What Do You Own?

 

Week of June 5, 2011

 

Bible Verses:1 Chronicles 29:10-20.

 

Lesson Focus:This lesson is about recognizing Godís ownership of everything we have.

 

God Owns Everything:1 Chronicles 29:10-11.

 

[10]Therefore David blessed the LORD in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: "Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. [11]Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.[ESV]

 

Introduction.The occasion for the final chapters of 1 Chronicles is a continuation of what was introduced in chapter 23: the assembling by the king of the leaders of Israel. The date is still 970 BC, and the subject is a final portion of the last instruction of David. The kingís purpose has been not simply to organize the Levites on a permanent basis [chapters 23-26], but also to arouse the whole nation to the momentous task of erecting Godís temple in Jerusalem. Now David once again charged the people [28:2-8] and his son Solomon [28:9-10] to consecrate themselves to this holy effort. David then presented his son with the inspired, written plans for the temple [28:11-19] and encouraged him for the work that lay ahead [28:20-21]. He turned also to the nation, represented by its assembled leaders, and urged on them an all-out campaign of giving for the building [29:1-5]. They rose to the challenge [29:6-9], and David praised the Lord for their devotion [29:10-22]. Solomon was then confirmed on the throne of Israel by a second ceremony of anointing and David passed on to his eternal reward [29:22-30].

 

[10-11]The third set of speeches and actions in Davidís final assembly brings this portion of the writerís record to its climax. At this point, David turned his attention to God whose power undergirded his success in temple preparations. Through Davidís final addresses to God and the assembly the writer brought this perspective to the foreground. David turned to God in the presence of all the assembly to offer praise for the accomplishments of his life and to ask for divine blessings on future generations. Once again, the writer noted the exemplary character of this event by designating it as an assembly which pointed to the religious nature of the gathering. David began this speech with a series of praises to God. These praises are divided by four calls upon God: O Lord [10], O Lord [11a], O Lord [11d], and our God [13]. The first portion of this passage acknowledges that God is to be praised forever and ever. David displayed his enthusiasm for what God had done in his life by immediately acknowledging that He deserved eternal praise far beyond that which David was able to give. Following this initial acknowledgment, David explained why God deserved unending praise. To Him belong greatness Ö power Ö glory Ö victory Ö majesty. The piling up of these terms revealed Davidís enthusiasm. He was impressed by what God had done and proclaimed that all that is in the heavens and in the earth belongs to God. Similar themes appear in the Psalms when the psalmists reached the limits of their expressive powers. The message of divine sovereignty continued in the next portion of Davidís praise. In this regard, the kingdom takes center stage. Time and again the writer drew attention to the connection between Godís throne and the throne of Israelís kings. The kings of Israel ruled as Godís vice-regents over the land of Israel, but God Himself is head above all.

David adores God and ascribes glory to Him as the God of Israel. David praises God, with holy awe and reverence, acknowledging Godís infinite perfections. Not only was God great, powerful and glorious but He possesses these perfections in the fullness of His being. Not only is He great but He is greatness itself; not only powerful, but power itself; not only glorious, but glory itself. His greatness is immense and incomprehensible so that, compared to Him, all other greatness is as nothing. His is the power and it is almighty and irresistible. Power belongs to Him and all the power of all the creatures is derived from Him and depends upon Him. His is the glory for His glory is His own end, and the end or goal of the whole creation. All the glory we can give Him with our hearts, lips and lives, comes infinitely short of what is His due. His is the victory; He transcends and surpasses all and is able to conquer and subdue all things to Himself and His victories are incontestable and uncontrollable. And His is the majesty, real and personal, inexpressible and inconceivable. His sovereign dominion as rightful owner and possessor of all that is in the heavens and in the earth. All things are at His disposal by the indisputable right of creation and as supreme Ruler and Commander of all. All kings are subjects of His Kingdom for He is the Head and are to be exalted and worshipped as Head above all things.

 

God Gives Us What We Have:1 Chronicles 29:12-16.

 

[12]Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. [13]And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. [14]"But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. [15]For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. [16]O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own.[ESV]

 

[12-13]God is the ruler of all things. As a result, whenever riches and honor come to a nation or king, they come from the Lord. God alone is able to exalt and give strength. Here Davidís words revealed the writerís perspective that prosperity and strength for faithful Israelites come from God. David would have the leaders of the nation join in this acknowledgement so that they might not think they had merited anything from God by their generosity. For all of their riches and honors come from God. And what they had returned to God was but a small part of what they had received from Him. In response to the blessings David had received, he closed his initial praise with an expression of thanks to God. He praised Godís glorious name, the invocable, active power of God in the world. David had seen God act on his behalf throughout his life. The Name of God deserved his and the peopleís praise. Note that the more we do for God, the more we are indebted to Him for the honor of being employed in His service and for grace enabling us to serve Him.

