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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator
1 Chronicles 28

 

 

Verses 1-8

1 Chronicles 28:1-8

And David assembled all the princes of Israel.

David’s address to the princes

I. The attitude which David assumed.

II. The Spirit which David manifested.

III. The ambition which David cherished.

IV. The confession which David makes. (J. Wolfendale.)

The testimony of a noble life

I. In his choice to the throne God displays His sovereignty.

II. In his acquisition of the kingdom God manifests His providence.

III. In his son’s succession to the throne God fulfils His promise. (J. Wolfendale.)

He shall build My house.--

The material and the spiritual temple

I. The jewish dispensation mainly external.

1. Sacrifices.

2. Types.

3. Observances.

4. Priestly caste.

5. Sacred buildings.

II. Reasons for this.

1. Early age of the world, revelation, and human thought.

2. Necessity of strong stamps to impress the nation in its youth, and keep it separate from heathendom.

3. Consequent necessity of indulging it in manifold visible symbols.

4. The repetition and induration of signs prepared the way for the purely mental reign of the Messiah.

III. Hence the function of the tabernacle and the temple.

1. As the place where God had demonstrably set His name.

2. Where the visible glory had been and could be seen at a due crisis.

3. Where the embodied signs of the covenant were stored.

4. As the house of sacrifice (2 Chronicles 7:12).

5. As the house of prayer (Isaiah 56:7).

6. As the symbol of unity in worship (2 Chronicles 32:12).

7. As God’s own dwelling-place (1 Kings 6:12; 1 Kings 6:18).

IV. After its pollution and pillage.

1. By Shishak (1 Kings 14:25-26).

2. Under Jehoash (2 Kings 12:17).

3. Under Ahaz (2 Kings 16:14).

4. Under Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:13).

Its sanctity had been impaired through the defections of the people. Spiritual religion began afterwards to grow, so that Isaiah was able to proclaim before the captivity (Isaiah 66:1-2). “Heaven is My throne . . . what house will ye build Me? saith the Lord”; Malachi was able decisively to prophesy (Malachi 1:11), “In every place incense shall be offered to My name.” The old worship was gradually ceasing to fulfil its function; the new dispensation of the law of the Spirit and of liberty was coming in; and at last the Messiah declared irrevocably that old things were passed away, and that the hour was coming when neither in Gerizim nor in Jerusalem the Father should be worshipped, no more for ever, locally or visibly, but only truly with the inner worship of spirit and of truth. This was a great point with St. Stephen (Acts 7:48) and St. Paul (Acts 17:24).

V. What is the spiritual temple by which Christ replaced the old honoured visible sign?

1. The whole invisible company of those who are righteous through faith (1 Peter 2:4; Isaiah 57:15; 1 Corinthians 3:16).

2. The body of every true son of God (1 Corinthians 6:19; John 14:13).

3. In heaven, the special pervading presence of the Almighty (Revelation 21:22; Acts 17:28).

VI. What, then, are Christian places of worship?

1. Not representatives of the temple, but of the synagogue.

2. In all places where Christians meet for meditation and prayer Christ is equally present (Matthew 18:20).

3. Venerable and solemn merely from association, intention, and consent.

4. All adornment of them a question of edification for the congregation.

5. No one part of them more holy than another except by association.

VII. Moral reasons of this in the Christian economy.

1. Danger of putting trust in anything short of God Himself in His own immediate moral relations to the soul.

2. Temptation to set our affection on things below instead of things above, and making our worship one of act instead of disposition and the intelligence.

3. Tendency of all religious bodies to idolatrise their symbols.

VIII. Lesson: to avoid superstition. (W M. Sinclair, M. A.)

And leave it for an inheritance.

The Christian inheritance

Good and great men have always been jealous for the cause of God in the world, and when about to die, that feeling has sometimes been intensified. Moses, Eli, etc.

I. The estate of Christ’s Church is an inheritance. It consists of the knowledge of the triune God, our relations to Him and our obligations as revealed to us in His Word.

II. This inheritance is yours.

III. The forces which would bring wreck and ruin to this inheritance. Sacerdotalism on the one hand, rationalism on the other. (Bp. Baker.)


Verse 9

1 Chronicles 28:9; 1 Chronicles 28:21

And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father.

God’s relation to human life

Learn--

I. That our life is exposed to God’s inspection.

II. That our service to God should spring from sincere motives.

III. That our welfare depends upon our conduct towards God. (J. Wolfendale.)

The God of thy father

1. The rich experience behind these words.

2. The force of parental affection in giving that experience.

3. The susceptibility of youth to profit by the teaching. (J. Wolfendale.)

Fathers and children

We see here one generation--

1. Transmitting the knowledge of God to its successor.

2. Enjoining the service of God upon its successors.

3. Indicating God’s method of dealing with its successor.

4. Bequeathing its unfulfilled intentions to its successor. (M. Braithwaite.)

The knowledge of God the first principle of religion

I. What the knowledge of God implies.

1. A firm belief of His existence.

2. Just and regular sentiments concerning the perfections of His nature. Whatever argues a real imperfection or frailty in men ought not in the most distant resemblance to be ascribed to God.

3. A reverent contemplation of Him, according to the discoveries He hath been pleased to make of His perfections in His Word, works, and the ways of providence. Let us frequently contemplate--

II. The efficacy and influence this knowledge of God ought to have upon us. The design and end of knowledge is not only to enlarge and enlighten the mind, but to direct the practice and mend the heart. The true knowledge of God should produce in us--

1. Reverence.

2. Holiness.

3. Dependence upon Him for wisdom (James 1:5).

4. Confidence in His promises.

5. Fear.

6. Gratitude. (J. Mason, M. A.)

Solomon succeeding David

No better advice could have been given to the young sovereign of Israel. No better advice can to-day be given to the young sovereigns who fill our churches and Sunday-schools. So far as Solomon followed this advice he was prosperous beyond any that went before him; as soon as he forgot this advice the terrible warning with which the verse ends was fulfilled, and the disappointed misanthrope in the Book of Ecclesiastes tells us of the sorrows of a man whom God has forsaken. As God chose Solomon, so does He choose every young man and woman for some special work, which they alone can best accomplish. There are four things to be noticed in this charge.

I. Know thou God.

1. Through the Bible.

2. Providence.

3. Through the communings of our own heart.

II. Know thou thy father’s God. Every generation need not begin at the beginning, as though the fathers knew nothing about God. There is much foolish talk about thinking these great truths concerning God and religion through for ourselves. That our fathers served God is a reason why we should not discard Him.

III. Serve Him with a perfect heart.

IV. Serve Him with a willing mind. It is said that when the Princess Victoria was called to the kingdom, the messengers, who were the highest dignitaries of State, arrived at her palace from the death-bed of the king very early in the morning. They had great difficulty in arousing any one; but at length the princess’s maid appeared, who said that her mistress was in such a sweet sleep that it was a pity to disturb her. “Tell her,” said the Archbishop of Canterbury, “that we have come on business of importance to the queen, and even her slumbers must give way to that.” Very soon the princess appeared, and was invested with royal robes and prerogatives. To every young person comes the messenger of God telling them of their Father’s good pleasure that they should inherit the kingdom. No one can afford to neglect the summons. (F. E. Clark.)

David’s charge to Solomon

These words contain--

1. Advice given to a hopeful son.

2. By an excellent father.

3. Under most affecting circumstances.

I. The course prescribed.

1. TO know God. This implies--

(a) They do not understand God’s relations to mankind, as their rightful Sovereign; their Guide in difficulties; their Redeemer from evil; their Friend in necessities (Psalms 10:4).

