"So Far as I Was Able"
1 Chronicles 29:1-21
"So 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." (1 Chronicles 29:2)
As he came to the end of his reign over Israel, David made preparations for his son Solomonís reign of peace. David, the warrior king, had expanded the borders of the kingdom so his son could reign over a peaceful kingdom. Rather than build a kingdom, Solomonís purpose as king was intended to focus on construction of the temple of God, a project for which David had yearned. Though David was forbidden from building a house in which the ark of the covenant would rest, he spent years preparing, collecting, and providing for its construction. In the final chapter of First Chronicles, a testimony to Davidís preparation reveals to us several principles which we can apply as we offer to God gifts from our free will.
As the twenty-ninth chapter opens, David addresses the assembly of Godís people, extolling the importance of the work before Solomon and all Israel in the building of the temple. Before asking the congregation to contribute to this noble effort, the aging king demonstrates his own commitment to this cause. From the treasury of Israel, "as far as he was able", David had provided for the house of God. Additionally, the righteous ruler had personally put his own wealth towards the construction of this glorious temple.
Answering the kingís invitation to join with him in this work, the leaders among the people first contribute of their own free will. Heads of houses, tribes, and clans and commanders of the army of Israel all come together to graciously fund the house where God would one day place His name in Jerusalem. Then, following the example of their leaders, the people wholeheartedly unite to collect an astounding amount of riches.
"But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You." (1 Chronicles 29:14)
Impressed by the generosity of the congregation, David joyfully gives thanks to God, uttering a prayer which may challenge our thinking about our own giving. God is exalted as the owner of everything and origin of all. Riches, blessing, honor, and strength all come from Him and are due Him. In essence, the man with the heart of God relates that those who give to God are simply conduits of Godís possessions, transferring them from one hand into the other. Humbled by the realization of his own position before the Sovereign, David gratefully thanks God for the opportunity he and Israel had been given and asks the Almighty to forever keep such motives and purpose within the hearts of His people. Closing the prayer, the king commands the masses to praise Jehovah. And worship God they do -- offering from their joyful hearts even more in the form of sacrifices, libations, and burnt offerings.
Looking within this text regarding this period of preparation for the building of the temple, we can see several timeless principles which guided the giving of the Israelites and can guide our giving today as well...
First, giving which pleases God is both purposeful and intentional. The thoughtless tossing of a few coins or bills into a collection plate as it passes is unimaginable when considering the importance of serving God. Davidís example of giving was based on his devotion to the work which was to be done. The temple would honor God, and therefore David had intended to do all he could to provide for that purpose (29:2). Only after exhibiting such a prioritized practice before the people did David call upon the masses to match his devotion. Yet even in his charge to contribute to the construction of the temple, David did not call for cash, but appealed to the people to consecrate themselves to God (29:5). Similarly, excellent examples of purposeful giving in the New Testament Scriptures are the matchless Macedonians who were able to generously give because they had first given themselves to the Lord (2 Cor. 8:5). Before we consider how much we should give to God, we must consider if weíve first given ourselves to God. Once we are Godís possession, we should not give thoughtlessly or from our "leftovers", but our contribution must be considered and purposed in our hearts (2 Cor. 9:7).
Another principle of giving found within this account is that gifts to God are to be consecrated, set apart for God and His purposes. Not only were the people consecrated (29:5), but the collection was to be put into a treasury to be used only for the construction of the temple (29:8). Even today, the Lordís people contribute to a common collection which is to be used only for those purposes which God has ordained (1 Cor. 16:1-3). Care for destitute saints (1 Cor. 16:1), and other works of benevolence, evangelism, worship and edification of the saints -- those works with which God has charged the church -- are the only appropriate uses for these consecrated funds (1 Cor. 9:14; 1 Tim. 5:9-10, 17; Heb. 10:24-25). Certainly we would not misappropriate monies from this treasury by using them for more common means which merely suit our own tastes and interests in the worldly arenas of entertainment, recreation, or secular education.
A third principle which defines the giving which glorifies God is that each oneís gift is of his own volition. From David to the leaders to the common man, each individual chose to give towards the Lordís house on his own. The text stresses the willingness of the people to contribute to this noble purpose (29:6, 9). No less does God expect, nor will He accept, from those who would serve Him today (2 Cor. 9:7). Our gifts must come from our wholehearted, joyful devotion to our Heavenly Father. Just as the Israelites rejoiced in their contribution and subsequent overflow of offerings (29:9, 20-21), we should count it a privilege to take from His one hand and give it into the other (29:16). What a joy it is to be counted as worthy stewards of the Creator (29:14)!
Finally, within this passage -- and throughout the Scriptures -- it is evident that God is glorified in generosity of giving (29:14, 16). How we view God will be evident in many aspects of our lives, not the least of which is our giving. Do we believe that He provides for us? Then our giving will not be lessened because of anxieties over our needs (2 Cor. 9:8-9). Do we consider Him as our highest priority (Matt. 6:33)? Then our giving will reflect it.
This final chapter in the Chroniclesí account of Davidís reign should inspire us to emulate the heart of this humble servant of God in our giving so that each of us may also say that we have given "so far as I was able".
By Stuart Tullis
From Expository Files 12.12; December 2005