A great deal of service David had done in his day, had served his generation according to the will of God, Acts 13:36. But now the time draws night that he must die, and, as a type of the Son of David, the nearer he comes to his end the more busy he is, and does his work with all his might. He is now a little recovered from the indisposition mentioned 1 Kgs. 1:1; when they covered him with clothes, and he got no heat: but was cure is there for old age? He therefore improves his recovery, as giving him an opportunity of doing God and his country a little more service.
I. He summoned all the great men to attend him, that he might take leave of them all together, 1 Chron. 28:1. Thus Moses did (Deut. 31:28), and Joshua, 1 Chron. 23:2; 24:1. David would not declare the settlement of the crown but in the presence, and to the satisfaction, of those that were the representatives of the people.
II. He addressed them with a great deal of respect and tenderness. He not only exerted himself to rise from his bed, to give them the meeting (the occasion putting new spirits into him), but he rose out of his chair, and stood up upon his feet (1 Chron. 28:2), in reverence to God whose will he was to declare, and in reverence to this solemn assembly of the Israel of God, as if he looked upon himself, though major singulis—greater than any individual among them, yet minor universis—less than the whole of them together. His age and infirmities, as well as his dignity, might well have allowed him to keep his seat; but he would show that he was indeed humbled for the pride of his heart both in the numbers of his people and his dominion over them. It had been too much his pleasure that they were all his servants (1 Chron. 21:3), but now he calls them his brethren, whom he loved, his people, whom he took care of, not his servants, whom he had command of: Hear me, my brethren, and my people. It becomes superiors thus to speak with affection and condescension even to their inferiors; they will not be the less honoured for it, but the more beloved. Thus he engages their attention to what he was about to say.
III. He declared the purpose he had formed to build a temple for God, and God’s disallowing that purpose, 1 Chron. 28:2, 3. This he had signified to Solomon before, 1 Chron. 22:7, 8. A house of rest for the ark is here said to be a house of rest for the footstool of our God; for heaven is his throne of glory; the earth, and the most magnificent temples that can be built upon it, are but his footstool: so much difference is there between the manifestations of the divine glory in the upper and lower world. Angels surround his throne, Isa. 6:1. We poor worms do but worship at his footstool Ps. 99:5; 132:7. As an evidence of the sincerity of his purpose to build the temple, he tells them that he had made ready for it, but that God would not suffer him to proceed because he had appointed other work for him to do, which was enough for one man, namely, the managing of the wars of Israel. He must serve the public with the sword; another must do it with the line and plummet. Times of rest are building times, Acts 9:31.
IV. He produced his own title first, and then Solomon’s, to the crown; both were undoubtedly jure divino—divine. They could make out such a title as no monarch on earth can; the Lord God of Israel chose them both immediately, by prophecy, not providence, 1 Chron. 28:4, 5. No right of primogeniture is pretended. Detur digniori, non seniori—It went by worth, not by age. 1. Judah was not the eldest son of Jacob, yet God chose that tribe to be the ruling tribe; Jacob entailed the sceptre upon it, Gen. 49:10. 2. It does not appear that the family of Jesse was the senior house of that tribe; from Judah it is certain that it was not, for Shelah was before Pharez; whether from Nahshon and Salmon is not certain. Ram, the father of Nahshon, had a elder brother, 1 Chron. 2:9. Perhaps so had Boaz, Obed, and Jesse. Yet “God chose the house of my father.” 3. David was the youngest son of Jesse, yet God liked him to make him king; so it seemed good unto him. God takes whom he likes, and likes whom he makes like himself, as he did David, a man after his own heart. 4. Solomon was one of the youngest sons of David, and yet God chose him to sit upon the throne, because he was the likeliest of them all to build the temple, the wisest and best inclined.
