Monday

10 September 2012

1 Chronicles 29:10-13

"Then David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly; David said: 'Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, for ever and ever. Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours.'" (vv. 10-11a)


Background

The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles are largely parallel to the earlier histories of Samuel and Kings, and were probably written in the 4th century BC in Jerusalem. The centrepiece of the story is the reign of David (to the end of 1 Chronicles) and the reign of Solomon (from the beginning of 2 Chronicles), closely connected by the great project they shared, the planning and construction of the temple in Jerusalem. David acquired the land on Mount Moriah and through divine inspiration was given the plan for it, just as God gave Moses the plan for the tabernacle (Exodus 25-27). David also collected the funds and materials necessary for its construction, but it was given to his son Solomon to build and furnish the temple, placing the ark of the covenant at its centre. The chronicler closely connects the stories of David and Solomon, linking them with the presence of the Lord God, and centring their shared kingdom on God's holy power.

Tonnes of precious metals and jewels were given by those who had great wealth, and the people and king rightly rejoiced. This brief passage then shows David's prayer, blessing God, who is the source of all wealth and power. This prayer is the source of the later doxology to the Lord's Prayer ("For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours forever. Amen.") in later manuscripts of Matthew 6:13, which we use today. David continues, "For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you," (v.14), words that contemporary Christians continue to pray in some offertory prayers.

So in this short prayer, we are reminded that God is the source of all power and wealth, and that the right human response to God is humility and obedience, freely and joyously offering all things back to God. While the temple seems to represent the centre of religious life in ancient Israel, the chronicler tells us that true faith and righteousness reside in the human heart. Devotion to God is not ultimately shown in the building of wonderful buildings for religious purposes, however important that may be, but in upright hearts turned toward God.


To Ponder

  • This passage shows us that ultimately everything we have belongs to God, who takes pleasure in our holy living. How great a part does your awareness of this play in your own decisions about giving to church and charity?
  • The passage suggests that religious devotion is not primarily reflected in building and displaying great religious buildings and treasures. How important are these things to you? What purpose does such art and architecture serve in your own life?



Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Susan Graham

As the training officer and development enabler in the Bristol District, Susan's work has focused recently on developing new ways to train local preachers, which enables her to combine her love of teaching and her passion for excellence in theological education. She is a New Testament scholar who specialises in historical Jesus study, and she has just published her first (and probably only!) book on the subject.