Summary: passig on the torch to the generation to follow
HANDING ON THE TORCH – I CHRONICLES 28
Last words are often recorded for posterity. We sometimes lay great store by last words. Some are amusing and some are not.
Apparently Oscar Wilde said ‘Either the wallpaper goes, or I do.’ Rudolph Valentino was supposed to have said ‘Don’t pull down the blinds! I feel fine.’ James Joyce ‘Does nobody understand.’ Dylan Thomas ‘I’ve had eighteen straight whiskies. I think that is a record.’ My favourite though is the American officer in the Civil War who said ‘They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance’, right before he was shot dead. We lay great store by last words. We cherish them, we may even write them down somewhere. We certainly store them in our hearts. In 1 Chronicles chapters 28-29 we have recorded for us the last words of king David. David has been on the throne for 40 years. Many of those years have been troublesome and now he looks back over his life and is about to speak to Solomon his son and successor and the people of Israel for the last time. In verse 1 we read that David gathers around him all the officials, military officers and his sons and he addresses them.
1 CHRONICLES 28.2-7 DAVID’S DISAPPOINTMENT
Standing before David were hundreds of officials, military men and his sons. Each face would no doubt have brought back to David a memory. A memory of a battle fought, of a decision made and of a child born. Yet when he casts his mind back over his lifetime there is one thing which comes to the fore – Read v2. David desired with all his heart to build the Temple, a house of God for God. Here at the end of his life there is this unfulfilled desire, this frustrated ambition still beating in his heart. In 2 Samuel 7, some 25 years after coming to the throne, David desires to build a ‘house for the Lord God.’ Turn with me to 1 Chronicles 21.24 – David has bought a sight from Araunah to offer a sacrifice to God. After God had consumed the sacrifice by fire and David declares that the threshing floor upon which he has made his sacrifice is to be the site for the Temple – ch.22.1. In 22.14 David begins to make preparation for the building of the Temple. However we read in 22.7-8 that God has told David he will not build the Temple because he has shed so much blood but God promises in v9 that David’s son, Solomon, will build the Temple. And now at the end of his life David recounts this disappointment. He speaks of his dream of the Temple. Look at what he says in 28.2: ‘I had it in my heart…I made plans to build it.’ Then very simply he states ‘But God said to me, “You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.” David wanted to do a great thing for God. He had a dream of a magnificent Temple. A place for the Ark of God to rest and for God’s glory to be seen. Nowhere do we read that this was a selfish ambition of David. We never read that it was for his own glory or posterity that he desired to build the Temple.
Now let me ask you a few questions: What are you like when your dreams are denied? What happens to your dreams when God says ‘No’ to them? What happens to your soul and your service when God says ‘No’ to your dreams/desires? You see it would have been so very easy for David to allow this disappointment to eat into his heart and soul. It would have been easy, in fact almost a natural reaction, to become sour and bitter about it. It would have been easy for David to allow the disappointment to affect his service for God. But he didn’t and the very fact that he didn’t reveals his heart – a heart after God’s heart.
Look at what David did after God said ‘No, you are not to build the Temple.’ Look at 22.5. Do you see? He made all the preparations necessary for the Temple to be built by Solomon, his son. Friends there is here a profound lesson for us all to learn this morning and I want you to listen carefully to me now.
You may not reap but you can sow.
You may not water but you can plant.
You can clear the ground for building.
You can provide the materials for building and yet you may never build. But if David had not gathered the materials, laid the plans, bought the site, gathered the skilled workmen and charged Solomon to build the Temple – it would never have been built when it was built.