Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
1. David's words bring before us a tender worker. Solomon was yet young, and his father seemed to regard him as peculiarly insufficient for the position Providence was preparing for him. Perhaps his character thus far was unformed; and it may have been his accession to the throne which was the occasion of his recognizing his responsibilities, and preparing himself for his kingly duties.
2. They bring before us also a great work. The young monarch was to build a palace, not for man, but for God; to carry out a magnificent and costly scheme - a work which should be of lasting importance, both for Israel and the world. There was an apparent want of correspondence between a worker so tender and inexperienced, and a work so vast. Yet it was the Divine appointment that Solomon should build the temple; and events proved that, with God's blessing, he was able to carry out the great undertaking. The lesson of this verse is that there is Divine authority for youthful consecration and service; that there is no real inconsistency between a tender worker and an important work.
I. THERE IS A SUMMONS, ADDRESSED TO THE YOUNG, TO WORK FOR THE LORD, There was nothing peculiar or exceptional in the requirement made of Solomon. The kind of work entrusted to him was special; but there was nothing special in his call to work for the Lord. Every young person who hears the tidings of the gospel, who receives the Divine revelation, is under an obligation to work for Christ. When you enjoy the privileges, you are subjected to the claims, of religion. Jesus, who cells you to rejoice in his love, calls you to engage in his service. In detail, God by his providence will point out to you how you may glorify him; in principle, the service required of you will be the same as that required of Solomon. A cheerful mind, a willing heart, an unmurmuring submission, a lifelong devotion, - these are what Heaven delights in. A truly Christian life is, in any case, a great work. You have a palace to build for God; and all holy thoughts and righteous deeds and wise and kindly words are as stones in the edifice - an edifice to be reared to God's glory. How many are the admonitions we find in Scripture to youthful piety and consecration! - Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth! "My son, give me thine heart!" "Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My Father, thou art the Guide of my youth?"
II. THERE ARE MANY ADVANTAGES IN YOUTHFUL CONSECRATION TO THE LORD'S SERVICE.
1. It is advantageous to the worker. A sound basis is thus laid for a noble character. There is scope for development. A direction is given to the active nature which there will be no occasion to reverse or alter.
2. It is advantageous for the work. There is time for doing it thoroughly and consistently. The youthful worker can adapt himself to the work, and his interest in it will deepen as the years pass on. Youthful enterprise and energy will tend to its vigorous prosecution. Enthusiasm and perseverance combined, under the guidance and with the blessing of the Holy Spirit of God, cannot fail to forward the sacred enterprise, to advance the rearing of the spiritual structure.
3. It is acceptable to him who provides the work and qualifies the workman. God cannot but be pleased when his own work is taken in hand and carried on by those whom he himself has designed for it.
1. Let the young seriously consider the call of Heaven, readily accept the trust, and prayerfully seek guidance and help for its fulfilment. God comes to you and says, "Son, go work to-day in my vineyard."
2. Let all Christians encompass youthful workers for Christ with interest, sympathy, and supplication. As David commended the young prince, his son, to the considerate sympathy and support of the mighty men, priests, and counsellors, so would we beg all mature and experienced servants of the Lord to uphold their younger friends and colleagues by affectionate interest and prayers. - T.
I. PERSUASIVENESS on the part of those who project it. David was in a position to command, to require, to enact. But he evidently felt that this was an occasion on which it was far better to persuade. After pleading the youthfulness of his son (ver. 1), the sacredness of the work (ver. 1), the energy he himself had shown in the matter ("With all my might," ver. 2), the affection he felt, and the personal sacrifices he had made (vers. 3, 4), the consideration he had shown for the various necessities of the case (ver. 5), he appealed to the congregation, "Who then is willing?" If King David, under the Law, thus resorted to persuasion rather than to enactment, much more may we under the gospel. The spirit of the gospel is the spirit of persuasion. We need not wish for "compulsory powers;" we should rejoice that the better way is given us of convincing by argument, of affecting by entreaty, of winning by earnestness. And, on the part of those who are influenced, there must be -
II. WILLINGNESS. "Who then is willing?" (ver. 5). "Then the chief of the fathers... offered willingly (ver. 6). Nothing is gained of any vital consequence until the heart is willing, until every barrier of indifference and objection is broken down, and our will consents to go in the path of service, of contribution, of activity.
III. EAGERNESS. David had shown not only readiness, but eagerness. He prepared with all his might" (ver. 2); he "set his affection to the house of his God" (ver. 3). The people were not only prepared to respond to the king without demur, they consented cordially; "With perfect heart they offered willingly" (ver. 9). A very great step is taken when willingness passes into eagerness; when those whom we ask to serve not only come forward, but walk in the path of usefulness with elastic step, as those who have a heart as well as a hand in the undertaking.
IV. SERVICEABLENESS AND SUITABLENESS. David gave of the spoils of war (ver. 2), and also of his own personal property (ver. 3), things which would be of practical value for the work before them - goLd, silver, etc.; so did the people (vers. 7, 8). And not only generally serviceable, but specially suitable things he and they took care to offer; "Gold for things to be made of gold," etc. (ver. 2). David was mindful of the thought that commoner as well as rarer metals would be of use, and he furnished both. We must bring to the work of the Lord
(1) that which is practical and precious (gold and silver), than which we esteem as valuable for the purposes of human life; and
(2) that particular contribution which the special service demands - not cleverness when kindness is wanted, not learning when sympathy is demanded, not counsel when money is the only thing that will avail, not refinement when rugged simplicity is the desirable thing, etc.; gold for the things of gold, brass for the things of brass, etc.
