One Worker Preparing For Another
“Now behold, in my trouble I have prepared for the House of the LORD an hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand talents of silver; and of brass and iron without weight: for it is in abundance: timber also and stone have I prepared; and you may add thereto.”
1 Chronicles 22:14
THE building of the Temple is an admirable type of the building of the Church of God. I am afraid that there are some present with us at this time who have never helped to build the spiritual Temple for Christ. They are not, themselves, living stones. They are no part of God’s spiritual house and they have never helped to bring their cedar, or iron, or gold to the great Builder of the Church. In fact, there may be some here who have rather helped to pull it down–some who have delighted to throw away the stones–and who have tried to hide from the Divine Builder the precious material which He intends to use in the sacred edifice. Judge your own hearts and if you cannot say that you are a living stone–if you have not helped to build up the Church of Christ–may you be granted Divine Grace to repent of your sin and may the Grace of God convert you! But if you are workers for the Lord. If your hearts are right with God, I think that I shall be able to say some things that will encourage you to work on, even if you should not, for a time, see any immediate results from your work.
There were many who helped to build the Temple–David gathering the materials; Solomon, the master mason, by whose name the Temple would afterwards be called; the princes helping him in the great work; strangers, foreigners and aliens who dwelt throughout Israel and Judah–these all took their share and even the Tyrians and Zidonians had a part in the work! Now we have here many ministers of God and students, Davids and Solomons, but I pray that many who are strangers, as yet, may be enlisted in this holy service by our great Lord and King, and that some, who are farthest off from Christ–Tyrians and Zidonians who have gone far away from God–may be enabled, by Divine Grace, to contribute their share to this glorious work of building a house for the living God, a house not made of gold, silver, stone and timber, but a spiritual house for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit!
- In considering our text, let us notice, first, that DAVID HAD ZEALOUSLY DONE HIS PART although he might not build the Temple. There are many servants of God whose names are little known, who, nevertheless, are doing a work that is essential to the building up of the Church of God. I have known many such who have never lived to realize any great success–their names have never been written upon any great temples that have been built–but, nevertheless, they have worthily done their part, even as David did.
You see, then, first, that David had gathered the materials. Many a man collects people together and yet he has not the fashioning of them. He is the founder of a Christian congregation, but he does not live to see many conversions. He gets together the raw materials upon which another shall work. He plows and he sows, but it needs another man to come and water the seed and, perhaps, another to gather the harvest. Still, the sower did his work and deserves to be remembered for what he did. David did his part of the work, in getting together the materials for the Temple.
Besides which, he fashioned some of the materials. He had the stone cut from the quarry and many of them shaped to take their places, by-and-by, in silence in the Temple, when it should be reared without sound of hammer or axe. So there are teachers and preachers who help to form the characters of their scholars and hearers by working away upon their minds and hearts. They will never build up a great Church, but they are knocking the rough edges off the stones. They are preparing and fashioning them and, by-and-by, the builder will come and make good use of them.
David had prepared the way for Solomon’s Temple. It was by his fighting that the time of peace came in which the Temple could be erected. Though he is called a man of blood, yet it is necessary that the foes of Israel should be overthrown. There could be no peace till her adversaries had been crushed and David did that. You do not hear much about the men who prepare the way for others. Somebody else comes along and, apparently, does all the work–and his name is widely known and honored! But God remembers the heralds, the pioneers, the men who prepare the way, the men who, by casting out devils, routing grievous errors and working necessary reforms, prepare the way for the triumphal progress of the Gospel.
Moreover, David found the site for the Temple. He discovered it. He purchased it and he handed it over to Solomon. We do not always remember the men who prepare the sites for the Lord’s Temples. Luther is rightly remembered, but there were Reformers before Luther. There were hundreds of men and women who were burned for Christ, or who perished in prison, or who were put to cruel deaths for the Gospel. Luther comes when the occasion has been made for him and when a site has been cleared for him upon which to build the Temple of God. But God remembers all those preReformation heroes! It may be your lot, dear Friend, to clear a site and to make the occasion for others–and you may die before you see even a cornerstone of your work laid–but it will be yours when it is finished and God will remember what you have done!
