5. David's Prayer of Praise at the End of Life (1 Chronicles 29:9-20)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
http://www.jesuswalk.com/greatprayers/5_david_end.htm
Audio (30:40)

1 Chronicles 29:9-20


Detail of "David Playing the Harp" (1670) by Jan de Bray (Dutch painter, 1627-1697), oil on canvas, 142 x 154 cm, private collection. Larger image.

9The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly. 10David 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.
11Yours, 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.
12Wealth 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.
13Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.

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. 15We are aliens and strangers in your sight, as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. 16O LORD our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. 17I 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. 18O 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. 19And 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."

20Then David said to the whole assembly, "Praise the LORD your God." So they all praised the LORD, the God of their fathers; they bowed low and fell prostrate before the LORD and the king.

 

Prayer isn't just asking God for favors or forgiveness. It is much more than that. A great part of Spirit-inspired prayer is praise, if the Book of Psalms is any indication. On the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell upon the church in Jerusalem, people heard them in dozens of languages "declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues" (Acts 2:11). "Wonders" (NIV), "wonderful works" (KJV), and "deeds of power" (NRSV) translate the noun megaleios, "greatness, sublimity ... mighty deeds."1That is indeed the content of many of the Psalms and the psalm we will examine today -- extolling and worshipping God in his greatness, glory, and splendor.

You probably participate in this kind of worship in some of the great hymns of the faith, such as "Great is thy faithfulness, O God, our Father...." or "O worship the King, all glorious above...." or "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, all thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea...." Some of our modern praise choruses lead us in praise, also. But do you, dear friend, practice this kind of praise in your own personal devotions? You can. I hope from examining this psalm you can learn the elements, and then try them out in your prayers.

Setting the Scene (1 Chronicles 28-29)

Leading up to our passage, the aged and ailing King David calls to his palace all his officials, military leaders, and administrators. Now the weak king stands to his feet to address them concerning the temple to be built during his son Solomon's reign. Then he presents to Solomon from his own personal fortune gold, silver, and bronze in great quantities to build the temple and calls on the leaders and officials present to contribute also. They respond with great generosity.

Giving toward the Future Temple (29:9)

Here's where we pick up the story:

"The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly." (29:9)

The common people are moved to praise when they witness this generous dedication of wealth for the future temple. This verse carries two significant words that relate to praise:

"Rejoice" (sāmah) denotes "being glad or joyful with the whole disposition."2This is an instinctive response to generous and godly behavior. Our generosity can touch others; so can our stinginess.

"Willing" and "freely" (NIV) in verse 9 both translate the verb nādab, which "connotes an uncompelled and free movement of the will unto divine service or sacrifice."3This word appears again and again in our passage. It reflects God's desire for our worship in giving as well as our worship in praise -- uncompelled and free giving of ourselves. Sometimes we give because of a sense of duty. Duty is good; I don't want to discourage duty. But giving out of love, "freely, willingly" is even better. The New Testament equivalent of this is: "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Notice here that leaders -- beginning with David himself -- set the example of giving. That inspires followers to the same selfless attitude. We leaders need to rededicate ourselves and our finances to God so that we can be leaders in giving, not just in administrative or so-called spiritual things. Giving is as spiritual as it gets, since giving gets to the roots of our faith, our future, and our surrender to God.

Praise to Yahweh (29:10)

The people have participated in the worship of giving. Now David leads them in praise:

"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.'" (29:10)

There are three important verbs we'll see in this passage that are part of David's vocabulary of praise. Each of them has a different flavor

  • bārak, "to bless" (vss. 10, 20)
  • yādā, "give thanks" (vs. 13)
  • hālal, "praise, boast" (vs. 13, cf. "hallelujah")

We'll examine these and others as we get to them in our text. But let's look at the first. "Praised" (NIV) and "blessed" (KJV, NRSV) is bārak, "to bless, to endue with power for success, prosperity, fecundity, longevity, etc."4The word is often used in the Bible in connection with the hands, though this passage doesn't mention it. Abraham, Jacob, and Jesus lay on hands to bless children. Both Aaron (Leviticus 9:22) and Jesus (Luke 24:50) lift up their hands in blessing and benediction (from a Latin word, benedictus, which means "blessing."). It is not surprising to learn that praying with lifted hands was the common position of prayer for the Israelites, because they were blessing God himself with their hands, hearts, and voices. (For more, see my article "Lifting Hands in Worship," Paraclete, Winter 1986, pp. 4-8. www.joyfulheart.com/scholar/hands.htm).

