Preaching David’s Prayer (or Paul’s for that matter): Preaching Through 1 Chronicles

It’s really that simple. God intends for His people to agree with David’s prayer in 1 Chronicles 17:16-27. It’s the same with Paul’s prayers in the NT. Here are a few angles for preaching these Old and New Testament prayers.

First, theology about God, humankind, and redemption are to be believed. In 1 Chronicles 17:16-19 the sovereignty of God in choosing David results in David’s humility: “…Who am I, O Lord God…that you have brought me thus far?” (v. 16).

In v. 27 God is acknowledged as the Source of blessing.

Or, how about the theology in v. 20 “There is none like you, O Lord, and there is no God besides you…”

Second, what David wants for God is what we want for God too. Often the Church can pray the same requests as David (and Paul if you happen to be preaching in an epistle). We want God’s name to “be established and magnified forever” (v. 24).

Third and maybe most important for the Church is asking and answering the question, “Does God answer David’s prayer (or Paul’s prayer) and if so why?” God answers David’s prayer as long as David and God’s people fulfill the conditions of the covenant.

Of course, we know the rest of the Story: David and Solomon can’t keep the spiritual momentum going and the kingdom dissolves. Thankfully, we also know the rest of the rest of the Story: one greater than Solomon (cf. Matt. 12:42) arrives, perfectly keeps faith and through death, resurrection, ascension, and dispatching the Spirit becomes our Eternal King who secures the blessing of God for all who believe.

The prayers of David and Paul too, for that matter, are answered as Believers enjoy their privileged position in Christ.

I hope you’ll consider preaching these prayers of David so God can continue to receive glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).

Randal

Preaching the Psalms in 1 Chronicles: Preaching Through 1 Chronicles

When you arrive at 1 Chronicles 16:7 you discover you’ve changed genres. We move out of narrative and into Hebrew poetry/psalms. We worship by allowing this song to guide our worship in church and in life. That means at least 7 aspects of worship, plus the reason why God deserves our worship.

So, as you read through the Psalm you can teach that worship involves:

  1. Giving thanks (vv. 8a, 34a)
  2. Asking for help (vv. 8b, 11, 35)
  3. Singing His praises (vv. 9a, b, 10, 23a, 28-29a, 36). Let me pause for a moment and point out in v. 10 that God commands us to be happy. I always love that. He says, “I know life is often hard, but I’m good and I am putting together the pieces of My broken world. You are a part of that restoration while you wait for Me to finish the job.” Your congregants will appreciate the honesty, the balance of brokenness and wholeness they experience.
  4. Witnessing in the world (vv. 8c, 9c, 23b-24). I must admit: I didn’t see that one coming. But, as you can see in the Psalm, corporate worship involves instruction to tell the Story. If I was a techie, I’d write: Tweet This: Every worship service is a commissioning service. But, I’m not…
  5. Remembering His promises (vv. 12-22)
  6. Bringing an offering (v. 29b). We’ll see more on this in the last chapter of 1 Chronicles.
  7. Becoming holy (v. 29c). It can’t get much clearer: “Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness…” It’s a great time to remind everyone that we can’t worship God and rebel against Him at the same time.

Finally, vv. 25-27, 30-33, 34b, c provide the reason why God deserves our worship: “For great is the Lord…” (v. 25).

If you’re interested in making a Christo-centric application (more on the difference between Christ-centered interpretation and application later maybe), you can move from v. 15-16 (“Remember his covenant forever…”) to the New Covenant in His blood (cf. Luke 22:20).

Preach the Psalms in Chronicles, or the Psalms in Psalms for that matter, so God receives glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).

Randal

Preaching Gideon Vs. Midian As A Paradigm For Salvation

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If and when you preach through Judges, you will discover that God spent a lot of biblical real estate on the Gideon narrative. God gives tons of detail on Gideon versus Midian, probably because that contest functions as a paradigm for our salvation. Gideon is a highly unlikely military leader; his victory over the Midianites was a highly unlikely victory. That’s the point.

You’re familiar with how unsure Gideon was about God’s plan and how he asked God more than once to confirm the plan with a miracle (“the fleece”). Where’s his faith anyway?! It’s comforting to see how God did not chastise Gideon for his doubts. No lecturing; just confirming. Of course, Gideon’s example is not instruction for us to “go and do likewise.”

But the key to the narrative and its theology is God’s instruction to Gideon to whittle down his army, “lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.'” (cf. Judges 7:2). This is one of those examples of how the narrative provides a huge clue to meaning.

And be careful how you explain the Lord’s way of decreasing the size of Gideon’s army. God doesn’t tell us why the “lappers” are chosen, but not the “kneelers.” Whatever God’s reason, His intention was to take away any cause for Israel to boast in their strength. So contrary to many preachers’ explanations, the 300 who are selected are a sign of weakness, not strength. Plus, note that they take “trumpets” (v. 8, 22), not spears or bows. The soldiers were turned into fierce instrumentalists!

But God gives His people the victory over the Midianites. And it’s a great reminder of the fact that our salvation is all of God and none of us. We have a strong Savior who continually delivers us from overpowering forces that threaten to undue us. He graciously saves and sanctifies us. He does it all by Himself so we can only boast in the cross of Christ.

Preach well for sake of His reputation in the Church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).

Randal

Preaching Deborah’s Song in Judges 5: Celebrating Our Spiritual Victories

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First, the image is not about me.

Second, it fits because our world consistently celebrates victories such as being tobacco, alcohol, porn, or drug free for x amount of time.

That’s sort of what’s happening in Judges 5 and Deborah’s song. Judges is peppered with defeats. Deborah and Barak sing a song that celebrates a tremendous victory. Throughout the study of Judges I’ve had to translate their victory over their physical enemies into our spiritual victories over temptation and sin. That’s especially important if we’re going to preach this chapter in a way that functions for the church.

I think it’s easier for our faith-family to celebrate financial milestones. It’s important for us to develop a culture that can celebrate spiritual milestones too.

But, if you ever preach on Judges 5, it’s a great opportunity to highlight how God fights hard for us. In another famous OT song in Exodus 15:3 we read, “The Lord is a man of war…” Maybe not too popular in our day, but I love the fact that our God fights for His own. Judges 5:20 contains this great statement: “From heaven the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera.” (If you’re interested in understanding this statement, take some time to read Parry’s fascinating book, The Biblical Cosmos.)

Our cause for repeated celebration is that our God continually gives us spiritual victories over temptation and sin. This gives our people opportunities to express their thanks and joy for these “wins.” Verses 1, 3-11a, 19-22 contain this thought of God protecting His own.

Then, in vv. 2, 11b-18, 23-27 we learn the vital part that God’s people play in their own victories. God fights for us. True. We also fight for faith and obedience. We read in v. 2 “That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly…” Then in v. 18 “Zebulun is a people who risked their lives to the death…” Passivity won’t cut it in the fight against temptation and sin.

The chapter closes with some incentive for us to be on God’s side in this fight (vv. 28-31). Deborah’s song contains a terrible scene of Sisera’s mother waiting for her son to return and wondering why he’s taking so long. Verse 31 states: “So may all your enemies perish, O Lord!”

This chapter–this song–is one of the hardest to preach in Judges. The key is to be genre sensitive. Chapter 5 is a celebration of having achieved a victory. Let that drive the sermon. We could use a little more celebration in our faith-family, a little more acknowledging of how God is carrying us through this world with our faith intact.

Preach well for the sake of His reputation (Ephesians 3:21),

Randal