(b) They do not acknowledge God in these relations.

(c) They do not enjoy God in these relations (Ephesians 2:12).

2. To serve God with a perfect heart and with a willing mind.

3. Thus to know and serve God must be justly denominated a course of acceptable piety. It is acceptable piety--

II. The arguments by which it is urged.

1. From the knowledge of God as our Observer.

2. From His goodness as our Redeemer.

3. From His just severity as our Judge.

Application:

1. You must serve God on earth, or you cannot live with Him in heaven (Matthew 7:21).

2. That you may serve God acceptably you must first know Him (Exodus 5:2).

3. The knowledge of God should be restlessly and confidently sought (Proverbs 2:3-5; Jeremiah 31:31-34). (Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

David’s instructions to Solomon

These words were not spoken from the death-bed, and yet behind them there is the background of death, judgment, and eternity. When dying men or women are speaking to us we know their words are few and well ordered. Especially so are the last utterances of parents to their children, if there is sufficient strength left of mind and body. In this instruction to Solomon we feel just as if the Spirit of God gave David inspiration. Just as if he looked into Solomon prophetically and saw both his weakness and his strength, words shaped themselves upon David’s tongue that exactly fitted the best and worst in the youthful life that lay before him.

1. David felt, “I cannot offer the chart of ray life to my own son when he is beginning his voyage and say, ‘Just sail as I sailed,’ for if so, he will run on reefs that I was nearly foundering upon, he will run on the quicksands that nearly ruined me.” Those lights that lie around our dangerous rock-bound coast are all very fine, and our lighting system is one of the glories of our British commerce. How all our coasts are lighted up at dangerous places at the expense of millions of money spent in building lighthouses, fitting them with the best lights, and keeping efficient men to take charge of them! But take the best of them, and ask any sailor, and he will tell you that five minutes of the sun itself is worth them all together. So it is with the best human testimony, the best earthly wisdom, and the best human experience. What a blessing when we can lift our heads right above it all to the sun that never fails us! “Know thou the God of thy father.”

2. See how David recommended his God to Solomon. In Old Testament days to name His name apart from any human qualification and attachment was then something too large, too vague, too profound. But when David speaks of “the God of thy father,” how homely it makes God!

3. After all, grace is not an heirloom. It cannot be bequeathed. Solomon had to know God for himself. Of the godly Eli’s family it was said, “Eli’s sons were sons of Belial.”

4. What wonderful instruction in the philosophy of conduct is in religion, if we would only believe Him! Know Him, and let your knowledge be of the practical kind. I said this to my son the other day: “My lad if I were beginning just where you are, and only twelve years of age, if I knew about myself and about what a fool I am at bottom, about how bad I am by nature, and what sin and grace really mean, what the Word of God means, and what Christ means--oh, my lad, if I were back with you, I think I would make more of life than I have done.” I think David is saying all that to young Solomon. “If I could begin all over again, Solomon, if I could stand where you are standing, I would make life to mean just one thing--God! God! God! God!” (John McNeill.)

The duty and advantage of knowing and serving the God of our fathers

I. The nature of the duties here spoken of.

1. You are to know the God of your fathers. This means such a practical acknowledgment of Him as engages a religious regard to Him as our chief good and highest end, that we may glorify Him here, and enjoy Him for ever, in the way of His own appointment.

2. You are to serve the God of your fathers. His ordinances and institutions are to be observed in all acts of religious worship, and His commands are to be obeyed in a departure from all iniquity and in a performance of all moral duties, with a professed subjection to the gospel of Christ.

3. You are to serve the God of your fathers with a perfect heart and with a willing mind. There is a sort of perfection which consists in integrity and uprightness, in opposition to prevailing hypocrisy, and which must be found in the heart if ever we serve God in an acceptable manner (1 Kings 15:3; 1 Kings 15:14; 2 Chronicles 25:2).

II. The manner in which these duties are recommended.

1. This important advice is directed to every one of you, as if you were mentioned by name.

2. It is the God of your fathers who is recommended to you.

3. It is the God whom your fathers themselves have recommended, and can recommend to you.

4. It is the God to whom your fathers have devoted you, and for whom they have trained you up.

5. It is the God of your fathers, who has encouraged you, by His covenant promise, to know and serve Him.

6. It is the God of your fathers, who has as much right to your knowing and serving Him as to theirs (Deuteronomy 29:10-12).

7. It is the God who will so much the more resent your disregard of Him, because He was your father’s God.

8. It is the God before whom you must appear, together with your fathers, in judgment at the last day. (J. Guyse.)

Godly parents concerned for the piety of their children

I. What is implied in children recognising God as the God of their fathers?

1. That they stand in a covenant relation to God through His promise to their fathers to be their God and the God of their seed.

2. When children are required to recognise God as their father’s God they should recall to their minds the pious instructions which their parents have communicated to them.

3. When children are required to recognise God as their father’s God, this should remind them of the many instances of God’s faithfulness, and kindness, and mercy which their fathers have experienced at God’s hand.

II. The earnest desire of godly parents for advancing the spiritual and eternal interests of their children.

1. It is necessary that children should know the God of their fathers.

2. There is nothing on which the heart of a pious parent is more deeply fixed than the religious interests of his children.

III. The motives and arguments by which this duty of children is enforced.

1. Youth is the most advantageous period for entering on a religious life. In every science or profession early application is deemed necessary to future excellence.

2. The children of godly parents have pre-eminent advantages above other young persons for entering on a religious life.

3. The obstinacy of young persons who have been religiously educated, and after all forsake the God of their fathers, is especially criminal, and attended with great aggravation.

4. That those young persons who have been religiously educated, and forsake the God of their fathers, are in danger of greater punishment than other men. (James Hay, D. D.)

Christian education

I. Without sincerity and seriousness, our religion can be of no value in the sight of the omniscient God.

II. It is important in every point of view that young persons, even from their earliest childhood, should be taught this high and holy lesson--to be sincere and serious in their religion; that is, in their whole conduct.

III. To “serve God with a perfect heart’’ is the sum and substance of all practical religion. (Plain Sermons by Contributors to the “Tracts for the Times. ”)

David’s charge to Solomon

I. The foundations of a religious life.

1. The knowledge of God (Jeremiah 9:23-24; John 17:3). This knowledge is not a mere abstract conception of God, but a burning memory of the Friend of the family.

2. A dedication of ourselves to His service.

II. The safeguards of a religious life.

1. A consciousness of the Divine presence in the heart.

2. A consciousness of the Divine omniscience prevents evil thoughts.

III. The encouragement of a religious life. “If thou seek Him, He will be found of thee.”

1. In every department of life man is a seeker.

2. In the department of spiritual life our gain is the greatest.

IV. The warning of a religious life. (Homilist.)

Royal regard for the right training of children

Rev. Benjamin Smith, in his “Gems Re-set,” reminds us of an interesting circumstance concerning the royal family of England. A dignitary of the Established Church had been examining some of the royal children in the Catechism. The divine was thoroughly satisfied with the readiness and the correctness of the replies. Doubtless he would be pleased to be able with truthfulness to commend the children of the Queen. He manifested his good sense, however, by doing this in an indirect manner, praising the lady who was their ordinary instructress. He said, “Your governess deserves high commendation for teaching you the Catechism so accurately. I am delighted with your proficiency.” The young folk replied, “Our governess does take great pains with us in our other lessons, but it is mamma who teaches us the Catechism.” There is reason to believe that the Queen of England was deeply solicitous that her children should from their earliest years be well acquainted with God’s truth. That truth had been commended to her when young by her mother’s tuition and example. In her husband, Albert the Good, our Queen had one to counsel and aid her in the training of their children. Thus the highest lady in these realms, with cares of State constantly pressing on her attention, and with godly and learned men ever able and willing to impart Scriptural instruction to the royal children, deemed it her duty and privilege to teach the Catechism to her loved ones.

