We have here,
I. The solemn address which David made to God upon occasion of the noble subscriptions of the princes towards the building of the temple (1 Chron. 29:10): Wherefore David blessed the Lord, not only alone in his closet, but before all the congregation. This I expected when we read (1 Chron. 29:9) that David rejoiced with great joy; for such a devout man as he would no doubt make that the matter of his thanksgiving which was so much the matter of his rejoicing. He that looked round with comfort would certainly look up with praise. David was now old and looked upon himself as near his end; and it well becomes aged saints, and dying saints, to have their hearts much enlarged in praise and thanksgiving. This will silence their complaints of their bodily infirmities, and help to make the prospect of death itself less gloomy. David’s psalms, toward the latter end of the book, are most of them psalms of praise. The nearer we come to the world of everlasting praise the more we should speak the language and do the work of that world. In this address,
1. He adores God, and ascribes glory to him as the God of Israel, blessed for ever and ever. Our Lord’s prayer ends with a doxology much like this which David here begins with—for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory. This is properly praising God—with holy awe and reverence, and agreeable affection, acknowledging, (1.) His infinite perfections; not only that he is great, powerful, glorious, etc., but that his is the greatness, power, and glory, that is, he has them in and of himself, 1 Chron. 29:11. He is the fountain and centre of every thing that is bright and blessed. All that we can, in our most exalted praises, attribute to him he has an unquestionable title to. His is the greatness; his greatness is immense and incomprehensible; and all others are little, are nothing, in comparison of him. 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 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; with him is terrible majesty, inexpressible and inconceivable. (2.) His sovereign dominion, as rightful owner and possessor of all: “All that is in the heaven, and in the earth, is thine, and at thy disposal, by the indisputable right of creation, and as supreme ruler and commander of all: thine is the kingdom, and all kings are thy subjects; for thou art head, and art to be exalted and worshipped as head above all.” (3.) His universal influence and agency. All that are rich and honourable among the children of men have their riches and honours from God. This acknowledgment he would have the princes take notice of and join in, that they might not think they had merited any thing of God by their generosity; for from God they had their riches and honour, and what they had returned to him was but a small part of what they had received from him. Whoever are great among men, it is God’s hand that makes them so; and, whatever strength we have, it is God that gives it to us, as the God of Israel our father, 1 Chron. 29:10; Ps. 68:35.
2. He acknowledges with thankfulness the grace of God enabling them to contribute so cheerfully towards the building of the temple (1 Chron. 29:13, 14): Now therefore, our God, we thank thee. Note, The more we do for God the more we are indebted to him for the honour of being employed in his service, and for grace enabling us, in any measure, to serve him. Does he therefore thank that servant? Luke 17:9. No: but that servant has a great deal of reason to thank him. He thanks God that they were able to offer so willingly. Note, (1.) It is a great instance of the power of God’s grace in us to be able to do the work of God willingly. He works both to will and to do; and it is in the day of his power that his people are made willing, Ps. 110:3. (2.) 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; for certainly it is the greatest honour and pleasure in the world faithfully to serve God.
3. He speaks very humbly of himself, and his people, and the offerings they had now presented to God. (1.) For himself, and those that joined with him, though they were princes, he wondered that God should take such notice of them and do so much for them (1 Chron. 29:14): Who am I, and what is my people? David was the most honourable person, and Israel the most honourable person, then in the world; yet thus does he speak of himself and them, as unworthy the divine cognizance and favour. David now looks very great, presiding in an august assembly, appointing his successor, and making a noble present to the honour of God; and yet he is little and low in his own eyes: Who am I, O Lord? for (1 Chron. 29:15) we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, poor despicable creatures. Angels in heaven are at home there; saints on earth are but strangers here: Our days on the earth are as a shadow. David’s days had as much of substance in them as most men’s; for he was a great man, a good man, a useful man, and now an old man, one that lived long and lived to good purpose: and yet he puts himself not only into the number, but in the front, of those who must acknowledge that their days on the earth are as a shadow, which intimates that our life is a vain life, a dark life, a transient life, and a life that will have its periods either in perfect light or perfect darkness. The next words explain it: There is no abiding, Heb. no expectation. We cannot expect any great matters from it, nor can we expect any long continuance of it. This is mentioned here as that which forbids us to boast of the service we do to God. Alas! it is confined to a scantling of time, it is the service of a frail and short life, and therefore what can we pretend to merit by it? (2.) As to their offerings, Lord, says he, of thy own have we given thee (1 Chron. 29:14), and again (1 Chron. 29:16), It cometh of thy hand, and is all thy own. “We have it from thee as a free gift, and therefore are bound to use it for thee; and what we present to thee is but rent or interest from thy own.” “In like manner” (says bishop Patrick) “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 in the Lord.
