To mark the one-year anniversary of Steve Jobs’ death, Apple Inc. posted a tribute video and letter from current CEO Tim Cook on its website Friday. Mr. Cook’s letter states, “One of the greatest gifts Steve gave to the world is Apple. No company has ever inspired such creativity or set such high standards for itself.” (http://business.financialpost.com/2012/10/05/one-year-after-his-death-apple-posts-tribute-video-to-steve-jobs-on-website/)
In 1 Chronicles 29:10-20 these are David’s final words—his last address to his people and last official word to his son Solomon (Sailhamer, J. (1983). First and second Chronicles. Everyman’s Bible Commentary (63). Chicago, IL: Moody Press.).
In his words to Solomon he directs him, in the presence of the assembly, to give thanks for the real source of blessing, God Himself. He (declared) the LORD as worthy of all honor, exalted as head over all, and as the Source of all riches and honor. He acknowledged that he and his people were unworthy to give to God, and that what they gave had come from Him anyway. He prayed that the present devotion (an upright heart, v. 17) of his people would become a permanent trait (a heart fixed on God [v. 18]), and that his son would have a loyal heart (v. 19) in building the temple (MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments (A. Farstad, Ed.) (1 Ch 29:10–19). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.).
It is all too easy for thanksgiving to be a moment of self congratulation. The moment we mistakenly believe that it is because of our own resourcefulness, hard work, or good fortune that we have what we do, we misunderstand ourselves, and our place in the cosmos.
Today as we praise God in thanksgiving, it is a wonderful opportunity to recognize and celebrate that we can have a 1) Thankful Pronouncement (1 Chr. 29:10–12), 2) Thankful Praise (1 Chr. 29:13–17), and a 3) Thankful Petition (1 Chr. 29:18–20).
1) Thankful Pronouncement (1 Chr. 29:10–12)
1 Chronicles 29:10-12 Therefore David blessed the LORD in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: "Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. (ESV)
David’s prayer begins with the verb בָּרוּךְ (barûk, blessed). The blessing links the present experience of Israel to the past and secures the future. The eternal God is the LORD who was with Israel (Jacob), and is now with David, and will always be with Israel. David draws assurance from the eternal God as the God of Israel his father which is the same assurance available to the postexilic community. The LORD is the God of Israel yesterday, today, and forever (cf. Heb 13:8). The Lord’s love is everlasting to everlasting (Ps 103:17). This beautiful thanksgiving prayer was the effusion overflowing with gratitude and delight at seeing the warm and widespread interest that was now taken in forwarding the favorite project of his life. Its piety is displayed in the fervor of devotional feeling—in the ascription of all worldly wealth and greatness to God as the giver, in tracing the general readiness in contributing to the influence of His grace, in praying for the continuance of this happy disposition among the people, and in solemnly and earnestly commending the young king and his kingdom to the care and blessing of God (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1 Ch 29:10). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.).
Following this elaborate invocation (1 Chr 29:10), the blessing divides in verse 11, into two sections. The structure is indicated by the phrase Yours, O LORD (לְךָ יהוה, ləkā YHWH). The first stanza (1 Chr 29:11a) evidences Israel’s praise language. BRAUN (284) points out the following parallels: (1) greatness (Ps 71:21; 145:3, 6), (2) power (Ps 89:14; 90:10; 106:2, 8; 145:11, 12; 150:2), (3) glory (Ps 71:8; 78:61; 89:18; 96:6), victory and the majesty/splendor (Ps 8:1; 21:5; 45:3; 96:6; 104:1; 111:3; 145:5), and in the heavens and in the earth (Ps 115:15; 121:2; 123:1; 124:8; 134:3; 135:6). This doxological language ascribes to God what rightly belongs to him as the sovereign Creator (“heavens and earth”).
