1 Chronicles 29:17
I know also, my God, that you try the heart, and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me…
Hast pleasure in uprightness. It is a characteristic of David that he makes constant appeal to his 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.
Parallel VersesKJV: I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee.
WEB: I know also, my God, that you try the heart, and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things. Now have I seen with joy your people, that are present here, offer willingly to you.