29:14 who are my people Compared to the greatness and sovereignty of God, David recognizes their humble position. He acknowledges their place as sojourners in God’s creation and recognizes their mortality.
29:14 — “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You.”
We give nothing to God that He has not first given to us.
Ver. 14. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly?—The impossibility of creature-merit:—
No point in theology requires to be oftener stated, or more carefully established, than the impossibility that a creature should merit at the hands of the Creator. Each one of us, if he have ever probed his own heart, will confess himself prone to the persuasion, that the creature can lay the Creator under obligation. If one being merit of another, it must perform some action which it was not obliged to perform, and by which that other is advantaged. If either of these conditions fail, merit must vanish.
I. We are, in the first place, to speak on the stated fact that all things come of God.
II. The inference is—that we can give to God nothing which is not already His. If one creature give a thing to another, he ceases to have property in the gift, and cannot again claim it as his own. If a man make me a present he virtually cedes all title to the thing given; and if I were afterwards to restore him the whole, or a part, it would be of mine own that I gave him. But if I were reduced to utter poverty, with no means whatsoever of earning a livelihood, and if a generous individual came forward and gave me capital, and set me up in trade, and if, in mine after prosperity, I should bring my benefactor some offering expressive of gratitude, it is clear that I might, with the strictest truth say, “Of thine own do I give thee.” I should be indebted to my benefactor for what I was able to give; and, of course, that for which I stood indebted to him might be declared to be his. But even this comes far short of the Creator and the creature. This will show that there is no merit in the commonly-presumed instances of human desert.
3. Works. (H. Melvill, B.D.)
One of his gifts to his native town consisted of twenty-four beautiful and commodious almshouses, which were built and endowed by Sir Francis, “as a testimony of his gratitude to Almighty God, and with a view of benefiting those of his fellow-townsmen who may be in need of assistance.” Over the second-floor window of the central almshouse, along with the arms of Sir Francis, is the text, from 1 Chron. 29:14, “Of Thine own have we given Thee.” Each of the inmates receives from the endowment of the founder a weekly allowance sufficient to keep him from want. (Memoirs of Sir Francis Crossley.)
All belongs to God:—
There is no portion of time that is our time, and the rest God’s; there is no portion of money that is our money, and the rest God’s money. It is all His; He owns it all, gives it all, and He has simply trusted it to us for His service. A servant has two purses, the master’s and his own; but we have only one. (A. Monod.)
Our obligations to God:—
A merchant in America, whom the Lord had greatly prospered, was a member of a Church where the congregation was mainly composed of very poor people, and therefore he had the privilege of contributing very largely to the upkeep of the Church, and toward the minister’s salary. One of the members of the Church was travelling, and in conversation with a clergyman whom he met, he mentioned the case of Mr. D——, and extolled his great liberality. The minister, without denying the praiseworthiness of the action, said, “Now, you are a merchant?” “Yes.” “Well, I suppose you employ a clerk to serve your goods, and a schoolmaster to educate your children. Now, suppose the fees due to the schoolmaster had become due, and you give your clerk instructions to pay these, what would you think if that clerk were to receive great praise for having disbursed the money according to your instructions?” “I should think it very absurd.” “Well, do you not see that the case of your liberal-hearted friend and that hypothetical case of mine are almost analagous? God employs him as His steward or clerk to trade for Him; and out of the money which God has given him he is commanded to pay the schoolmaster of God’s children. The merchant is quite as much under obligation to trade for God as is the preacher to preach for God.” We should remember that all things should be done to the glory of God. (J. King.)
Christ, the author of blessings ministered through His servants:—
Florence Nightingale, having gone like an angel of mercy among the hospitals in the Crimea, until her name was enshrined in every soldier’s heart, asked to be excused from having her picture taken, as thousands begged, that she might drop out and be forgotten, and that Christ alone might be remembered as the author of the blessings her hands had ministered. That is the true Christian spirit. (J. R. Miller, D.D.)
No room for God:—
It is said of Hadrian VI. that, having built a stately college at Louvain, he set this inscription on the front in golden letters: “Trajectum plantavit, Lovanium rigavit, sed Cæsar dedit incrementum” (“Utrecht planted me, Louvain watered me, but Cæsar gave the increase”). A passenger, reproving his folly, underwrote: “Hic Deus nihil fecit” (“Here was no room for God to do anything.”) (Parens.)
The building of the temple:—
I call your attention—
I. To the hallowed work in which we are engaged; to build the temple, the Church of God, the house of prayer for all the people.
1. The temple was to be a house for the holy name of God.
2. The temple was the place of authorised and accepted sacrifice.
3. The temple was the place of united worship and of united blessing.
4. It was the place of actual communion between God and man.
II. The sentiments of deep abasement with which the circumstance of being permitted to take a part in it impressed the mind of David. The honour of being employed in a work of God ought to be deeply abasing to man. “Who am I, and what is my people?” These questions suggest three views.
