“We Give You Thanks”
1 Chronicles 29:1-20
Key Verse 29:5b
“Now, who is willing to consecrate himself today to the Lord?”
Thanksgiving has been a tradition of this nation for almost as long as the nation existed. It is a time of giving thanks to God for the Lord’s provision and blessings on our lives. For Christians thanksgiving goes a little further. We give thanks for the ultimate provision God had made for us in sacrificing his One and Only Son for our sins. And for that, we can express thanks to God all the time and in all circumstances. For God has given us the best things in life— he has given us his Son and all the privileges that come to us through his Son. Here is a passage of thanksgiving too, however, a thanksgiving of a different sort. But rather than giving thanks to God for what he has given, David expresses his thanksgiving to God through what he himself wants to give to God. This passage truly reflects the spirit of thanksgiving well. Let us examine it, and see how we may express our thanksgiving this year in a different way, in what we can give to God rather than in what we can receive from him.
Read verse 1. “Then King David said to the whole assembly: ‘My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the Lord God.’” King David whom God had chosen to be king over God’s people was a man after God’s own heart. It means that he was a man who knew God’s heart and acted accordingly. The story here in this chapter is simple. David’s heart was telling him that he needed to build a house for God. When David was finally settled as king in Jerusalem, he built a palace for himself to live in. And one day he was conscience stricken that while he lived in a beautiful palace, God was still living in a tent. Of course no tent can contain God. But the tent was symbolic of God’s presence among his people. So when David expressed his desire to build a house for God— a temple for the Lord— God accepted David’s heart’s desire to do so, but forbade him from building the temple himself and called for another to do that. Verse 1 tells us whom God had chosen to build a temple for him. David declared to the people gathered there on that day, “My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen”.
First, David was a humble man. It was Solomon, his son, then, who was chosen for the task of building the temple. And God had rejected David’s offer to build a temple for God for a good reason. God had said that David was a man who had shed too much blood in his lifetime— he had been a man of war. And God had chosen Solomon because Solomon was a man of peace. And David did not argue, he simply accepted God’s choice for the building of the temple. His attitude in this reveals that David was a humble man who knew how to deny himself and submit to the will of God. It wasn’t easy for him to deny himself such a project, even if the project was to be passed on to his son. When we survey the life of David, we realize that there was nothing more he wanted to do in his life than to build God a temple. It was the one thing that David desired to do more than anything else in his life. But God did not allow him to. He chose Solomon instead. David could have been jealous, or angry, or rebellious because the one gift David wanted to give to God, God would not take. But in humility of heart David accepted God’s sovereignty. He further showed his humility by doing all he could to prepare his son for the task of building the temple. Yet he did what he could. He set the stage. He paved the way. He made an environment for Solomon to do this task without hindrance.
Second, David was a good father for Solomon. Some fathers have the tendency to ignorantly pushed their children to jump at certain opportunities without weighing the consequences. It is like rushing into the battle unprepared. Other fathers have the tendency to not openly admit or to conceal their children’s weaknesses and limitations. Look at verse 1 again. David recognized that Solomon was not yet ready to undertake such a huge project. He recognized that his son was still young and inexperienced. He protected him from undertaking such a great task as this, lest he make unnecessary mistakes and faces serious failures. David was a good father to him. He wanted to wait for him to mature and gain enough experience before undertaking such a tremendous mission as this temple building. In that way he taught his son humility and patience. Mostly he taught his son to depend on God and wait on him for the right time.
Third, David was a good shepherd. Look at verse 1 again. He said “The structure is not for man but for the Lord”. David deeply understood that the building of God’s temple was not for the sake of national glory, nor for national identity, nor as a monument of achievement nor an instance for national nor personal pride— but for one purpose and one purpose alone! It was for the glory of God. In other words, it was necessary to put aside any personal ambition or ulterior motive, and recognize that the temple is for the glory of God. David wanted to make his people and especially his son recognize the greatness of such a task— because it is a unique work done for the Lord. It was important to recognize that the temple is for God and for no-one or nothing else. It was important that the people do this work not for themselves but for God. It would require that they work very hard, and expect nothing in return. Jesus once counseled his disciples in the same way when he said to them: “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” (Luke 17:10) Indeed there is no greater task in the history of humanity than the task of building a house for God. Whether it is building a physical building to shelter and embrace the children of God, or whether it is building comprised of confessing believers. Surely the task is great because the temple is the place where God dwells with his people. It is the place where man and his achievements and interests do not reside at the heart of the temple, but where the word of God is at the heart— in its rightful place, over and above everything else.