V. GLADNESS. "Then the people rejoiced" (ver. 9). The outcome of devoted work for Christ and man is heartfelt joy. There is no deeper, stronger, purer joy than that of "consecrating our service unto the Lord" (ver. 5), and doing this with the "perfect heart" of entire willingness, giving ourselves freely and lavishly for him who gave himself for us. It is "more blessed to give than to receive." They who do not know the joy of the people at Jerusalem on this occasion, the joy of hearty devotedness, haw not ascended to the summit of human blessedness.
VI. CONTAGIOUSNESS. David communicated his enthusiasm to the people. Their fire of devotion was caught from the flame that was burning on the altar of his heart. Similarly their joy was communicated to him. "The people rejoiced... and David the king also rejoiced with great joy" (ver. 9). Unhappily, evil passions are extended through this channel of contagiousness; one mind passes on its sinful principles and unholy excitements. But, happily for the world, goodness is as diffusive as evil. We catch animation, zeal, consecration from one another; we light our lamps from the fire that burns in our brother's heart; we pass on our joy in God till "all the congregation" "rejoice with great joy" in him and in the victory of his cause. - C.
natural point of view. But all such thoughts are lost or sink behind that which alone makes anything great - the Lord God. There are two ways of estimating greatness - one that strikes the mere outward sense, and one that looks at God. It may be that the building is only a hut, but if it is to the Lord it is infinitely greater than the grandest building ever erected by the art of man. And because it was for the Lord, David had prepared for it "with all his might." It is this motive which gives power and strength and delight and earnestness to all work. But it was not only as a king David had thus prepared. In this world men may separate the office from the person; but not so in the kingdom of God. God's claims on men are not only official but personal; not only as kings, but as Christian men. David had prepared so much (see ver. 2) as Israel's king, but he bad also prepared so much of "his own proper good" (see ver. 3). A minister of Christ has not only to walk worthy of his vocation as a minister, but also as a man; not only in the pulpit and parish, but as a man in all the private relations of life. Having fulfilled both of these relations to the house of God, he can now make his appeal to others. He has set the example: who will follow it? "Who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?" "Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do" (Philippians 4:9). And consecration is simply to "fill the hand" (see margin). "He has his hands full" is a familiar saying. Yes; it is every faculty of the man - body, soul, and spirit taken up with the Lord and his work. No room for anything else. Not even a grain more can the hand hold. "To me to live is Christ." All our secular work done to him. Thus life becomes transfigured. And this is not for to-morrow. It is "this day. God asks for it now. Two of God's requirements there are which admit of no to-morrow. One is the salvation of the soul: Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation." Another is consecration-dedication to God:" Who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?" It is not so much a command as an appeal It must come from the heart or it cannot be accepted. "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" (Isaiah 6.) is made to the heart of the prophet. That heart had "seen the King," and out of the fulness of a love that had penetrated its inmost recesses it exclaimed, "Here am I, Lord; send me." So it was here. All the princes and rulers and congregation of Israel responded to this appeal from one whom they loved, and offered largely and "willingly." No wonder all was joy. The king, the princes, the congregation, were overflowing with joy. It was the response of a "perfect heart," a true, whole-hearted, joyous surrender of themselves and all they had to the Lord. This is the spring of all real joy. It is nowhere else - an unconditional surrender of ourselves and all we have to him "who loved us and gave himself for us." - W.
I. REASONS FOR DAVID'S AFFECTION TO THE LORD'S HOUSE.
1. Mainly his attachment to the Lord himself, in whose honour it was to be reared.
2. Secondarily, the fact that the project was one which he himself had formed.
3. And further, his knowledge that the work would be accomplished by his own loved son.
II. PRACTICAL PROOFS OF THIS AFFECTION.
1. His own most liberal gifts in preparation for the work.
2. His encouragement to his people to give with generosity.
III. RESULTS TO THEIR OWN HEARTS. They could not cherish such feelings of interest, affection, and attachment, and manifest their feelings in so practical a way, without reaping some harvest of profit in their own souls. Their deep and disinterested joy in their gifts is an evidence of the benefit which they received. This example should encourage Christians to cherish and display a religious attachment towards the Church purchased by our Saviour's blood. - T.
national wealth which was entrusted to his keeping as king. We are often tempted to be very liberal with other people's money or with public money. David felt that such giving cost no personal effort or sacrifice, and so could not carry to God the expression of his own devotion and love. Nothing could satisfy his feeling save a large offering from his own personal and private property. This voluntary gift was selected with the greatest care; the gold was that of Ophir, esteemed the finest in the world, and the amount was three thousand talents of gold, and seven thousand talents of refined silver.
I. A MAN HAS WHAT HE MAY CALL HIS "OWN PROPER GOOD." It is quite true that we really have nothing, and that what we seem to have is God's, and only entrusted to our charge. But it is equally true that God does permit us to cherish the sense of possession, and to feel that some things are ours. The distinction between mine and thine lies at the basis of social morality; and if we can have nothing ours as separate from God, we can have something ours as separate from our fellow-men. If the distinctness of a man's property is recognized in the common social relations, it may also be recognized in the higher religious spheres; a man's "own proper good" having this for its peculiarity, that it is under the immediate control of the man's own will. Press the importance of recognizing the responsibility attending on the sense of personal possession, and the trust of our "own proper good."
