David’s prayer


1 Chronicles
29:10-19

The Lord’s Prayer taught by Jesus to his disciples is the best-known prayer in the Holy Bible. Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:

‘Our Father who is in Heaven,

   hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done

on earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our debts

   as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

   but deliver us from the evil one.

For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.  Amen’.” (Matthew 6:9-13).

This is the way we should pray, a model for us. It is not what we should pray, although many people and many churches take it as a fixed prayer and use it verbatim. Are we too lazy to frame our own prayers on this model, and too lazy to even change “daily bread” to “daily rice”?

A less well known prayer in the Bible is that of David, uttered in his old age before the whole assembly at Jerusalem some five centuries before the coming of Christ. It is recorded in 1 Chronicles 29:10-19. The prayer starts out in praise:

“Praise be to you, O LORD,

God of our father Israel,

from everlasting to everlasting” (v.10).  

Isn’t it remarkably similar to the Lord’s Prayer? Whereas the Lord’s Prayer says, “hallowed be your name”, David mentioned the substitute name of God, “Adonai”, used by the Jews of those times and even today to avoid taking the name of God in vain. 

It is interesting that J. Barton Payne in his commentary on 1&2 Chronicles, in Volume 4 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 1988, noted that “the Hebrew word order could suggest divine fatherhood – ‘Yahweh, God of Israel, our Father’”. This is remarkably similar to the opening words of the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name (i.e. Yahweh)”.

In praising God right at the start of his prayer and mentioning “everlasting to everlasting”, David reminded himself and all of Israel that his God was, eternal, and worthy of praise.

David then said,

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power,

and the glory and the majesty and the splendour,

for everything in Heaven and earth is yours.”

How many times does the word “your” appear in the first two verses of the Lord’s Prayer?

Yes, four times. The focus at the beginning of both prayers is very much on God, and his greatness, and the fact that He is in Heaven. So great is He that everything in Heaven and earth belongs to him. If God owns everything, He is able to supply anything we need. And we need to remind ourselves of that, lest our image of God has become so small that we doubt his ability to answer our prayers.

Let’s take a closer look at v.11. Isn’t it a thought-provoking, if not mind-boggling, list of the attributes of God?  For, to God belongs:

“the greatness and the power,

the glory and the majesty and the splendour”.

Why is the article “the” used repeatedly? Is it not superfluous? Indeed not. “The” conveys the implication of “all the”, for example all the greatness, all the power, and so on. And in case we did not catch that, David has inserted a clarifying clause: “and everything in Heaven and earth.” Greatness, power, glory, etc. … everything belongs to God.

Continuing to focus on God (and not on his own needs), David adds:

Yours O LORD, is the Kingdom,

you are exalted as head over all.

Wealth and honour come from you,

you are the ruler of all things.”  

Hmmm, “Yours is the Kingdom”, where have we heard it before? Yes, it is echoed in the Lord’s Prayer in late manuscripts of the book of Matthew. But which Kingdom did David mean? Was it the Kingdom ruled by King David, or the Kingdom of Heaven, also known as the Kingdom of God? To make his meaning clear, David said, “You are the ruler of all things” (v.12). When Jesus Christ used the same words, “Yours is the Kingdom” there was no king ruling over Israel, so it was clearly the spiritual Kingdom of God he meant.

So what David was saying was that God, not King David, was the real King over Israel and in fact over everything. He is our King today. What an awesome God He is. He is the Almighty God before whom David humbled himself. And so should we. Yet, today, we often slip into the bad habit of telling God what we want done, as if we are the Master and He is our servant, when the truth is that we are nothing but God’s servants and should be asking him in all humbleness, “What do you want me to do today, Lord? May your will be done and not mine.”  When was the last time you said, “Please” when asking something from God?

Only after he had repeatedly given God praise and honour, and acknowledged Him as Father and King over all things, did David turn to the matter at hand – the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem, for God. And for that task, David acknowledged dependence on God. “In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all” (v.12), that is, to build the Temple.

