THE CHRONICLER’S ACCOUNT OF David’s death is preceded by the story of the wealthy gifts that would finance temple construction after David’s demise and the prayer David offered in this connection (1 Chron. 29). It is not so much the quantity of money given by David and the others that is striking, as the theology of David’s prayer. The highlights include the following points:
(1) In the opening doxology (1 Chron. 29:10–13), David acknowledges that everything is God’s (1 Chron. 29:11). If we human beings “own” anything, we must frankly confess, “Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things” (1 Chron. 29:12). Hence in the body of the prayer, David says, “Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand” (1 Chron. 29:14); again, as for all this wealth that is being collected, “it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you” (1 Chron. 29:16). Such a stance utterly destroys any notion of us “giving” something to God in any absolute terms. It becomes a pleasure to give to God, not only because we love him, but because we happily recognize that all we “own” is his anyway.
(2) Small wonder, then, that the prayer begins with exuberant expressions of praise (1 Chron. 29:10).
(3) David recognizes that all human existence is transient. God himself is to be praised “from everlasting to everlasting” (1 Chron. 29:10), but as for us, “we are aliens and strangers in your sight, as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope” (1 Chron. 29:15). This passage is extraordinary. The Israelites are in the Promised Land, at “rest”; yet, as in Psalm 95 and Hebrews 3:6–4:11; 11:13, this cannot be the ultimate rest, for they are still “aliens and strangers.” David is king, the head of a powerful and enduring dynasty. Individually, however, monarch and peasant alike must confess that their “days on earth are like a shadow” (1 Chron. 29:15). Here is a man of faith who knows he must be grounded in the One who inhabits eternity, or else he amounts to nothing.
(4) David lays formidable stress on integrity: “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.… And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you” (1 Chron. 29:17). The success of this fundraising is not measured in monetary value, but in the integrity with which the wealth was given.
(5) In the final analysis, David frankly recognizes that continued devotion and integrity of life are impossible apart from the intervening grace of God (1 Chron. 29:18). Thus any possibility of personal hubris based on the amount of money donated is dissolved in grateful recognition of God’s gracious sovereignty.