Word of Encouragement (02/28/2024)

Pastor James
February 28, 2024

And Solomon said, "You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. 7 And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. 9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?" (1 Kings 3:6-9)

Before Solomon replied to God’s offer, he gave thanks to God for what He had already done for him. He began his thanksgiving by properly acknowledging that whatever blessing he had received from God had to be traced back to his father, David: “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you” (v. 6). Solomon was aware of God’s covenant with David. David would not have kept this a secret, especially from Solomon, his crown prince.

Solomon’s words in v. 6 may sound strange to our new covenant ears. They sound as though God’s covenant with David was based on his goodness, not on God’s unconditional election. We know that that is not true. This is what God said when He established His covenant with David: “I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel” (2 Sam. 7:8). God chose David when he was nothing—just a youthful shepherd, the youngest of eight brothers. The same idea was expressed in God’s words concerning His covenant with Israel: “The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers...” (Deut. 7:6-8). Edmond Clowney summarized these words in this way: “I love you because I love you”—a striking expression of God’s unconditional election.

Then, how could Solomon speak as though David earned God’s love and faithfulness to him with his faithfulness, righteousness, and uprightness of heart toward God? While he had God’s covenant with David in mind, he was not necessarily speaking of David’s merit as the basis of the covenant. He was simply acknowledging God’s goodness and righteousness: He rewards those who serve Him in faithfulness; He punishes those who rebel against Him. That should not surprise us, should it? God cannot deny Himself. God will not reject anyone who comes to Him (John 6:37). God told Isaiah, “Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed” (Isa. 6:10). What is implied about God in these words? If they turned to God in repentance, God would heal them as if He had no choice but to do that because He was bound by His merciful nature!

Of course, David could not do what he did apart from God’s grace. As Paul confessed, “...by the grace of God I am what I am.... I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Cor. 15:10). Yet, God is gracious enough to bless those who serve Him by the strength of His enabling grace. All this is possible because of Jesus Christ. Even “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isa. 64:6), but they are covered by Christ’s righteousness and made acceptable to God. So, we have the assurance that our labor for God in Christ will not be in vain, and God will show His great and steadfast love to us in a bountiful measure! Let us be diligent in doing His work at home, at work, and in the church!