Further, it was David who received the plans from God. The Lord wrote upon his heart what He would have done. He told him even to the weight of the candlesticks and lamps–everything that was to be arranged. Solomon, wise as he was, did not plan the Temple. He had to borrow the designs from his father who received them directly from God. Many a man is far-seeing–he gets the plan of the Gospel into his heart, he sees a way in which great things can be done–and yet he is scarcely permitted to put his own hands to the work! Another will come, by-and-by, and will carry out the plan that the first one received–but we must not forget the first man who went into the secret place of the Most High and learned in the place of thunder what God would have His people do!
David did one thing more before he died–he gave a solemn charge to others. He charged Solomon, the princes and all the people to carry out the work of building the Temple. I revere the man who, in his old age, when there is weight in every syllable that he utters, concludes his life by urging others to carry on the work of Christ! It is something to gather about your last bed young men who have years of usefulness before them and to lay upon their consciousness and their heart the duty of preaching Christ Crucified–and winning the souls of men for the Lord.
So you see that David had done his part toward the building of the Temple. I should like to ask every Believer here, Have you done your part? You are a child of God. God has loved you and chosen you. You have been redeemed with precious blood. You know better than to think of working in order to save yourself. You are saved–but have you diligently done all that you can for your Lord and Master? It was well said, in the Prayer Meeting before this service, that there are several thousand members of this Church who could not preach–and there are some who do preach of whom the same thing might be said, for it is poor preaching, after all! And our Brother said in prayer, “Lord, help us who cannot preach to pray for the man who does!” Have you, dear Friend, who cannot preach, made a point of praying for the pastor of the Church to which you belong? It is a great sin on the part of Church members if they do not daily sustain their pastor by their prayers!
Then there is much else that you can do for Christ in your family, in your business, and in the neighborhood where you live. Could you go to bed tonight and close your eyes for the last time, feeling, “I have finished the work which God gave me to do. I have done all that I could for the winning of souls”? I am afraid that I address some who have a talent wrapped in a napkin hidden away in the earth. My dear man, go home and dig it up before it gets altogether covered with rust, to bear witness against you! Take it up and put it out to heavenly interest, that your Lord may have what He is entitled to receive. O Christian men and women, there must be very much unused energy in the Church of God! We have a great dynamo that is never used! Oh, that each one would do his own part, even as David did his!
We shall soon be gone–our day lasts not very long. “The night comes when no man can work.” Shall it be said of you, or of me, that we wasted our daylight and then, when the evening shadows came, we were uneasy and unhappy and, though saved by Divine Grace, we died with sad expressions of regret for wasted opportunities? It is not very long ago that I sat by the bedside of one who was wealthy–I might say very wealthy. I prayed with him. I had hoped to have found him rejoicing in the Lord, for I knew that he was a child of God, but he was a child of God with a little malformation about the fingers. He could never open his hand as he ought to have done. As I sat by his side, he said, “Pray God, with all your might that I may live three months, that I may have the opportunity of using my wealth in the cause of Christ.” He did not live much more than three hours after he said that. Oh, that he had woke up a little sooner to do for the Master’s Church and cause what he ought to have done! Then he would not have had that regret to trouble him in his last hours. He knew the value of the precious blood and he was resting in it–and I had great joy in knowing that all his hope and all his trust were in his Lord–and he was saved–but it was with a great deal of regret and trembling. I would spare any of you who have wealth such trouble on your dying bed.
If there is a young man here who has the ability to preach the Gospel, or to be doing something for Christ, but he is doing nothing, I am sure that it will be a pain to him one of these days. When conscience is thoroughly awakened and his heart is getting nearer to God than it has been, he will bitterly regret that he did not avail himself of every occasion to talk of Christ and seek to bring souls to Him. I should like these practical thoughts to go round these galleries and through this area, till some men and women shall say, “We have not done our part, as David did. But, by God’s Grace, we will do so and He shall have all the praise.”
That is my first head, then–David had zealously done his part.