II. IT IS IN RELATION TO ITS TREATMENT AND USE THAT A MAN'S CHARACTER GAINS EXPRESSION. In public a man makes himself appear oftentimes other than he is. He is revealed in private life. So a man may be very generous indeed in voting away public and society money; and his mean character be shown up in his miserable distributions from his "own proper good." Money is one of the most searching tests of character. Illustrate how some men hoard and reveal their acquisitiveness; others spend wastefully, and reveal their sensuality or love of self-indulgence; yet others use carefully and thoughtfully, and so reveal their caution and, it may be, the power of their religious principle; and yet others again give largely, and reveal their open and generous dispositions. God finds out the very depths of a man's nature by giving to him a greater or less trust "of his own proper good."
III. IN CONNECTION WITH IT, THE RELIGIOUS PROFESSION GETS ITS SEVEREST TESTINGS. In these days, when wealth is so suddenly acquired, we see too often religious men fail, and become indifferent and worldly. Few can stand the increase of riches. Few, indeed, care to pray Agur's prayer. When men make money, the impulse that grows into a passion is to keep it from God, and keep its use to one's self. And what God asks is that the growing wealth should be so consecrated to his service that it may help to keep the man's heart true. Appeal - How would God judge you in respect of your "own proper good"? - R.T.
fill his hand this day unto the Lord?" As these gifts were really an expression of the devotion that animated the hearts of the Israelites, the English Version may be said to offer rather an enlargement than a perversion of the language. And the question is one which may be addressed to all hearers of the gospel. For all are called upon to give themselves and all they have and are unto the God who made them, and the Redeemer who bought them. We have here -
I. A CLAIM AFFIRMED. Religion not only offers a blessing, it requires a service. Salvation is the substance of what God gives; consecration is what God demands. Salvation is from past sin; consecration is for future life and service. God has a right to the surrender of our will, the devotion of our powers, the offering of our possessions, the service of our hands. The heart is his first demand; our labours, our influence, our liberality, will all follow. This is a just claim. It is founded on Divine right and authority; for he is our Creator and King, He has a powerful claim upon our gratitude; for he has treated us with bounty, and he has given us his Son to redeem us from iniquity and from destruction. We are for ever dependent upon him, who is our Lord and Judge; and, in giving unto him, we do but give him his own.
II. THE RESPONSE EXPECTED.
1. A willing response. In fact, there can be no unwilling response. God does not use constraint, and a grudged offering would not be acceptable to him; for it is our affection and devotion that he desires.
2. An immediate response. "Who is willing this day?" To-day is not too early; to-morrow may be too late. The old have no time to lose. The middle-aged and busy should not leave decision until old age comes, if come it should. But it is chiefly from the young that an immediate acceptance of the invitation of the gospel is desired, that so they may spend a whole life in his delightful service. "To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart."
III. AN APPEAL URGED. "Who is willing?" All who are capable of understanding the entreaty and the ground upon which it is based; all who enjoy religious privileges, who hear God's Word, Christ's gospel, are under a sacred obligation to yield themselves a living sacrifice unto God. Motives, inducements, persuasions, - all are brought to bear upon the soul. A most honourable and happy service, the most desirable recompense, the profoundest satisfaction, - all are proffered to you upon the terms of unconditional surrender, complete consecration. "Who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?" - T.
I. THE CAUSE TO WHICH THEY GAVE. It was their own cause, but in a higher sense it was the Lord's. It was for the glory of Jehovah and for the spread of his worship and obedience that the temple was to be reared; a cause this which justified all their enthusiasm and all their liberality.
II. WHAT THEY GAVE. They offered of their own substance, and according to their several ability; and their gifts were appropriate, costly, and generous.
III. How THEY GAVE. "The Lord loveth a cheerful giver;" and such givers Israel furnished on this occasion in great abundance. They gave willingly, and not simply in conformity to their sovereign's example. They gave with a perfect heart; i.e. from disinterested, devout, and pious motives.
IV. THE CONSEQUENCE OF THEIR GIVING. "They rejoiced." A simple but very expressive account of the feelings of both monarch and subjects. They felt by anticipation the truth of our Lord's saying, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." The selfish and niggardly are ever the miserable; the sympathetic, liberal, and self-denying are ever the happy and lightsome of heart. - T.
I. THE RECOGNITION OF THE DIVINE CHARACTER. In vers. 11 and 12 the attributes of Jehovah are celebrated with devout reverence, and in language of memorable beauty and eloquence. The propriety of such an invocation is manifest. When we draw near to God, it is not simply to bring our sin and want before him; it is to bring his holiness and greatness and beneficence before our minds. The Lord Jesus, in the prayer known as the Lord's Prayer, has given us an example of such adoration; for the petitions are prefaced by a reverent invoking of the Divine Father.
II. THE BLESSING OF GOD'S NAME. The contemplation of God's power, majesty, and dominion fails to produce its due result, unless it awakens our hearts to grateful praise. Ver. 13, "We thank thee, and praise thy glorious Name." Prayer without thanksgiving cannot be acceptable; what God has done, what he has given, must be acknowledged by those who have fresh favours to implore.
