David's Prayer of Thankfulness - A Model for us

Text 1 Chronicles 17:16-27 Time 18 01 21 Place Childs Hill Baptist Church (Zoom)

I remember a teacher in school once telling us about an experiment where they took a group of line workers from a cornflakes factory to an abattoir. Apparently, they hardly reacted at all. I don’t know if they took them to see a great painting or the majestic view from a high mountain but I dare say that their reaction would have been similar. Not just factory workers but all of us can too easily become jaded and so unmoved by what is happening around us that we are not moved in the way that we ought to be by the things we see.
Perhaps nowhere is this more obvious than in our often listless and apathetic response to the Word of God. It is often said but if an angel from heaven came down among us and we could ask him questions we would probably be quite excited. However, having God's Word in the Bible as we do we very often fail to react to it as we ought to.
Here in 1 Chronicles 17:16-27 (as in its parallel in 2 Samuel 7) we have David’s reaction to the wonderful revelation of God’s covenant that he was vouched by God through Nathan the prophet following his proposal that he build a house for God, as we looked at last week. There is nothing listless or jaded about David's reaction. Quite the opposite. He is a very model for us of how we should react to God’s Word. He is a challenge to our apathy and indifference and shows us how we ought to be reacting to God’s covenant grace as it is revealed in God’s Word.
There are three reactions to note – giving thanks, praise and petition. All three ought to be there.
1. Give thanks to God for blessings past and future and for all his goodness
1. Give thanks to God for blessings past. We read in verse 16 Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: first of all Who am I, LORD God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? David had just been told that he was not only the king but that he had an everlasting dynasty to follow. At this point he is in Jerusalem, six miles from Bethlehem where he was born. In that sense he had not gone very far but when he thought of all that had happened in the years since Samuel had come and called him from his work as a shepherd boy there, so much had happened. All believers of any length of time can identify closely. Think of what you were. Think of how far the Lord has brought you. What grace there has been. How good the Sovereign Lord has been. We should be filled with amazement and thankfulness. Why me?
I was reading about a very successful American businessman the other day who has gone from rags to riches. He says “When I was starting out, I never thought I would get this far. I was always just trying to do well for myself.” He is amazed at his own success. Every Christian ought to be amazed at how he has been blessed and give thanks to God.
2. Give thanks to God for blessings future. David goes on (17) And as if this were not enough in your sight, my God, you have spoken about the future of the house of your servant. You, LORD God, have looked on me as though I were the most exalted of men. If we only had past grace to celebrate, it would be amazing but there is future grace too. We do not know how much longer we will be on earth but we do know that we have a future that stretches into eternity and that is only good. We will be blessed without question. The Bible speaks of a future in glory for all who trust in Jesus Christ. It is there to give us confidence. Worries about the future can paralyse us if we are not careful. We need not have them. If we only look to the Lord we can be confident. Give thanks for such assurances.
Hudson Taylor, founder of China Inland Mission, use to hang in his home a plaque with two Hebrew words on it: Ebenezer and JEHOVAH JIREH. The first word means "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." The second word means, "The Lord will see to it or provide." One looked back while the other looked forward. One reminded him of God's faithfulness and the other of God's assurances.
3. Give thanks to God for all his goodness. David sums up in verses 18 and 19 What more can David say to you for honouring your servant? For you know your servant, LORD. (You chose me I did not choose you). For the sake of your servant and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made known all these great promises. It is all God’s doing. I like that story that John Stott told of Principal Gibson leaving Ridley Hall, Oxford, and of being presented with a portrait in oils. He felt that in the future the question everyone would ask was not ‘Who is that man?’ but ‘Who was the artist?’ That is the question people who really know us ought to ask about us. This is the secret of anything we may achieve.
2. Praise God that he is unique and so are his people and so is his plan of salvation
1. Praise God that he is unique. David goes on (20) There is no one like you, LORD, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. There is no God that we could even imagine who would begin to outdo the true God, God as he is in himself. If we thought more about him, we would think more of him!
2. Praise God that he has a unique people and a unique plan of salvation. In verses 21, 22 David steps back a little and thinks not just of himself but of the people of God as a whole. We always ought to think like that. He thinks of the way God redeemed them. 21 And who is like your people Israel - the one nation on earth whose God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for yourself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? It is God who redeems his people. Christ died on the cross to provide a way out from sin and from misery for all who trust in him.
Having redeemed his people God will keep them to the very end 22 You made your people Israel your very own forever, and you, LORD, have become their God. We belong to the Lord now and we will persevere to the end. What a wonderful fact. In a love that cannot cease he is ours and we are his. What a privilege to be part of the people of God. And you, O LORD, have become their God. Not only are we his but he is ours. He is our God with all that implies.
3. Pray that God will go ahead and do just what he has promised to do for his people
In verses 23-27 David simply prays that God will do what he has promised to do. That is part of what we do in prayer - we remember God's promises and we pray that God will do as he has said he will do. Four things then
1. Pray that God will keep his promises. This really sums up the way David prays and the way we ought to pray. 23 And now, LORD God, keep for ever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised. God has promised abundant blessing to all who trust in him and all he wants from us is that we hold him to his Word. That is largely what prayer is about. As David sat there he took his stand on the promises of God. We need to do the same.
2. Pray that God will be glorified. The reason David prays as he does is so (24) that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, The LORD Almighty, the God over Israel, is Israel's God! And the house of your servant David will be established before you. Do we truly want the glory of God? If we really do, we will expressions of this in our prayers and we will pray more than we do.
3. Pray to express your faith in the Lord. Calvin points out more than once that prayer is our chief expression of faith. When David prays he expresses his faith in God. 25, 26 You, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him. So your servant has found courage to pray to you. You, LORD, are God! You have promised these good things to your servant. Is your faith in the Lord too?
4. Pray confidently for God’s blessings. 27 Now you have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue for ever in your sight; for you, LORD, have blessed it, and it will be blessed forever. That is how to pray. Do we pray like that? May be the problem is that we do not think enough about God's grace to us and how thankful we should be. Surely more thanksgiving and praise would lead to greater prayerfulness.
Sometimes golfers suffer with a condition they call the yips. It is defined as “Nervousness or tension that causes an athlete to fail to perform effectively, especially in missing short putts in golf.” Some really struggle with it but then they are able to get their confidence back and overcome it. We don't want to have the yips over God. Rather, we should be confident in him. God will never let us down if we look to him.