(All Bible texts are in the NKJV Bible unless otherwise indicated)
3 Defend the poor and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4 Deliver the poor and needy;
Free them from the hand of the wicked.
7 But the Lord shall endure forever;
He has prepared His throne for judgment.
8 He shall judge the world in righteousness,
And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.
9 The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
A refuge in times of trouble.
13 Have mercy on me, O Lord!
Consider my trouble from those who hate me,
You who lift me up from the gates of death,
14 That I may tell of all Your praise
In the gates of the daughter of Zion.
I will rejoice in Your salvation.
15 The nations have sunk down in the pit which they made;
In the net which they hid, their own foot is caught.
16 The Lord is known by the judgment He executes;
The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.
17 The wicked shall be turned into hell,
And all the nations that forget God.
18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten;
The expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.
19 Arise, O Lord,
Do not let man prevail;
Let the nations be judged in Your sight.
20 Put them in fear, O Lord,
That the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah
Although Jehoshaphat in a moment of weakness had rashly promised to join the king of Israel in his war against the Syrians, yet his better judgment led him to seek to learn the will of God concerning the undertaking. “Inquire, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord today,” he suggested to Ahab. In response, Ahab called together four hundred of the false prophets of Samaria, and asked of them, “Shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear?” And they answered, “Go up; for God will deliver it into the kings’s hand.” Verses 4, 5.
Unsatisfied, Jehoshaphat sought to learn for a certainty the will of God. “Is there not here a prophet of the Lord,” he asked, “that we might inquire of him?” Verse 6. “There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord,” Ahab answered; “but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.” 1 Kings 22:8. Jehoshaphat was firm in his request that the man of God be called; and upon appearing before them and being adjured by Ahab to tell “nothing but that which is true in the name of the Lord,” Micaiah said: “I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace.” Verses 16, 17.
The words of the prophet should have been enough to show the kings that their project was not favored by Heaven, but neither ruler felt inclined to heed the warning. Ahab had marked out his course, and he was determined to follow it. Jehoshaphat had given his word of honor, “We will be with thee in the war;” and after making such a promise, he was reluctant to withdraw his forces. 2 Chronicles 18:3. “So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead.” 1 Kings 22:29.
During the battle that followed, Ahab was shot by an arrow, and at eventide he died. “About the going down of the sun,” “there went a proclamation throughout the host,” “Every man to his city, and every man to his own country.” Verse 36. Thus was fulfilled the word of the prophet.
From this disastrous battle Jehoshaphat returned to Jerusalem. As he approached the city, the prophet Jehu met him with the reproof: “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord. Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.” 2 Chronicles 19:2, 3.
The later years of Jehoshaphat’s reign were largely spent in strengthening the national and spiritual defenses of Judah. He “went out again through the people from Beersheba to Mount Ephraim, and brought them back unto the Lord God of their fathers.” Verse 4.
One of the important steps taken by the king was the establishment and maintenance of efficient courts of justice. He “set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city;” and in the charge given them he urged: “Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.” Verses 5-7.
The judicial system was perfected by the founding of a court of appeal at Jerusalem, where Jehoshaphat “set of the Levites, and of the priests, and of the chief of the fathers of Israel, for the judgment of the Lord, and for controversies.” Verse 8.
The king exhorted these judges to be faithful. “Thus shall ye do in the fear of the Lord, faithfully, and with a perfect heart,” he charged them. “And what cause soever shall come to you of your brethren that dwell in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and judgments, ye shall even warn them that they trespass not against the Lord, and so wrath come upon you, and upon your brethren: this do, and ye shall not trespass.
“And, behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the Lord; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king’s matters: also the Levites shall be officers before you.
“Deal courageously, and the Lord shall be with the good.” Verses 9-11.
In his careful safeguarding of the rights and liberties of his subjects, Jehoshaphat emphasized the consideration that every member of the human family receives from the God of justice, who rules over all. “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; He judgeth among the gods.” And those who are appointed to act as judges under Him, are to “defend the poor and fatherless;” they are to “do justice to the afflicted and needy,” and “rid them out of the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:1, 3, 4.