As David said, “The task is great”— also because the temple would be a place from where the word of God would flow out to the nations. In Micah 4:2 God said: “Many nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” David was a good shepherd to his son as well as his own people, teaching them the importance of the temple of God in his life and in the lives of all people.
Read verse 2. “With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God— gold for the gold work, silver for the silver, bronze for the bronze, iron for the iron and wood for the wood, as well as onyx for the settings, turquoise, stones of various colors, and all kinds of fine stone and marble— all of these in large quantities.”
Fourth, David’s motive was pure and selfless. David had so greatly wanted to honor God by building him a temple to his name but was not allowed to do so. We are certain that his pain and disappointment were as great as those of Moses’ who was not allowed to enter the promised land. When men of prominence and prestige are denied the glory and honor of exalting themselves through some task or other, their interest in the project wanes, and their fervor diminishes. Then their true motives of heart are laid bare. David was not allowed to build the temple. But his interest never waned and his fervor never diminished. Rather he wholeheartedly did all that he could do to facilitate this enormous project. He prepared an environment in which the work would proceed unhindered. His true motive, therefore, was not to exalt himself but to exalt and to honor God. It was for him as Paul had once said: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Colossians 3:23)
Fifth, David used his authority to serve God’s purpose rather than his own. These words reflect David’s heart: These words of David, “With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God” are truly words that so wondrously expose the heart of a true worshiper of God. People in high places often use their resources to serve themselves. Often men of authority and power use their authority and power for their own benefit and advantage. But David put all the authority he had as a king to gather all the resources at this disposal to provide for the temple project. In this he reflected the heart of the Messiah who said: “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life— only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18) There is nothing as precious as a person in authority and power who uses all his or her resources in doing what is right in the sight of the Lord, in serving the Lord’s purpose rather than their own.
Sixth, David’s thanksgiving spirit. Look at verse 2 again. When we consider David’s words: “For the temple of my God”, we begin to see where his spirit of thanksgiving came from— what was at the root of that holy and precious spirit that was eager to give to God. There must be something different in the man’s heart that compelled him to give back to God all that God had given to him. There must be something in that man’s heart that made him so strangely different from all other men who lived before and after him. But in no way is that spirit unique to the man David alone— often men like him appear in history to profess their thanksgiving to God in a way unlike all others. And that spirit of thanksgiving that resided in David, later burst upon the earth at the advent of the Lord Jesus. For in and through Jesus, the spirit of thanksgiving, was given and multiplied on the earth. What then marked the spirit of thanksgiving in the man David? We can see three elements here.
Firstly, the spirit of thanksgiving is rooted in faith in God and love for God. Consider his often used confession of “the temple of my God”. These words tells us what is at the root of the thanksgiving spirit of David. His words reflect his personal faith in God and his sincere love for God. God was surely “My God” to David. God was his God, and not only the nation’s God or the prophet’s God but his own loving faithful God. David had experienced God in many ways. And as he grew to know God, he also came to know that God is “His God.” Unless we know God personally it is impossible to give thanks to God in the way that David did not only here but throughout his life. Unless we also grow to love God, it is also impossible to give thanks to God in the way that David did. God to David was not just “God almighty” he was “My God”, the personal God who visited David his youth and communed with him as David communed with God. God was David’s God because David deeply knew the grace of God in his life. God had been with him. God called him to be a shepherd for his people. God also rescued him from trouble. And God had given him victory after victory. He had also allowed him defeat after defeat. In victory and in defeat David learned to depend on God, to put his trust in him, to seek him and above all to love him. Who but David could confess so freely as he did saying: (Psalm 18:1) “I love you, O Lord”. And soothe spirit of thanksgiving welled up in his heart.
Read verses 3-5a. “Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple: three thousand talents of gold (gold of Ophir) and seven thousand talents of refined silver, for the overlaying of the walls of the buildings, for the gold work and the silver work, and for all the work to be done by the craftsmen….”
