Bible Commentaries

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

1 Chronicles 22

Verse 1

"Handfuls of Purpose,"

For All Gleaners

"Then David said, This is the house of the Lord God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel?— 1 Chronicles 22:1.

And yet not a stone of the building was laid!—The reference is to the site whereon the temple is to be built.—We read, "Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem in Mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father" ( 2 Chronicles 3:1): the literal rendering would be, "which was shewn to David his father," the place being pointed out by the appearance of angels as the spot on which the temple was to stand.—This is the very spirit of prophecy.—We find all prophets impatient of time and space, and taking the future into their own hands, and dealing with it as if it were the immediate present.—Say they: This is the place, this is the time, this is the means,—a handling of time and space only to be understood by those in whom the spirit of prophecy resides.—There are prophets, and there are those who understand prophets, and both the classes may be said to live upon the same intellectual plane.—Some men are poets, others are only readers and lovers of poetry; yet those who love poetry are in a sense themselves poets, having the poetic instinct but not poetic expression.—We are more than we show ourselves to be in words.—The vividness of David"s representation is singularly instructive, for David already seemed to see the temple and to be in the temple, and to know all the appointments of that sacred pile.—It was the privilege of David to live in the future as if it were present. Is there not a sense in which we can all do this?—May we not even now be in heaven as to all our highest desires and truest sympathies?—Why speak of heaven as in the future, or in the distance?—The apostle did not scruple to say, "Our citizenship is in heaven."—Jesus Christ did not hesitate to declare that whilst he was upon the earth he was in heaven. And the glorious company of the apostles constantly declared that like Moses they endured as seeing the invisible, and their thoughts were intent upon a house not made with hands.

Verse 2

"Handfuls of Purpose,"

For All Gleaners

"And David commanded to gather together the strangers that were in the land of Israel; and he set masons to hew wrought stones to build the house of God."1 Chronicles 22:2.

The "strangers" are the aliens.—We read of them in 1 Kings 9:20-21, "And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, which were not of the children of Israel, their children that were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy, upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bondservice unto this day."—There is a very pathetic expression in this account of the strangers,—"whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy."—Was not the destruction only partial in order to realise a divine providence? Would not such strangers or aliens be useful in the building of the temple?—Whom we are not able to destroy we may be able to employ in holy service, is a doctrine which is not applicable to persons only, but has a distinct reference to emotions, passions, impulses, and sympathies.—We are to hold ourselves in bondage, and often we are to drive ourselves to forced labour, and to become hewers of wood and stone, bearers of burdens, and indeed slaves to our higher manhood.—David did not hesitate to reckon the Canaanite serfs in the census which he took of the people.—In taking the census of a nation we do not only count the king, the statesmen, the military officers, and men of similar rank and position; we count down, even to young children; yea, we do not exclude the cradle itself when we number the people.—There is a higher as well as a lower census.—For civil and military purposes the infant is of no account, but the statesman looks not at the infant as he is to-day, but at the man as he will be in due process of time.—The magistrate counts life, not years only.—He says the nation is strong to such and such an extent, because he counts the little as well as the great.—A man should take a census of himself in the same way; he is not all genius, intellect, might, faculty; he has his peculiarities, infirmities, his germs of power, his beginnings and possibilities of strength; all this he should reckon when he takes a census of himself, and in reckoning even the least of his elements and faculties he should regard them not as they immediately are, but as what they are in possibility under rightly-accepted divine training.

Verse 3

"Handfuls of Purpose,"

For All Gleaners

"And David prepared iron in abundance for the nails for the doors of the gates, and for the joinings; and brass in abundance without weight."1 Chronicles 23:3.