II. But, secondly, there is a remarkable fact in the text, DAVID HAD DONE HIS PART IN TROUBLE. Read it–“Now, behold, in my trouble I have prepared for the House of the Lord an hundred thousand talents of gold” and so on. In the margin of your Bibles you will find the words, “in my poverty.” It is strange that David should talk about poverty when his gifts amounted to many millions of pounds!
David thought little of what he had prepared. He calls it poverty, I think, because it is the way of the saints to count anything that they do for God to be very little. The most generous men in the world think the least of what they give to God’s cause. David, with his millions that he gives, says, “In my poverty I have prepared for the House of the Lord.” As he looked at the gold and silver, he said to himself, “What is all this to God?” And the brass and the iron that could not be reckoned, it was so much and so costly–he thought it was all nothing to Jehovah who fills Heaven and earth, whose grandeur and Glory are altogether unspeakable! If you have done the most that you can for God, you will sit down and weep that you cannot do 10 times as much! You that do little for the Lord will be like a hen with one chick–you will think a great deal of it. But if you have a great number of works and you are doing much for Christ, you will wish that you could do a hundred times as much. Your song will be–
“Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise!”
Oh, to be multiplied a thousand-fold, that we might, anywhere and everywhere, serve Jesus with heart, mind, soul and strength! So, David here considers that what he did was very little.
Yet, it was proof of his sincerity–that he should be saving all this wealth and preparing for the House of his God in the time of trouble, was a proof of great sincerity. Some Christians need to have all sunshiny weather and the birds must sing all day and all night to please them. If they receive a rebuke or somebody seems a little cold to them, they will do no more. I have seem many who called themselves Christians, who were like a silly child at play, who says, when something offends him, “I won’t play anymore.” They run away at the first rough word that they hear! But David, in the day of his trouble, when his heart was ready to break, still went on with his great work of providing for the House of God.
Some who have attended this House of Prayer have been absent, and when we have enquired the reason, they have said that they had become so poor that they did not like to come. Oh, dear Friends, we would like to see you, however poor you are! Why, if you are in trouble, you should come all the more, for where could you go to find comfort better than to the House of God? Never, I pray you, stay away on account of poverty! David said that he had prepared for the House of his God in the time of his trouble–and that proved his sincerity. One said to me, “Ever since I have been a Christian, everything has seemed to go wrong with me.” Suppose that everything should be taken away from you–should you not be grateful that you have an eternal treasure in Heaven and that these losses, which might have broken your heart if you had not known the Savior, are now sent in heavenly discipline to you and are working for your good? It shows that a man is right with God when he can walk with Christ in the mire and in the slough! God does not want you to wear silver slippers and to walk on a well-mown, well-rolled grassy lawn all the way to Heaven.
David prepared for the House of the Lord in his trouble and I have no doubt that it was a salve to his sorrow. To have something to do for Jesus and to go right on with it is one of the best ways to get over a bereavement, or any other mental depression! If you can pursue some great objective, you will not feel that you are living for nothing. You will not sit down in despair, for, whatever your trouble may be, you will still have this to live for, “I want to help in building the Church of God, and I will do my part in it whatever happens to me. Come poverty or wealth, come sickness or health, come life or death–as long as there is breath in my body–I will go on with the work that God has given me to do.” Do I speak to any who are in great trouble? If you are a Christian, the best advice that I can give you is this–get to work for Christ and you will forget your trouble. If you are not a Christian, I advise you to trust the Savior at once, for He is the only solace for spiritual sorrow.
Again, it was an incentive to service when David, in his trouble, prepared for the House of the Lord. There were many things in trouble that would tend to dampen his ardor and make him feel as if he could not hold on any longer. But he said to himself, “I must go on with this work for God. His Temple must be ‘exceedingly magnificent,’ and my son, Solomon, must build it, so I must go on gathering the materials.” So he just roused himself afresh and went on with his work with new earnestness whenever his trouble would otherwise have depressed him.
It must also have given an elevation to David’s whole life. To have a noble purpose and to pursue that purpose with all your might prevents your being like “dumb driven cattle,” lifts you out of the mist and fog of the valley and sets your feet upon the hilltop where you can commune with God. I would suggest to our younger friends that they should begin their Christian life with a high purpose and that they should never forget that purpose. And if trouble should come, they should say, “Let it come; my face is set like a flint to do this work to which my Lord has called me, and I will pursue it with all my might.” It may seem as if there were no spiritual help in such advice as this, but, believe me, there is. If God shall give you Grace to go on with your lifework, He will thereby give you Grace to overcome your life trouble.