Q1. In what way do our prayers of praise "bless" God? What do we mere humans have that God desires in a blessing? What are prayers like, that don't include blessing God?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?act=ST&f=87&t=358

 

 

 

David praised publicly, teaching others how to praise. Now the "sweet psalmist of Israel" (2 Samuel 23:1) begins his psalm. Notice how he begins by speaking of God's qualities, kind of like the way the Lord's Prayer begins by describing God, in this case, his eternal nature:

"Praise be to you, O LORD,
God of our father Israel,5
from everlasting to everlasting."6(29:10)

Power and Glory (29:11a)

Now he begins to ascribe or attribute to God various qualities of might, strength, and glory.

"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." (29:11a)

Let's look at some of these qualities:

  • "Greatness" (gedûllâ) is from a root that expresses physical growth as well as increase.7
  • "Power" (gebûrâ), "might," from a root "commonly associated with warfare and has to do with the strength and vitality of the successful warrior." Here God is seen as the mighty warrior par excellence, within a culture that often needed to defend itself with armed combat and valued skilled warriors.8
  • "Glory" (tip’ārā), "beauty, glory," comes from a root which means "to beautify, to glorify, to boast."9
  • "Majesty" (nēsah, NIV) "victory" (KJV, NRSV), "strength, victory, perpetuity," from a root that denotes "brilliance" and "endurance."10
  • "Splendor" (NIV) and "majesty" (KJV, NRSV) (hôd) is a uniquely Hebrew word denoting "awe-inspiring splendor ... splendor, majesty, vigor, glory, honor."11

Is praise just flattering God? Buttering him up so you can ask a favor? By no means! Praise is expressing out loud the respect and honor we have for our God. That we are willing to openly declare God's greatness encourages others to see God in this light and honor him as well.

Praise also affects us. When we acknowledge God's greatness, it strengthens our own faith. Praise is the language of faith. There is a wonderful verse in which relates praise and God's presence -- Psalm 23:3

KJV

NRSV

NIV

"But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."

"Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel."

"Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel."

"Inhabitest" (KJV) or "enthroned" (NRSV, NIV) is yāshab, "sit, remain, dwell."13There is a sense in which God's presence is often intensely apparent within the context of a praising congregation. Our praises "enthrone" him here on earth. A sense of awe and love is felt by many in the room. I don't think this is just group think or emotionalism, but a real spiritual manifestation of God's own special presence.

Thine Is the Kingdom and the Power (29:11b)

"Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all." (29:11b)

It is significant that David the King acknowledges that the kingdom belongs to God. Many monarchs -- and people like you and me -- perceive themselves as absolute rulers of their domain. But not David. For him, Yahweh is both the ultimate King and Head.

"Kingdom" (mamlākā), from the root for "to rule as king," refers to those who are subject to his rule, his subjects, as well as the right to rule.14Israel's understanding of their line of kings was that Yahweh was the true king. The tabernacle in the desert (and later the temple in Jerusalem) depicts the tent of a great desert monarch. The ark is his throne, the Holy of Holies his throne room. The Holy Place typifies where the king would be served with food, incense, and light. Eventually, Israel called for a king (1 Samuel 8:4-9), but it was understood that human kings rule on his behalf, not as substitutes for his rule.

The doxology of the Lord's Prayer (probably inserted by the early church in their use of the Lord's Prayer in a liturgical setting) seems draws its wording from verse 11 of this psalm. See the parallels:

1 Chronicles 29:11 (NIV)

Matthew 6:13b (NIV marg.)

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness

 

and the power and the glory

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;

for yours is the kingdom

you are exalted as head over all.

