Formations 10.06.2019: Everyone Plays a Part

1 Chronicles 28:2-3, 5-10, 20-21

In the most recent chapter of the continuing saga of the Pursiful family, I’m proud to announce that my daughter is gainfully employed—at least for certain definitions of “gainfully.” As a first-year music major, she has been hired as her college’s choral assistant, managing the administrative details for the school’s choral music program: keeping track of choir uniforms, filing sheet music, and so forth. Sure, it’s just a few hours a week, but that’s plenty for now. And it’s giving her some relevant career experience while doing things she loves, and she gets actual money to do it!

My daughter very quickly learned that the school’s sheet music filing system is…let’s say, in need of some straightening out. One of her tasks is to bring the chaos of the current system into some sort of order, an assignment that’s bound to take some time to complete. It’s a good thing it’s a four-year college!

I tell you this to express how proud I am that my daughter has embraced this task and is committed to seeing it through. It may take time. It may pose unforeseen challenges. It may be frustrating, and it may ultimately prove to be a thankless job. But when she’s done, she will have accomplished something that benefits her professors and classmates.

Sometimes the task we thought was ours turns out to belong to someone else. David dreamed of building a magnificent temple in which the people of Israel could worship their God. But that was not to be.

That didn’t mean, however, that David had no role to play. The Bible describes how David acquired the land on which the temple would one day stand. He garnered public support for the project and organized the priests and Levites in their liturgical duties. In many ways, the worship patterns David instituted for the tabernacle in Jerusalem carried over to the temple.

One of the most important things David did, though, was charge his son Solomon to see the job through. As the next reigning king, it fell to Solomon to build the temple his father had long envisioned. This would take wisdom, planning, and an eager and willing faith. The job would take time and impose unforeseen challenges. There would no doubt be times of frustration as well.

As our lesson writer reminds us, it took an entire nation to build the temple. Everyone had a part to play. It’s like that with many things in life. In the grand scheme of things, the task we are given may be big or small. Either way, it’s still important.

Discussion

• How do you think David felt about turning over responsibility for building the temple to his son Solomon?
• When have you been part of an important project? What role did you play?
• What roles seem to be missing or under-represented in the ministry teams of which you are a part? What might be your responsibility in adding new members to your team?
• When have you felt deeply appreciated for your role on a team?

Reference Shelf

The Davidic Covenant

The term “covenant” (berit) could…be used to refer to a variety of solemn, binding obligations or agreements involving two or more parties in a relationship. (1) The obligation might be self-assumed by the primary party for the benefit of the secondary party. In this case, the covenant was more like a pledge or a promise. The expected attitude of the primary party to the obligation was one of fidelity and the attitude of the secondary party was one of acceptance and trust. (2) When the obligation was imposed on the secondary party, it represented a demand or condition placed upon the obligated party and required obedience. Generally such a covenant relationship was assumed to benefit the party imposing the obligation although obedience to the obligation might be seen as beneficial to the obligated party as well. (3) Conditions and commitments accepted by both or all parties produced a situation of mutual obligation intended to benefit all parties concerned. In all three cases, the gravity and solemnity of the parties’ commitment could be enhanced by verbal declaration, swearing, or the taking of an oath….

A further example of a divine covenant with an individual (and his descendants) is the covenant with David (2 Sam 23:5; Ps 89:3, 19-37; 132:11-18; cf. 2 Sam 7). Probably the earliest expression of the divine covenant with David was conceived as a promissory pledge made by Yahweh to the Davidic house authenticating and justifying the family’s right to rule (cf. 2 Sam 23:5-7). The covenant could also be and was later understood as placing obligations on the rulers of the Davidic line (cf. Ps 89:30-34; 132:12).

John H. Hayes, “Covenant,” Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, ed. Watson E. Mills et al. (Macon GA: Mercer University Press, 1990), 178, 179.

Spirit Calls to Spirit

[It] is with David that the interior journey begins. A sense of self is notably absent in all ancient literatures. I, as we commonly use it today to mean one’s interior self, is seldom in evidence before the humanist autobiographies of the early modern period (such as The Autobiography of Benvenuti Cellini). Before these, we can count only a few instances from earlier literatures: The Confessions of Augustine of Hippo in the fifth century A.D., some fragments from the sixth century B. C. attributed to Sappho, and—oldest of all—the Psalms, which are filled with I’s: The I of repentance, the I of anger and vengeance, the I of self-pity and self-doubt, the I of despair, the I of delight, the I of ecstasy. The Psalms, some of which were undoubtedly written in the tenth century by David himself, are a treasure trove of personal emotions from poets acutely attuned to their inner states, from ancient harpists dramatically aware that spirit calls to Spirit—that their pain and joy can find permanent satisfaction only in the Creator of all.

Thomas Cahill, The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels (New York Random House, 1998) 198–99.

Darrell Pursiful is the editor of Formations. He is an adjunct professor at Mercer University and an active member of the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia.

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