Toward the close of Jehoshaphat’s reign the kingdom of Judah was invaded by an army before whose approach the inhabitants of the land had reason to tremble. “The children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.” Tidings of this invasion reached the king through a messenger, who appeared with the startling word, “There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria: and, behold, they be in Hazazon-tamar, which is Engedi.” 2 Chronicles 20:1, 2.
Jehoshaphat was a man of courage and valor. For years he had been strengthening his armies and his fortified cities. He was well prepared to meet almost any foe; yet in this crisis he put not his trust in the arm of flesh. Not by disciplined armies and fenced cities, but by a living faith in the God of Israel, could he hope to gain the victory over these heathen who boasted of their power to humble Judah in the eyes of the nations.
“Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.”
Standing in the temple court before his people, Jehoshaphat poured out his soul in prayer, pleading God’s promises, with confession of Israel’s helplessness. “O Lord God of our fathers” he petitioned, “art not Thou God in heaven? and rulest not Thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in Thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand Thee? Art not Thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before Thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham Thy friend forever? And they dwelt therein, and have built Thee a sanctuary therein for Thy name, saying, If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in Thy presence, (for Thy name is in this house,) and cry unto Thee in our affliction, then Thou wilt hear and help.
“And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom Thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of Thy possession, which Thou hast given us to inherit. O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee.” Verses 3-12.
With confidence Jehoshaphat could say to the Lord, “Our eyes are upon thee.” For years he had taught the people to trust in the One who in past ages had so often interposed to save His chosen ones from utter destruction; and now, when the kingdom was in peril, Jehoshaphat did not stand alone; “all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.” Verse 13. Unitedly they fasted and prayed; unitedly they besought the Lord to put their enemies to confusion, that the name of Jehovah might be glorified.
8 Arise, O God, judge the earth;
For You shall inherit all nations.
From their infancy the youth need to have a firm barrier built up between them and the world, that its corrupting influence may not affect them. Parents must exercise unceasing watchfulness, that their children be not lost to God. The vows of David, recorded in the 101st psalm, should be the vows of all upon whom rest the responsibilities of guarding the influences of the home. The psalmist declares: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person. Whoso privily slandereth his neighbor, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer. Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me. He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.” Psalm 101:3-7.
The youth should not be left to learn good and evil indiscriminately, the parents thinking that at some future time the good will predominate and the evil lose its influence. The evil will increase faster than the good. It is possible that the evil which children learn may be eradicated after many years, but who would trust to this? Whatever else they neglect, parents should never leave their children free to wander in the paths of sin.
Parents should remember that association with those of lax morals and coarseness of character will have a detrimental influence upon the youth. If they fail to choose proper society for their children, if they allow them to associate with youth of questionable morals, they place them, or permit them to place themselves, in a school where lessons of depravity are taught and practiced. They may feel that their children are strong enough to withstand temptation; but how can they be sure of this? It is far easier to yield to evil influences than to resist them. Ere they are aware of it, their children may become imbued with the spirit of their associates and may be degraded or ruined.
Parents, guard the principles and habits of your children as the apple of the eye. Allow them to associate with no one with whose character you are not well acquainted. Permit them to form no intimacy until you are assured that it will do them no harm. Accustom your children to trust your judgment and experience. Teach them that you have clearer perception of character than they in their inexperience can have, and that your decisions must not be disregarded.
Parents should endeavor to keep out of the home every influence that is not productive of good. In this matter some parents have much to learn. To those who feel free to read story magazines and novels I would say: You are sowing seed the harvest of which you will not care to garner. From such reading there is no spiritual strength to be gained. Rather it destroys love for the pure truth of the word. Through the agency of novels and story magazines, Satan is working to fill with unreal and trivial thoughts, minds that should be diligently studying the word of God. Thus he is robbing thousands upon thousands of the time and energy and self-discipline demanded by the stern problems of life.
The susceptible, expanding mind of the child longs for knowledge. Parents should keep themselves well informed, that they may give the minds of their children proper food. Like the body, the mind derives its strength from the food it receives. It is broadened and elevated by pure, strengthening thoughts; but it is narrowed and debased by thoughts that are of the earth earthy.
