The Morning Prayer lectionary for Monday took us through 1 Chronicles 22. It tells us that David wanted to build God’s house (v 7), but because there was so much blood on his hands from all the wars he fought (v 8), God had said he could not. Solomon his son will build the temple (v 9).
Instead of being miffed, David was very concerned that “the house that is to be built for the Lord must be exceedingly magnificent, of fame and glory throughout all lands.” (v 5), so he gathers materials for the work (v 5) – gold, silver, iron, bronze, cedar, cut stone, etc (v 2,3,14) – and he gets all the craftsmen that are required (v 15. He ensured Solomon would have all that he needed to build something spectacular.
It got me pondering: Imagine there was something I really wanted to do for the Lord, but he decided it should be done by someone else. Would I be happy and supportive or sullen and resentful?
In David’s case it was even more difficult.
He was the one who had prepared the way for Solomon. He had waged war most of his life and finally established Israel’s hold on the land. He did all the grunt work because that was what God gave him to do. As a result, he had blood on his hands and was therefore no longer suitable to build God’s house. In David’s case, he accepted this cheerfully and worked hard to ensure that all the supplies and workmen were gathered so that the work could be done to its best.
It is really difficult to be the one who does the hard work so that someone else can do the fun part and win all the accolades. If I was David, I would probably have been very unhappy.
But the Psalm for the day is Psalm 19, a Psalm that reflects David’s mindset. (It was not written in the context of this matter, but it reveals his perspective on life.) It starts with David wondering at the glory of God revealed in creation (v 1-6). It expresses his joy and delight at God’s word (v 7-11) which revives the soul and gives joy, wisdom, and light. Finally, David reflects on how God helps him discern his errors, protects him from hidden faults and delivers him from presumptuous sins (v 12-13).
David’s whole purpose in life is expressed in the final verse: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer” (v 14).
David avoids resentment because his goal is not to achieve something big for God but simply to be used as God wants to use him. Our purpose in life is to be faithful to what God gives us to do – big or small, exciting or mundane. That is how David could pour himself wholeheartedly into supporting Solomon to do the thing he had wanted to do himself. There is freedom and peace in this kind of open-handedness towards God.