Please turn to 2 Corinthians 9
The second stanza beginning in 1 Chr 29:11b locates the reign of God in Israel’s situation. While the Lord reigns over all the earth and everything belongs to him, on this occasion God has demonstrated his reign in Israel. In the new testament, Jesus is revealed as the personification of the kingdom of God, uniting both its human and divine dimensions. Now he sits ‘above all rule and authority, power and dominion’ (Eph. 1:21), and is ‘head over everything for the church, which is his body’ (Eph. 1:22–23). The church, like David’s Israel, must put its confidence in this kingdom, even though the kingdoms of this world seem to be more evident and more pressing. But God’s kingdom too has its earthly characteristics, such as the generous giving of his people (Selman, M. J. (1994). Vol. 10: 1 Chronicles: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (271–272). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.).
2 Corinthians 9:5-15 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction. The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, "He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! (ESV)
David modeled before the people the worship of the living God. It typically starts with praise for God’s eternity, His complete control over the universe, and His great power. He is the glorious Master over all (Ps. 134:3) (Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (1 Ch 29:11). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.).
The references in verse 12 to riches/wealth and honor refer to the dedicatory gifts to the temple. The God of Israel is the real king of Israel. The kingdom belongs to him. He is head over all and He rulers over (Ps 22:29; 59:14; 66:7; 89:10) all. To “rule” is a “special term for leader, and appears to be the official title of the earliest kings, still distinguishing them from the kings of the surrounding countries.” It is one of the terms the Chronicler prefers (22 times; only 44 times in the OT) and since it is “connected with anointing,” it may reflect the theocratic interest of the Chronicler (MYERS, 1:196). Power and might/strength are associated with his reign and he decides whom he will exalt. God alone (in your hand) glorifies Israel, its king, and people. Thus, the reign of God over Israel is manifested in the election of Solomon and in Israel’s wealth.
Illustration: ( 3348 Cyprian’s Thanksgiving)
Having been banished, Cyprian suffered martyrdom in Carthage in 258 AD. When the sentence of death was read to him he said, “I heartily thank Almighty God who is pleased to set me free from the chains of the body.” (Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.)
How does one give thanks when distressed or repressed? Thanksgiving stems from giving thanks to God though the confidence in Him to do what is right. A faithful testimony in the midst of pain or distress shows how He is ultimately sufficient and the true source of our confidence.
2) Thankful Praise (1 Chr. 29:13–17)
1 Chronicles 29:13-17 And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. "But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. (ESV)
First Chronicles 29:13 is the topic sentence of this section. It contains three common worship phrases that fill the Psalms of Israel: our God (אֱלֹהֵינוּ, ĕlōhênû; 48 times, Ps 18:32; 20:8; 42:4, 11; 95:7; 99:5; 105:7; 115:2–3; 145:1; 147:1), thank you/give thanks (ידה, ydh; 67 times, Ps 7:17; 9:1; 18:49; 35:18; 75:1; 105:1; 106:1; 107:1; 118:1; 136:1–3), and praise (הלל, hll; 94 times, including Ps 22:22–23; 69:30, 34; 105:45; 106:1; 107:1; 111:1; 112:1; 113:1; 135:1; 145:2–3; 146:1–2). God’s gifts to Israel enable their gifts to him.
The contrast between verses 13 and 14 is important. The verbs “thank” and “praise” are participles which suggest the ongoing nature of the action, that is, “Here we are thanking and praising [you] … but — and the word is strongly emphasized — what is our status before God?” (ACKROYD, 94). It is a contrast between divine greatness and human frailty.
First Chronicles 29:14–17 supports the thanksgiving of 1 Chronicles 29:13. The first part emphasizes human dependence (1 Chr 29:14–16) while the second stresses integrity (1 Chr 29:17). Thanksgiving comes from the recognition that everything comes from God’s hand as it reads in verse 14: "all things come from you" (1 Chr 29:14, 16). The generosity of the people is dependent upon God’s generosity: Who am I, and what is/who are my people, that we should be able thus to offer/give willingly/generously as this? Generosity does not flow from pride, but from humility. It flows from dependency, not self-sufficiency. It is a great encouragement to every reader that the God who possesses everything also gives freely to everyone (Selman, M. J. (1994). Vol. 10: 1 Chronicles: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (269). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.).