And serve Him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind.--

To serve God the best way to prosper in the world

I. What it is to serve God

1. To serve God is to sincerely practise all the duties of piety.

2. To serve God is to practise all those duties which we owe more immediately to our fellow-creatures and to ourselves.

II. What a tendency the serving God in this manner has to secure His favour and blessing in all our secular concerns.

1. This is evident from the promises God has made in His Word (1 Timothy 4:8; Deuteronomy 8:18; Proverbs 10:22; Psalms 34:10; Psalms 84:2; Matthew 5:5; Romans 8:28; Ecclesiastes 2:26).

2. This is apparent from the very nature and connection of things. “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

3. This is confirmed by constant experience and observation. Conclusion: How greatly mistaken are they who think to prosper in the world by stepping aside out of the path of duty, or who dare to violate the sacred obligations of virtue and religion for the sake of a temporal advantage. (J. Mason, M. A.)

In what manner we are to serve God

I. The rule of worship laid down in the text, which we should carefully observe in all our religious transactions with God. We must worship God--

1. With a perfect heart. That is--

(a) Worldly and wandering thoughts;

(b) a dull and drowsy frame in worship.

2. With a willing mind.

II. What is essential and peculiar to Christian worship? It must always be performed in the name of Christ (Colossians 3:17; John 14:13-14; John 16:23-24; John 16:26). To serve God in the name of Christ implies--

1. A dependence on His mediation for the acceptance of our services.

2. A dependence on His grace for our assistance (Philippians 4:18).

3. A dependence on His merits for the atonement of our guilt (Romans 3:24-25).

4. A thankful acknowledgment of this gracious constitution of His, in appointing His Son to be Mediator between Him and His apostate creatures.

Application:

1. How vain it is to lay a great stress upon any particular place, or external forms and modes of worship.

2. This should lead us to inquire in what manner our worship, hath been performed, and what hath been the ordinary frame of our mind therein.

3. This shows the need we have to prepare our hearts to serve Him, and to avoid everything that would unfit us for this service.

4. Hence likewise appears the necessity of keeping the heart with all diligence in the service of God. (J. Mason, M. A.)

Heart service

That which we do with the heart is done without grudging, or toil, or weariness. A willing heart goes all the day on its path of duty, art unwilling one soon tires. All is nimble and cheerful which is done by the heart. This is the only kind of service God accepts of His creatures. This is the only condition in which men can render true service to Him. If the heart is dull, our service will be inapt and untoward. (Homiletic Review.)

For the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts.--

God the searcher of hearts, and found of them that seek Him

1. When God is said to search the heart, the meaning is He perfectly understands it.

2. The knowledge which God has of the human heart is universal: “Searcheth all hearts.”

3. The hearts of men and the imaginations of the thoughts are mentioned here as distinct objects of the Divine knowledge, and the difference between them is--by the former we are to understand the passions and purposes of the mind; and by the latter, the paintings of fancy, or the mere casual rovings of thought. I proceed now--

I. Briefly to prove this proposition, the Lord searcheth or knoweth all hearts.

1. This is evident from the reason of things. He that gave to man an understanding heart must understand the heart He gave (Psalms 94:9-11).

2. This may be further argued from His omniscience.

3. This is expressly ascribed to Him in the Scriptures (Jeremiah 17:9-10; Jeremiah 20:12; Acts 1:24).

II. To show how fitly this consideration is urged to enforce the duty enjoined, or how proper it is to induce us to guard and govern our thoughts at all times, especially in the service of God.

1. A total neglect of our thoughts and the frame of our spirits in the service of God shows a great contempt of His authority.

2. God, who knows our thoughts now, will call us to an account of them hereafter.

3. It is the turn and temper of the heart which forms the character of every one in the sight of God.

4. To keep a strict and constant guard over our hearts at all times, and especially in His worship, is the best evidence we can have of our sincerity.

III. Motives to attend to the exhortation given. “If thou seek Him, He will be found of thee,” etc. These words contain the most valuable promise and the most awful threatening that are to be found in the whole book of God. Notice particularly the promise. To seek the Lord is usually applied to the duty of prayer, but in the Bible it is often put to denote the whole of practical religion (Psalms 34:10; Isaiah 45:6; Isaiah 9:13; Isaiah 6:5). If we seek we shall obtain--

1. His favour. It is a much easier thing to please God than some men. There is no such thing as pleasing these sometimes without the most servile compliance with their caprice, a conformity to their manners, and a connivance at their follies.

2. His help (Luke 13:24; Hosea 5:15; Jeremiah 2:27; 2 Chronicles 33:11-12).

3. His direction (James 1:5; Proverbs 2:6; Proverbs 3:5-6).

4. His Holy Spirit (Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13).

The Holy Spirit is comprehensive of all the good things we can desire.

1. There are His renewing, sanctifying, supporting influences.

2. His preventing, quickening, assisting grace. He is our guide, teacher--earnest of the heavenly inheritance. (J. Mason.)

The moral discipline of the imagination

The moral cultivation of the imagination is of the first importance to the young.

I. Its negative discipline. The imagination must be restrained--

1. Because our lower nature will master our higher.

2. We inherit a sinful nature, prone to evil imaginings from our youth up.

3. We may sin in thought as well as in deed. This raises the question--

II. Its positive discipline. We must seek the things which stimulate and refine the imagination.

1. By means of noble literature.

2. By means of Christian conceptions.

A cultivated imagination is an aid to faith. Let it kindle over Christian truth, the nature of God, the incarnation, redemption, etc. Application:

1. Some think there is no harm in imagining evil, if it is not committed. Read Sermon on Mount.

2. This should convince the unconverted of sin. (S. E. Keeble.)

If thou seek Him, He will be found of thee.

Seeking the Lord

God is to be sought and found not merely by the intellect, not alone by processes of accurate logic, but by other faculties that have been bestowed upon us for this purpose. The moral sense, the consciousness of our high obligations, must be carefully and scrupulously nourished and cultured till we acquire an appetite for the noblest virtue--till, in fact, we hunger and thirst after righteousness and learn to satisfy our craving in communion with God and getting moral food and strength from Him. There must be a Divine discontent with our own righteousness in order to drive us to His footstool to ask for more. We must cherish our spiritual affections. We must put ourselves in the way of loving God. We must teach ourselves to pray or beseech Him to teach us. It is contrary to all common sense to expect feelings to arise in our heart spontaneously while we remain in conditions in which those feelings are all but impossible, and while we refuse to use the faculties which were given us for the express purpose of bringing us to love God. If the soul will not seek after God it cannot find Him. God will wait long enough, no one knows how long or how patiently; but it must germinate for itself and put forth its tender sprout and green leaves above the mouldy ground, and thus ask for God’s air to breathe life into it, and His gracious rain to feed it, and His glorious sun to shine upon it, and give warmth and beauty and fertility to it in time to come. Neither sun nor rain nor air can do for that hidden seed what it must first do for itself. “Seek ye the Lord.” (Charles Voysey, B. A.)

