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Sunday School Lesson (December 15, 2019) Building God’s House / David’s House 1 Chronicles 17:1, 3, 4, 11-14; 21:18, 21-27

David’s House / Building God’s House 1 Chronicles 17 and 21

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to  This week’s Sunday School Lesson features the roles King David, the Prophet Natan, and the Angle of the LORD play in building God’s house.  Across the years God had been good to David and now David wants to honor God by building a house for the Ark of the Covenant. David soon finds out that God has other plans.  Instead of David building God a house, God would build an eternal house for the dynasty of David. David meant well, and he was well capable of building a house for the Ark. But just because you can doesn’t always mean that you should.  Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms:  




This is the third lesson in Unit Three where we are considering how David honors God.  It is also our third lesson in 1 Chronicles. The background highlights from the previous two lessons include how 

  • Most scholars agree that First and Second Chronicles were originally one book.
  • This book was originally named “The Events of the Days” was later named “The Things Omitted” and then finally named First and Second Chronicles.
  •   I also discussed of the three major themes in this book the concern for continuity with the past is perhaps most important.  

The focus for this week’s lesson is building God’s house.  What would eventually become the central place for the presence and worship of God started out in the tabernacle built by Moses.  The Ark of the covenant of God was then housed in a tent made by David. As we see in this week’s lesson David desires to build a temple that honors God but God had other plans.  God’s other plans are related to one of the three theological themes that continually appear in 1 Chronicles (NISB).

The concept of retribution or retributive justice is the third theological theme in 1 Chronicles and is related to this week’s text also.  Retribution or retributive justice is the idea that good will be rewarded and evil will be punished. However, the NISB notes that this concept is “neither as mechanical nor as simplistically applied as previously thought”.  For example, when Satan incited David to conduct a census it displeased God and God struck Israel with a plague. God’s retribution for David’s sin was the plague. But note also that God is concerned with repentance and restoration.  When David repented of his sin God stayed the hand of the destroying angel. Note also that although David is called a man after God’s own heart, he would not be allowed to build a Temple to house the Ark of the Covenant of God.  That would be a job God would assign to David’s son. David’s life was known for bloodshed and war (1 Chronicles 22:8).

The portions of our lesson in the seventeenth and twenty-first chapters of First Chronicles deal with God’s Covenant with David, and David’s Altar and Sacrifice.  Keep in mind the Chronicler is giving his listeners a history lesson. This text closely follows 2 Samuel 7:1-29. The Chronicler is reminding them of how God used David and Solomon to build what was a magnificent Temple.  The people the Chronicler is talking to no longer have the tabernacle and they no longer have the Ark of the covenant of God. But they do have what remains of the Temple and they can come together to rebuild it to its former glory.  

God’s covenant with David promises him an eternal dynasty.  After David’s death God will raise up and establish one of David’s descendants to rule on the throne forever.  David’s selection and payment for the altar and his sacrifice of burnt offerings and offerings of well-being “concludes the first half of his preparations for the construction of the Temple.  

 Some important words to consider from this text include:



Review of Last Week and How it Connects to This Week:

Last week I noted how the Chronicler wrote to show David’s gratitude.  I noted how it was important for the Chronicler to help this nation understand that even though they had been defeated and taken captive in the past, that the future was still bright with God on their side.  The Chronicler wanted the Hebrew nation to know that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the God of King David and King Solomon was their God and they were God’s people.  He wanted them to know that even though their forebears fell into sin and were punished; God had not forsaken them.  They had been through great pain and distress and they wanted to know their place in the universe. They were back in Jerusalem and they wanted to know if the same God that brought King David to power and King Solomon to great splendor was still their God.  

Last week’s lesson opened at verse eight of 1 Chronicles 16 with David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving.  Verse eight began by exhorting the recently returned people to give thanks, to call on God’s name, and to make known God’s deeds among the people.  After going through what they had gone through the Chronicler reminded them of how King David gave thanks and called on God. I noted how the point for us was to know that when God has been good to you, you ought to tell somebody.  The Israelites had been hurt and defeated but now they were back in Jerusalem and the Chronicler wanted them to know that somebody ought to praise God for it.  

In verse nine I noted how Praising God is active whether singing with a loud voice or a quite praise.  But more so when we begin to talk about the wondrous works that God has done for us, praise just happens.  

Verse twelve told us to remember God’s marvelous works, God’s wonders and the judgements of God’s mouth.  I noted how It’s good to remember. It’s good to remember what God has done for you. It’s good to remember how God brought you through.  It’s good to remember when and where God delivered you.  Remembering the mighty and marvelous works of God in our own lives leads us to a grateful heart and a thankful praise.  