Parents, you are the ones to decide whether the minds of your children shall be filled with ennobling thoughts or with vicious sentiments. You cannot keep their active minds unoccupied, neither can you frown away evil. Only by the inculcation of right principles can you exclude wrong thoughts. Unless parents plant the seeds of truth in the hearts of their children, the enemy will sow tares. Good, sound instruction is the only preventive of the evil communications that corrupt good manners. Truth will protect the soul from the endless temptations that must be encountered.
Let the youth be taught to give close study to the word of God. Received into the soul, it will prove a mighty barricade against temptation. “Thy word,” the psalmist declares, “have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” “By the word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.” Psalm 119:11; 17:4.
One of the surest safeguards of the young is useful occupation. Children who are trained to industrious habits, so that all their hours are usefully and pleasantly employed, have no inclination to repine at their lot and no time for ideal daydreaming. They are in little danger of forming vicious habits or associations.
In the home school the children should be taught how to perform the practical duties of everyday life. While they are still young, the mother should give them some simple task to do each day. It will take longer for her to teach them how than it would to do it herself; but let her remember that she is to lay for their character building the foundation of helpfulness. Let her remember that the home is a school in which she is the head teacher. It is hers to teach her children how to perform the duties of the household quickly and skillfully. As early in life as possible they should be trained to share the burdens of the home. From childhood, boys and girls should be taught to bear heavier and still heavier burdens, intelligently helping in the work of the family firm.
When children reach a suitable age, they should be provided with tools. They will be found to be apt pupils. If the father is a carpenter, he should give his boys lessons in carpentry.
From the mother the children are to learn habits of neatness, thoroughness, and dispatch. To allow a child to take an hour or two in doing a piece of work that could easily be done in half an hour is to allow it to form dilatory habits. Habits of industry and thoroughness will be an untold blessing to the youth in the larger school of life, upon which they must enter as they grow older.
Children are not to be allowed to think that everything in the house is their plaything, to do with as they please. Instruction in this line should be given even to the smallest children. By correcting this habit, you will destroy it. God designs that the perversities natural to childhood shall be rooted out before they become habits. Do not give the children playthings that are easily broken. To do this is to teach lessons in destructiveness. Let them have a few playthings, and let these be strong and durable. Such suggestions, small though they may seem, mean much in the education of the child.
Mothers should guard against training their children to be dependent and self-absorbed. Never give them cause to think that they are the center and that everything must revolve around them. Some parents give much time and attention to amusing their children; but children should be trained to amuse themselves, to exercise their own ingenuity and skill. Thus they will learn to be content with simple pleasures. They should be taught to bear bravely their little disappointments and trials. Instead of calling attention to every trifling pain or hurt, divert their minds; teach them to pass lightly over little annoyances and discomforts.
Study how to teach the children to be thoughtful of others. The youth should be early accustomed to submission, self-denial, and regard for others’ happiness.
They should be taught to subdue the hasty temper, to withhold the passionate word, to manifest unvarying kindness, courtesy, and self-control.
Burdened with many cares, the mother may sometimes feel that she cannot take time patiently to instruct her little ones and to give them love and sympathy. But she should remember that if the children do not find in their parents and in their homes that which will satisfy their desire for sympathy and companionship, they will look to other sources, where both mind and character may be endangered.
Give some of your leisure hours to your children; associate with them in their work and in their sports, and win their confidence. Cultivate their friendship. Give them responsibilities to bear, small at first, and larger as they grow older. Let them see that you think they help you. Never, never let them hear you say, “They hinder me more than they help me.”
If possible, the home should be out of the city, where the children can have ground to cultivate. Let them each have a piece of ground of their own; and as you teach them how to make a garden, how to prepare the soil for seed, and the importance of keeping all the weeds pulled out, teach them also how important it is to keep unsightly, injurious practices out of the life. Teach them to keep down wrong habits as they keep down the weeds in their gardens. It will take time to teach these lessons, but it will pay, greatly pay.