V. He opened to them God’s gracious purposes concerning Solomon (1 Chron. 28:6, 7): I have chosen him to be my son. Thus he declares the decree, that the Lord had said to Solomon, as a type of Christ, Thou art my son (Ps. 2:7), the son of my love; for he was called Jedidiah, because the Lord loved him, and Christ is his beloved Son. Of him God said, as a figure of him that was to come, 1. He shall build my house. Christ is both the founder and the foundation of the gospel temple. 2. I will establish his kingdom for ever. This must have its accomplishment in the kingdom of the Messiah, which shall continue in his hands through all the ages of time (Isa. 9:7; Luke 1:33) and shall then be delivered up to God, even the Father, yet perhaps to be delivered back to the Redeemer for ever. As to Solomon, this promise of the establishment of his kingdom is here made conditional: If he be constant to do my commandments, as at this day. Solomon was now very towardly and good: “If he continue so, his kingdom shall continue, otherwise not.” Note, If we be constant to our duty, then, and not otherwise, we may expect the continuance of God’s favour. Let those that are well taught, and begin well, take notice of this—if they be constant, they are happy; perseverance wears the crown, though it wins it not.
VI. He charged them to adhere stedfastly to God and their duty, 1 Chron. 28:8. Observe, 1. The matter for this charge: Keep, and seek for all the commandments of the Lord your God. The Lord was their God; his commandments must be their rule; they must have respect to them all, must make conscience of keeping them, and, in order thereunto, must seek for them, that is, must be inquisitive concerning their duty, search the scriptures, take advice, seek the law at the mouth of those whose lips were to keep this knowledge, and pray to God to teach and direct them. God’s commandments will not be kept without great care. 2. The solemnity of it. He charged them in the sight of all Israel, who would all have notice of this public charge, and in the audience of their God. “God is witness, and this congregation is witness, that they have good counsel given them, and fair warning; if they do not take it, it is their fault, and God and man will be witnesses against them.” See 1 Tim. 5:21; 2 Tim. 4:1. Those that profess religion, as they tender the favour of God and their reputation with men, must be faithful to their profession. 3. The motive to observe this charge. It was the way to be happy, to have the peaceable possession of this good land themselves and to preserve the entail of it upon their children.
VII. He concluded with a charge to Solomon himself, 1 Chron. 28:9, 10. He was much concerned that Solomon should be religious. He was to be a great man, but he must not think religion below him—a wise man, and this would be his wisdom. Observe,
1. The charge he gives him. He must look upon God and the God of his father, his good father, who had devoted him to God and educated him for God. He was born in God’s house and therefore bound in duty to be his, brought up in his house and therefore bound in gratitude. Thy own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not. He must know God and serve him. We cannot serve God aright if we do not know him; and in vain do we know him if we do not serve him, serve him with heart and mind. We make nothing of religion if we do not mind it, and make heart-work of it. Serve him with a perfect, that is, an upright heart (for sincerity is our gospel perfection), and with a willing mind, from a principle of love, and as a willing people, cheerfully and with pleasure.
2. The arguments to enforce this charge.
(1.) Two arguments of general inducement:—[1.] That the secrets of our souls are open before God; he searches all hearts, even the hearts of kings, which to men are unsearchable, Prov. 25:3. We must therefore be sincere, because, if we deal deceitfully, God sees it, and cannot be imposed upon; we must therefore employ our thoughts, and engage them in God’s service, because he fully understands all the imaginations of them, both good and bad. [2.] That we are happy or miserable here, and for ever, according as we do, or do not, serve God. If we seek him diligently, he will be found of us, and that is enough to make us happy, Heb. 11:6. If we forsake him, desert his service and turn from following him, he will cast us off for ever, and that is enough to make us miserable. Note, God never casts any off till they have first cast him off. Here is,
(2.) One argument peculiar to Solomon (1 Chron. 28:10): “Thou art to build a house for the sanctuary; therefore seek and serve God, that that work may be done from a good principle, in a right manner, and may be accepted.”
3. The means prescribed in order hereunto, and they are prescribed to us all. (1.) Caution: Take heed; beware of every thing that looks like, or leads to, that which is evil. (2.) Courage: Be strong, and do it. We cannot do our work as we should unless we put on resolution, and fetch in strength from divine grace.