Seeking God

I. The duty.

1. Whom are we to seek? God in Christ.

2. How must we seek Him?

3. Where are we to seek Christ?

4. When are we to seek a God in Christ? Now.

5. Why are we to seek Christ?

II. The assurance. (T. J. Judkin, M. A.)

Seeking the Lord

I. You should seek him.

1. You cannot do without Him.

2. You have everything when you have found Him. The true light (John 1:9). The bread of life (John 6:35). A refuge from the storm (Isaiah 25:4). Your rock and fortress (Psalms 31:3). A sure foundation (Isaiah 28:16). An advocate (1 John 2:1). A surety (Hebrews 7:22). The truth (John 14:6). Wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30).

3. He has sought you, has come from heaven for you, is seeking you now.

4. You know you will find Him.

II. The manner of seeking.

1. In His Word, by obeying it.

2. In thine heart, by confidently expecting Him to come and dwell in thee. When He knows that thou really desirest Him, He will be found. (The Study and the Pulpit.)

Decision in religion recommended

I. The promise. We must seek Him--

1. Scripturally.

2. Earnestly.

3. Early in life: They that seek Me early shall find Me.”

II. The warning. Those who forsake God, who turn towards God their back, and not their face; who forsake His house, Word, day, people. I once visited, upon his death-bed, a professional man who had evidently forsaken God all his life, and whom God forsook in the hour of death. He then sought God earnestly, but it was too late. He could not find Him. When I prayed with him, he tried to follow my petitions, but his mind--distracted and bewildered--would not allow him. He told me over and over again that he sought to pray, but he never could find words. He also told me that he endeavoured to write his prayer upon a slate, but that his fingers refused to move. And in that awful state of mind he went to his final account. Another whom I visited seemed to be actually amid the pains of hell, whilst his body was still upon earth. As the large drops of perspiration stood upon his agonised forehead he exclaimed, “There is nothing you can tell me. I know it all. I have heard these things from you and from others, and that is my misery. I am entering hell with my eyes wide open.” These are no imaginary cases. “Cast off for ever.” (C. Clayton, M. A.)

Spiritual aspects of man

We may look at these words as presenting man to us in three solemn aspects.

I. As inspected by the eye of God. God knows each individual man thoroughly. He does not overlook the units in the millions. Thoughts, purposes, feelings fall under His searching glance (Psalms 139:4). This should impress us--

1. With the importance of our existence.

2. With the solemnity of our existence.

II. As invited to the friendship of God.

1. This is worth seeking.

2. This requires seeking.

III. As threatened with the displeasure of God. “God,” says an old author, “never casts men off until they first cast Him off.” (Homilist.)

Genuine piety a search for God

I. It is a personal search for God.

1. It is a search for Him, not His.

2. It is a search for Him, not His presence. All men are in His presence. To have Him is to have His heart, His sympathies, His love.

II. It is a voluntary search for God. All genuine religion is uncoerced and free: “Will ye also go away,” etc.

III. It is a successful search for God: “He will be found of thee.” This discovery is--

1. Conditional.

2. Transcendent. Find Him.

3. Individual: “Thee.” The man who has sought Him--no one else. (Homilist.)

But if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off for ever.--

The nature, cause, and danger of the sin of apostasy

I. The sin against which this threatening is pronounced.

1. Apostasy is a total renunciation of the principles, the practice, and profession of true religion. It is attended with the greatest aggravations of which any crime is capable.

2. The ordinary ways by which men are drawn into it.

II. The threatening denounced against it.

1. All obstinate and final apostates shall hereafter be totally rejected of their Maker. They shall never more be received into favour. (J. Mason.)


Verse 11

1 Chronicles 28:11

Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch.

Patterns

Some men can only give outlines, hints, suggestions, patterns. These men are of great consequence and value in the education of the human mind. A hint may be a stimulus. Let it not be supposed that men are doing nothing for the race who write its poems, outline its policies, or sketch new outlines of possible service. The builders could not proceed without the architect. (J. Parker, D. D.)

Counsels to ministers

1. “The pattern of the porch.” Tell the sinner to come to Christ just as he is; do not begin setting up some fine porch of feelings or preparations.

2. “And the houses thereof.” Get a clear view of the houses Christ gives His people to dwell in; how they dwell in Him, how they abide in Him, and go no more out for ever.

3. “And the treasures thereof.” When you preach Christ pray to have written on your heart, as well as in this book, something about the treasures of God’s house. Preach to others of the treasures of the temple of salvation.

4. “And of the upper chambers thereof.” In these upper chambers you get a view of the glory yet to be revealed.

5. “And of the inner parlours thereof.” There are sweet fellowships, there are communings which nobody knows but the man who has dwelt where Jesus is, and who continues to abide in Him. (C. H. Spurgeon.)


Verse 19

1 Chronicles 28:19

The Lord made me understand in writing by His hand upon me.

The liberty of prophesying

David not only made preparation for the building of the temple by collecting material, but he gave to Solomon definite directions for completing the erection and constructing the sacred vessels, and in doing this he is careful to say that he did not follow his own ideas or adopt arbitrary plans, but that he was guided by Divine revelation. Is not this the essential thing with us in this ministry--that we should be authorised, led, energised by the self-same Spirit? Does not the Church demand that the preacher shall be an inspired man?

I. The nature of this inspiration. “All this the Lord made me to understand by His hand upon me.” Now, I am sure you will not at this moment expect from me any exact definition of the term inspiration. There are some words you cannot define. You cannot define such words as love, or life, or beauty. Neither will you expect me to distinguish between the inspiration of Isaiah and that of Shakespeare, or between the inspiration of David building the temple and that of Michael Angelo building St. Peter’s; the singularity of the prophet and preacher is that they have to do not with the intellectual and material worlds, but with the spiritual universe, with the relation of man to the living God, and to that eternal universe of which He is the centre.

1. The true preacher is a man of faith. God revealed to David the patterns of the temple building and furniture. In vision he beheld the forms that he was to body forth in silver and gold and cedar. He did not follow his own vagrant fancy, but he made all the sacred things according to the patterns seen in his exalted mood. There is a faculty of sight which is more profound and penetrating than any power of sense. This is manifest in the intellectual world. The poet, the painter, and the musician possess a faculty that beggars sense; they look upon a world that is unseen by the natural eye. Now, just as these rare spirits of the intellectual realm possess an imaginative faculty that transcends the tangible and technical world, a faculty that beggars sense, so the true preacher has a faculty that beggars imagination, a faculty of faith that penetrates depths beyond space and worlds beyond reason. The true preacher possesses spiritual imagination by which he discerns everywhere the spiritual fact. In man he finds the image of God; behind this world he discerns the eternal world; within history he traces the working of a Divine plan and purpose; in the Church he is conscious of God’s presence and love; and he feels the power of that immortal life of which this life iii the germ, and for which this life is the preparation. This is the grand gift of the true preacher: in an eminent degree he possesses that faith which is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

