even on political and theological opponents. The "other party" will write sketches of the dead man's life without a trace of bitterness or reference to a disputed topic. Perhaps this was never more strikingly illustrated than at the death of the good Dean Stanley. Touchingly tender and beautiful were the references made to him, and all vied in saying good or saying nothing. The good, not the evil, lived after him. And so in David's death-time, all the evil and the enmity were put aside, that the nation might do homage to its great and good king.
III. AFTER DEATH CRITICISM IS KINDLY. By common consent men try to forget the evil, and fix their thoughts only on the good. Biographies scarcely even hint the natural weaknesses, the stumblings, or the stains. Nay, a kind of glory-halo gathers round the heroic dead, in which we even lose sight of their infirmities; and so it is the good in a man that lives after him.
Then comes the question—Does our homage in death to a man necessarily imply approval of his career? Yes; it does of his career as a whole—of the great features of it. Though this must be admitted, that the homage is far oftener rendered to genius than to character. R.T.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 29". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26