1 Chronicles 11 speaks of “David’s mighty men” (1 Chronicles 11:11). The focus is not, however, on either David or the “mighty men.” It is on the Lord – “The Lord brought about a great victory” (1 Chronicles 11:14). In their warfare, “the Spirit” brings this message – “… your God will help you” (1 Chronicles 12:18). What are we to say about these things from the Old Testament Scriptures? They were “written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). As we consider what God has done in the past – His “former great love”, we are encouraged to believe in His “faithfulness”, and we say, from our hearts, “Praise be to the Lord for ever! Amen and Amen” (Psalm 89:52).
God’s purpose concerns all the nations – “The Lord made all the nations fear David” (1 Chronicles 14:17). Paul was “a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles” (Romans 15:16). God’s purpose concerns all generations – “Lord, You have been our dwelling-place throughout all generations” (Psalm 90:1).
In a book full of so many names, David’s psalm of thanksgiving (1 Chronicles 16) stands out. It is a high-point in the midst of the commonplace. The commonplace is not insignificant in God’s purpose. It is the backcloth against which God gives to us His special high-points. In the commonplace, we long for the deeper experience of worship. From the deeper experience of worship, we return to the commonplace with renewed vigour. Romans 16 is a chapter of the many names, the names of men and women who are precious to the Lord and valued by the Lord’s people. As we think of many names, we are to pray, “May Your deeds be shown to Your servants, Your splendour to their children” (Psalm 90:16).
“The Lord gave David victory everywhere he went” (1 Chronicles 18:6,13). “He will keep you strong to the end … “ (1 Corinthians 1:8). How do we grow strong in the Lord? How do we walk with Him in the way of victory? – We are strong in the Lord, walking in His victory, when we “get wisdom and “cherish understanding” (Proverbs 19:8). The wisdom of God is different from “human wisdom.” The wisdom of God is focused on and derived from “the Cross of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:17).
1 Chronicles 19:1-22:1; 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5; Psalm 91:1-8
David – “Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men” (1 Chronicles 20:13).Paul – “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27).What a contrast there is between man and God! How important it is that “our faith might not rest on man’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:5).“He will save you from the fowler’s snare” (Psalm 91:3). Our hope is not in man. It is in the Lord: “He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:2).
1 Chronicles 22:2-23:32; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16; Psalm 91:9-16
The Temple was to be “built for the Name of the Lord”, “to praise the Lord” (1 Chronicles 22:19; 23:5). In the context of such worship – “thanking and praising the Lord” (1 Chronicles 23:30), the Word of God would be spoken “not in words taught by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:13). Together with praise and preaching, there would be prayer: “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him” (Psalm 91:15).
Every believer has a part in the work of God. This comes through in the lists of names in 1 Chronicles 24-26. This is also taught in 1 Corinthians 3:6 which goes on to emphasize that the real work is not done by men but by the Lord. Man is not to be exalted – only the Lord: “You, O Lord, are exalted for ever” (Psalm 92:8).
The people of Israel had to do battle against their enemies. We also must wage war for God. Paul describes the hardships involved in true discipleship (1 Corinthians 4:9-12). In all of this, our intention must be to do the will of the Lord – “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).
Our “boasting is not good” (1 Corinthians 5:6). It is better for us to boast in the Lord – “Praise be to You, O Lord …. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power … Now, our God, we give You thanks, and praise Your glorious Name … Everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your hand …. 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 29:10-16). “The Lord reigns, He is robed in majesty; the Lord is robes in majesty and is armed with strength …. the Lord on high is mighty” (Psalm 93:1,4).
We are to place value on the most important things. God places the highest value on our salvation (1 Corinthians 6:19). Those who share God’s values will ask for “wisdom and knowledge” (2 Chronicles 1:10), and “not … for wealth, riches or honour …. “ (2 Chronicles 1:11). We are to think the thoughts of God, and not “the thoughts of man” which are “futile” (Psalm 94:11).
“I know that everything God does will endure for ever” (Ecclesiastes 3:14).