Now David had contributed huge amounts of money and materials towards the building of the Temple. If he had been a lesser man, now was the opportunity for David to indulge in a bit of boasting about his contributions. Instead, David kept hubris, arrogance, away and asked an extraordinarily humble question: “Who am I, and who are my people that we should be able to give as generously as this?” For David realised that “Everything comes from you (God), and we have given only what comes from your hand” (v.14). And he reiterated this in v.16.  David gave all the credit and the glory to God, in front of a huge crowd. What a God-centred prayer David prayed.

David humbled himself before his great, powerful, glorious, majestic, splendorous God who owned and ruled over everything in Heaven and earth. Before this supremely capable and powerful God, could there be any doubt that his prayer would be answered? Shouldn’t we too pray like David did?
  

Introducing ...

We continue with our review of journals currently received by BGST Library. This week we highlight

 CHRISTIAN HISTORY: 
STUDIES IN CHRISTIANITY & CULTURE

Church History: Studies in Christianity & Culture (CH) is a quarterly journal published by the American Society of Church History.  Unlike 'specialised' journals like the Studia Patristica (which covers research on the early church fathers), CH aims to cover a wide spectrum of historical research.  The December 2006 issue, for example, contains articles as diverse as Reading the Ancient Christian Martyr Acts as Spiritual Exercises to Revivalism in South Carolina (USA) in the eighteenth century! 

In addition, CH contains useful reviews of recently published historical books.  These are excellent means of helping readers to keep abreast of the latest scholarly developments in their field of research.  For students anxious about their research papers, the short but perceptive insights of these reviews will probably help them decide whether to read or buy a specific book for their research.  For example, I stumbled across a review of a new book by one of my previous Professors, Prof. Bruce Hindmarsh (Regent College) on The Evangelical Conversion Narrative: Spiritual Autobiography in Early Modern England.  After reading it, I was convinced to purchase the book for my library - when the cheaper soft copy version arrives!

Given the eclectic nature of CH's contents, students are advised to use BGST's ATLA databases to identify the relevant CH journal issues, before consulting the specific issues.  (Lai Pak Wah)
 

Chapel Notes

Chapel on 18 April 2007

Immanuel, our MTh student from India, spoke from Psalm 150 on the importance of worshipping and praising God wholeheartedly. A musician himself, he did not only speak about praise and worship, but he demonstrated it "in action" by playing a congo drum and a tabla with a variety of rhythms.

Chapel speaker on May 2 will be Miss Alvina Ng.  
 

News Bits 

Required Courses for MDiv - 2007

¨      Theological Foundations II (TS21, 3 credits, video class). Lecturer: Dr Douglas Milne. Tutor: Mr Lai Pak Wah. The tutorial dates are May 19, June 2, 30, July 14, August 4, 11 (Saturdays). Time: 9.30am-12noon. Venue: 4 Bishan St 13, level 3, Room 308.

¨       The Christian Spirit (TS251, 3 credits, video class). Lecturer: Prof. James Houston. Tutor: Mr John Chong Ser Choon. The tutorials dates are September 5, 12, 19, 26, October 3, 10 (Wednesdays). Time: 7.30-9.30pm. Venue: 31 Tanjong Pagar Rd.

Course description is available on our website. Please register on-line.
 

 A Blessed Birthday to…

Mr Ng Kee Seng  30/4

Ms Orchid Chua  1/5

Mrs Jacob-Tan Lee Pin  2/5

Mr Wan Hong Tian  3/5

Rev Ng Seng Chuan  4/5

Mr Lee Fatt Ping  4/5

Mr Seah Min Aun  4/5

Ms Carolyn Gan  5/5

Ms Iris Lee  5/5

Mrs Low Bee Hong  5/5

Mr Alvin Tey  5/5

Ms Yeo Kim  6/5

Ms Alvina Ng  6/5

Ms Chong Sook Yee  6/5

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