III. HUMILIATION AND CONFESSION. The language of vers. 14 and 15 is marvellous for sublimity and pathos, has wrought itself into the speech and the prayers of men. Feeble, finite, dependent, and short-lived denizens of earth, when we come into the presence of the Unchangeable and Eternal, it becomes us to cherish a sense of our utter unworthiness. We cannot even undertake to engage in the service of God without feeling that for that service we are altogether unfit. Confession of sin and humiliation before the All-holy must be part of all truly acceptable devotion.
IV. INTERCESSION. In ver. 18 David prays for Israel at large; in ver. 19 for his son Solomon. For his people the king's chief desire was that the Lord would "prepare their heart unto himself." Their allegiance to Heaven, their spiritual good, their qualification for whatever work God should call them to undertake, - such were the blessings the aged king sought on behalf of his subjects. And for his son, how earnestly and appropriately did he plead! His prayer was that Solomon's character and his lifework might alike be acceptable to God. A prayer so comprehensive, so devout, so suited to the circumstances in which it was uttered, surely deserves the attentive study of those who would draw near to God in such a spirit as may justify the expectation that he will draw near to them. - T.
I. THAT IT RESTED ON CONSCIOUSNESS OF PERSONAL INTEGRITY, and belief in the integrity of others (ver. 17). if we realize that God is one who "tries the heart, and has pleasure in uprightness," we shall not venture to rejoice if we have not within us that sense of spiritual rectitude which will allow us to say with David, "As for me, in the uprightness of my heart," etc.; with Paul, "I have kept the faith;" with John, "If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God" (1 John 3:21). If we rejoice as those who are members of a community (family, Church, or nation), we must also believe that our fellows also are right in the sight of the heart-searching One, even as David was able to add, "Thy people which are present here."
II. THAT IT WILL BE ACCOMPANIED WITH A SENSE OF OUR OWN LITTLENESS AND UNWORTHINESS. (Vers. 14, 15.) Whatever angelic, heavenly piety may be, that of man on earth always includes humility. In the conscious presence of God we must feel our own nothingness; the exceeding smallness of our brief span of life, "We are strangers before thee and sojourners," etc.; our unworthiness to do anything for the holy and eternal One, "Who am I,' etc.? The sense of our own insignificance and ill desert is one of those marks of genuineness which we should see with satisfaction in ourselves and others, the absence of which may well lead us to ask serious questions as to the genuineness of our piety.
III. THAT IT UTTERS ITSELF IN ADORATION. (Vers. 11, 12.) There are no nobler words in which human reverence has found expression before the Divine Sovereign than these. We do not care to analyze them; we use them; we take them on to our own lips as we find them; they perfectly voice our own hearts' homage. All joy before God should, be profoundly reverential, and here David gives it simple but admirable utterance.
IV. THAT IT EXPRESSES ITSELF IN THANKSGIVING, and in thankful acknowledgment (vers. 10,13,16, 20). David himself "before all the congregation" (ver. 10), and then at his desire all the congregation itself, "blessed the Lord God of their fathers" (ver. 20); he and they thanked and praised him (ver. 13). David freely and frankly acknowledged that, in giving to God, they were but presenting to him that which was his own: "Of thine own have we given thee" (ver. 14). When we contribute to the cause of God we should bear in mind that God claims all that we have; that at any time he may be pleased to resume it; that we do but willingly make over to some special work of his that which he has entrusted to us for his glory and the well-being of his children.
V. THAT IT FINDS AMPLE ROOM FOR PRAYER. (Vers. 18, 19.) In the midst of our gratitude and joy we remember our dependence on God. And this is no jarring note; it does not anywise detract from our thankfulness or our gladness of heart. Let praise always pass into prayer, both for ourselves and (as here) for others, and especially for those whose youth or other insufficiency makes them to be peculiarly in need of help from above.
VI. THAT IT ENDS IN CONSECRATION AND COMMUNION. (Vers. 21, 22.) The whole scene ended in burnt offerings and peace offerings, in sacrifice and sacred festivity. Our piety finds its worthiest expression in devoting ourselves and our substance to the cause and kingdom of Christ, and also in communion with our Lord and with one another. - C.
David's prayers close with one for the people (ver. 18) and one for Solomon (ver. 19). He prays for the congregation, that God would keep them ever in this frame of heart, viz. of willing, joyful, whole-hearted surrender of themselves and all they had to him; and also that their hearts might be ever set towards God himself. For Solomon he prays that God would give him an undivided heart. And this whole-heartedness would show itself first in relation to God and his truth - "To keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, thy statutes, and to do all these things;" and secondly, "to build the palace for the which I have made provision." This is ever the Divine order in David's mind - God and his truth first, and the work of God next. And finally, he calls upon the whole assembly to praise the Lord, which they did, bowing before the Lord and the king, and worshipping. In order to seal their confession thus made in word and deed, they proposed a great feast on the following day, consisting of a thousand bullocks, a thousand rams, and a thousand lambs, with drink offerings and thank offerings to correspond. Thus ended the consecration, the prayer and praise, viz. in joy and "great gladness." These are ever the results, and there never wilt be joy and gladness in the Lord without them. - W.