In the constant flux of life in this world, here we have something which must never be forgotten. There are many circumstances in life which are confusing – “How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:16). In the face of life’s confusing circumstances, there will be times when we will say, “My foot is slipping.” In times like these, we must learn to say, “Your love, O Lord, supported me” (Psalm 94:18).
“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).
This is the world’s way. The Lord’s way is a better way. We are to “use the things of the world” without being “engrossed in them” (1 Corinthians 7:31). What we must remember is this: “The fear of the Lord leads to life; Then one rests content, untouched by trouble” (Proverbs 19:23). When our relationship with the Lord is the most important thing in life, we do not get unduly anxious about how things are going, in terms of material prosperity.
“Do not be over-righteous, neither be overwise” (Ecclesiastes 7:16). This is not a protest against wisdom and righteousness. It is telling us that, in our wisdom and righteousness, we must not become proud like the Pharisees. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). Without love, everything else is nothing. We must never forget this. “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95:7-8). Where our wisdom (or knowledge) and righteousness become centred on ourselves – ‘How wise and righteous I have become’, we have closed our hearts to God. Listen to God. Learn from Him. Live for Him. Real wisdom has nothing to do with self-centredness. It’s all about learning to be Christ-centred. Real wisdom leads to true righteousness. It’s about learning to become like Jesus. We look to Him and we learn to live for Him.
“Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). There are many matters which are secondary. Living in accordance with the Gospel is the all-important thing: “We put up with anything rather than hinder the Gospel of Christ” (1 Corinthians 9:12). “For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods” (Psalm 96:4). The fear of the Lord is directly related to worshipping Him. To fear the Lord is not to cower away from Him. It is to come to Him in worship. Together with the fear of the Lord, there is rejoicing in Him (Psalm 96:11).
Worship and witness belong together. The building of the Temple speaks to us of the priority of worship. Before we can become witnesses, we must be worshippers. The ministry of Paul speaks to us of witness: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). Both our worship and our witness are to be filled with joy: “Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise His holy Name” (Psalm 97:12).
“The glory of the Lord filled the Temple of God” (2 Chronicles 5:14). There is glory among God’s people when He answers their prayers (2 Chronicles 6:40-42 and 2 Chronicles 7:1-3). All that we do is to be done “for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). This includes our life in the Church – our participation in the blood of Christ …. and the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:16). It also includes our life in the world – “If some unbeliever invites you to a meal …” (1 Corinthians 10:27). “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out” (Proverbs 20:5). Our hearts are searched by the Word of the Lord and through faith, which leads to understanding, we learn to glorify God.
Worship lies at the heart of the Christian life. If the blessing of God is to come upon His people, there must be the gathering together of the His people for worship. In calling His people to prayer, God says this: “Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place” (2 Chronicles 7:15). In worship, we gather together for proclamation – to “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Prayer and proclamation are accompanied by praise – “Sing to the Lord a new song …” (Psalm 98:1). The community of faith grows strong as it meets together for worship – to praise God, to pray to Him, to proclaim Him.
God uses the physical as an analogy of the spiritual. In 1 Corinthians 12, “the body” symbolizes the Church. In Song of Songs, the theme is physical love. By the Spirit of God, the physical language points beyond itself by using imagery which is suggestive of deep spiritual truth. What is happening in the heavenly realms always has great relevance to what is going on here on earth: “Great is the Lord in Zion; He is exalted over all the nations” (Psalm 99:2).
There is physical love (Song of Songs). There is the love spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13. There is the love of God – “For the Lord is good and His love endures for ever” (Psalm 100:5). The more we consider what the Scriptures say about love, the more we realize that ‘love is a many-splendoured thing.’ To understand love, there needs to be a response of love arising from our hearts. Touched by love, we learn to love.
Prayer, prophecy and praise – these are three essential ingredients of worship. Prayer – “They sought God eagerly and He was found by them” (2 Chronicles 15:15). Prophecy – “Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy” (1 Corinthians 14:39). Praise – “To You, O Lord, I will sing praise” (Psalm 101:1).