2. Again, the true preacher is a man of experience. David did not proceed by simply reduplicating the forms and arrangements of the tabernacle. God granted him an inward revelation, he had a vision that was inwrought into his very soul. “The Lord made me understand by His hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.” This means something more than a superficial knowledge, than a mere spectacle; it implies a vivid, profound, personal acquaintance with the things he was called upon to fashion and arrange. It means something more than a passing dream; the objective became the subjective; David realised God’s purpose as an inward and joyful experience. His soul entered into the vision, the vision entered into his soul. And if the preacher is to be effective, the subjects of his preaching must be living facts to his own mind and heart. There is a whole world of difference between the mere intellectual perception of a doctrine and the realisation of that doctrine in our own conscience and feeling. Just think of the dweller in a city who knows the seasons only as they appear in the almanac! Spring quarter begins; bits of information and hints about summer gardening; stray allusions to harvest; and then the record closes with prognostications of winter’s storms and snows. The almanac gives much information--varied, exact, useful information; you seem, indeed, to know all about the thing. Do you? Ah! it is a very different matter to know the seasons as they actually unfold in nature. And so it is one thing to know religion formally in a theological treatise, and another thing to know its power and sweetness and hope in your own soul. Notice--

II. The limits of this inspiration. “The Lord made me understand in writing.” The question arises as to what is precisely to be understood by this writing. Some think it teaches that David simply followed the law of Moses. Moses, as we learn in the book of Exodus, received the measures and plans of the tabernacle from God Himself, and all that David did, these commentators think, was to follow severely these ancient specifications in the instructions which he gave to Solomon. David follows the writing from Jehovah’s hand given to Moses. Other students think that this explanation of the passage is wholly mistaken. They hold that David affirms that he received an altogether special revelation. Just as the Lord had formerly shown to Moses the pattern of the tabernacle, so did the Lord also make known by revelation to David the pattern of the temple and its furniture. It seems to me that neither interpretation expresses the real situation--a middle view seems the juster. The description given in Exodus of the sacred utensils evidently furnished the groundwork for the workmanship of David, but what he teaches here is that it was under the guidance of the Divine Spirit that he varied the sacred architecture and furniture to suit the changed conditions of the new temple. He did not work either independently or arbitrarily, but modified the structure and the vessels by the authority of the Spirit who first instituted them. The grand teaching of the whole situation being this, that in the entire work of the temple we must be governed by Divine revelation, but that at the same time we must be sensitive to the action of the Spirit of God, so that we may interpret the Scriptures and modify ecclesiastical organisations according to the changing needs of successive generations. Does not the preacher of to-day need to learn the lesson taught here? One of our great dangers is a literalism which denies all further revelation or inspiration. We must beware lest we doom ourselves to a barren literalism. But, on the other hand, there are others who assume entire independence of revelation. They affirm that men are still as fully inspired as Moses was, or Isaiah, or John, or Paul, and that it is an injustice to ourselves to yield exclusive reverence to the sacred oracles. What, then, is the true path here? We answer, the path followed by the King of Israel in our text. We must reverentially accept the fully-accredited revelation that God has secured to us, and under the influence of the Holy Spirit give that revelation new and fuller expression as the evolution of the race may require. We must be true to the Scriptures, and true also to the Spirit that gives to the written word concurrent adaptation. Only as we follow this delicate line shall we be truly orthodox and yet remain full of reality, power, and effectiveness. A great artist does not attempt to get rid of nature; if he were to yield to such licentiousness his images would become bizarre, his poetry unintelligible, and his music degenerate into a monstrous melody; the sincere artist is therefore profoundly true to the forms, the colours, and the sequences of nature, he gives place to no arbitrary ideas. But, at the same time, he is not literal, topographical, prosaic; he seizes the essential truth of the physical universe, and gives it free rendering and bold representation. It is much the same with the preacher. He is profoundly loyal to God’s Word, but in the light and liberty of the Spirit he freely handles the eternal truth, and makes it speak to the heart of the congregation. It is God’s message to this generation that is expected from you. Be able to say, “The Lord made me understand this by His hand upon me,” and your word shall be in power and blessing.

III. The conditions of this inspiration.

1. We must watch against the temper of unbelief. We discern a thing only when we are in the mood to see it, to hear it, to know it. And it is entirely true that we apprehend the things of the higher world and the higher life just as we have a certain affinity with them. I deny altogether that the mood of doubt is the becoming mood of a theologian. The mood of the artist is the receptive mood. We are sometimes told how some grand melody, picture, or poem originated in a most trivial incident, but this only shows how exceedingly delicate was the susceptibility of the artist; he must have possessed a peculiar alertness and responsiveness of soul. A cold, critical temper would mean a poor artist. Did not Columbus expect to see America? Is America, therefore, a baseless fabric? Columbus saw America because he was prepared to see it, and the true attitude to unknown worlds is the expectant attitude of the astronomer looking for a star mathematically inferred, but not hitherto seen, of the chemist searching for an element indicated, but not yet demonstrated. We lose much by cherishing the spirit of doubt. Preachers are men who ought to live in the mood of meditation and susceptibility--waiting, listening, looking, hoping; and so does God whisper into their wakened ear great and gracious truths.

2. We must be on our guard against the spirit of worldliness. It has been noticed that the greatest naturalists, poets, and philosophers are singularly unworldly men. It seems as if they can see the rarer beauty of the world, hear the music of the spheres, catch the subtler suggestions of phenomena only as they are free from all secularity of spirit. The best and the highest of the things that are seen are discerned and appreciated only by men cleansed from the spirit of greed, and pride, and self. And this in a very high degree is true of the preacher. It is only when the eye is single that the whole body is full of light.

3. We must watch against sensuality. “Sensual, not having the Spirit,” writes the apostle. Now sensual indulgence clouds the genius of the artist and the scholar. Hugh Miller tells us that when he was a young man he one day drank some liquor, and on turning to read Milton found himself incapable of appreciating the great master. So any form of sensuality renders the spiritual man incapable of influentially realising the great discoveries of revelation. Sensual thought makes the higher perceptions impossible, the gross film blinds the eye of the soul. Purity of thought and feeling are essential to a really great preacher. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they see the best of everything, and they possess a wonderful faculty for making other people feel the power and charm of truth and goodness. We have spoken this morning of the patterns God showed to Moses and to David, but we must remember that He has shown to us another order of patterns, sublimer far than archetypes of architecture and upholstery. God who in times past spake unto the fathers by the prophets hath in these latter days spoken unto us by His Son. Our Lord Jesus Christ has taken us into the Mount and shown us patterns of things in the heavens. Study the New Testament and you will find set forth with clearness the ultimate moral ideals after which the ages have blindly striven. At Nazareth and Bethany you see the ideal home. You have seen the ideal Church when you have seen Christ dwelling with His disciples. And, more than all, comprehending all, you behold the supreme ideal of character, “We see Jesus.” All the great ideals are in “this writing by His hand,” not “the shadow of heavenly things,” but “the very substance of the things.” (W. L. Watkinson.)

God’s handwriting upon David

The temple was to be a type, an eminent type of Christ, and also a type of His Church. No man knew what God meant to teach by that temple; and consequently if it had been left to human judgment, it would not have been a true type; for who can make a type if he knows not what it is to typify? God alone knew what He intended to teach by this building, and so that it might convey Divine teaching, it must be arranged according to Divine command. I call your attention--

I. To the singular instructions given to David.

1. David did not receive them by consultation with others.

2. David did not slavishly follow the former model.

3. God gave David instructions about the details of the work.

4. The directions given were extremely minute.

5. The innermost things were laid bare to David.

6. David not only knew the details; but he understood them.

7. The writing was written on David’s own mind by God Himself.

II. The spiritual tuition of the saints in the truth of God.

1. God still writes upon the hearts of men.

2. Let me show you a little in detail how God writes the great truths of His Word on our hearts.

III. The duty of the transmission to others of anything that god writes on your hearts.

1. David told Solomon about it.

2. We ought to talk about Christ to chosen companions.

3. David gathered all the people together and told them about the temple. (C. H. Spurgeon.)


Verse 21

1 Chronicles 28:9; 1 Chronicles 28:21

And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father.