Tell your children about the miracle-working power of God. As they study the great lesson book of nature, God will impress their minds. The farmer plows his land and sows his seed, but he cannot make the seed grow. He must depend on God to do that which no human power can do. The Lord puts His vital power into the seed, causing it to spring forth into life. Under His care the germ of life breaks through the hard crust encasing it, and springs up to bear fruit. First appears the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. As the children are told of the work that God does for the seed, they learn the secret of growth in grace.
There is untold value in industry. Let the children be taught to do something useful. More than human wisdom is needed that parents may understand how best to educate their children for a useful, happy life here, and for higher service and greater joy hereafter.
5 Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God,
6 Who made heaven and earth,
The sea, and all that is in them;
Who keeps truth forever,
7 Who executes justice for the oppressed,
Who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.
8 The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord raises those who are bowed down;
The Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the strangers;
He relieves the fatherless and widow;
But the way of the wicked He turns upside down.
The poverty of the people to whom we are sent is not to prevent us from working for them. Christ came to this earth to walk and work among the poor and suffering. They received the greatest share of His attention. And today, in the person of His children, He visits the poor and needy, relieving woe and alleviating suffering.
Take away suffering and need, and we should have no way of understanding the mercy and love of God, no way of knowing the compassionate, sympathetic heavenly Father. Never does the gospel put on an aspect of greater loveliness than when it is brought to the most needy and destitute regions. Then it is that its light shines forth with the clearest radiance and the greatest power. Truth from the word of God enters the hovel of the peasant; rays from the Sun of Righteousness light up the rude cottage of the poor, bringing gladness to the sick and suffering. Angels of God are there, and the simple faith shown makes the crust of bread and the cup of water a banquet. The sin-pardoning Saviour welcomes the poor and ignorant, and gives them to eat of the bread that comes down from heaven. They drink of the water of life. Those who have been loathed and abandoned are through faith and pardon raised to the dignity of sons and daughters of God. Lifted above the world, they sit in heavenly places in Christ. They may have no earthly treasure, but they have found the pearl of great price.
How best to accomplish the work in this difficult field is the problem before us. Long years of neglect have made it far more difficult than it would otherwise have been. Obstructions have been accumulating.
Great progress might have been made in medical missionary work. Sanitariums might have been established. The principles of health reform might have been proclaimed. This work is now to be taken up. And into it not a vestige of selfishness is to be brought. It is to be done with an earnestness, perseverance, and devotion that will open doors through which the truth can enter, and that to stay.
In the South there is much that could be done by lay members of the church, persons of limited education. There are men, women, and children who need to be taught to read. These poor souls are starving for a knowledge of God.
Our people in the South are not to wait for eloquent preachers, talented men; they are to take up the work which the Lord places before them, and do their best. He will accept and work through humble, earnest men and women, even though they may not be eloquent or highly educated. My brethren and sisters, devise wise plans for labor, and go forward, trusting in the Lord. Do not indulge the feeling that you are capable and keen-sighted. Begin and continue in humility. Be a living exposition of the truth. Make the word of God the man of your counsel. Then the truth will go with power, and souls will be converted.
Let Sabbath-keeping families move to the South and live out the truth before those who know it not. These families can be a help to one another, but let them be careful to do nothing that will hedge up their way. Let them do Christian help work, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. This will have a far stronger influence for good than the preaching of sermons. Deeds, as well as words, of sympathy are needed. Christ prefaced the giving of His message by deeds of love and benevolence. Let these workers go from house to house, helping where help is needed, and, as opportunity offers, telling the story of the cross. Christ is to be their text. They need not dwell upon doctrinal subjects; let them speak of the work and sacrifice of Christ. Let them hold up His righteousness, in their lives revealing His purity.
The true missionary must be armed with the mind of Christ. His heart must be filled with Christlike love; and he must be true and steadfast to principle.
In many places schools should be established, and those who are tender and sympathetic, who, like the Saviour, are touched by the sight of woe and suffering, should teach old and young. Let the word of God be taught in a way that will enable all to understand it. Let the pupils be encouraged to study the lessons of Christ. This will do more to enlarge the mind and strengthen the intellect than any other study. Nothing gives such vigor to the faculties as contact with the word of God.