Secondly, the spirit of thanksgiving was also rooted in David’s knowledge of the holiness of God. In describing the temple David had said, “the temple of my God.” Later he described the temple as “this holy temple”. David deeply knew that God is holy. More than any other time in his life, David confronted the holy God and realized the depth of God’s holiness when he violated God’s trust and stole another man’s wife from him and took her for himself. Many kings and people in power do such things with impunity. Often they get away with it. But when David violated God’s trust, and stole another man’s wife for himself, God could not let him get away with it. He did not because God is holy. So, God sent the prophet Nathan to rebuke David. The rebuke was indeed public and severe. David could have silenced the prophet for taking liberty in rebuking the king. But David did one of the most beautiful acts in his lifetime. He fell on his face and wept and repented before the Holy God— perhaps in the view of his entire court. David deserved to die. But this holy God did not kill David. Rather God forgave him his sin. It was the marvelous grace of God that rescued David from the sure judgment of God. The spirit of thanksgiving was therefore rooted in David’s personal knowledge of God’s holiness. He could be so deeply thankful because he came to experience God’s holiness. It is sad how many people never deeply experience God’s holiness, his holy forgiveness because they never truly repent before God. When they are rebuked, they often shut their hearts— they protect their useless pride and dignity— and in that way also forgo God’s most precious gift. But when we know God’s holiness, we also know God’s justice, and the way to his forgiving and gracious heart. Those who do not know how to thank God often are those who truly those who do not know the holiness of God.
Thirdly, the spirit of thanksgiving is rooted in devotion to the Lord. Look at verse 3 again. He says: “in my devotion to the temple of my God”. “In my devotion” tell us something remarkable about David. His spirit of thanksgiving was also rooted in his devotion to the Lord his God. He was a man devoted to God. He was fully given over to God. “Devoted” is a strong word in describing the extent of giving of oneself. In this world people are devoted to making money. Others are devoted to spending money. Others are devoted to people and places, to hobbies and pleasures. Most are devoted to sinning over and over again and again. A devotion to sinning marks our generation today. They do not see it that way. But when we think about it, perpetual sin requires total devotion of one’s heart and resources. But David was devoted to God and to doing what’s on God’s heart and mind. David had this one desire all his life to build a temple to the Lord. It was his deepest heart’s desire. But when the task was given to another, his devotion did not lesser nor did it waver. He remained devoted. He was devoted to the end. He was like Paul who was devoted to the preaching the Gospel to the whole world. Even after being betrayed by his own people, rejected by the world, robbed of dignity time and again, and much more, Paul never wavered in his devotion to the task God had put on his heart. He was devoted. Nehemiah was devoted to the rebuilding of the wall. And so was David devoted fully to the Lord and his temple. Devotion is no small matter in our lives either. The grace of God which saved us from the pit of hell demands no less from us than absolute devotion to the Lord, heart and mind and strength and soul.
Fourthly, the spirit of thanksgiving is rooted in knowing God’s worth in one’s life. Verses 3-5a tell us the extent of David’s thanksgiving spirit. After providing all the funds he could from wherever he could for the temple, David took one step further. He offered almost all his personal treasures to the temple of God. In doing so, he showed himself to be a man who was a true shepherd to his people— for he set the personal example in giving to the Lord’s temple. David did not have to give of his own personal treasures. He could have saved the treasures for his future security, or for inheritance purposes for the large family that he had. He could have kept part of his treasure for other personal events in life. But David was a man with living and practical faith. He shepherded the people of God by example. He shepherded his son by example. To teach the spirit of thanksgiving, David gave all his treasures to the Lord’s temple. In that one act, David testified to the world and to history itself that there is nothing in this world worth more to him than his Father God. There are many who claim to love God, but their actions tell otherwise. David was not such a man. His love for God was genuine. His faith in God was genuine. He did not teach anything that he himself was not willing to do himself. He did not ask for sacrifices that he himself would not make. We can say, then, that his spirit of thanksgiving was also deeply rooted in his assuredness that there is nothing more precious than God in his life. His actions testified that God deserves the best.
And when he was done giving his everything to the Lord’s temple, what did David do? Verse 5b tells us what he did. “Now, who is willing to consecrate himself today to the Lord?” David spoke two truths to them that day. He challenged them in two ways. First, he challenged them with the words: “who is willing”? And he also challenged them “who will consecrate himself to the Lord this day?”