God’s relation to human life

Learn--

I. That our life is exposed to God’s inspection.

II. That our service to God should spring from sincere motives.

III. That our welfare depends upon our conduct towards God. (J. Wolfendale.)

The God of thy father

1. The rich experience behind these words.

2. The force of parental affection in giving that experience.

3. The susceptibility of youth to profit by the teaching. (J. Wolfendale.)

Fathers and children

We see here one generation--

1. Transmitting the knowledge of God to its successor.

2. Enjoining the service of God upon its successors.

3. Indicating God’s method of dealing with its successor.

4. Bequeathing its unfulfilled intentions to its successor. (M. Braithwaite.)

The knowledge of God the first principle of religion

I. What the knowledge of God implies.

1. A firm belief of His existence.

2. Just and regular sentiments concerning the perfections of His nature. Whatever argues a real imperfection or frailty in men ought not in the most distant resemblance to be ascribed to God.

3. A reverent contemplation of Him, according to the discoveries He hath been pleased to make of His perfections in His Word, works, and the ways of providence. Let us frequently contemplate--

II. The efficacy and influence this knowledge of God ought to have upon us. The design and end of knowledge is not only to enlarge and enlighten the mind, but to direct the practice and mend the heart. The true knowledge of God should produce in us--

1. Reverence.

2. Holiness.

3. Dependence upon Him for wisdom (James 1:5).

4. Confidence in His promises.

5. Fear.

6. Gratitude. (J. Mason, M. A.)

Solomon succeeding David

No better advice could have been given to the young sovereign of Israel. No better advice can to-day be given to the young sovereigns who fill our churches and Sunday-schools. So far as Solomon followed this advice he was prosperous beyond any that went before him; as soon as he forgot this advice the terrible warning with which the verse ends was fulfilled, and the disappointed misanthrope in the Book of Ecclesiastes tells us of the sorrows of a man whom God has forsaken. As God chose Solomon, so does He choose every young man and woman for some special work, which they alone can best accomplish. There are four things to be noticed in this charge.

I. Know thou God.

1. Through the Bible.

2. Providence.

3. Through the communings of our own heart.

II. Know thou thy father’s God. Every generation need not begin at the beginning, as though the fathers knew nothing about God. There is much foolish talk about thinking these great truths concerning God and religion through for ourselves. That our fathers served God is a reason why we should not discard Him.

III. Serve Him with a perfect heart.

IV. Serve Him with a willing mind. It is said that when the Princess Victoria was called to the kingdom, the messengers, who were the highest dignitaries of State, arrived at her palace from the death-bed of the king very early in the morning. They had great difficulty in arousing any one; but at length the princess’s maid appeared, who said that her mistress was in such a sweet sleep that it was a pity to disturb her. “Tell her,” said the Archbishop of Canterbury, “that we have come on business of importance to the queen, and even her slumbers must give way to that.” Very soon the princess appeared, and was invested with royal robes and prerogatives. To every young person comes the messenger of God telling them of their Father’s good pleasure that they should inherit the kingdom. No one can afford to neglect the summons. (F. E. Clark.)

David’s charge to Solomon

These words contain--

1. Advice given to a hopeful son.

2. By an excellent father.

3. Under most affecting circumstances.

I. The course prescribed.

1. TO know God. This implies--

(a) They do not understand God’s relations to mankind, as their rightful Sovereign; their Guide in difficulties; their Redeemer from evil; their Friend in necessities (Psalms 10:4).

(b) They do not acknowledge God in these relations.

(c) They do not enjoy God in these relations (Ephesians 2:12).

2. To serve God with a perfect heart and with a willing mind.

3. Thus to know and serve God must be justly denominated a course of acceptable piety. It is acceptable piety--

II. The arguments by which it is urged.

1. From the knowledge of God as our Observer.

2. From His goodness as our Redeemer.

3. From His just severity as our Judge.

Application:

1. You must serve God on earth, or you cannot live with Him in heaven (Matthew 7:21).

2. That you may serve God acceptably you must first know Him (Exodus 5:2).

3. The knowledge of God should be restlessly and confidently sought (Proverbs 2:3-5; Jeremiah 31:31-34). (Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

David’s instructions to Solomon

These words were not spoken from the death-bed, and yet behind them there is the background of death, judgment, and eternity. When dying men or women are speaking to us we know their words are few and well ordered. Especially so are the last utterances of parents to their children, if there is sufficient strength left of mind and body. In this instruction to Solomon we feel just as if the Spirit of God gave David inspiration. Just as if he looked into Solomon prophetically and saw both his weakness and his strength, words shaped themselves upon David’s tongue that exactly fitted the best and worst in the youthful life that lay before him.

1. David felt, “I cannot offer the chart of ray life to my own son when he is beginning his voyage and say, ‘Just sail as I sailed,’ for if so, he will run on reefs that I was nearly foundering upon, he will run on the quicksands that nearly ruined me.” Those lights that lie around our dangerous rock-bound coast are all very fine, and our lighting system is one of the glories of our British commerce. How all our coasts are lighted up at dangerous places at the expense of millions of money spent in building lighthouses, fitting them with the best lights, and keeping efficient men to take charge of them! But take the best of them, and ask any sailor, and he will tell you that five minutes of the sun itself is worth them all together. So it is with the best human testimony, the best earthly wisdom, and the best human experience. What a blessing when we can lift our heads right above it all to the sun that never fails us! “Know thou the God of thy father.”

2. See how David recommended his God to Solomon. In Old Testament days to name His name apart from any human qualification and attachment was then something too large, too vague, too profound. But when David speaks of “the God of thy father,” how homely it makes God!

3. After all, grace is not an heirloom. It cannot be bequeathed. Solomon had to know God for himself. Of the godly Eli’s family it was said, “Eli’s sons were sons of Belial.”

4. What wonderful instruction in the philosophy of conduct is in religion, if we would only believe Him! Know Him, and let your knowledge be of the practical kind. I said this to my son the other day: “My lad if I were beginning just where you are, and only twelve years of age, if I knew about myself and about what a fool I am at bottom, about how bad I am by nature, and what sin and grace really mean, what the Word of God means, and what Christ means--oh, my lad, if I were back with you, I think I would make more of life than I have done.” I think David is saying all that to young Solomon. “If I could begin all over again, Solomon, if I could stand where you are standing, I would make life to mean just one thing--God! God! God! God!” (John McNeill.)

The duty and advantage of knowing and serving the God of our fathers

I. The nature of the duties here spoken of.

1. You are to know the God of your fathers. This means such a practical acknowledgment of Him as engages a religious regard to Him as our chief good and highest end, that we may glorify Him here, and enjoy Him for ever, in the way of His own appointment.

2. You are to serve the God of your fathers. His ordinances and institutions are to be observed in all acts of religious worship, and His commands are to be obeyed in a departure from all iniquity and in a performance of all moral duties, with a professed subjection to the gospel of Christ.