The cotton field is not to be the only means whereby the colored people can gain a livelihood. They are to be taught how to till the soil, how to cultivate various crops, and how to plant and care for orchards. Painstaking effort is to be put forth to develop their capabilities. Thus will be awakened in them the thought that they are of value with God, because they are His property.
Among the colored people some will be found whose intellect has been too long darkened for them to be speedily fitted for usefulness. But they may be taught to know God. The bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness may shine into the darkened chambers of their minds. It is their privilege to have the life that measures with the life of God. Plant in their minds uplifting, ennobling thoughts. Live before them lives that will make plain the difference between vice and purity, darkness and light. Let them read in your lives what it means to be a Christian. The chain that has been let down from the throne of God is long enough to reach to the lowest depths. Christ is able to lift the most sinful out of the pit of degradation, and to place them where they will be acknowledged as children of God, heirs with Christ to an immortal inheritance.
Many are utterly discouraged. Because they have been despised and forsaken they have become stoical. They are looked upon as unable to comprehend or to receive the gospel of Christ. Yet by the miracle of divine grace they may be changed. Under the ministration of the Holy Spirit the stupidity that makes their uplifting appear so hopeless will pass away. The dull, clouded mind will awake. The slave of sin will be set free. Spiritual life will revive and strengthen. Vice will disappear, and ignorance will be overcome. Through the faith that works by love the heart will be purified and the mind enlightened.
There are others among the colored people who have quick perceptions and bright minds. Many of the colored race are rich in faith and trust. God sees among them precious jewels that will one day shine out brightly. The colored people deserve more from the hands of the white people than they have received. There are thousands who have minds capable of cultivation and uplifting. With proper labor, many who have been looked upon as hopeless will become educators of their race. Through the grace of God the race that the enemy has for generations oppressed may rise to the dignity of God-given manhood and womanhood.
The Lord desires the desert places of the South, where the outlook appears so forbidding, to become as the garden of God. Let our people arouse and redeem the past. The obligation to work for the colored people rests heavily upon us. Shall we not try to repair, as far as lies in our power, the injury that in the past has been done to these people? Shall not the number of missionaries to the South be multiplied? Shall we not hear of many volunteers who are ready to enter this field to bring souls out of darkness and ignorance into the marvelous light in which we rejoice? God will pour out His Spirit upon those who respond to His call. In the strength of Christ they may do a work that will fill heaven with rejoicing.
“Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search My sheep, and seek them out.... So will I seek out My sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.... I will feed My flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick.... And I will make with them a covenant of peace.... And I will make them and the places round about My hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.... Thus shall they know that I the Lord their God am with them.... And ye My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God.”
4 He who has a slack hand becomes poor,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
23 Much food is in the fallow ground of the poor,
And for lack of justice there is waste.
25 The righteous eats to the satisfying of his soul,
But the stomach of the wicked shall be in want.
31 He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker,
But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.
15 All the days of the afflicted are evil,
But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.
16 Better is a little with the fear of the Lord,
Than great treasure with trouble.
15 Laziness casts one into a deep sleep,
And an idle person will suffer hunger.
17 He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord,
And He will pay back what he has given.
7 Two things I request of You
(Deprive me not before I die):
8 Remove falsehood and lies far from me;
Give me neither poverty nor riches—
Feed me with the food allotted to me;
9 Lest I be full and deny You,
And say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or lest I be poor and steal,
And profane the name of my God.
2 The rich and the poor have this in common,
The Lord is the maker of them all.
22 Do not rob the poor because he is poor,
Nor oppress the afflicted at the gate;
23 For the Lord will plead their cause,
And plunder the soul of those who plunder them.
8 Better is a little with righteousness,
Than vast revenues without justice.
5 A faithful witness does not lie,
But a false witness will utter lies.
25 A true witness delivers souls,
But a deceitful witness speaks lies.
11 Honest weights and scales are the Lord’s;
All the weights in the bag are His work.