You should be like your Master–ask not to have a smooth path and great success. Remember what a life of sorrow He lived. He was grief’s close acquaintance. Yet although He saw but a small Church rising before His bodily eyes, He knew that He was doing the work that God had given Him to do and He went on with it through agony and bloody sweat, through shame and spitting. He was not more in earnest when He rode in state through the streets of Jerusalem than He was when he hung on the Cross of Calvary! He was resolved to do His work and, in trouble, He did it, and He amassed treasure beyond all conception for the building of His Church. Riches of Grace and wonders of Glory He gathered together by His suffering and His death. If you would be like your Lord, you must be able to say with David, “Behold, in my trouble, I have prepared for the House of the Lord.” God give His troubled ones to enter into fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ in this respect!
III. I am glad that I have come to my third point, for my strength well-near fails me. What I have to say here is this–DAVID’S WORK FITS ON TO THE WORK OF ANOTHER. That should be a great joy to some of you who do not see much coming of what you are doing. Your work is going to fit on to somebody else’s work!
This is the order of God’s Providence in His Church. It does not happen that He gives a whole piece of work to one man, but He seems to say to him, “You go and do so much; then I will send somebody else to do the rest.” How this ought to cheer some of you–the thought that your work may be no failure though, in itself, it may seem to be so–because it fits on to the work of somebody else who is coming after you and so it will be very far from a failure! You have sometimes seen a man take a contract to put in the foundations of a house and to carry it up to a certain height. He has done that. But he will not be the builder of that house–that will be the work of the next contractor who carries up the walls, puts on the roof, and so forth. Yes, but he who did the foundation work did a great deal, and he is as much the builder of the house as the man who carries up the walls! So, if you go to a country town or village and you preach the Gospel to a few poor folk, you may never have seemed very successful, but you have been preparing the way for somebody else who is coming after you.
I am told that my venerable predecessor, Dr. Rippon, used to often, in his pulpit, pray for somebody of whom he knew nothing–who would follow him in the ministry of the Church and greatly increase it. He seemed to have in his mind’s eye some young man, who, in later years, would greatly enlarge the number of the flock–and he often prayed for him. He died and passed away to Heaven about the time that I was born. Older members of the Church have told me that they have read the answer to Dr. Rippon’s prayers in the blessing that has been given to us these many years. If you keep your eyes open, you will see the same thing happen! You will notice how one shall do his work which shall be necessary to some larger work that somebody else will do after him! This is God’s way, so that the second man, the Solomon coming after David, may do his work all the better because of what his father has done before him.
Solomon had not to spend years in collecting the materials for the Temple–he might not have got through the building if he had that task. His good old father had done all that for him–all that he had to do was to spend the money that David had gathered, work up the gold, silver, brass and iron, bring in the big stones and put them in their places, and build the House for God! I daresay that Solomon often thought gratefully of his father, David, and what he had done! And you and I, if God blesses us, ought always to think with thanksgiving of the Davids who went before us. If you have success in your class, my Sisters, remember that there was an excellent Christian woman who had the class before you. You come, young man, into the Sunday school, and you think that you must be somebody very great because you have had several conversions in your class. How about the Brother who had given up the class through ill-health? You took his place–who knows which of you will have the honor at the Last Great Day?
I was about to say, Who cares? For we do not live for honor, we live to serve God! And if I can serve God best by digging out the cellar and you can serve God best by finishing out that ornamental bay window, my Brother, you go on with your bay window and I will go on with my cellar, for what does it matter what we do so long as the house is built and God is glorified? It is the way of God in Providence to set one man to do part of a work which pieces on to that of another man!
