A Pattern of Restoration (4)
Your God has commanded your strength;
Strengthen, O God, what You have done for us.
Because of Your temple at Jerusalem,
Kings will bring presents to You. Psalm 68.28, 29
A reign of restoration
In many ways, the reign of King David was a perpetual restoration project, beginning with the monarch’s own soul.
For all his greatness, David gave in to fleshly desires. His sins with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, early in his reign, and his pride in taking the census, near the end of his rule, show us that sin continues to be an issue, even with the most saintly of the people of God. As David reminds us in his great psalms of confession (such as Psalms 38 and 51), we who have been given the work of reconciliation must always be on guard against the inroads of corruption in our innermost being. We need daily restoration to the Lord, daily confession of sin, repentance, and devoting ourselves to God, that we might be living sacrifices and offerings to His Name (Rom. 12.1, 2).
David undertook three great periods of restoration during his forty years of ruling the people of God. First, he had to restore the fragmented nation following the death of Saul; that work took seven years. In the process, he had to reclaim lost territory from pagan nations and strengthen his own ranks against the natural tendency of movements to fragment and fizzle (2 Sam. 1-10). The culmination of this great work of restoration was bringing the ark of God’s covenant to its proper resting place. At the end of this work, God Himself renewed His covenant with David, expanding that covenant to include more detail about His eternal Kingdom (2 Sam. 7).
Second, David had to restore his reign following the rebellion by Absalom, his son (2 Sam. 15-18). Absalom worked craftily for a long time to win the hearts of the people. When he finally proclaimed himself king, it was all David and his followers could do to get out of town with their lives. Upon Absalom’s demise, David had to slowly and patiently rebuild the wounded nation and restore the people to God and His promises (2 Sam. 19-23).
It’s at the end of his life, however, that we see David’s greatest undertaking to advance the glory of God and the wellbeing of Israel in the sight of the nations – a work of restoration that he would prepare for in his day, and which would only come to realization after he had died. David had been a warrior all his life, winning back territory from pagans and extending Israel’s influence into foreign lands. By the time he was ready to hand the kingdom over to Solomon, the nation had achieved a measure of peace, in which it could begin to prosper as never before (cf. 1 Kgs. 10).
In Psalm 68, David focused on his greatest work of restoration – restoring the greatness and glory of God to Israel through the construction of a glorious temple unto the Lord.
Continuity with the past
In Psalm 68, David’s intention is to rally the people of Israel to take up a work of restoration which, as David saw it, was comparable to that which Joshua had accomplished. He deliberately tied his effort at building the temple (v. 29) with Joshua’s conquest of Canaan (vv. 1-14), thus calling for nationwide participation in this restoration project. The tabernacle was old and flimsy (2 Sam. 7.1, 2; 1 Chron. 17.1), and David did not regard it a proper dwelling place for the God of Israel. He would build a temple to restore the greatness of God and the glory of His people, and he would enlist all Israel in the work.
David knew that the temple would require many kinds of resources and materials – just as when the tabernacle had been constructed in the wilderness (we read about this in 1 Chron. 22-29). He knew the people of Israel, scattered throughout the land of promise, had those resources, and he called on them to bring their offerings to the Lord (Ps. 68.18). The people did so in abundance, and more than enough resources were gathered for when the building of the temple would begin under Solomon. To ensure that this work of restoration would go on after his demise, David organized the people into religious and civil institutions, each group charged with important work of overseeing and maintaining the restored greatness of the nation.
Throughout the process, David led the people to keep their eyes on the Lord, as we see Him doing in Psalm 68. This psalm was perhaps written and distributed throughout communities all over Israel to enlist the people in the restoration project for which David was preparing. Read in synagogues and households, this psalm would have reminded the people of Joshua’s work of restoration, and of the many good gifts God had given to them. It would have pointed the people to the temple project and called on them to take their place in this great work of restoration by offering the gifts God had given them. It held out a vision of the nations coming to worship God and of God Himself – “the God of salvation” (v. 20) – being exalted and glorified even above the great work of the temple which was yet to be built (v. 35).
The building of the temple was a most worthy restoration project, and God honored David and Solomon and the people of Israel in this great effort.
Jesus taught us to pray that His Kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6.10). He commanded us to seek that Kingdom as the defining priority of our lives (Matt. 6.33). Paul reminds us that this Kingdom is striking in its character and impact, a Kingdom of holy spiritual power resulting in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 4.20; Rom. 14.17, 18). He has ascended on high and given us His Kingdom and all the gifts and abilities we need to seek and advance it (Dan. 7.13-18; Eph. 4.8).
We who have been born-again into that Kingdom are its citizens and ambassadors. We are the temple of the Lord, which He by His Spirit is building and enlarging and beautifying for His own glory (Eph. 2.19-22). Each of us has something to offer in this great project, by which God is restoring the reconciled world to His goodness and glory.
Psalm 68 comes to us as a call to take up the work of Jesus in building His Church (Matt. 16.18), advancing His Kingdom, and bringing the knowledge of God’s glory to the attention of the entire world (Hab. 2.14). That work begins each day in our souls, and carries over into our Personal Mission Fields, where we go with the Lord Jesus, conquering and to conquering, that His Kingdom and glory might come on earth as it is in heaven. Let us follow the example of Noah, Joseph, Joshua, and David and devote ourselves to the work of restoration to which God sends us each day. We may not see that restored glory in our lifetimes, but we must be always preparing for it and always pursuing it in everything we do. This is the ministry of reconciliation that has been given to us.
1. What do we learn from David about the need always to be restoring our soul before the Lord?
2. In what way was David’s campaign to build the temple like Joshua’s campaign to conquer the land of Canaan?
3. What has God given you – in the way of gifts, abilities, and opportunities – for the work of building His Church and advancing His Kingdom?
Next steps – Transformation: Seek the restoration of your soul daily, and throughout the day; and take up all the work you do as unto the Lord and for His glory.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.