12 It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness,
For a throne is established by righteousness.
13 Righteous lips are the delight of kings,
And they love him who speaks what is right.
15 He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just,
Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.
23 Diverse weights are an abomination to the Lord,
And dishonest scales are not good.
28 A false witness shall perish,
But the man who hears him will speak endlessly.
14 Happy is the man who is always reverent,
But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
15 Like a roaring lion and a charging bear
Is a wicked ruler over poor people.
16 A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor,
But he who hates covetousness will prolong his days.
15 By me kings reign,
And rulers decree justice.
16 By me princes rule, and nobles,
All the judges of the earth.
David gave Solomon minute directions for building the temple, with patterns of every part, and of all its instruments of service, as had been revealed to him by divine inspiration. Solomon was still young, and shrank from the weighty responsibilities that would devolve upon him in the erection of the temple and in the government of God’s people. David said to his son, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
Again David appealed to the congregation: “Solomon my son, whom alone God hath chosen, is yet young and tender, and the work is great: for the palace is not for man, but for the Lord God.” He said, “I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God,” and he went on to enumerate the materials he had gathered. More than this, he said, “I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good, of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, even three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, to overlay the walls of the houses withal.” “Who then,” he asked of the assembled multitude that had brought their liberal gifts—“who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?”
There was a ready response from the assembly. “The chief of the fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel, and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king’s work, offered willingly, and gave, for the service of the house of God, of gold five thousand talents and ten thousand drams, and of silver ten thousand talents, and of brass eighteen thousand talents, and one hundred thousand talents of iron. And they with whom precious stones were found gave them to the treasure of the house of the Lord.... Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.
“Wherefore David blessed the Lord before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be Thou, Lord God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come of Thee, and Thou reignest over all; and in Thine hand is power and might; and in Thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee. For we are strangers before Thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding. O Lord our God, all this store that we have prepared to build Thee an house for Thine holy name cometh of Thine hand, and is all Thine own. I know also, my God, that Thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness.
“As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy Thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto Thee. O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and of Israel, our fathers, keep this forever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of Thy people, and prepare their heart unto Thee: and give unto Solomon my son a perfect heart, to keep Thy commandments, Thy testimonies, and Thy statutes, and to do all these things, and to build the palace, for the which I have made provision. And David said to all the congregation, Now bless the Lord your God. And all the congregation blessed the Lord God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshiped the Lord.”
With deepest interest the king had gathered the rich material for building and beautifying the temple. He had composed the glorious anthems that in after years should echo through its courts. Now his heart was made glad in God, as the chief of the fathers and the princes of Israel so nobly responded to his appeal, and offered themselves to the important work before them. And as they gave their service, they were disposed to do more. They swelled the offerings, giving of their own possessions into the treasury. David had felt deeply his own unworthiness in gathering the material for the house of God, and the expression of loyalty in the ready response of the nobles of his kingdom, as with willing hearts they dedicated their treasures to Jehovah and devoted themselves to His service, filled him with joy. But it was God alone who had imparted this disposition to His people. He, not man, must be glorified. It was He who had provided the people with the riches of earth, and His Spirit had made them willing to bring their precious things for the temple. It was all of the Lord; if His love had not moved upon the hearts of the people, the king’s efforts would have been vain, and the temple would never have been erected.
All that man receives of God’s bounty still belongs to God. Whatever God has bestowed in the valuable and beautiful things of earth is placed in the hands of men to test them—to sound the depths of their love for Him and their appreciation of His favors. Whether it be the treasures of wealth or of intellect, they are to be laid, a willing offering, at the feet of Jesus; the giver saying, meanwhile, with David, “All things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee.”
When he felt that death was approaching, the burden of David’s heart was still for Solomon and for the kingdom of Israel, whose prosperity must so largely depend upon the fidelity of her king. “And he charged Solomon his son, saying, I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man; and keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, and His commandments, and His judgments, and His testimonies, ... that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself: that the Lord may continue His word which He spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said He) a man on the throne of Israel.” 1 Kings 2:1-4.
