1 Chronicles 17
Thanksgiving is upon us, which means that it is that time of year again where believers and unbelievers alike fellowship with friends and family over a large meal and tell one another the reasons they have to be thankful in this life. Although this is a wonderful practice, for the believer, it shouldn’t just be reserved for Thanksgiving, but instead, it should be a normal practice in everyday life. In fact, this command to “give thanks” or to “rejoice” is the single most commanded exhortation that we have in the entirety of Scripture!
1 Thessalonians 5:16
...in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
In 1 Chronicles 16:8-36, David pens what my Bible titles his “Psalm of Thanksgiving”, and in 17:16-27, the author records his “Prayer of Gratitude”. Why? For one, David is a man after God’s own heart, and therefore, he takes seriously the commands of God to rejoice and be glad in Him. And secondly, David, like we do today, has ample things to be thankful for. Therefore, in his “Prayer of Gratitude”, I want you to see why he is thankful, and how his thankfulness can practically be applied to our lives as well.
So then, in 1 Chronicles 17, what’s happening? Well, if we were to go back just briefly to chapter 16, we will see his Psalm of Thanksgiving, followed by a time of worship before the Ark of the Lord. This worshipful heart then produces a desire to serve the LORD, and in 17:1-2, David devises a plan to build a house for the LORD.
Now, don’t miss this: True worship always leads to obedience. According to Paul in Romans 11:33-12:2, being blown away by the wonders of God (worship) produces a desire to lay down your life and serve God (also described here as worship) which will result in a greater desire to NOT be conformed to the world, but rather, to be conformed more and more into His image (obedience).
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
— Romans 11:33 - 12:2
This is why Jesus can say declarative statements like these:
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love
You are My friends if you do what I command you.
Jesus inexplicably combines love (worship) and obedience because if you LOVE Jesus, the “natural” response will be to respond in great obedience unto Him, just like David.
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
— 1 John 5:3
David, in 1 Chronicles 17, demonstrates his great love for God by desiring to serve Him. Church, may the same be said of us.
However, just because David has this great desire, God actually has other plans, and in 17:4; 22:8-10, we read that God’s plan is for David’s son, Solomon, to build the Temple instead. Church, thanks be to God that He doesn’t give us even our most noble desires because as we read above in Romans, His wisdom is far greater and deeper than ours, and oh what a bummer it would be if God enacted our plan instead of His. Thanks be to God that this will never happen, and for that, let us rejoice.
Then, in 17:7-15, David becomes the recipient of an amazing covenant with God. God promises to establish his kingdom and throne forever and ever (i.e., this is the Davidic Covenant; the promise of the Messiah coming through the line of David, the Eternal King being from David’s own line). This is why Christ is called “Son of David” and Psalm 110 and other Psalms are not actually about David as King, but instead, they are everlasting realities of Christ our eternal King! What an undeserved promise, and David knows it.
In 17:16, he responds to the Lord by saying, “Who am I, O Yahweh God, and what is my house that You have brought me this far?” David was a shepherd turned man of bloodshed in war, full of sin, and in desperate need for God, and thus he knew that he was completely unworthy of such a promise from the LORD. Church, we are also just as unworthy to be recipients of the promise of eternal hope, yet like David, let us rejoice for God’s graciousness!
Not only should we find tremendous reason to give thanks for our undeserved salvation, but I don’t want us to miss this point either: when I was reading and meditating on this passage, I couldn’t help but think to myself “WOW! David receives the promise of the Messiah coming through his line, and yet, he still commits adultery, murders, and sinfully numbers the people (1Ch 21)?? How could he do such a thing with such a great promise!?”
And then it hit me. That’s what I do. That’s what we do. We are fellow heirs with Christ because of the New Covenant that God cut with us, and yet, even with such a wonderful promise to cling to, oh how quick we can all be to sin. Like the old hymn bellows, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love…” Church, be ever grateful to God that even though we have no excuse to sin today with a regenerated heart and the indwelling of His Spirit, that when we do sin, we still have a God who loves us and beckons us to run to Him to receive grace in all our times of need (Hebrews 4:16).
Continuing on, David makes another incredibly bold statement that pierced my heart as I pondered this text. In vv. 21-22, he proclaims “And what one nation in the earth is like Your people Israel, whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people, to make You a name by great and awesome things, in driving out nations from before Your people, whom You redeemed out of Egypt? Yet You gave Your people Israel to be Your own people forever, and You, O Yahweh, have become their God.” David recognizes that God chose and redeemed Israel, not because of their deeds, but in spite of them, and why did He do so? For His glory (Deuteronomy 7).
Church, we, like Israel, are God’s chosen people, His royal priesthood, His holy nation, and His people for His own possession (1 Peter 2:9). We are separate from the world, uniquely loved by our Father, and recipients of His redemption, and all of this is true NOT because He saw something worthy or special in us, but simply because He chose to make us His. And just like Israel, why did He so freely lavish this gift of mercy and grace upon us? For His glory (1 Peter 2:10). Therefore, we MUST respond in abundant thanksgiving, just as our forefather David.
Finally, one more truth that jumped off the page to me that we as Christians ought to thank God for what comes in v. 25. David says, “For You, O my God, have revealed in the hearing of Your slave that You will build for him a house; therefore Your slave has found courage to pray before You.” In response to God’s graciousness to David, David has found “courage” to pray.
Now, before I beeline to Christ, let’s first look at 1 Chronicles 21:30 to see how David’s courage to pray falls away when he sins. “But David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was terrified by the sword of the angel of Yahweh.” Even the great King David, when guilty of sin, took on the persona of his father Adam from the Garden; an attitude that feels shame, fear, and hides from God.
If you’re like me, you also probably feel those feelings, even being a Christian. I know for me, I am quick to be like David here in 1 Chronicles 21:20 when I willfully sin, am lackadaisical in my time with the LORD, or when I am trial-ridden. However, this ought not be the case. Now, in Christ, we have direct access to the Father at all times, and He commands us to come to Him to confess sin, relieve our burdens, share our requests, and receive help in time of need.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
This loving embrace from the Father, even in our sin, according to the author of Hebrews is to produce confidence in our approaching of Him (Hebrews 10:19-23). Our King is not like the kings of old where unless he reaches out his scepter to grant us access to speak with him, we are put to death.
Rather, our King laid down His own life and spilt His own blood so that we could have unending fellowship and communion with Him, with all confidence, boldness, and sincerity.
We no longer have to be fearful like David or Adam or the Levitical priests. Christ is our Advocate (1 John 2:1). Christ is our Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). Christ is our access into the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 10:19). Thus, let’s “take advantage” of these realities and be found to be men and women devoted to unceasing prayer (Romans 12:12; 1 Thess. 5:17). And therefore, like David shows abundant gratitude towards God for his ability to courageously pray in 1 Chronicles 17, let us likewise give abundant thanks to God that no matter what, as long as we are found in Christ, we too can have courage in prayer.
Therefore Church, as we fellowship with family and friends and ponder the reasons we have need to be thankful, let not these reasons slip our minds. Just as God was good to David, He is good to us, and He beckons us to see it, to taste of it, and to give thanks to Him for it. Praise God for this gracious gift of Christ, for in whom, we have everything pertaining to life and godliness, and for that, we rejoice!
Soli Deo Gloria,