People often want to hear the “last words” of the famous and powerful. Today’s passage shows us David’s last prayer – and we can learn a great deal from this “man after God’s own heart.”
1 Kings, chapter 2; 1 Chronicles, chapter 29; Psalm 95; 2 Thessalonians, chapter 1
1 Chronicles 29:10-19 (NLT):
Then David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly: “O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, may you be praised forever and ever! Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.
It All Belongs to God
O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.
O Lord our God, even this material we have gathered to build a Temple to honor your holy name comes from you! It all belongs to you! I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good motives, and I have watched your people offer their gifts willingly and joyously.
O Lord, the God of our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make your people always want to obey you. See to it that their love for you never changes. Give my son Solomon the wholehearted desire to obey all your commands, laws, and decrees, and to do everything necessary to build this Temple, for which I have made these preparations.”
David is nearing the end of his reign. When he finishes this prayer, he will install Solomon as his successor as king. This prayer is his last official act as king, and I believe it reveals the wisdom of “a man after God’s own heart” (see 1 Samuel 13:14).
Everything Belongs to God
David begins this prayer by acknowledging what ought to be obvious to everyone. “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom.” The problem with kings (and presidents, prime ministers, dictators, and all earthly rulers) is that they start to believe that the kingdom/country/people belong to them. NO! Everything belongs to God – including us. And if we don’t start every day by acknowledging that fact, we’ll quickly find ourselves in trouble.
We Give God Only What He Has Already Given Us
A great deal of Scripture deals with two subjects that are very important to people: sex and money. The Bible gives us specific directions on appropriate sexual behavior, and we disregard those directions at our peril. David experienced that in his life when he committed adultery with Bathsheba. The aftermath of that sin continued to the end of David’s life. In our reading from 1 Kings today, we see the conflict between the “Solomon camp” (David’s son with Bathsheba), and the “Adonijah camp” (one of David’s sons by another wife).
But it is the other topic which is more apparent in David’s prayer: money. Look at the different ways David discusses material wealth and giving to God in his prayer:
- Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord (v 11)
- Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything (v 12)
- Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us (v 14)
- Even this material we have gathered to build a Temple to honor your holy name comes from you(v 16a)
- It all belongs to you! (v 16b)
David clearly acknowledges two key points: first, that everything we have belongs to God; second, that giving back to God is the natural response of those who serve God.
“Make Your People Always Want to Obey You”
The last phrase that catches my attention is in verse 18: Make your people always want to obey you. See to it that their love for you never changes. That’s a noble prayer – but it is not one that God answers. God will not “make” people obey him. He does not force us to love him, nor to continue to do so. God will not see to it that our love for him never changes. He loves us. God has given us all that we need to continue to obey him. There is no reason that our love for him should ever fade.
But history tells us that it happens – and it happens far more often than we would like, or admit. And I would suggest to you that the two “big topics” of sex and money cause more people to drift away, or even rebel against God, than any others. This is nothing new; the story of humanity has been marked by lust and greed from the beginning. But it should not be that way – and it does not have to be. God won’t “make” us always want to obey him, but he certainly gives us every reason to love and obey him. And there are no good reasons for us to stop loving and obeying him!
We never read Scripture in a vacuum. For example, when we read this passage, several things influence our reading and understanding:
- We’ve read this passage before
- The overall message of Scripture is familiar
- Other passages deal with similar themes
- Our spiritual growth and maturity give us new perspectives
But we come back to some basic truths.
First, everything belongs to God. When God asks us for something, we have to respond in the understanding that it’s not ours; it’s his. To refuse to honor God and obey him in the area of giving is to deny his Lordship. There is no “faithfulness” that does not include surrender of our material resources to God.
Second, a refusal to obey God in any area leads us to harden our hearts in every area. Either we are completely surrendered to God or we are not. If we’re not, we need to stop deceiving ourselves into thinking that we’re “walking in the light.” That’s true whether our area of disobedience relates to our money or to sex, pride, integrity, or anything else.
God won’t “make” us obey him. Our obedience is not, and should never be, motivated by obligation. It must be motivated by love. When we relate to God based on our love for him – as a response to his love for us – it should not be a challenge to “want to” obey him!
Father, we join David’s prayer: “May you be praised forever and ever! Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty.” Everything in heaven and earth is yours – including us. Help us to live in willing and joyful acknowledgment of your sovereignty and your love. Strengthen our hearts to obey you in every part of our lives, every day, that you may be glorified in us. Amen.