1 Chronicles 29:1–20 (NIV)✞: Gifts for Building the Temple, David’s Prayer
We continue in the lead up to Solomon’s reign over Israel, with a focus on preparations for the Temple. In the last chapter David handed over all of his plans for the Temple to Solomon, and now he hands over all of the materials he’s accumulated.
In verses 1–5✞ David lists all of the materials he’s handing over to Solomon (gold and silver and onyx and various other things) from his own personal treasures – that is, over and above the amounts already recorded in Chapter 22. He then asks the people of Israel what they are willing to donate. The amounts are massive. (For example, David already donated 3,400 metric tons of gold in Chapter 22, to which he now adds another 100 metric tons, and to which the people add over 170 additional metric tons. Again, numbers in Old Testament books aren’t intended to be considered “scientifically precise” the way we use numbers in the modern world, there wasn’t someone with a scale saying, “160 tons… 165 tons… 166 tons… 170 tons!” Still, the point being made is that it’s a lot of precious metals and stones being accumulated.)
At the beginning of the passage, David reiterates why this is all so important:
… The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the LORD God.
David then offers up a song of praise to God, followed by a prayer. I’ll go through the song bit by bit.
David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,
“Praise be to you, LORD,
the God of our father Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
I sometimes read Old Testament passages where the authors point out that God is the God of Israel, or the God of Abraham, or the God of Moses, and I gloss it over as just the way they talk in the Old Testament, but it’s more than that: when David talks about God being the father of Israel—from everlasting to everlasting—it should remind us of the promises God made to Israel, and to Jacob and Abraham. The fact that David and his people are now celebrating before God, in the Promised Land, show that God kept His word to those men, even if it might have seemed to them like it was taking a long time. (Which it was, humanly speaking!)
Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, LORD, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
One thing David never seemed to forget—though we often forget it, in the modern world—is that God is in control. Where there is glory and majesty it belongs to Him; where there are riches they are His; where there is a kingdom it is His. We should strive to keep it in mind the way King David did.
Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
David here acknowledges that all he has has come from God. At this point David was one of the greatest kings in the known1 world, but it never occurred to him to consider himself as anything other than a recipient of Grace from his God.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.
This feels like a standard close to a song of praise to God – but serves as a timely reminder to us that our own prayers should always include an element of praise. Given all that David has outlined so far, of all that God has done for David and his people, praise is the logical place to close the song/prayer!
After his song, David falls into a straightforward prayer:
14 “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. 15 We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. 16 LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. 17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. 18 LORD, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you. 19 And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.”
Again, there is a recognition that all David has—all the nation of Israel has—comes from God. They’ve given a lot of materials toward the building of the Temple, but all of that came from God in the first place – they’re just giving back to Him what is already His!
For the book of Chronicles, this essentially wraps up the reign of King David over the nation of Israel. In the next passage (the rest of Chapter 29✞) Solomon will begin his reign. I think the author(s) of Chronicles are being very intentional about ending their discussion of the reign of David in this way: by focusing on his preparations for the Temple.
Again, we should remember that the first readers of Chronicles were those who were returning from their exile to Babylon, who were thinking about the promises of God to David—which probably seemed like they’d been annulled, since there was no king from the line of David on the throne; they obviously had no idea about Jesus, who wouldn’t be coming for a long, long time yet—and who were either about to build a new temple or had just built one that didn’t live up to the splendour of the old (I don’t know the exact timing of when Chronicles was written and when the new temple was built).
Reminding themselves that their God was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) wasn’t a bad idea, as they set out to worship Him anew.
- Meaning known by the Israelites. I don’t know my world history very well, but around this time the Israelites would have known about Egypt, Kush, Ethiopia, Phrygia, Assyria, Babylonia, Phoenicia and some others, but I’m not sure if they would have known about the Indo-Aryan kingdom at the Northern end of what is now India or the Western Zhou kingdom in what is now China, both of which were huge kingdoms at this point. ↩