 

[14-16]Davidís amazement with God was also rooted in his recognition of human impotence. In a rhetorical question, he acknowledged that it is only because of Godís enablement that he and the nation were able to give as willingly and generously as this [14]. We must give God all the glory of all the good that is at any time done by ourselves or others. Our own good works must not be the matter of our pride, nor the good works of others the matter of our flattery, but both the matter of our praise. Certainly it is the greatest honor and pleasure in the world to be able to faithfully serve God. David speaks very humbly of himself and his people and the offerings they had now presented to God. David sees himself and the nation as unworthy of the divine recognition and favor. Both David and the people had contributed much to the construction of Solomonís temple. It would have been natural to take credit for these contributions, but David praised God for them. The assemblyís generosity toward the temple was merely returning a small portion of what they had received from God. To highlight this perspective, David described himself and Israel as strangers Ö and sojourners [15]. This terminology usually applied to those who were homeless or traveling and who depended entirely on the goodness of others for their sustenance. Although David and his people had inherited the land of promise by this time, he still considered himself in utter dependence on God. This dependence was not on other people for David was a stranger in the Lordís sight. Despite the security David experienced in the land of Israel, he and his people still depended on God just as much as their forefathers, those who first wandered through the wilderness. Having acknowledged Israelís utter dependence on God, David once again admitted that the provision made for the house for Godís Holy Name comes from Godís hand and all of it belong to God [16]. David and the people received all of their riches from God as a free gift and, therefore, were bound to use it for Godís purposes. Therefore we ought to acknowledge God in all spiritual things, referring every good thought, good purpose, good work, to His grace from whom we receive it. Let him that glories therefore glory only in the Lord. These words recall the earlier expression of humility before God and the praise of His Name [12-13].

 

God Examines Our Hearts:1 Chronicles 29:17-20.

 

[17]I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. [18]O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. [19]Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision." [20]Then David said to all the assembly, "Bless the LORD your God." And all the assembly blessed the LORD, the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and paid homage to the LORD and to the king. [ESV]

 

The final portion of Davidís address to God concerned the future of the kingdom, especially future devotion to the temple project. David began with a doctrinal statement acknowledging an important theological conviction. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. These words recalled Davidís earlier charge to Solomon [28:9] and brought forward the central concern of his petitions. David wanted the nation and his son to serve God from the heart. God required obedience to His Law that rose out of a wholehearted commitment. Mere outward or reluctant service was not adequate. David quickly affirmed that his royal contributions and the donations of the people had been wholehearted. David desired for God to have a temple for His Name. No ulterior motives such as self-aggrandizement were behind his actions. Moreover, as the earlier portion of this chapter demonstrated, David gave far beyond what was required of him, and the assembly had done the same. They gave the offering freely and joyously to God. David therefore affirmed that he and the nation had passed Godís test of their hearts.

 

David then turned to a series of petitions concerning the future of the nation and her king. First, David asked God to keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people. In other words, David wanted future generations to be enthusiastic about temple support. Mere outward obedience would not be sufficient; joyous wholehearted devotion would be required by a God who tests the hearts of His people. David prayed that the people would keep their hearts loyal to God. Second, just as David commented on his own royal integrity, he prayed that Solomon would have wholehearted devotion [19]. Solomon was to observe the Law of God so that he may build the palace for which David had made provision. The task ahead of Davidís son was massive. Only actions rising out of deep inward devotion would be sufficient to carry him through the project. Undoubtedly, the writer included this aspect of Davidís prayer to encourage his post-exilic readers to consider their own hearts. They were one of the future generations for which David prayed. In line with their ideal kingís desire, they should have been wholeheartedly devoted to the temple in their day. Moreover, in line with their ideal kingís practice, they should have devoted themselves to prayerful humility before God. The writer briefly noted that David not only praised God himself, he also turned to the whole assembly and encouraged them to praise the Lord. As a result, the entire assembly blessed the Lord the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and paid homage to the Lord and to the king. All the people in attendance acknowledge the goodness of God toward them and honored David as their national head. The meeting is designated an assembly once again to highlight its exemplary quality for the authorís readers. This brief scene depicted the entire assembly of Israel in the worship of God and in harmony with the Davidic king.

 

Questions for Discussion:

 

1.†††††††† What five reasons does David give for why God deserves our unending praise? What does it mean that God possesses these five perfections in the fullness of His being? Each day for the next five days, take one of these perfections and think about what it means to you that God is great, powerful, etc.

 

2.†††††††† What do we learn from these verses concerning the attitude we should have on the type of stewardship of our money that brings the most praise to Godís glorious name? How does the truth that all things come from you influence your decisions about how you should spend your money? Why is the condition and attitude of our heart crucial for an offering that pleases God?

 

3.†††††††† Think about the statement: ďthe more we do for God, the more we are indebted to Him.Ē Have you found this to be true in your own life? Do you sense, like David did, more of your need and dependence upon God as you seek to be more active in your service to Him and His church?

 

References:

1 & 2 Chronicles, Richard Pratt, Mentor.

1 & 2 Chronicles, J. Barton Payne, EBC, Zondervan.

1 Chronicles, Matthew Henry complete commentary.