3. You are to serve the God of your fathers with a perfect heart and with a willing mind. There is a sort of perfection which consists in integrity and uprightness, in opposition to prevailing hypocrisy, and which must be found in the heart if ever we serve God in an acceptable manner (1 Kings 15:3; 1 Kings 15:14; 2 Chronicles 25:2).

II. The manner in which these duties are recommended.

1. This important advice is directed to every one of you, as if you were mentioned by name.

2. It is the God of your fathers who is recommended to you.

3. It is the God whom your fathers themselves have recommended, and can recommend to you.

4. It is the God to whom your fathers have devoted you, and for whom they have trained you up.

5. It is the God of your fathers, who has encouraged you, by His covenant promise, to know and serve Him.

6. It is the God of your fathers, who has as much right to your knowing and serving Him as to theirs (Deuteronomy 29:10-12).

7. It is the God who will so much the more resent your disregard of Him, because He was your father’s God.

8. It is the God before whom you must appear, together with your fathers, in judgment at the last day. (J. Guyse.)

Godly parents concerned for the piety of their children

I. What is implied in children recognising God as the God of their fathers?

1. That they stand in a covenant relation to God through His promise to their fathers to be their God and the God of their seed.

2. When children are required to recognise God as their father’s God they should recall to their minds the pious instructions which their parents have communicated to them.

3. When children are required to recognise God as their father’s God, this should remind them of the many instances of God’s faithfulness, and kindness, and mercy which their fathers have experienced at God’s hand.

II. The earnest desire of godly parents for advancing the spiritual and eternal interests of their children.

1. It is necessary that children should know the God of their fathers.

2. There is nothing on which the heart of a pious parent is more deeply fixed than the religious interests of his children.

III. The motives and arguments by which this duty of children is enforced.

1. Youth is the most advantageous period for entering on a religious life. In every science or profession early application is deemed necessary to future excellence.

2. The children of godly parents have pre-eminent advantages above other young persons for entering on a religious life.

3. The obstinacy of young persons who have been religiously educated, and after all forsake the God of their fathers, is especially criminal, and attended with great aggravation.

4. That those young persons who have been religiously educated, and forsake the God of their fathers, are in danger of greater punishment than other men. (James Hay, D. D.)

Christian education

I. Without sincerity and seriousness, our religion can be of no value in the sight of the omniscient God.

II. It is important in every point of view that young persons, even from their earliest childhood, should be taught this high and holy lesson--to be sincere and serious in their religion; that is, in their whole conduct.

III. To “serve God with a perfect heart’’ is the sum and substance of all practical religion. (Plain Sermons by Contributors to the “Tracts for the Times. ”)

David’s charge to Solomon

I. The foundations of a religious life.

1. The knowledge of God (Jeremiah 9:23-24; John 17:3). This knowledge is not a mere abstract conception of God, but a burning memory of the Friend of the family.

2. A dedication of ourselves to His service.

II. The safeguards of a religious life.

1. A consciousness of the Divine presence in the heart.

2. A consciousness of the Divine omniscience prevents evil thoughts.

III. The encouragement of a religious life. “If thou seek Him, He will be found of thee.”

1. In every department of life man is a seeker.

2. In the department of spiritual life our gain is the greatest.

IV. The warning of a religious life. (Homilist.)

Royal regard for the right training of children

Rev. Benjamin Smith, in his “Gems Re-set,” reminds us of an interesting circumstance concerning the royal family of England. A dignitary of the Established Church had been examining some of the royal children in the Catechism. The divine was thoroughly satisfied with the readiness and the correctness of the replies. Doubtless he would be pleased to be able with truthfulness to commend the children of the Queen. He manifested his good sense, however, by doing this in an indirect manner, praising the lady who was their ordinary instructress. He said, “Your governess deserves high commendation for teaching you the Catechism so accurately. I am delighted with your proficiency.” The young folk replied, “Our governess does take great pains with us in our other lessons, but it is mamma who teaches us the Catechism.” There is reason to believe that the Queen of England was deeply solicitous that her children should from their earliest years be well acquainted with God’s truth. That truth had been commended to her when young by her mother’s tuition and example. In her husband, Albert the Good, our Queen had one to counsel and aid her in the training of their children. Thus the highest lady in these realms, with cares of State constantly pressing on her attention, and with godly and learned men ever able and willing to impart Scriptural instruction to the royal children, deemed it her duty and privilege to teach the Catechism to her loved ones.

And serve Him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind.--

To serve God the best way to prosper in the world

I. What it is to serve God

1. To serve God is to sincerely practise all the duties of piety.

2. To serve God is to practise all those duties which we owe more immediately to our fellow-creatures and to ourselves.

II. What a tendency the serving God in this manner has to secure His favour and blessing in all our secular concerns.

1. This is evident from the promises God has made in His Word (1 Timothy 4:8; Deuteronomy 8:18; Proverbs 10:22; Psalms 34:10; Psalms 84:2; Matthew 5:5; Romans 8:28; Ecclesiastes 2:26).

2. This is apparent from the very nature and connection of things. “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

3. This is confirmed by constant experience and observation. Conclusion: How greatly mistaken are they who think to prosper in the world by stepping aside out of the path of duty, or who dare to violate the sacred obligations of virtue and religion for the sake of a temporal advantage. (J. Mason, M. A.)

In what manner we are to serve God

I. The rule of worship laid down in the text, which we should carefully observe in all our religious transactions with God. We must worship God--

1. With a perfect heart. That is--

(a) Worldly and wandering thoughts;

(b) a dull and drowsy frame in worship.

2. With a willing mind.

II. What is essential and peculiar to Christian worship? It must always be performed in the name of Christ (Colossians 3:17; John 14:13-14; John 16:23-24; John 16:26). To serve God in the name of Christ implies--

1. A dependence on His mediation for the acceptance of our services.

2. A dependence on His grace for our assistance (Philippians 4:18).

3. A dependence on His merits for the atonement of our guilt (Romans 3:24-25).

4. A thankful acknowledgment of this gracious constitution of His, in appointing His Son to be Mediator between Him and His apostate creatures.

Application:

1. How vain it is to lay a great stress upon any particular place, or external forms and modes of worship.

2. This should lead us to inquire in what manner our worship, hath been performed, and what hath been the ordinary frame of our mind therein.

3. This shows the need we have to prepare our hearts to serve Him, and to avoid everything that would unfit us for this service.

4. Hence likewise appears the necessity of keeping the heart with all diligence in the service of God. (J. Mason, M. A.)

Heart service

That which we do with the heart is done without grudging, or toil, or weariness. A willing heart goes all the day on its path of duty, art unwilling one soon tires. All is nimble and cheerful which is done by the heart. This is the only kind of service God accepts of His creatures. This is the only condition in which men can render true service to Him. If the heart is dull, our service will be inapt and untoward. (Homiletic Review.)

For the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts.--

God the searcher of hearts, and found of them that seek Him

1. When God is said to search the heart, the meaning is He perfectly understands it.

2. The knowledge which God has of the human heart is universal: “Searcheth all hearts.”

3. The hearts of men and the imaginations of the thoughts are mentioned here as distinct objects of the Divine knowledge, and the difference between them is--by the former we are to understand the passions and purposes of the mind; and by the latter, the paintings of fancy, or the mere casual rovings of thought. I proceed now--

I. Briefly to prove this proposition, the Lord searcheth or knoweth all hearts.

1. This is evident from the reason of things. He that gave to man an understanding heart must understand the heart He gave (Psalms 94:9-11).