David’s “last words,” as recorded, are a song—a song of trust, of loftiest principle, and undying faith:
“David the son of Jesse saith,
And the man who was raised on high saith,
The anointed of the God of Jacob,
And the sweet psalmist of Israel:
The Spirit of Jehovah spake by me: ...
One that ruleth over men righteously,
That ruleth in the fear of God,
He shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth,
A morning without clouds;
When the tender grass springeth out of the earth,
Through clear shining after rain.
Verily my house is not so with God;
Yet He hath made me an everlasting covenant,
Ordered in all things, and sure:
For it is all my salvation, and all my desire.”
2 Samuel 23:1-5, R.V.
Great had been David’s fall, but deep was his repentance, ardent was his love, and strong his faith. He had been forgiven much, and therefore he loved much. Luke 7:47.
The psalms of David pass through the whole range of experience, from the depths of conscious guilt and self-condemnation to the loftiest faith and the most exalted communing with God. His life record declares that sin can bring only shame and woe, but that God’s love and mercy can reach to the deepest depths, that faith will lift up the repenting soul to share the adoption of the sons of God. Of all the assurances which His word contains, it is one of the strongest testimonies to the faithfulness, the justice, and the covenant mercy of God.
Man “fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not,” “but the word of our God shall stand forever.” “The mercy of Jehovah is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children’s children; to such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them.” Job 14:2; Isaiah 40:8; Psalm 103:17, 18.
“Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever.” Ecclesiastes 3:14.
Glorious are the promises made to David and his house, promises that look forward to the eternal ages, and find their complete fulfillment in Christ. The Lord declared:
“I have sworn unto David My servant ... with whom My hand shall be established: Mine arm also shall strengthen him.... My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him: and in My name shall his horn be exalted. I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers. He shall cry unto Me, Thou art my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation. Also I will make him My first-born, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him forevermore, and My covenant shall stand fast with him.” Psalm 89:3-28.
“His seed also will I make to endure forever,
And his throne as the days of heaven.” Psalm 89:29.
“He shall judge the poor of the people,
He shall save the children of the needy,
And shall break in pieces the oppressor.
They shall fear thee while the sun endureth,
And so long as the moon, throughout all generations....
In his days shall the righteous flourish;
And abundance of peace, till the moon be no more.
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea,
And from the river unto the ends of the earth.”
“His name shall endure forever:
His name shall be continued as long as the sun:
And men shall be blessed in him:
All nations shall call him blessed.”
Psalm 72:4-8, R.V., 17.
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” Isaiah 9:6; Luke 1:32, 33.
“He that walketh uprightly walketh surely.”
There is no branch of legitimate business for which the Bible does not afford an essential preparation. Its principles of diligence, honesty, thrift, temperance, and purity are the secret of true success. These principles, as set forth in the book of Proverbs, constitute a treasury of practical wisdom. Where can the merchant, the artisan, the director of men in any department of business, find better maxims for himself or for his employees than are found in these words of the wise man:
“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.” Proverbs 22:29.
“In all labor there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.” Proverbs 14:23.
“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing.” “The drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.” Proverbs 13:4; 23:21.
“A talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.” Proverbs 20:19.
“He that hath knowledge spareth his words;” but “every fool will be meddling.” Proverbs 17:27; 20:3.
“Go not in the way of evil men;” “can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?” Proverbs 4:14; 6:28.
“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise.” Proverbs 13:20.
“A man that hath friends must show himself friendly.” Proverbs 18:24.
The whole circle of our obligation to one another is covered by that word of Christ's, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” Matthew 7:12.
How many a man might have escaped financial failure and ruin by heeding the warnings, so often repeated and emphasized in the Scriptures:
“He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.” Proverbs 28:20. .
“Wealth gotten in haste shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labor shall have increase.” Proverbs 13:11, R.V., margin.
“The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.” Proverbs 21:6.
“The borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7.
“He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretyship is sure.” Proverbs 11:15.
“Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless: for their Redeemer is mighty; He shall plead their cause with thee.” “He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.” “Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.” Proverbs 23:10, 11; 22:16; 26:27.