Transitoriness is the condition of present being, not for us men only, but also for all the created things with which we have to do. All nature tells of change and passing away; things are here for a little while, and then they vanish away. The winter snow falls lightly, and lies in its white purity - mystic, wonderful - over all the land; but soon it soils and browns and sinks away. The spring flowers that come, responsive to the low sunshine and the gentle breath, are so fragile, and they stay with us but such a little time, and then pass away. The summer blossoms multiply and stand thick over the ground, and they seem strong with their deep rich colouring; and yet they too wither and droop and pass away. The autumn fruits cluster on the tree branches, and grow big, and win their soft rich bloom of ripeness; but they too are plucked in due season, and pass away. The gay dress of varied leafage is soon stripped off by the wild winds; one or two trembling leaves cling long to the outmost boughs, but by-and-by even they fall and pass away. Down every channel of the hillside are borne the crumblings washed from the "everlasting hills," as we call them, that are, nevertheless, fast passing away. All around us is speaking of change and decay. The writing is on wasting rock and crumbling peak, on the old tower and the ivied wall, the flowing stream and the autumn tints, - 'Here is no rest.' Man and his world are but sojourners. Recall Coifi, the ancient Briton's, figure of man's brief life as a bird, coming out of the dark and flying through the lighted hall away out into the dark again; and illustrate and enforce the following points: - The brevity of man's life on the earth is designed to -
I. MAKE SERIOUS THE PRESENT. Its voice is, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might. It says:
1. What has to be done should be done quickly.
2. What has to be done must be done earnestly.
3. And seeing the time is so short, and so much has to be accomplished, we need much grace for the doing.
II. GLORIFY THE FUTURE. By giving us the assurance that it is the home where we are to stay.
III. SET THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE IN RIGHT RELATIONS. Convincing us that we are here for some important purpose and mission; and that we are here on our way home, getting ready for the life at home by the experiences of our sojourning-time. Should we then, as Christians, grieve that life is short, and we are only here on earth awhile as the stranger who turns aside to tarry for a night? Surely not, if we keep close home to our hearts the conviction that we are homeward bound. - R.T.
conscious integrity and expects to gain Divine acceptance for his sincerity and uprightness. But this, conflicts with the Christian notion that a man cannot be accepted for anything in himself, and so it needs consideration and explanation. We have often to notice how certain words get a stiff, rigid, and limited meaning fixed upon them, through their use in the expression of theological opinions and creeds. Illustration may be taken from the terms grace, law, faith, justify, eternal. Joubert says, "The trick of personifying words is a fatal source of mischief in theology." The words "integrity," "righteousness," have suffered at the hands of theologians, and their larger and more comprehensive meanings are almost lost sight of. David can stand before God, and appeal to his personal righteousness, and ask to be judged by his integrity. Our Lord implies that a man may have a righteousness, when he says, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees," etc. The words will not stiffen into one rigid meaning. Sometimes they mean right-heartedness, sincerity, and show us a man at heart centred on God and virtue. At other times they refer to that renewed state into which we are brought by the regenerations of the Holy Ghost. Illustrate the first of these two meanings from David's career. This great impression had been left on him from his own experiences, and to it he gives utterance as life closes: "I know that thou hast pleasure in uprightness. Throughout his career - save in halting moments - David was right at heart. We have a way of speaking of men as being good at bottom." If we say that as any excuse for men's sins, we are miserably and shamefully wrong. If we say it with due recognition of human frailty, with fitting discernment of life as the conflict of the human will over the disabilities that surround the man, then it may be a true and worthy expression. Many men around us - yes, even we ourselves - are, like David, "good at bottom." The "desire of our soul is to the Divine Name." We are pilgrims, indeed, who have come in at the gate, and right by the cross, even if men or angels do find us wandering out of the way into By-path meadows, and sleeping in arbours, and losing our rolls. David's example permits us to realize and rejoice in our conscious integrity; not proudly, in any way of self-confidence or self-conceit, but humbly, in a thankful recognition of "grace abounding" to usward. David's sincerity and integrity come out when we compare him with King Saul. Saul failed altogether, and fell away from God, because his sins were sins of will; neither his heart nor his life were right with God. David stumbled, but he did not utterly fall; because, in his case, the will was only forced to consent to sin, and it sprang back to God as soon as the force of bodily passion that held it down was removed. David only failed in the body-sphere; Saul failed in both the body and the soul spheres. It would have been better indeed if, like Samuel, heart and life had both shown, throughout his career, the harmony of goodness; but God and man recognize the acceptableness of sincerity of heart, even if qualified by some failings of life. But, from the Christian standpoint, it should be earnestly pressed that sincerity, which is acceptable to God, is properly one of the after-signs of Divine renewal; and that we all need to be made right - converted, regenerated - ere we can be set right and kept right, and dare ask God to search and see whether we are sincerely and wholly his. - R.T.
I. THE NATURE OF WORSHIP: in what worship consists. Worship of some sort has been general among all nations. Revealed religion directs and consecrates what seems a natural tendency; and both the Old Testament and the New contain many admonitions to, many examples of, true and acceptable worship.
1. True worship is spiritual. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." It consists in the recognition of the Divine attributes, the acknowledgment of the Divine reign, and gratitude for Divine mercies - gifts, forbearance, loving-kindness. Nothing is more hateful to God than the language and posture of worship from which spiritual devotion is absent. Of the insincere he speaks with indignation, "This people draweth near unto me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." Silence is compatible with true worship; insincerity is not.