 

 

forever. Amen.

Head over All (29:11b)

Hebrew poetry, of which this short psalm is an example, doesn't rhyme. Instead it uses parallelism and the rhythm of the language in the poetry. These two lines are an example of synoptic parallelism, where both lines say the essentially the same thing in a slightly different way:

"Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all." (29:11b)

The first line acknowledges Yahweh as king, the second exalts him as "head" over all. "Head" (rō’sh), is used here to refer to the "chief" of a family. In the New Testament Christ is referred to as "head of the church" (Ephesians 5:23 and elsewhere).15

Exalted One (29:11b)

David speaks of God as "exalted" (nāsā’), from a root which means "lift up, bear, carry, support."16God is seen as "lifted up, exalted." Exalt is an important part of our vocabulary of praise. The English word "exalt/exalts/exalted" is used 91 times in the NIV, most often for God or for those whom God exalts. Here are a few examples:

The Song of Moses and Miriam:
"I will sing to the Lord,
for he is highly exalted...
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father's God, and I will exalt him." (Exodus 15:1-2, 21)
"Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise." (Nehemiah 9:5)
and many times in the Psalms:
"The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be God my Savior!" (Psalm 18:46)
"Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength;
we will sing and praise your might." (Psalm 21:13)
"Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together." (Psalm 34:3)
"Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth." (Psalm 57:5)
"For you, O Lord, are the Most High over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods." (Psalm 97:9)
"Exalt the Lord our God
and worship at his footstool;
he is holy." (Psalm 99:5)
"You are my God, and I will give you thanks;
you are my God, and I will exalt you." (Psalm 118:28)

I could go on, but you get the idea. God exalts man (as in verse 12 below, but God is exalted far above any ruler or celebrity, general, scientist, or author. He is the Exalted One! Part of praise is learning to lift him up -- exalt him -- with our words and with our heart. The praise chorus by Pete Sanchez Jr. taken from Psalm 97:9 says it all:

For Thou, O Lord, art high above all the earth,
Thou art exalted far above all gods.
For Thou, O Lord, art high above all the earth,
Thou art exalted far above all gods.
I exalt Thee, I exalt Thee,
I exalt Thee, O Lord.
I exalt Thee, I exalt Thee,
I exalt Thee, O Lord.17
Q2. In what way does praise exalt God? Why should we exalt God? What does this exaltation do in us? What does it say about us?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?act=ST&f=87&t=359

 

 

 

Wealth and Honor from Yahweh (29:12)

Now David continues to attribute or ascribe qualities of strength and power to God.

"Wealth18and honor19come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength20and power21
to exalt22and give strength23to all." (29:12)

Consider the praise found in Revelation that takes place continually before God's throne:

"Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come." (4:8)
"You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being." (4:11)
"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!" (5:13)

See the similarities with praise in our psalm and in the Book of Psalms? Praise focuses on who God is, not on our experience or feelings. Praise exalts our God.

Q3. Verses 11 and 12 both attribute various characteristics to God, such as glory, honor, and might. How might you begin to mention God's greatness in your own prayers? Where is this kind of praise found by example in the Lord's Prayer? What are your favorite songs that point to God's greatness?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?act=ST&f=87&t=360

 

 

 

Thanks and Praise (29:13)

The last two lines of this psalm are parallel to each other:

"Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name." (29:13)

Here we see two important words in our praise vocabulary:

"Give thanks" (yādā), "to thank," comes from a root meaning, "to acknowledge or confess ... God's character... The verb was predominately employed to express one's public proclamation or declaration (confession) of God's attributes and his works. This concept is at the heart of the meaning of praise -- a confession or declaration of who God is and what he does."24

"Praise" (hālal), "praise, boast." The root connotes being sincerely and deeply thankful for and/or satisfied in lauding a superior quality(ies) or great act(s) of the object. The most frequent use relates to praise the God of Israel, with nearly a third of such passages occurring in the Psalms, often imperative summons to praise.25 The word "hallelujah" comes from this root.