David could hardly keep his hands off the actual building of the temple itself.—We have seen again and again that he went as near to it as he could possibly approach.—It sometimes becomes difficult to say who really did build the temple, so little was left for Solomon to do.—Is it not so with all the temples of civilisation?—Who built the temple of Literature?—Who erected the temple of Science?—Who is the architect and who the builder of the temple of Discovery,—the discovery of arts, sciences, provinces, continents, lakes, and rivers?—The last man is so immediately behind us that we dare not take credit to ourselves for aught we do; so much has been done in preparation that when we speak of the temple we say it was built by the age or the generation or the spirit of the times.—There Isaiah, of course, always one man whose name takes the lead in the higher architecture and erection of temples, but the name of the leader is only symbolical of the multitude of his followers and supporters.—David was content to prepare the way of the Lord; John was content to be a voice crying in the wilderness; other men have laboured, and we have entered into their labours.—We say David prepared, and Solomon built, but how could Solomon have built if David had not prepared?—We do not make our own roads, our own libraries, our own code of laws; we take the roads that are made, the libraries that are in existence, the laws that are operating, and these we enlarge or amend: or enrich or advance upon in some sense, but in reality we do but carry out what older and abler men it may be have prepared to our hands.—Gratitude should hold in loving remembrance all those who have even prepared for the building of the temple.—Think of the fathers and mothers, the statesmen and soldiers, the authors and artists, the preachers and teachers, who have been in this great world-house before us, preparing as it were for our advent and occupation; we should read our indebtedness on all the grave-stones; we should see our obligation in old age, and in things that are ready to vanish away.—We should not ruthlessly abrogate the past, but genuinely and philosophically fulfil it.—Jesus Christ himself said that he came not to destroy the law but to fulfil it; that Isaiah, to bring to bud and fruitage the things that had already been sown in the human mind by the action of previous teachers and legislators.—For our encouragement, when our ambition seems to be limited within a sphere which makes us impatient, we should read the words, "And David prepared," and remember that if a king could prepare for the building of a temple without actually building it himself, we should look upon every action we do and probably upon every word we speak as contributions towards the erection of a divine house upon the earth.—We read much of the "abundance" with which David prepared; he prepared iron in abundance, he gathered brass in abundance, he collected cedar trees in abundance; nothing was begrudged or limited; throughout the whole there was a presence of generosity and overflowing-ness, which indicated that the work was undertaken by generous and energetic hands. David"s estimate of the work that was to be done will be seen in the fifth verse.

Verse 5

"Handfuls of Purpose,"

For All Gleaners

"David prepared abundantly before his death."1 Chronicles 22:5.

David wanted to do something more than prepare, he wanted actually to build the temple.—God tells us where we must stop.—He mortifies ambition, and yet gratifies it.—He will not give us the highest honour of all, yet he will put upon us an honour which contributes to the success of other men.—Some hearts would have been discouraged by what the Lord said unto David; and their discouragement might have expressed itself in some degree of resentment, for they would have said, If we cannot do all, we will do nothing; if we cannot build, we will not prepare; if we cannot have the honour of putting up the temple, we certainly will not assist any other man to erect it.—This would have been peevishness, selfishness, the veriest meanness of soul.—David, on the other hand, consented to the Lord"s arrangement, and did all that lay in his power to facilitate the progress of his son.—We should work up to the very moment of our death.—Our last breath should, if possible, help some other man to pray better, or work more, or suffer with a firmer constancy.—Let no man suppose that the world stands still because he dies.—God has always a temple to build, and he will always raise up the builder of it, and yet it pleases him in his condescension to receive our assistance in preparation.—Some men will only take an interest in what they can themselves enjoy; they care nothing for posterity, but rather speak mockingly of it; the prophetic soul does live in the future, does populate the earth with posterity, and does take an interest in the ages that are yet to dawn.—We do things better to-day by casting our minds forward to the riper periods of civilisation; by foreseeing that the glory of the Lord shall make glad the whole earth, men can work to-day in the twilight with stronger courage and more ardent enthusiasm.—Thus the future may be made to help the present; thus posterity may take part in the affairs of to-day.

Verse 7-8

"Handfuls of Purpose,"

For All Gleaners

"And David said to Song of Solomon, My Song of Solomon, as for me, it was in my mind to build an house unto the name of the Lord my God: but the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight."1 Chronicles 22:7, 1 Chronicles 22:8.

How the word of the Lord came to David we do not know. He says the word of Jehovah came upon him.—Possibly he may only be putting into words his own spiritual impressions on a review of his sanguinary career.—We are not to understand that the words were delivered articulately to David, as he listened to a voice from heaven; they may have been so delivered, or an impression may have been wrought upon his mind that these words alone can correctly represent.—In what way soever the communication was made to David, the communication itself is of singular moral value.—Say that the Lord delivered the message immediately in audible words, we have then the doctrine that God will not permit men of blood to end their career as if they had been guiltless of bloodshedding.—He will make a distinction between them and the work to the execution of which they aspire. Say that David uttered these words out of the depths of his own consciousness, then we have the doctrine that there is a moral fitness of things: that hands stained with blood should not be put forth in the erection of a house of prayer.—There are innumerable difficulties connected with the whole situation, for we have been given to understand that the Lord himself commanded certain of the wars to be undertaken; but what know we of God"s idea of undertaking a war? There may be a war within a war; it may be that God scrutinizes even the motives of warriors, and notes when the warrior degenerates into a mere murderer, or when the warrior begins to thirst for the blood which he has once tasted.—Into these mysteries we cannot enter; it is enough for us to know that God will separate his temple, his house of prayer, from every hand that is destructive of human life, from all that is sanguinary, and from all that is personally or nationally ambitious.—The house of God is to be the house of peace, the sanctuary of rest, a Sabbatic building, calm with the tranquillity of heaven, unstained by the vices and attachments of earth.—David submits to this view of the case with a modesty which is truly pious.—Not one word of reproach does he utter against God.—If David could have found an excuse in having received the commandment of God to execute certain wars he would have remembered the giving of that commission, and would have reminded God that as a soldier he was not acting in his own name, but in the name of heaven.—As David quoted no such precedent or authority we may safely conclude that there was something unrecorded in the history which would explain God"s condemnation of David"s sanguinary conduct.—It is not incumbent upon annotators and theologians to whitewash Old Testament saints; God himself has permitted their lives to be traced in his book with graphic and even revolting clearness, and nowhere are Old Testament saints so sharply rebuked as in the Old Testament itself.