Quote: Is not the very notion of giving to God, the giver of all, an absurdity? C. S. Lewis verbalized this problem well: “It is like a small child going to its father and saying, “Daddy, give me sixpence to buy you a birthday present.” Of course, the father does and is pleased with the child’s present. It is all very nice and proper, but only an idiot would think that the father is sixpence to the good in the transaction.” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: MacMillan, 1952), pp. 110f.)
• We cannot give God anything that is not in a sense His already. Paul asked a humbling question in 1 Corinthians 4:7: “What do you have that you did not receive?” (Allen, L., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1987). Vol. 10: 1, 2 Chronicles. The Preacher’s Commentary Series (175–176). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.)
Just as “father Israel” in verse 10 recalled Israel’s patriarchal heritage, so does the language of strangers and sojourners/aliens in verse 15 (Gen 23:4; also 17:8; 21:23). David asserts that life on earth is transitory and even nomadic. Only when a person becomes conscious of his or her place within the care and blessing of a sovereign God does life become more than a shadow. Suddenly the hope of a future with God illuminates that person’s journey on this earth (see Heb. 11:13–16; 13:14) (Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version (1 Ch 29:15). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.).
Please turn to 1 Peter 2
This was the plight of Israel’s fathers/forefathers, and Israel continues its pilgrimage. This seems a bit odd now that Israel has territorial integrity. How can Israel still be an alien and stranger? Israel sojourns among the nations as God’s people. It is a spiritual pilgrimage. Israel has always had a sojourner status before God, and the allusion to the brevity of life confirms this. Israel’s privilege to worship Yahweh is not based on right, but on grace” (Estes, 47). Israel’s presence in the land, the kingdom of David, the gifts to the temple, and everything that Israel has is a demonstration of God’s graciousness. Israel has no claim other than the promise of God. They are “aliens and strangers.” Further, the postexilic community, who felt like aliens and strangers in their own land, gained confidence from this graciousness. Their status before God does not depend on temple, king, or land, but upon God’s grace. Christians are also “aliens and strangers” (1 Pet 2:11) in the world. The sojourning of the previous generation of Israel begins to be viewed also as a paradigm for the life of the believer on the earth.”
1 Peter 2:9-12 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (ESV)
"Keep your place in 1 Peter 2"
Humility and dependency are metaphorically expressed in 1 Chronicles 29:16. It is coming metaphorically from God's “hand” for the source, which serves as a binding concept for 1 Chronicles 29:14–16 and links it with 1 Chronicles 29:12. With the realization that God has given this wealth for the building of the house/temple (v.16) comes with simultaneous praise and thanksgiving.
Notice a few verses back in1 Peter 2:4
1 Peter 2:4-5 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (ESV)
While 1 Chronicles 29:14–16 stresses human dependency and divine graciousness, 1 Chronicles 29:17 stresses human uprightness/integrity. Uprightness/integrity is a proper response to divine testing. God pursues humanity through testing or probing their integrity. Job is such an occasion of divine testing (Job 1–2; 23:10), but also Abraham (Gen 22:1), Israel (Deut 8:2–5), righteous hearts (Jer 11:20; 20:12; cf. Prov 17:3), and Hezekiah (2 Chr 32:31). The Psalmists pray for it and recognize it in their lives (Ps 7:9; 11:5; 17:3; 26:2; 66:10; 139:23). God is active and “seeking” a people for himself through testing.
If people truly can give nothing of value to God, why does He ask His people to give? David answers this question. God enjoys a person’s uprightness or righteousness. With gifts, offerings, and sacrifices, a person tangibly demonstrates not only gratitude to God, but trust in Him (1 Sam. 15:22). A righteous life always produces a generous spirit. For this reason, David could proclaim that his giving was only out of the uprightness of his heart. Moreover, his joy was heightened all the more when he saw that his people also understood this principle of true giving (Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (1 Ch 29:17). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.).
True giving is only properly offered when it is freely offered/with honest intent (בְּיַשֶׁר, bəyōšer). This is a model of obedient, grateful response to God’s graciousness. Opportunities for giving to God are tests of the character of a believer’s devotion to the Lord. The king acknowledges that the attitude of one’s heart is significantly more important than the amount of offering in one’s hand (The MacArthur Study Bible. 1997 (J. MacArthur, Jr., Ed.) (electronic ed.) (1 Ch 29:17). Nashville, TN: Word Pub.).