Everything Comes from You (29:14-16)

Now the poetic praise psalm ends, but David's prayer continues:

"But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously26as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are aliens and strangers in your sight, as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. O LORD our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you." (29:14-16)

David is marveling that he has been able to give such a quantity of gold and silver for the temple. Eighth son of a shepherd, he began with nothing, not even land to call his own. But God has blessed him and he knows it. It comes from God and belongs to God; David is only a temporary steward of God's abundance: "It comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you" (29:16). Moses warned the people about overpossessiveness 3,500 years ago as they were about ready to enter the Promised Land:

"You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.' But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today." (Deuteronomy 8:17-18)

While we believe this theoretically, we are very tempted (1) to believe that we earned our own way by the sweat of our own brow and (2) to hold our possessions tightly as our own. This is where we get in trouble with God. It is at this very point that we balk at tithing a full 10%, for example, because we believe that our wealth belongs to us rather than to God. David's prayer reminds us: "It comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you" (29:16).

The first verse of an old hymn by William W. How says it well:

We give Thee but Thine own,
Whate’er the gift may be;
All that we have is Thine alone,
A trust, O Lord, from Thee.26
Q4. Why is a person's attitude with regard to giving related to that person's attitude towards praise? Why does an attitude of possessiveness with regards to giving get in the way of worship? In what sense do all your possessions belong to God? What then should be your relationship to your possessions? How will these truths re-energize your giving? Your praise?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?act=ST&f=87&t=361
 

 

 

 

 

Giving Willingly and Honestly (29:17)

David rejoices at how the people have given:

"I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.28All 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." (29:17)

Prayer for Solomon and the People (29:18-19)

Now David prays that this willingness and generosity towards God continue among the people after he is gone. He also prays for his son Solomon, who will ascend to the throne at his father's death.

"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. And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion29to keep your commands, requirements and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided." (29:18-19)

Praise and Worship (29:20)

Finally, David calls the people to praise the Lord, too.

"Then David said to the whole assembly, 'Praise the LORD your God.' So they all praised the LORD, the God of their fathers; they bowed low and fell prostrate before the LORD and the king." (29:20)
Candidates for Catholic priesthood lie prostrate in the service of ordination.
Candidates for Catholic priesthood lie prostrate in the service of ordination.

"Praise" and "bless" in verse 20 is bārak, which is used in verse 10 above. But here is our final praise vocabulary word for today. Notice the people's posture -- bowing low30and falling prostrate. This last word "fell prostrate" (hāwā, NIV) or "prostrated themselves" (NRSV) is usually translated as "worship" in the Old Testament. It is the posture of complete submission before a superior. To bow oneself low before God is the essence of worship. Kneeling and bowing low is the common Muslim prayer posture. But Christians only bow their heads in prayer, except in Catholic and Anglican churches that have kneelers. Why is this? Priests in the Catholic tradition lie completely prostrate at their ordination. Consider trying this posture in your prayers -- not as your only posture, but as a sign and symbol of your deep worship and surrender to God.

We have studied David's last recorded prayer, a prayer at the end of life. It is a psalm of praise, a song extolling the attributes of God, a prayer of wonder at God's rich blessings, a prayer for the next king, and a call to deep worship. What can you incorporate in your prayers that you have learned from this prayer? 

Great Prayers of the Bible: Discipleship Lessons in Petition and Intercession, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson (JesusWalk Publications, 2011)
Available as an e-book and paperbook

Prayer

O Lord, sometimes our worship seems so half-hearted, our praise so faint. Teach me, teach us to praise you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Make us a people of praise, who love to praise you. And teach us to hold only loosely the wealth you have entrusted to us. Help us to give willingly and freely, we pray. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Key Verses

"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." (1 Chronicles 29:11)

"O LORD our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you." (1 Chronicles 29:16)