The people of God are to be “armed for battle” (2 Chronicles 17:18). The battle is spiritual. It can only be won through the power of the risen Christ. His purpose is the destruction of “the last enemy … death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). This has been accomplished, in principle, through Christ’s resurrection. The full reality of His victory will be seen at His return. With such a strong and victorious Lord on our side, we are encouraged to pray to the Lord, fully expecting to receive help from Him – “Hear my prayer, O Lord, let my cry for help come to You … “ (Psalm 102:1-2).
Those who were armed for battle received this message from the Lord: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 21:15). Now, we fight many battles. There will come a Day when these battles will be behind us and we will share in the glory of God: “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the Man from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:4-9). The glory of the Lord will be revealed. There will be no king but the Lord – “all the kings of the earth will revere Your glory” (Psalm 102:15).
The conflict between good and evil, godliness and ungodliness, may be seen throughout the Scriptures. This is particularly true in the history of the Old Testament kings. God is doing a work. Satan is doing all that he can to destroy it. We must make “a covenant … to be the Lord’s people” (2 Chronicles 23:16). We must never lose sight of the final outcome of the battle between good and evil. Satan will be “slain with the sword” (2 Chronicles 23:21). He will be “hurled down” – “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11). From our hearts, we can say, “But thanks to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). If we are to enjoy His victory, we must live in the light which shines from “the lamp of the Lord” (Proverbs 20:27).
During the time of the Old Testament kings, there was much “turning away from following the Lord” (2 Chronicles 25:27). In such times as these, we need to be encouraged to go on with the Lord: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love” (1 Corinthians16:13-14). The warnings from previous generations, together with the call to follow the Lord, are written for people of every generation: “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord” (Psalm 102:18).
“In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord” (2 Chronicles 28:22). Times of trouble can lead people towards bitterness and further rebellion against the Lord. On the other hand, times of trouble can be precisely the times when God’s purpose is most powerfully fulfilled – “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Ahaz’ rebellion against the Lord had negative effects on the whole of Israel. Scripture speaks of both “his downfall and the downfall of Israel” (2 Chronicles 28:23). We receive comfort from the Lord so that we may have a positive effect on others – “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). As we consider what God is seeking, even in our troubles, to do in us and for us, we must learn to say, with the Psalmist, “Praise the Lord, o my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2).
A revival of worship does not come from the worshippers. It comes from the God whom they worship – “what God had brought about for His people” (2 Chronicles 29:35b-36). “It is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:22). If we are live in obedience to God’s Word, we must give ourselves wholeheartedly to praising Him. This will involve more than paying lip-service to Him. We must do His will (Psalm 103:20-21).
“With us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:8). The battle will not be easy. “Satan” is seeking to “outwit us” (2 Corinthians 2:11). Nevertheless, “we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11). In our spiritual battle for God and against Satan, we need to know both our enemy and our God who helps us and fights for us. “The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin” (Proverbs 21:12). This is what Christ has done for us. This is what we are to do in Him.
Covenant – This is vitally important in both the Old Testament and the New Testament (2 Chronicles 34:29-32; 2 Corinthians 3:6). There is the Word of God (2 Chronicles 34:30) and the Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 3:6). There is the human response (2 Chronicles 34:31-32) and renewal by the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:6). Psalm 104 speaks much of “the waters.” This makes one think of Jesus’ words concerning “rivers of living water” (John 7:37-39) – the power of the Spirit being poured into our hearts (Psalm 104:10; Romans 5:5), satisfying our spiritual thirst (Psalm 104:11,13) and bringing fruitfulness into our lives (Psalm 104:14) with a sufficiency that comes from the Lord (Psalm 104:16).
The glory of Israel was a fading glory. We should read the closing chapters of 2 Chronicles in the light of 2 Corinthians 3:7 – The glory was fading. God, however, has revealed His glory in greater fullness – “what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:10). The renewal of God’s glory comes through the Spirit (Psalm 104:30).
“All the nations may walk in the names of their gods; we will walk in the Name of the Lord our God for ever and ever” (Micah 4:5). This is the kind of commitment the Lord is looking for. We commit ourselves to Him not for our benefit but for this purpose: “so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15). As part of this thanksgiving to God, we offer our song of praise to Him: “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (Psalm 104:33).