1. What are we with reference to our former selves? We are, at best, but pardoned criminals; and have a long and sad retrospect of ingratitude and disobedience.
2. What are we in reference to our associates in this work?
3. What are we in reference to our actual contributions to this work?
III. To a consideration calculated powerfully to quicken our exertions in every department of the work of God, which may by His mercy be assigned to us. “We are strangers before Thee,” &c. This reminds us—
1. That what we do we must do quickly.
2. That what we do for others we must do quickly.
3. That short and uncertain as life is, within its narrow space works of infinite importance may nevertheless be done. Apply this—
(1) To your own personal conduct.
(2) To the great work of building the temple of God in distant lands.
IV. In all works undertaken for God, we are taught by the text to be mindful of the principle from which they flow. “In the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things.” To be upright in a moral sense signifies to be conformable to the will or law of God. That law, with reference to the exercises of religious charity, has various parts, and taken together, they constitute uprightness. There is—
1. The law of sincere intention.
2. The law of grateful return.
3. The law of faithfulness.
4. The law of liberality.
5. The law of cheerful distribution.
6. The law of perseverance.
V. The joyous and benevolent feelings of the aged monarch when he saw the people assembled so willingly to offer in so blessed a work. It is a joyful night.
1. As a declaration of faith.
2. As a declaration of lofty and truly Christian benevolence.
3. As it opens the gate of the most splendid and delightful hopes. (R. Watson.)
Christian liberality in God’s cause:—
I. Liberality in the cause of God is worthy of all men.
1. Our infinite obligations demand it.
(1) How royally He gives to us—
(a) The protecting care of His providence;
(b) the blessings of life.
(2) The earth and all things in it are His. How He opens His hand and satisfies the wants of every living thing
(3) The gifts of His grace,
(a) The unspeakable gift of His Son;
(b) the promise of eternal glory.
2. Liberality in His cause is only the return to Him of part of that which He has given to us (ver. 12).
(1) His gifts are trusts.
(2) We are stewards, not absolute owners.
(3) We are to occupy till He comes.
3. To withhold from Him is to lose His blessing on what we retain. To give to Him ever brings richer gifts, if only in the spiritual graces it calls forth.
4. Liberality in the cause of God is urged by our interest in the best welfare of our fellow-men.
II. Liberality is not only a duty, but a privilege.
1. It is a grateful recognition of being so blessed as to be able to give.
2. The willingness to give is a ground of thankfulness.
III. The liberality of David and his people a lesson.
1. We should cherish liberality for God, for the good it does our own souls. The gratitude, love, zeal, of which it is the expression, and which it directly fosters.
2. For the good it does our fellow-men.
3. We should measure our gifts by what we retain.
(1) How much do we give to God in comparison with what we give to ourselves?
(2) Have we ever made any real sacrifice for Him? Matthew and the other apostles.
3. Have we only given of our superfluity? (Cunningham Geikie, D.D.)
God the bestower of all good gifts:—
I. The ability and the disposition to give to God come alike from Himself.
II. We ought to be more profoundly thankful for the possession of the disposition than of the ability to give.
III. The ability and the disposition to give are never more nobly employed than in erecting temples for the worship of God. (H. Stowell, A.M.)
A voluntary gift under the law:—
I. The nature of the gift. I do not dwell on the extent. I refer rather to its essential nature. It was a gift distinctly for the public good. What is called public spirit is surely one of the divinest things extant among men. God keeps alive this will to serve and sacrifice for the public as the great antidote to the innate selfishness of mankind. Public spirit rises in importance and dignity as man rises in intelligence, and is able to take wise counsel about the welfare of his fellows. If he is able to take heavenly counsel, to know what God is seeking for man and to supply it, there you have in the highest form the servant of his generation according to the will of God. This glory is theirs who take counsel and work for the religious culture and elevation of men. They are the men who key the arch of progress and make it firm and sure.
II. The source of David’s and the people’s joy.
1. Living under the constraint of love is the most joyful exercise of the human powers. Man’s selfishness is not native. It is the devil’s poison in his blood. Divine charity expels it. The soul conscious of health again, and breaks out into praise.
2. The joy man takes in the accomplishment of a noble public object is the purest and loftiest of all human joys.
3. I suppose a vision passed before David’s sight of what that work would be to man, and would do for man, through ages.
4. Concord in good works realises perhaps more than anything in our experience the angelic benediction, “Peace on earth and goodwill to men.”
III. The reason of the praise.
1. It is God’s inspiration. Of Thine own, of the strength and joy which Thine own hand has inspired, have we given Thee.
2. Praise and bless the Lord who inspires this spirit, for it commands an abounding blessing. (Baldwin Brown, B.A.)
 Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (1 Ch 29:14). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.
 Exell, J. S. (n.d.). The Biblical Illustrator: First Chronicles, Second Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther (Vol. 1, pp. 113–115). New York; Chicago; Toronto: Fleming H. Revell Company.