Poem: (6588 I Thank Thee)
O Thou whose bounty fills my cup,
With every blessing meet!
I give Thee thanks for every drop—
The bitter and the sweet.
I praise Thee for the desert road,
And for the riverside;
For all Thy goodness hath bestowed,
And all Thy grace denied.
I thank Thee for both smile and frown,
And for the gain and loss;
I praise Thee for the future crown
And for the present cross.
I thank Thee for both wings of love
Which stirred my worldly nest;
And for the stormy clouds which drove
Me, trembling, to Thy breast.
I bless Thee for the glad increase,
And for the waning joy;
And for this strange, this settled peace
Which nothing can destroy. (Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.)
3) Thankful Petition (1 Chr. 29:18–20)
1 Chronicles 29:18-19 O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision." Then David said to all the assembly, "Bless the LORD your God." And all the assembly blessed the LORD, the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and paid homage to the LORD and to the king. (ESV)
David prays for the hearts of his people and son. Integrity and uprightness do not simply flow out of human self-resolve. Rather, God works good things in the hearts of his people. God moves in the hearts of people (1 Sam 10:9; 1 Kgs 18:37; Ezra 6:22; Prov 21:1) as they move their hearts toward him (Deut 30:17; 1 Kgs 11:9; Jer 5:23; 17:5). He seeks them as they seek him. He enables them as they yearn for him. David’s prayer for his people and his son is a model for all believers as they pray for their churches and their children. The prayer assumes both human responsibility and divine activity. Both are complementary values in God’s relationship with his people.
David’s petition draws on the covenantal promise of God to Abraham, Isaac and Israel. The children of Jacob are the children of promise. David claims this relationship and asks God to keep forever such purposes/this desire and thoughts in their hearts (וְהָכֵן, wəhākēn, “prepare”) and direct their hearts toward you/loyal to him. The heart is the crucial area of relationship. God seeks committed, loyal hearts which yearn for relationship with him. The desire refers to the willing, joyful generosity of 1 Chronicles 29:17. David prays that God will prepare their hearts just as he himself has prepared the temple.
Please turn back to 1 Chronicles 17
In a similar fashion, in verse 19, David prays for his son, just as all parents pray for their children. He prays that God will give peace or wholeness (שָׁלֵם, šālēm; a play on Solomon’s own name, שְׁלֹמֹה, šəlōmōh) to his heart in order to keep your commandments (God’s Torah) (cf. 2 Chr 34:31). In particular, he prayed that Solomon would complete what David intends, that is, to build the palace.
1 Chronicles 17:7-14 Now, therefore, thus shall you say to my servant David, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be prince over my people Israel, and I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall waste them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will subdue all your enemies. Moreover, I declare to you that the LORD will build you a house. When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.'" (ESV)
• In our prayer for the children of this and future generations, should be to base their confidence in the promises of God. Our present faithfulness will inform and direct that confidence. Our thanksgiving, with show that God is reliable, and worthy to be trusted and praised.
Finally, in verse 20, David invited the whole assembly to participate. He calls upon them to bless the LORD your God. The word bless (Heb barak) originally meant to bend the knee.( KJV Bible Commentary. 1994 (E. E. Hindson & W. M. Kroll, Ed.) (798). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.).
The people responded by blessing the LORD, the God of their fathers. Their blessing emphasizes David’s stress on their history with this God. The LORD has always been their God. Their worship involved body language. They bowed their heads and paid homage to the LORD and the king. We worship God as whole persons, including bodily actions. Whether standing, sitting, bowing, or lifting holy hands, worship is not only a matter of the heart, but also manifested through our bodies. Israel humbles itself before God in recognition of their dependency upon him.
Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for the real source of blessing, God Himself. He is the source of all blessing. It is not that we earn His blessing, but because of His love through His promise in Christ, we can be a people of thanks.
(Format note: Some base commentary from Hicks, J. M. (2001). 1 & 2 Chronicles. The College Press NIV Commentary (250–254). Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co.)