2. A devout heart will find expression for its sentiments. "The people bowed down their heads, and worshipped." Language is an assistance to the intelligent worshipper, though an unuttered aspiration or affection is heard and accepted by God. And attitudes of kneeling, standing, bowing the head, stretching forth the hands, are all appropriate as expressive of the feelings of the devout worshipper. It is only when they are substituted for spiritual worship that they are bad and displeasing to him who searches the hearts and tries the reins of the children of men.
II. THE OBJECT OF WORSHIP: to whom worship is due. The congregation of Israel "worshipped the Lord, and the king." Yet the homage offered to David was civil, not religions; and there could have been no danger of confusing the one with the other. Whilst the heathen worship gods many and lords many, to us there is but one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. The Christian adores and blesses God in Christ. Notice that he is:
1. Your God. The Israelites were reminded of this; and we all are summoned to regard him as ours; for he has made us and redeemed us, and by his own Spirit renewed us, so that we are his and he is ours.
2. And he is also your fathers' God. The Hebrews knew him as "the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob." And we can exclaim, when we approach him, "Doubtless thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not." The fact that God made himself known unto the fathers of mankind, that our parents or ancestors knew and acknowledged him, adds a pathos and a power to our prayers.
III. THE WORSHIPPERS. David summoned "all the congregation" to worship, bless, and praise the Lord.
1. All men have abundant reason to bless the Lord. He is "good unto all" His bounty, care, watchfulness, and long-suffering, have been experienced by all. No wonder that the psalmist in so many passages calls upon all people - all nations - to praise the Lord; summons young men and maidens, old men and children, to praise the Name of the Lord.
2. All men are in the gospel encouraged to present acceptable worship to God through Jesus Christ. The Saviour reveals the Father as the Object of worship, and himself provides the new and living way of access, and offers the intercession which secures Divine acceptance and approval for the believing worshipper. "I will," says the Apostle Paul, "that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."
1. Do you worship God yourselves?
2. Do you admonish and encourage others, especially the young, to bless and praise the Lord? - T.
now be possible to separate between these two realms, it was not possible the. Without entering into any controversy, we may accept from this text the following suggestions: -
I. BOTH CIVIL AND ECCLESIASTICAL LIFE ARE FROM GOD. Our Creator has constituted us social beings, and social we are and must be. By this necessity it is established that mutual help and due order and subordination are from God. All attempts to violate these fundamental principles of human nature have issued in disastrous failure.
II. THE SAME PERSONS ARE UNITED TO BOTH ORGANIZATIONS ALIKE. A man's being citizen is not inconsistent with his being a member of a Christian Church. So far from there being any incompatibility between the two relations, they are mutually helpful each to the other.
III. IN BOTH RELATIONS MEN NEED REPRESENTATivES, LEADERS, ADMINISTRATORS. As in Israel there was king and priest, so in modern Christian society we not only need sovereigns, presidents, judges, legislators, etc., but we need also bishops, pastors, mode-raters, add officers of various kinds.
IV. ORGANIZATIONS AND OFFICIALS, BOTH CIVIL AND ECCLESIASTICAL, ARE INTENDED FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD. The end of such institutions and appointments is to be sought, not in private interests, or emolument, or power, but in the well-being of the body politic.
V. CIVIL AND ECCLESIASTICAL POWERS MAY BE HELPFUL TO EACH OTHER. States are bound to protect the Churches in the profession and propagation of religious faith with all possible liberty. And Christian Churches are under a sacred obligation to seek the order, welfare, and peace of the community. The relations between spiritual springs and political mechanism will often involve difficulty, but from the relations themselves there can be no escape, for they are divinely ordained. - T.
(1) kings of united Israel;
(2) servants of Jehovah;
(3) writers of inspired and immortal literature.
But we are more struck with the contrasts than the likenesses between the two. We gather from a survey of their lives and public careers -
I. THAT THE END AND THE BEGINNING OF A COURSE DO NOT ALWAYS ANSWER TO ONE ANOTHER. Who could have supposed that of the shepherd lad of Bethlehem it would be written, "lie died full of days, riches, and honour" (ver. 28); that a prophet of the Lord would write of "his reign and his might" (vers. 29, 30)? His path was an ascending one: from a shepherd he became a victorious combatant, a leader of a band of men, the king of a tribe, the monarch of the land, the sovereign who raised his country to the fulness of its dominion, and impressed on it the love of the Law of the Lord. Solomon began his course as the chosen heir of the beloved king, "magnified exceedingly in the sight of all Israel," etc. (ver. 25), receiving the subjection of all within the kingdom, from the court to the peasantry (ver. 24); he ended his career with no little disapproval in the hearts of those who lamented his spiritual defection, and with no little alienation on the part of those who groaned under the exactions of his magnificence. Let us regard the lowly as those whom God may have fitted and destined for rank and power; let those who are exalted by birth and circumstance remember that there is a downward as welt as an upward path in estimation and influence.