4. He appeals to God concerning his own sincerity in what he did, 1 Chron. 29:17. It is a great satisfaction to a good man to think that God tries the heart and has pleasure in uprightness, that, whoever may misinterpret or contemn it, he is acquainted with and approves of the way of the righteous. It was David’s comfort that God knew with what pleasure he both offered his own and saw the people’s offering. He was neither proud of his own good work nor envious of the good works of others.
5. He prays to God both for the people and for Solomon, that both might hold on as they began. In this prayer he addresses God as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a God in covenant with them and with us for their sakes. Lord, give us grace to make good our part of the covenant, that we may not forfeit the benefit of it. Or thus: they were kept in their integrity by the grace of God establishing their way; let the same grace that was sufficient for them be so for us. (1.) For the people he prays (1 Chron. 29:18) that what good God had put into their minds he would always keep there, that they might never be worse than they were now, might never lose the convictions they were now under, nor cool in their affections to the house of God, but always have the same thoughts of things as they now seemed to have. Great consequences depend upon what is innermost, and what uppermost, in the imagination of the thoughts of our heart, what we aim at and what we love to think of. If any good have got possession of our hearts, or the hearts of our friends, it is good by prayer to commit the custody of it to the grace of God: “Lord, keep it there, keep it for ever there. David has prepared materials for the temple; but, Lord, do thou prepare their hearts for such a privilege;” establish their hearts, so the margin. “Confirm their resolutions. They are in a good mind; keep them so when I am gone, them and theirs for ever.” (2.) For Solomon he prays (1 Chron. 29:19), Give him a perfect heart. He had charged him (1 Chron. 28:9) to serve God with a perfect heart; now here he prays to God to give him such a heart. He does not pray, “Lord, make him a rich man, a great man, a learned man;” but, “Lord, make him an honest man;” for that is better than all. “Lord, give him a perfect heart, not only in general to keep thy commandments, but in particular to build the palace, that he may do that service with a single eye.” Yet his building the house would not prove him to have a perfect heart unless he made conscience of keeping God’s commandments. It is not helping to build churches that will save us if we live in disobedience to God’s law.
II. The cheerful concurrence of this great assembly in this great solemnity. 1. They joined with David in the adoration of God. When he had done his prayer he called to them to testify their concurrence (Now bless the Lord your God, 1 Chron. 29:20), which accordingly they did, by bowing down their heads, a gesture of adoration. Whoever is the mouth of the congregation, those only have the benefit who join with him, not by bowing down the head so much as by lifting up the soul. 2. They paid their respects to the king, looking upon him as an instrument in God’s hand of much good to them; and, in honouring him, they honoured God. 3. The next day they offered abundance of sacrifices to God (1 Chron. 29:21), both burnt-offerings, which were wholly consumed, and peace-offerings, which the offerer had the greatest part of to himself. Hereby they testified a generous gratitude to God for the good posture their public affairs were in, though David was going the way of all the earth. 4. They feasted and rejoiced before God, 1 Chron. 29:22. In token of their joy in God, and communion with him, they feasted upon their peace-offerings in a religious manner before the Lord. What had been offered to God they feasted upon, by which was intimated to them that they should be never the poorer for their late liberal contributions to the service of the temple; they themselves should feast upon the comfort of it. 5. They made Solomon king the second time. He having been before anointed in haste, upon occasion of Adonijah’s rebellion, it was thought fit to repeat the ceremony, for the greater satisfaction of the people. They anointed him to the Lord. Magistrates must look upon themselves as set apart for God, to be his ministers, and must rule accordingly in the fear of God. Zadok also was anointed to be priest in the room of Abiathar, who had lately forfeited his honour. Happy art thou, O Israel! under such a prince and such a pontiff.