First, David challenged his people to have a willing spirit. Building a temple for the Lord was not a personal project. It was a national project devoted to God. The temple was for the Lord. And everyone must devote themselves to this holy task. But David did not command them as their king to give to the Lord. He did not command them to express thanksgiving in the same way that he did. Rather David was a man of faith who served the truth of God by first setting examples, and next, by letting God himself work in their hearts to do the same. David trusted that his own willingness was contagious, because it came from the integrity of his own heart. (17) He also trusted that a people who had been personally touched by the grace of God— a grace extending to their own lives, to their families, to their nation, and to the whole world, could not but overflow with a spirit of thanksgiving equal if not exceeding his own.
A willing spirit is a noble spirit— the kind of spirit the Loving God is glad to accept gifts from. These were no strangers; they were God’s own people. These were the people God had done more for than anyone could every imagine. So, David urged them to have a willing spirit— to give willingly to the Lord’s temple. In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul teaches us a wondrous truth: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Giving is the very nature of God. God had given us everything we need for life. (2 Peter 1:3) He is the one who supplies all our needs. (Philippians 4:19) Most of all, God had even given us his One and Only Son. And God had done all this willingly. How much more should his children willingly give to God with a thanksgiving spirit!
Second, David challenged his people to consecrate themselves to God. Earlier, David had confessed: “In my devotion to the temple of my God” (3) David was devoted to the Lord in all things. He was committed to God, a faithful servant to him. His life was already consecrated to God, obeying the Lord’s commands, fulfilling the Lord’s will, serving the Lord’s purpose. (Acts 13:36) And when he was consecrated to the Lord, everything— his life, his children, his household, his possessions— all belonged to the Lord and were available to serve the Lord’s purpose in all things. David didn’t challenge the people to give to the Lord’s temple. He challenged them to “consecrate themselves to the Lord”. David believed that God is no beggar, and giving to him without the proper heart and mind is meaningless and useless. David would rather have his people consecrate themselves heart and mind to the Lord first, for in doing so, they would be offering God their own lives as well— an acceptable offering to the Lord. Consecrating one’s self to the Lord and to the Lord’s purpose is what God desires of all of us.
But to consecrate oneself to God requires faith— the faith that deeply believes that: “My life— all that I am and have— are the Lord’s. And therefore, whatever I give to him— whether life or possession— is what he has given to me.” When I have the faith that “All things belong to the Lord”, then I can consecrate, offer, commit, devote myself and my family to the Lord in whatever way the Lord so wills.
David’s challenge to the people stemmed from his personal faith that all things comes from the Lord, and so also belong to the Lord. And his faith is so deeply reflected in his sudden burst of rapturous joy in the following doxology. Look at David’s rapturous prayer in 10-13. “David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, ‘Praise be to you, O Lord, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O 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, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. 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. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.’” Surly all things come from God. David believed this with his whole heart— and so, he was able to willingly consecrate himself to God. Moreover, he was also able to challenge the people to consecrate themselves likewise to God. With that kind of faith, David was certain that the people would be more than willing to do as he did, and ever more!
What happened when David challenged them? Verses 6-9 tell us the beautiful story of thanksgiving unlike any other in history. David had set a good example for them. But they themselves had the love and the faith necessary to come to God individually in order to serve the Lord’s purpose willingly. They loved God enough to follow in David’s holy example.
And when they had done giving, and David had done exalting God, David stood there before the Lord and prayed ever so sincerely. In verses 14-20 David speaks words to God that reveal why he had such a gracious spirit of thanksgiving to God. In verse 14 he says: “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.” Indeed everything comes from God, and what we give to him is not so much a sacrifice as an honor and a privilege as David puts it. Then David prays for the people. In verses 18-19 he prays: “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. O Lord, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you.” David prayed that his people’s hearts may be found with integrity, because it pleases the Lord. He also prays that God helps them maintain a spirit of thanksgiving— David sees a spirit of thanksgiving as a matter of loyalty to God. And finally he prays for his son, “And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.” He prays that his son shows as much devotion to God and to the temple building as he himself has shown. It is a father’s prayer always that his son walk in his footsteps. David longed that his son and his people who were all his precious sheep always remember that all things come from God, and that we are indeed privileged to be able to give God back from what he himself has given us. May the spirit of thanksgiving reside in our hearts now and always. Amen.