But this is a terrible blow at self. Self says, “I like to begin something on my own and I like to carry it out. I do not want any interference from other people.” A friend proposed, the other day, to give you a little help in your service. You looked at him as if he had been a thief! You do not need any help. You are quite up to the mark–you are like a wagon and four horses–and a dog under the wagon as well! There is nothing about you that is needed–you need no help from anybody–you can do all things almost without the help of God! I am very sorry for you if that is your opinion. If you ever get into God’s service, He may say to you, “You shall never begin anything, but shall always come in as the second man.” Or, “You shall never finish anything. You shall always be getting ready for somebody else.” It is well to have an ambition not to build upon another man’s foundation, but do not carry that idea too far! If there is a good foundation laid by another man and you can finish the structure, be thankful that he has done his part and rejoice that you are permitted to carry on his work. It is God’s way of striking a blow at your personal pride by allowing one man’s work to fit on to another’s.
I believe that it is good for the work to have a change of workers. I am glad that David did not live any longer, for he could not have built the Temple. David must die. He has had a good time of service. He has gathered all the materials for the Temple. Solomon comes, with young blood and youthful vigor, and carries on the work. Sometimes the best thing that some of us old folks can do is to go home and go to Heaven–and let some younger man come and do our work. I know that there are a great many lamentations about the death of Dr. So-and-So, and Mr. So-and- So, but why? Do you not think that, after all, God can find as good men as those that He has already found? He made those good men and He is not short of power–He can make others just as good as they have been!
I was present at a funeral where I heard a prayer that rather shocked me. Some Brother had said that God could raise up another minister equal to the one that was in the coffin. But prayer was offered by another man who said that this preacher had been eyes to his blindness, feet to his lameness and I do not know what beside. And then he said, “Your poor unworthy dust does not think that You ever can or will raise up another man like him.” So he had not an Omnipotent God! But you and I have–and with an Omnipotent God, it is for the good of the work that David should go to his rest and that Solomon should come in and carry on the work!
Certainly, this creates unity in the Church of God. If we all had a work of our own and were shut up to do it, we should not know one another. But now I cannot do my work without your help, my dear Friends, and, in some respects, you cannot do your work without my help. We are members, one of another, and one helps the other. I hope that I shall never have to do without you. God bless you for all your efficient help! In many Christian works you will have to do without me, one of these days, but that will not matter. There will be somebody who will carry on the work of the Lord and, so long as the work goes on, what does it matter who does it? God buries the workman, but Satan, himself, cannot bury the work! The work is everlasting, though the workmen die. We pass away, as star by star grows dim, but the Eternal Light is never fading. God shall have the victory! His Son shall come in His Glory! His Spirit shall be poured out among the people and though it is neither this man, nor that, nor the other, God will find the man to the world’s end who will carry on His cause and give Him the Glory!
This leaves a place for those who come after. One thing David said to Solomon I like very much, “You may add thereto.” I have quoted that, sometimes. When the collection has been rather small, I have said to each of our friends who were counting the money, “You may add thereto.” It is not at all a bad text for a collection sermon, but it may also be used in many other ways!
Here are certain preachers of the Gospel. Cannot I put my hand on some young man’s shoulder and say to him, “You may add thereto. You have a good voice–you have an active brain–begin to speak for God. There are numbers of godly men in the Gospel ministry! If you are called of God, you may add thereto.” We have a good Sunday school, though some of you have never seen it. We have a number of loving and earnest teachers–“you may add thereto.” Go and teach likewise–or engage in some other work for which the Lord has qualified you.
I wonder whether there is an unconverted man here this evening, or an unconverted woman whom God has ordained to bless, and to whom He will speak tonight–some stranger whom He will bring in by His almighty Grace, some servant of the devil who shall, tonight, be made a servant of Christ? My Master has a large number of servants–“you may add thereto.” If you will yield yourself to Christ, you may come and help God’s people. We need recruits! We are always needing them. May God lead some who have been on the side of sin and self to come out and say, “Set my name down among God’s people! By the Grace of God I am going to be on Christ’s side and help to build His Temple.” Come along, my Brother. Come along, my Sister. We are glad for your help! The work is not yet all done–you are not too late to fight the Lord’s battles, nor to win the crown of the victors! The Lord has a large army of the Soldiers of the Cross, but, “you may add thereto.” God save you! Christ bless you! The Spirit inspire you! May it be so with very many, for Christ’s sake! Amen.