References

Standard Abbreviations http://www.jesuswalk.com/greatprayers/refs.htm

  1. Megaleios, BDAG 622.
  2. Bruce K. Waltke, sāmah, TWOT #2268.
  3. Leonard J. Coppes, nādab, TWOT #1299.
  4. John N. Oswalt, bārak, TWOT #285. The verb bārak is possibly be related to the verb "to kneel," as the related berek means "knee."
  5. Israel here refers to the patriarch Jacob.
  6. "Everlasting" is ’ôlām, which usually indicates "indefinite continuance into the very distant future, forever, ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual." Allan A. MacRae, ’ôlām, TWOT #1631a.
  7. Elmer B. Smick, gādal, TWOT #315e.
  8. John N. Oswalt, gābar, TWOT #310c.
  9. Victor P. Hamilton, pā’ar, TWOT #1726b.
  10. Milton C. Fisher, nāsah, TWOT #1402a.
  11. Victor P. Hamilton, hwd, TWOT #482a.
  12. Walter C. Kaiser, yāshab, TWOT #922.
  13. Robert D. Culver, mālak, TWOT #1199f.
  14. William White, rō’sh, TWOT #2097.
  15. Walter C. Kaiser, nāsā’, TWOT #1421.
  16. "I Exalt Thee," words and music ©1977 by Pete Sanchez Jr.
  17. "Wealth" (NIV, ‘ōsher) and "riches" (KJV, NRSV).
  18. "Honor" (kābōd) comes from the root "to be heavy, weighty," and figuratively, "a 'weighty' person in society, someone who is honorable, impressive, worthy of respect." When referring to God kābōd, "glory of God" far surpasses any earthly honor, since the near-blinding quality of God's glory fills the earth, and can refer to his very presence and character. John N. Oswalt, kābēd, TWOT #943e.
  19. "Strength" (NIV) and "power (KJV, NRSV) is kôah, "strength, power, ability, might, force, substance, capacity to act, understood both in physical and figurative terms." When applied to God, this term suggests that he is indeed omnipotent. John N. Oswalt, khh, TWOT #973a.
  20. "Might" (gebûrâ) which we saw in verse 11, pictures God as the ultimate mighty warrior.
  21. "Exalt" (gādal) is the verb "promote, exalt, make powerful, make great." Elmer B. Smick, gādal, TWOT #315.
  22. "Give strength" (hāzaq) from the basic meaning "be(come) strong." Carl Philip Weber, hāzaq, TWOT #2388.
  23. The basic difference between yādā and its synonym hālal, is that the latter term tends to stress "acclaim of, boasting of, glorying in" and object, while yādā emphasizes "recognition" and "declaration" of a fact, whether good or bad. Ralph H. Alexander, yādā, TWOT #847.
  24. Leonard J. Coppes, hālal, TWOT #500.
  25. "Give generously" (NIV), "offer willingly," and "make a freewill offering" (NRSV) is nādab, which we first saw in verse 9 and occurs twice in verse 17. Leonard J. Coppes, nādab, TWOT #1299.
  26. "We Give Thee but Thine Own," words by William W. How (1864).
  27. "Integrity" (NIV, yōsher) and "uprightness" (KJV, NRSV) has the idea of "uprightness, straightness," from a root that denotes going on a straight path. Donald J. Wiseman, yāshar, TWOT #930b.
  28. "Wholehearted devotion" (NIV, shālēm), "perfect heart" (KJV), and "single mind" (NRSV) use the Hebrew word for "heart" along with the verb "be complete, sound," carrying the idea of completion and fulfillment, of entering into a state of wholeness and unity, a restored relationship." The Hebrew noun shālōm, "peace, wholeness," comes from this word group. G. Lloyd Carr, shālēm, TWOT #2401.
  29. "Bow" (qādad), refers to "bowing of one's head accompanying and emphasizing obeisance," emphasizing devotion and deep awe. Leonard J. Coppes, qādad, TWOT #1985.
  30. This Eshtaphal stem of hāwā means "to prostrate oneself, to worship." The verb originally meant to prostrate oneself on the ground, a common act of submission before a superior, similar to Muslim prayer with an elaborately prescribed suğûd in which the forehead must touch the ground. The Greek equivalent is proskuneō, which can mean either "prostration" or "worship." Edwin Yamauchi, hāwā, TWOT #619.

Copyright © 1985-2014, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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