These are principles with which are bound up the well-being of society, of both secular and religious associations. It is these principles that give security to property and life. For all that makes confidence and co-operation possible, the world is indebted to the law of God, as given in His word, and as still traced, in lines often obscure and well-nigh obliterated, in the hearts of men.
The psalmist's words, “The law of Thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver” (Psalm 119:72), state that which is true from other than a religious point of view. They state an absolute truth and one that is recognized in the business world. Even in this age of passion for money getting, when competition is so sharp and methods are so unscrupulous, it is still widely acknowledged that, for a young man starting in life, integrity, diligence, temperance, purity, and thrift constitute a better capital than any amount of mere money.
Yet even of those who appreciate the value of these qualities and acknowledge the Bible as their source, there are but few who recognize the principle upon which they depend.
That which lies at the foundation of business integrity and of true success is the recognition of God's ownership. The Creator of all things, He is the original proprietor. We are His stewards. All that we have is a trust from Him, to be used according to His direction.
This is an obligation that rests upon every human being. It has to do with the whole sphere of human activity. Whether we recognize it or not, we are stewards, supplied from God with talents and facilities, and placed in the world to do a work appointed by Him.
To every man is given “his work” (Mark 13:34), the work for which his capabilities adapt him, the work which will result in greatest good to himself and to his fellow men, and in greatest honor to God.
Thus our business or calling is a part of God's great plan, and, so long as it is conducted in accordance with His will, He Himself is responsible for the results. “Laborers together with God” (1 Corinthians 3:9), our part is faithful compliance with His directions. Thus there is no place for anxious care. Diligence, fidelity, caretaking, thrift, and discretion are called for. Every faculty is to be exercised to its highest capacity. But the dependence will be, not on the successful outcome of our efforts, but on the promise of God. The word that fed Israel in the desert, and sustained Elijah through the time of famine, has the same power today. “Be not therefore anxious (R.V.), saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? ... Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:31-33.
He who gives men power to get wealth has with the gift bound up an obligation. Of all that we acquire He claims a specified portion. The tithe is the Lord's. “All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree,” “the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, ... shall be holy unto the Lord.” Leviticus 27:30, 32. The pledge made by Jacob at Bethel shows the extent of the obligation. “Of all that Thou shalt give me,” he said, “I will surely give the tenth unto Thee.” Genesis 28:22.
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse” (Malachi 3:10), is God's command. No appeal is made to gratitude or to generosity. This is a matter of simple honesty. The tithe is the Lord's; and He bids us return to Him that which is His own.
“It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2. If honesty is an essential principle of business life, must we not recognize our obligation to God—the obligation that underlies every other?
By the terms of our stewardship we are placed under obligation, not only to God, but to man. To the infinite love of the Redeemer every human being is indebted for the gifts of life. Food and raiment and shelter, body and mind and soul—all are the purchase of His blood. And by the obligation of gratitude and service thus imposed, Christ has bound us to our fellow men. He bids us, “By love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” Matthew 25:40.
“I am debtor,” Paul declares, “both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.” Romans 1:14. So also are we. By all that has blessed our life above others, we are placed under obligation to every human being whom we might benefit.
These truths are not for the closet more than for the counting room. The goods that we handle are not our own, and never can this fact safely be lost sight of. We are but stewards, and on the discharge of our obligation to God and man depend both the welfare of our fellow beings and our own destiny for this life and for the life to come.
“There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.” “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” Proverbs 11:24, 25; Ecclesiastes 11:1.
“Labor not to be rich.... Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” Proverbs 23:4, 5.
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” Luke 6:38.
“Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9, 10.
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field.... And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land.” Malachi 3:10-12.
“If ye walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments, and do them; then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. And I will give peace in the land, ... and none shall make you afraid.” Leviticus 26:3-6.
“Seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and Thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.” “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will He pay him again.” Isaiah 1:17; Psalm 41:1, 2; Proverbs 19:17.
He who makes this investment lays up double treasure. Besides that which, however wisely improved, he must leave at last, he is amassing wealth for eternity,—that treasure of character which is the most valuable possession of earth or heaven.