Psalm 18:25–29; 1 Chronicles 28,29; Acts 17:16–28

Psalm 18:25–29: In David’s universe there are the faithful and the ungodly. God deals differently with each group: “With the faithful You deal faithfully,” and “With the pure one You deal purely.” But “with the perverse man, [You] deal in twists.” (27) Which I take to mean that as the perverse man attempts to weave his web, God unravels it.

And as usual, there is the dialectic between the prideful rich and the faithful poor. And as always, those who would oppress the poor eventually receive their comeuppance from God: “For it is You Who rescues the lowly folk/ and haughty eyes You bring low.” (28).

But for me, the centerpiece of this passage is, “For You light up my lamp, O LORD, / my God illumines my darkness.” (29). I think of this as the “lamp of faith” that shines a light on our internal darkness. In God’s light we see who we really are, and realizing our weakness, our ineffectualness, our inability to live without God in our lives, we realize we that without God we would be shrouded in the darkness of wrongdoing–we would become like those haughty ones. But bathed in God’s light our response is that we wish to honor and serve God.

And that motivates us to do for God what before we would have thought impossible: “For through You I rush at a barrier, through my God I can vault a wall.” (30) The challenge of course is, am I willing to rush at a seemingly impenetrable barrier or leap a high wall for God? Am I up to those kind of challenges?

1 Chronicles 28,29: David gathers all the leadership of Israel together, reminding them that God did not choose him to build a temple: ‘You shall not build a house for my name, for you are a warrior and have shed blood.’ (28: 3) However, the Davidic dynasty will build because “the Lord God of Israel chose me from all my ancestral house to be king over Israel forever;” (4). He then announces his successor, “of all my sons, for the Lord has given me many, he has chosen my son Solomon to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel.” (5) who will build God’s house.

Then, a fatherly blessing on his successor, “my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve him with single mind and willing heart; for the Lord searches every mind, and understands every plan and thought.” (9) As it tunrs out, David’s architects have been busy because “David gave his son Solomon the plan of the vestibule of the temple, and of its houses, its treasuries, its upper rooms, and its inner chambers, and of the room for the mercy seat; and the plan of all that he had in mind.” (11,12) But David makes it clear that it is all God-inspired: “All this, in writing at the Lord’s direction, he made clear to me—the plan of all the works.” (19) And that all the people and priests are ready, as well.

Fundraising commences as David announces he has provided the initial materials and funding, “I have provided for the house of my God, so far as I was able, the gold for the things of gold, the silver for the things of silver, and the bronze for the things of bronze, the iron for the things of iron, and wood for the things of wood, besides great quantities of onyx and stones for setting, antimony, colored stones, all sorts of precious stones, and marble in abundance.” (29:2) David then proceeds to give the remainder of his personal funds to the project as well.

David is the prototype for a successful capital campaign, demonstrating both his leadership and generosity. As a result, everyone else gives happily: “the people rejoiced because these had given willingly, for with single mind they had offered freely to the Lord; King David also rejoiced greatly.” (9)

David pronounces one of the great blessings in the Bible (29:14-19) on his son as Solomon succeeds him on the throne of Israel as the Chronicler ends the story of David on a high note, with David’s last recorded words, “Bless the Lord your God.” (20) For David truly was the man of God; his greatness unexcelled until his successor, Jesus. The Chronicler’s lesson is clear: when a man turns his life fully over to God, great things will happen. And even though the sins of David (Bathsheba, Uriah) are omitted from this account, we know that no greater man than David ever occupied Israel’s throne. How painful it must have been to write these words from Israel’s exile in Babylon.

Acts 17:16–28: Paul meets the philosophers in Athens and for his troubles he is pronounced a “babbler” and “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign divinities.” But academicians they are, the Athenians are willing to listen to Paul. He uses the “To an unknown God” inscription to proclaim Jesus Christ (without even mentioning his name!) and frames the story from creation forward, noting that “From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, …so that they would search for God.” (26,27) He ends with the promise that even for these philosophers, who “grope” for him, that God is “indeed not far from each one of us.” 

My takeaway form Paul’s rather indirect and philosophical sermon is that there is a variety of ways of presenting the gospel. Clearly, Paul knows he is talking to Gentiles, not Jews, so he expresses the Good News not from its Jewish roots, but from the point of view that the Gospel encompasses all humankind. This is testimony to Christianity’s remarkable ability to adapt to the cultural context without corrupting its message.

Speak Your Mind