II. THAT BRILLIANCE IS WORTH LITTLE IN COMPARISON WITH SOLID WORTH. David's reign would compare ill with that of his son in respect of brilliancy. His palaces, his retinue, his table, his exchequer, his navy, the outward grandeurs of his reign, were but slight and insignificant in comparison with those of Solomon. But the contribution of David to the unity, consolidation, religious truth, moral excellency of his people was immeasurably greater than that of his brilliant son. In all that is desirable to look back upon at the end of life or from the "other side the river," David's work was better and nobler far. Far more to be desired the life that adds to the virtue, godliness, strength, stability of the community than the one which flashes beams of brightness that fade with the passing day. Better far than any amount of "royal majesty" is the influence for good which lives in human hearts when ours are still in death, and which tells on human lives when ours are closed for ever.
III. THAT PASSING INCONSISTENCY IS LESS TO BE DREADED THAN CONTINUOUS DECLINE. We still look back with unfeigned regret on the lamentable inconsistencies of David; but these were bitterly repented of, and heartily repudiated by himself, and were forgiven by God. Unmeasurably worse was the steady spiritual decline of Solomon, which took him down from the heights of holiness to the deep and miry places of ungodliness and vice. Best of all, the day wherein the sun shines serenely from morning till evening; but better far the day on which the storm sweeps swiftly by and leaves the heavens clear, than that which begins with a brilliant morning, but passes into a clouded noon, and ends in a starless, drenching night. Strenuously and patiently should we strive against "the one dark hour which brings remorse," for that leaves a long, deep shadow on the path of life; but with still more devout and determined energy must we contend against "the sin that burns into the blood," for it is that which decides our destiny, which "will brand us after of whose fold we be."
IV. THAT DIVINE WISDOM IS LOFTIER THAN HUMAN PRUDENCE, and the service of example than that of painful warning. Solomon's writings are not without many passages of sacred import, but the strain of them is rather human than Divine. They teach us rather how to adjust ourselves to our human relations than how to abide in the favour and rise to the resemblance of God. But David's psalms bear the mark of a Divine hand; they breathe throughout the inspiration of God; they take us up to the throne of the heavenly King; they help us toward the possession of his likeness. Solomon, in his most fascinating work (Ecclesiastes), warns his readers from the perilous snare by recounting his own sad experiences. He says to us continually, "Be not as I was; shun the path I trod, that you share not the fate I suffer." But David, in his immortal songs, invites his readers to accompany him along the path of life, to resort with him to the throne of grace; he pours out of a full heart the devotion, gratitude, and sacred joy of which his pages are full, and says for ever to the Church of God, "Walk with me in the way of wisdom, drink with me the waters of life; let us partake, together, the truth which is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb; let us gather, together, the heavenly treasure which will make richer than the fine gold of earth, which will make 'rich toward God," even rich for evermore." - C.
1 Kings 2:11), and thirty-three in Jerusalem. And the Spirit of God writes his obituary: "He died in a good old age." Many an age is "old," but not "good. But David had set God before him through life, and God sets the crown upon it in these words. The Bible obituaries of good men are short. There is no parade, no lengthened record on marble monument or polished stone. They need none. Their record is in heaven. In this they form a striking contrast to the fulsome epitaphs of this world. The greatest of men in Bible history have short records. So Moses died, and the Lord buried him." Is that all, and of such a man! Yes; for it is the life that should speak and not the death; and that life is the character of the man, whatever the world may say of his death. "Full of days, riches, and honour," all worthy of a record because consecrated to God. Our days are only "full" when thus used. What empty days fill up the lives of most around us - days of which an unseen hand has written "vanity," but for which the soul must give an account to God! It is said here that a record is given of" the times that went over him." There were "times" of sorrow and "times" of joy, times of trouble and times of rest, times of weakness and times of strength; but when God is in them there are no empty days. They were full because God was in them. In the midst of all the changes and chances of this mortal life may such be our days! - W.
I. HIS AGE "A good old age" is not here what we should call such; for David's life does not seem to have exceeded seventy years. Yet it was not cut short; and, as he was suffered to live for the appointed term of life, he had opportunity to carry out his plans and to see their success. He was, in the expressive Hebraism, "full of days."
II. HIS RICHES. These were acquired by the industry of the population and by the spoils of war. They enabled him to adorn the metropolis which he had won by his sword, and to make preparation for building the temple of his God.
III. HIS HONOUR. He had been raised from the sheepfold to the throne. He had been fortunate in his counsellors and his generals. His victories had given him a widespread renown. And in his spiritual lyrics he had laid, all unwittingly, the foundations of a far wider and more honourable fame. As "the sweet singer of Israel," and "the man after God's heart," he is known throughout the Jewish and the Christian world.
1. The life of David is one fitted to encourage our confidence in Divine providence. The man himself felt, and the sacred historians felt, that there never was a more signal instance of an individual being called forth by God's voice and qualified by Divine discipline for a great work in life. It gives peace and dignity to our life to be ever assured that "our times are in God's hands," and that he will use us for his glory.
2. The life of David is a warning against yielding to temptation. He gave way alike to sins of the flesh and to sins of the spirit, and again and again proved his fallibility and infirmity. Well may each reader of his biography lay to heart the lesson: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall;" "Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation."
3. The life of David shows how possible it is to serve God in different ways. He was a soldier, a poet, a king, a religious leader; and in all capacities he glorified God. We may have few gifts, but we may learn that the use of one gift is no excuse for the neglect of another.
4. The life of David reveals the true secret of happiness and usefulness. He was one whose fellowship was much with God; hence his strength. Read his psalms, and you will be convinced that this was so. It is thus that strength and fortitude are to be sustained.