Verse 9

"Handfuls of Purpose,"

For All Gleaners

"Behold a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest."1 Chronicles 22:9.

This is a beautiful expression, as signifying a departure from the ordinary law of heredity, and as indicating the speciality of divine creation.—It would be quite proper to recognise a law of evolution in the succession of families, and indeed it is impossible to deny the operation of such a law, yet, curiously. again and again, with quite remarkable repetition, God undertakes, so to say, to start a new family point, or a new-family line.—The time comes when the warrior departs, and the man of peace enters into the household genealogy.—Singularly enough, the genealogy is still one, yet there are specialities about it which seem to proclaim the directing providence of God in certain singular actions, which detach themselves from the common run of events, and create new eras in family history.—This is a forecast which is full of moral instruction; for example, it shows how God knows every man who is coming into the world, what his character will be, what function he will have to discharge, and what will be the effect of his ministry upon his day and generation.—Solomon could not have come before David, because the day in which David lived was marked by characteristics which he alone could adequately and usefully handle.—By-and-by we shall see that history could not have been inverted even in its smallest details without injury having been done to the indwelling spirit of progress.—We wish that certain persons were living now, or that certain men now living had lived long ago to have exerted a happy influence upon a remote age: here we speak in our ignorance: the Christian believes that every event is ordered from above, that every man is born at the right time, is permitted to live for a proper period if he be obedient to providence, and that the mission of every man is assigned, limited, and accentuated: all we have to do is to say, "Lord, what wilt thou have me do?" and to obey what we honestly believe to be the voice from heaven.—The prophecy was delivered to David after Solomon"s birth, and yet it is delivered as if it were yet to be fulfilled. Again we are reminded, that we must make ourselves familiar with the Biblical usage of words.—We have often affirmed the doctrine that we can only understand parts of the Bible by living in the spirit of the whole Bible.—The Bible is more than a book of grammar; we have said, and we repeat, that the Bible is not a piece of literature, but is a divine Revelation, and a divine revelation which must be judged by standards and tests peculiar to itself.—The name of David"s successor was to be "Solomon." That is the emphatic word. The very word is indicative of peace.—The name was the character.—Yet mark carefully how God does not allow Solomon to be the fount and origin of peace, but rather how Solomon represents the then idea of the divine administration of affairs,—"I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days."—So the Lord still keeps everything within his own power and uses even the highest men as his agents and instruments.—The Lord does not only give peace, he gives unrest, tumult; he is a man of war, he is a God of battles; his banner is often stained with blood.—We should read history incorrectly if we looked only at its religious side, expressive of contentment, dependence, and thankfulness, and regarded that side alone as under the care of God.—The Lord is in every battlefield; in a sense which will be explained when we are able to receive the explanation; the Lord is the author of war, and without tumult he could not have brought in peace: without David he could not have brought in Solomon to rule over his people Israel.

Verse 13

"Handfuls of Purpose,"

For All Gleaners

"Be strong and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed."1 Chronicles 22:13.

