Psalm 74, 1 Chronicles 29: 9 – 30 and Colossians 3: 18 – 4: 6
Yet God is my king from of old, working salvation in the earth. Psalm 74: 12
Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. 1 Chronicles 29: 11
Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3: 23
We come to the end of King David’s life. Our reading from 1 Chronicles 29 describes the national act of worship and thanksgiving marking the presentation of gifts to be used in the building of the Temple. You may recall that David was told by God he was not the one to do the actual construction, as his reign had been about nation-building and quelling enemies (and much blood had been shed). The task would lie with the young King Solomon, while peace and prosperity prevailed.
Looking at the texts I have quoted, we can see a recognition of God’s sovereignty. Psalm 74 seems to be set against a backdrop of despair and questioning, beginning with the question of why it seemed God had cast them off and why he was angry with them. We have seen and learned enough of the Old Testament to realise that the fault lay with the people and not God. He never casts us off, but it is our neglect and rebellion that separates us from Him and gives the perception that God is at a distance. The psalm lists the sacrilegious acts of the enemy, desecrating the holy place of God on Mount Zion. Thankfully glimmers of hope emerge, as in verse 12, where the writer understands the long view of history; things may be bad now, but better times will come. Our reading from 1 Chronicles marks a turning point, as David leads the act of worship to dedicate the construction materials, precious metals and jewels. David’s opening prayer is familiar, as we have inherited it in our contemporary Eucharistic liturgy as the offertory prayer. With the reign of Solomon, the Temple will be rebuilt in splendid form, following God’s instruction for its construction and adornment.
The next day was devoted to further worship and sacrifice, and then the coronation of Solomon. The period of David’s reign was forty years, and it is apparent looking back over the preceding chapters that David’s thoughts had been focused on the Temple rebuilding project for some considerable time. While he knew he was not the one to oversee the construction, and was no doubt disappointed not to be able to offer this practical act of worship, he wanted to make sure Solomon had everything he needed.
Our reading from the end of Paul’s letter to the Colossian Christians begins with domestic matters, thinking of respectful and loving family relationships as being the bedrock of Christian society. He moves on to consider the position of Christian slaves and the respect due to their masters, along with the need to work conscientiously. Paul then expands this thought into the verse I quoted (3: 23), where the principle can be applied to all our activity. In our working lives the daily mundane duties should all be done to give honour to God, as part of our Christian witness. When we are able to return to worship in church and we re-engage in the many support activities we will be doing it for God’s glory. In our lives at home, all our activities can be directed to God as acts of worship, as we lay our lives before God, echoing David’s offertory prayer.
Through all of life’s experiences – and many are only now emerging from a prolonged period of apprehension, and many have suffered ill health or loss because of the Covid-19 virus – we need to remain focused on the certainty of Psalm 74: 12: Yet God is my king from of old, working salvation in the earth. While we may struggle in the present circumstances and question what has gone before, we need to trust that God is indeed working salvation in the earth. We should be ready to play whatever part in this spiritual enterprise God intends for us, as we await the glories of heaven.
God is working his purpose out as year succeeds to year:
God is working his purpose out, and the time is drawing near;
nearer and nearer draws the time the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.
Arthur Campbell Ainger, 1894