5. The life of David shows us that, during this earthly existence, a good man may begin a good work which shall continue after his death. David did not abide for ever, but he prepared a throne for his son; he did not build the temple, but he put all things in train with a view to the work. Let us live so that when we are no more here others may say, "He being dead yet speaketh." - T.
I. THE FOUNDATION OF SOLOMON'S THRONE WAS LAID IS RELIGION. They "anointed him unto the Lord;" he "sat on the throne of the Lord." These expressions, taken in connection with the narrative of the events following Solomon's accession, indicate that he began his reign in a truly religious spirit, with a desire to consecrate his position and influence to the glory of God.
II. THE COMMENCEMENT OF SOLOMON'S REIGN WAS MARKED BY THE ALLEGIANCE OF THE PRINCES AND THE OBEDIENCE OF THE POPULATION GENERALLY. With conspicuous loyalty the ancient captains and chiefs of David transferred their allegiance to his youthful successor, and the people who had been dazzled into obedience by the exploits of the father, at once and cheerfully submitted to the sway of the son.
III. THE PROGRESS OF SOLOMON'S REIGN WAS DISTINGUISHED BY PROSPERITY AND BY MAJESTY. This glory is by the chronicler justly attributed to the favour of the Lord. The "royal majesty" of the youthful occupant of the throne exceeded anything before known in Israel. The following Book of Chronicles is an abundant proof of this. During the first part, at all events, of this splendid reign, Solomon was faithful to his trust and to his God. He was a type of the Prince of peace, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and whose dominion endureth throughout all generations. - T.
"The evil that men do lives after them; and we ask - Are these lines, in any large and important sense, true; and must we so invert our fixed notions as to admit that the good in our lives is temporary and fading, while the evil is permanent, and must go on, with its mischievous influences, when we have passed away? We cannot think this. What is true about men - especially such public men as David - may be stated under three headings. I. EVERY MAN'S LIFE, WHILE BEING LIVED, IS SUBJECT TO CRITICISM. We must all accept of this condition. We must not wonder if the criticism finds out and unduly magnifies the evil that may be in us. Though often a source of much bitterness and trouble, and often painfully depressing to the earnest man, it is, on the whole, healthy that public men should be thus exposed, and must take count of the fact that their fellows will never let their wrong-doings or wrong teachings hide away or work in secret. It is more true that the "evil of a man" lives while he lives. II. IN THE TIME OF A MAN'S DEATH CRITICISM IS DISARMED. Such a time has a strange calming and solemnizing influence even on political and theological opponents. The "other party" will write sketches of the dead man's life without a trace of bitterness or reference to a disputed topic. Perhaps this was never more strikingly illustrated than at the death of the good Dean Stanley. Touchingly tender and beautiful were the references made to him, and all vied in saying good or saying nothing. The good, not the evil, lived after him. And so in David's death-time, all the evil and the enmity were put aside, that the nation might do homage to its great and good king. III. AFTER DEATH CRITICISM IS KINDLY. By common consent men try to forget the evil, and fix their thoughts only on the good. Biographies scarcely even hint the natural weaknesses, the stumblings, or the stains. Nay, a kind of glory-halo gathers round the heroic dead, in which we even lose sight of their infirmities; and so it is the good in a man that lives after him. Then comes the question - Does our homage in death to a man necessarily imply approval of his career? Yes; it does of his career as a whole - of the great features of it. Though this must be admitted, that the homage is far oftener rendered to genius than to character. R.T.
and we ask - Are these lines, in any large and important sense, true; and must we so invert our fixed notions as to admit that the good in our lives is temporary and fading, while the evil is permanent, and must go on, with its mischievous influences, when we have passed away? We cannot think this. What is true about men - especially such public men as David - may be stated under three headings.
I. EVERY MAN'S LIFE, WHILE BEING LIVED, IS SUBJECT TO CRITICISM. We must all accept of this condition. We must not wonder if the criticism finds out and unduly magnifies the evil that may be in us. Though often a source of much bitterness and trouble, and often painfully depressing to the earnest man, it is, on the whole, healthy that public men should be thus exposed, and must take count of the fact that their fellows will never let their wrong-doings or wrong teachings hide away or work in secret. It is more true that the "evil of a man" lives while he lives.
II. IN THE TIME OF A MAN'S DEATH CRITICISM IS DISARMED. Such a time has a strange calming and solemnizing influence even on political and theological opponents. The "other party" will write sketches of the dead man's life without a trace of bitterness or reference to a disputed topic. Perhaps this was never more strikingly illustrated than at the death of the good Dean Stanley. Touchingly tender and beautiful were the references made to him, and all vied in saying good or saying nothing. The good, not the evil, lived after him. And so in David's death-time, all the evil and the enmity were put aside, that the nation might do homage to its great and good king.
III. AFTER DEATH CRITICISM IS KINDLY. By common consent men try to forget the evil, and fix their thoughts only on the good. Biographies scarcely even hint the natural weaknesses, the stumblings, or the stains. Nay, a kind of glory-halo gathers round the heroic dead, in which we even lose sight of their infirmities; and so it is the good in a man that lives after him. Then comes the question - Does our homage in death to a man necessarily imply approval of his career? Yes; it does of his career as a whole - of the great features of it. Though this must be admitted, that the homage is far oftener rendered to genius than to character. R.T.