We have read that Solomon was young and tender, young and timid; it would seem as if David, recognising the timidity of his Song of Solomon, specially charged him to cultivate courage, bravery, fearlessness.—This was training up a child in the way he should go.—We are too fond of training our strongest faculties, and thus we are tempted to neglect the weaker side of our nature.—Find out the weak side of a child"s character, and address yourselves assiduously to its cultivation.—We should seek to fill the empty sack, not to overcrowd the full one.—Bring into play the muscles that are most difficult to get at, and do not overtrain those which afford the fairest prospect of immediate results.—Our most backward faculty must be exercised.—When we complain of a weak memory, or a hesitant will, or a defective imagination, we should address ourselves to the cultivation of that which is in special need of culture. On the other hand, what man regards as of the nature of defect and lack, God may account as a special excellence, and even a peculiar qualification for a particular work.—God did not want a man to go to temple building with the air of a warrior, with the port of a hero, with the aggressiveness of one who was about to storm a fortress.—As Solomon advances to his sacred work with a timid air, with a modesty which hides his strength, we may see the qualities which God most appreciates.—Throughout the whole of human history God has never hesitated to declare that a meek and a quiet spirit is in his sight of great price.—Clothing himself with his eternity as with a vesture, and inhabiting infinity as a dwelling-place, he declares that he will look to the man who is of a humble and a contrite spirit, and who trembleth at his word.—When did the Lord select some towering man to be his agent or instrument in critical periods of history?—Who has not been amazed to see how God will take weak things with which to oppose things that are mighty, and even things that are not, to bring to nought things that are?—When the Son of man came upon the earth, the most conspicuous thing, in the estimation of some observers, was his timidity, his meekness, his almost fear.—For a time he ran away from the face of Prayer of Manasseh, and in protracted solitude prepared himself for the few agonistic years of his ministry; he did not strive, nor cry, nor cause his voice to be lifted up in the streets; he was womanly, gentle, tender, patient, and he concealed his almightiness under his all-pitifulness.—No mistakes are greater than those which are often made about strength.—We forget that moderation is power.—We neglect to admit the full meaning of the doctrine that in proportion as a man is really capable is he profoundly serene; if he were uncertain of his strength he would be turbulent, agitated, impatient, and through his foolish excitement we should discover his self-misgiving. Everywhere God"s servants are called to fearlessness, to strength, to good courage.—Jesus Christ called men in this direction; the Apostle Paul, speaking of every one who would be a faithful servant of the Cross, says, "Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."

Verse 14

"Handfuls of Purpose,"

For All Gleaners

"Now, behold, in my trouble I have prepared for the house of the Lord an hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver; and of brass and iron without weight; for it is in abundance: timber also and stone have I prepared; and thou mayest add thereto."1 Chronicles 22:14.

For the word "trouble" the margin reads "poverty."—One commentator reads, "by my strenuous labour I have prepared;" another, "by my toil or pains I have prepared."—In all these senses there is pathetic meaning.—Say that David prepared out of his poverty, which of course would in his case be a relative term, we have here the spirit of sacrifice.—Say that he prepared by strenuous labour, here is an acceptable spirit of complete devotedness.—Say that it was by toil and pain that he brought the preparation to an end, here we have that self-denial without which there can be no real piety—We must not measure David"s words literally; an hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver, are terms we cannot accurately estimate.—According to the value of the post-Babylonian Hebrew talent, the gold here spoken of has been calculated to be worth more than a thousand millions of English pounds sterling, and the silver has been calculated to be worth more than four hundred millions.—Do not regard these as arithmetical sums; look upon them as indicating that nothing had been spared, nothing had been withheld in the service of the house of the Lord.—Why will men be so literal in reading the divine word?—The literalist has never made the Bible a book of music and light and true help to the soul.—We must bring something other than grammar to bear upon the interpretation of the divine word.—From the very beginning of the book, time is treated with indifference, and words are used with a largeness of meaning to which we have become accustomed after long and profound reading of the book itself.—Throughout the Bible this spirit of expansiveness of thought prevails.—So we return to the doctrine that we find the Bible within the Bible, and again and again is proved the utter worthlessness of words as exhaustive symbols.—"Passeth understanding" must be our comment upon many a passage, and yet although we cannot understand in an intellectual sense, we can understand as it were emotionally, our whole soul rising in noble rapture in response to sacred appeals, to heavenly music, to calls which can reach the heart without the medium of words.—How anxious was David to build a house for the Lord!—How willingly and with what ineffable gladness Solomon devoted himself to the execution of his father"s will, and how through all the human planning and preparing there runs a divine decree, the very call of God from heaven!—Is not all this predictive of the uprearing of a temple not made with hands? Is not God himself the great temple builder? What are we but hewers of wood and drawers of water? Squaring the stones, preparing the gold and the silver; yet at the last the servant shall be as his Lord, and they who have toiled faithfully, lovingly, self-sacrificingly, shall not be denied a place of honour in the eternal temple.

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Bibliographical Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 22". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jpb/1-chronicles-22.html. 1885-95.