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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 1–15
Verses 1–15

Let us observe here,

I. How desirous and solicitous good people should be to serve the interests of God’s kingdom in the world, to the utmost of their capacity. David could not be easy in a house of cedar while the ark was lodged within curtains, 1 Chron. 17:1. The concerns of the public should always be near our hearts. What pleasure can we take in our own prosperity if we see not the good of Jerusalem? When David is advanced to wealth and power see what his cares and projects are. Not, “What shall I do for my children to get portions for them? What shall I do to fill my coffers and enlarge my dominions?” But, “What shall I do for God, to serve and honour him?” Those that are contriving where to bestow their fruits and their good would do well to enquire what condition the ark is in, and whether some may not be well bestowed upon it.

II. How ready God’s prophets should be to encourage every good purpose. Nathan was no sooner aware of David’s good design than he bade him go and do all that was within his heart (1 Chron. 17:2), for he had no reason to doubt but that God was with him in it. Ministers should stir up the gifts and graces that are in others as well as in themselves.

III. How little God affects external pomp and splendour in his service. His ark was content with a tabernacle (1 Chron. 17:5) and he never so much as mentioned the building of a house for it; no, not when he had fixed his people in great and goodly cities which they builded not, Deut. 6:10. He commanded the judges to feed his people, but never bade them build him a house, 1 Chron. 17:6. We may well be content awhile with mean accommodations; God’s ark was so.

IV. How graciously God accepts his people’s good purposes, yea, though he himself prevents the performance of them. David must not build this house, 1 Chron. 17:4. He must prepare for it, but not do it; as Moses must bring Israel within sight of Canaan, but must them leave it to Joshua to put them in possession of it. It is the prerogative of Christ to be both the author and finisher of his work. Yet David must not think that, because he was not permitted to build the temple, 1. His preferment was in vain; no, “I took thee from the sheep-cote, though not to be a builder of the temple, yet to be ruler over my people Israel; that is honour enough for thee; leave the other to one that shall come after thee,” 1 Chron. 17:7. Why should one man think to engross all the business and to bring every good work to perfection? Let something be left for those that succeed. God had given him victories, and made him a name (1 Chron. 17:8), and, further, intended by him to establish his people Israel and secure them against their enemies, 1 Chron. 17:9. That must be his work, who is a man of war and fit for it, and he must let the building of churches be left to one that was never cut out for a soldier. Nor, 2. Must he think that his good purpose was in vain, and that he should lose the reward of it; no, it being God’s act to prevent the execution of it, he shall be as fully recompensed as if he had done it; “The Lord will build thee a house, and annex the crown of Israel to it,” 1 Chron. 17:10. If there be a willing mind, it shall not only be accepted, but thus rewarded. Nor, 3. Must he think that because he might not do this good work therefore it would never be done, and that it was in vain to think of it; no, I will raise up thy seed, and he shall build me a house, 1 Chron. 17:11, 12. God’s temple shall be built in the time appointed, though we may not have the honour of helping to build it or the satisfaction of seeing it built. Nor, 4. Must he confine his thoughts to the temporal prosperity of his family, but must entertain himself with the prospect of the kingdom of the Messiah, who should descend from his loins, and whose throne should be established for evermore, 1 Chron. 17:14. Solomon was not himself so settled in God’s house as he should have been, nor was his family settled in the kingdom: “But there shall one descend from thee whom I will settle in my house and in my kingdom,” which intimates that he should be both a high priest over the house of God and should have the sole administration of the affairs of God’s kingdom among men, all power both in heaven and in earth, in the house and in the kingdom, in the church and in the world. He shall be a priest upon his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both, and he shall build the temple of the Lord, Zech. 6:12, 13.