2. This may be further argued from His omniscience.

3. This is expressly ascribed to Him in the Scriptures (Jeremiah 17:9-10; Jeremiah 20:12; Acts 1:24).

II. To show how fitly this consideration is urged to enforce the duty enjoined, or how proper it is to induce us to guard and govern our thoughts at all times, especially in the service of God.

1. A total neglect of our thoughts and the frame of our spirits in the service of God shows a great contempt of His authority.

2. God, who knows our thoughts now, will call us to an account of them hereafter.

3. It is the turn and temper of the heart which forms the character of every one in the sight of God.

4. To keep a strict and constant guard over our hearts at all times, and especially in His worship, is the best evidence we can have of our sincerity.

III. Motives to attend to the exhortation given. “If thou seek Him, He will be found of thee,” etc. These words contain the most valuable promise and the most awful threatening that are to be found in the whole book of God. Notice particularly the promise. To seek the Lord is usually applied to the duty of prayer, but in the Bible it is often put to denote the whole of practical religion (Psalms 34:10; Isaiah 45:6; Isaiah 9:13; Isaiah 6:5). If we seek we shall obtain--

1. His favour. It is a much easier thing to please God than some men. There is no such thing as pleasing these sometimes without the most servile compliance with their caprice, a conformity to their manners, and a connivance at their follies.

2. His help (Luke 13:24; Hosea 5:15; Jeremiah 2:27; 2 Chronicles 33:11-12).

3. His direction (James 1:5; Proverbs 2:6; Proverbs 3:5-6).

4. His Holy Spirit (Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13).

The Holy Spirit is comprehensive of all the good things we can desire.

1. There are His renewing, sanctifying, supporting influences.

2. His preventing, quickening, assisting grace. He is our guide, teacher--earnest of the heavenly inheritance. (J. Mason.)

The moral discipline of the imagination

The moral cultivation of the imagination is of the first importance to the young.

I. Its negative discipline. The imagination must be restrained--

1. Because our lower nature will master our higher.

2. We inherit a sinful nature, prone to evil imaginings from our youth up.

3. We may sin in thought as well as in deed. This raises the question--

II. Its positive discipline. We must seek the things which stimulate and refine the imagination.

1. By means of noble literature.

2. By means of Christian conceptions.

A cultivated imagination is an aid to faith. Let it kindle over Christian truth, the nature of God, the incarnation, redemption, etc. Application:

1. Some think there is no harm in imagining evil, if it is not committed. Read Sermon on Mount.

2. This should convince the unconverted of sin. (S. E. Keeble.)

If thou seek Him, He will be found of thee.

Seeking the Lord

God is to be sought and found not merely by the intellect, not alone by processes of accurate logic, but by other faculties that have been bestowed upon us for this purpose. The moral sense, the consciousness of our high obligations, must be carefully and scrupulously nourished and cultured till we acquire an appetite for the noblest virtue--till, in fact, we hunger and thirst after righteousness and learn to satisfy our craving in communion with God and getting moral food and strength from Him. There must be a Divine discontent with our own righteousness in order to drive us to His footstool to ask for more. We must cherish our spiritual affections. We must put ourselves in the way of loving God. We must teach ourselves to pray or beseech Him to teach us. It is contrary to all common sense to expect feelings to arise in our heart spontaneously while we remain in conditions in which those feelings are all but impossible, and while we refuse to use the faculties which were given us for the express purpose of bringing us to love God. If the soul will not seek after God it cannot find Him. God will wait long enough, no one knows how long or how patiently; but it must germinate for itself and put forth its tender sprout and green leaves above the mouldy ground, and thus ask for God’s air to breathe life into it, and His gracious rain to feed it, and His glorious sun to shine upon it, and give warmth and beauty and fertility to it in time to come. Neither sun nor rain nor air can do for that hidden seed what it must first do for itself. “Seek ye the Lord.” (Charles Voysey, B. A.)

Seeking God

I. The duty.

1. Whom are we to seek? God in Christ.

2. How must we seek Him?

3. Where are we to seek Christ?

4. When are we to seek a God in Christ? Now.

5. Why are we to seek Christ?

II. The assurance. (T. J. Judkin, M. A.)

Seeking the Lord

I. You should seek him.

1. You cannot do without Him.

2. You have everything when you have found Him. The true light (John 1:9). The bread of life (John 6:35). A refuge from the storm (Isaiah 25:4). Your rock and fortress (Psalms 31:3). A sure foundation (Isaiah 28:16). An advocate (1 John 2:1). A surety (Hebrews 7:22). The truth (John 14:6). Wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30).

3. He has sought you, has come from heaven for you, is seeking you now.

4. You know you will find Him.

II. The manner of seeking.

1. In His Word, by obeying it.

2. In thine heart, by confidently expecting Him to come and dwell in thee. When He knows that thou really desirest Him, He will be found. (The Study and the Pulpit.)

Decision in religion recommended

I. The promise. We must seek Him--

1. Scripturally.

2. Earnestly.

3. Early in life: They that seek Me early shall find Me.”

II. The warning. Those who forsake God, who turn towards God their back, and not their face; who forsake His house, Word, day, people. I once visited, upon his death-bed, a professional man who had evidently forsaken God all his life, and whom God forsook in the hour of death. He then sought God earnestly, but it was too late. He could not find Him. When I prayed with him, he tried to follow my petitions, but his mind--distracted and bewildered--would not allow him. He told me over and over again that he sought to pray, but he never could find words. He also told me that he endeavoured to write his prayer upon a slate, but that his fingers refused to move. And in that awful state of mind he went to his final account. Another whom I visited seemed to be actually amid the pains of hell, whilst his body was still upon earth. As the large drops of perspiration stood upon his agonised forehead he exclaimed, “There is nothing you can tell me. I know it all. I have heard these things from you and from others, and that is my misery. I am entering hell with my eyes wide open.” These are no imaginary cases. “Cast off for ever.” (C. Clayton, M. A.)

Spiritual aspects of man

We may look at these words as presenting man to us in three solemn aspects.

I. As inspected by the eye of God. God knows each individual man thoroughly. He does not overlook the units in the millions. Thoughts, purposes, feelings fall under His searching glance (Psalms 139:4). This should impress us--

1. With the importance of our existence.

2. With the solemnity of our existence.

II. As invited to the friendship of God.

1. This is worth seeking.

2. This requires seeking.

III. As threatened with the displeasure of God. “God,” says an old author, “never casts men off until they first cast Him off.” (Homilist.)

Genuine piety a search for God

I. It is a personal search for God.

1. It is a search for Him, not His.

2. It is a search for Him, not His presence. All men are in His presence. To have Him is to have His heart, His sympathies, His love.

II. It is a voluntary search for God. All genuine religion is uncoerced and free: “Will ye also go away,” etc.

III. It is a successful search for God: “He will be found of thee.” This discovery is--

1. Conditional.

2. Transcendent. Find Him.

3. Individual: “Thee.” The man who has sought Him--no one else. (Homilist.)

But if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off for ever.--

The nature, cause, and danger of the sin of apostasy

I. The sin against which this threatening is pronounced.

1. Apostasy is a total renunciation of the principles, the practice, and profession of true religion. It is attended with the greatest aggravations of which any crime is capable.

2. The ordinary ways by which men are drawn into it.

II. The threatening denounced against it.

1. All obstinate and final apostates shall hereafter be totally rejected of their Maker. They shall never more be received into favour. (J. Mason.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Chronicles 28:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/1-chronicles-28.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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