I noted how verse twenty-one is a verse I’ve often heard quoted referring to preachers and other ministers of God.  Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm does not mean every preacher or minister is above criticism or even condemnation whey they are outside God’s will.  In other words, it’s not a get out of jail free card for preachers or ministers who are in the wrong.

Verses twenty-four and twenty-five declare that God is great and greatly to be praised.  I noted how a great God deserves a great praise. And a great praise will tell the saints and sinners what God has done.   

Verses twenty-six and twenty-seven closed the Townsend Commentary lesson with David’s psalm reminding the people that idol gods are essentially useless.  Idol worshipers can talk, but God worshipers can point to the heavens and the earth to declare that their God made the heavens and the earth and this God deserves all the glory and all the honor.  

This week’s lesson continues the story of how the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD came to have a house.  The plans for what would eventually become the Temple begin with King David. But King David would not be the one to build the place to house the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD.  Townsend and Boyd’s Commentaries title this week’s lesson “Building God’s House”. Standard Lesson Commentary titles this week’s lesson “David’s House”. The scripture text comes from 1 Chronicles 17:1,3,4 11-14; 21:18, 21-27.  

What Takes Place in This Passage:  

The Lesson opens at Chapter 17 with verses one, three, and four.  In verse one after David is settled in his luxurious house he tells the prophet Nathan about his desire to build a house for the Ark.  David knows how good God has been to him. He is living in luxury and the Ark is in a tent. God has brought David from the fields as a young shepherd boy and now that David has arisen to King and made his throne in Jerusalem he wants to honor God with a house he believes suitable for the Ark.  Even though David has good intentions, he means well, and he is well capable of building a Temple, God does not approve of his plans. I think that helps us to understand that sometimes, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. There are things we are well capable of doing, but we need to make sure it’s in God’s will for our lives.  

The lesson picks up at verses eleven and twelve with David learning that after he has joined the ancestors, God will raise up from his descendants a dynasty.  A son that will rule on the throne. David meant well, he had good intentions and was well capable of providing a house for God but it turns out that God would be the one providing a “house” for David.  In Verse twelve the Chronicler recounts David learning that it will be one of his sons that will build a house for God and that God will establish his throne forever.  

In verses thirteen and fourteen the Chronicler recounts the prophet Nathan saying how God will be a father to David’s son and how God will not take his love from him, as God did with Saul.  He also recounts God establishing the covenant with David. How David’s dynasty will be established forever. God’s covenant with David didn’t require anything from David. David is not required to meet any responsibilities or obligations.  This covenant is simply based on who David is and what God wants to do through David.  

The lesson then moves to chapter twenty one, verse eighteen where the angel of the Lord tells Gad to tell David that he should erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Or’nan.  The Angel of the Lord is a messenger of God. Altar is defined as “The raised place on which sacrifices were offered in the Old Testament”. So while the tabernacle and the Ark of the covenant is significant, so is the altar upon which sacrifices are made to God.  The location of this altar is divinely chosen.

In verses twenty-one and twenty-two David meets Or’nan and asks for the site to build the altar.  He offers to pay full price and adds “so that the plague may be averted from the people”. This plague was retribution from God for David’s sin.  See verses one through seventeen concerning David’s census and the plague.  

In verse twenty-three Or’nan tells David to take it.  But not only does Or’nan offer the threshing floor, he offers the oxen for burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for a grain offering.  Or’nan has already seen the Angel of the Lord and he knows this is important. When King David shows up Or’nan freely and willingly offers anything and everything that might be helpful for God’s purposes.  Or’nan doesn’t hesitate or equivocate, he gives for the purpose of God. In verse twenty-four King David tells Or’nan he will buy all of it for full price. David doesn’t want to offer a cheap sacrifice to God.  He knows how good God has been to him and he knows he can afford to bless Or’nan with the full price and much more.  

In verses twenty-five, twenty-six, and twenty-seven David paid Or’nan six hundred shekels of gold by weight.  This was not just for the threshing floor but for the whole site on which the temple will be built. Note Second Samuel 24:24 to compare and contrast the two payments made.  David builds the altar, he presents burnt offerings and he presents offerings of well-being. God responds with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering. In some cases fire from heaven is a purifying force.  David has repented of his sin, God has accepted his repentance and God stays the hand of the angel.   


Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.  Although David had good intentions it was not David’s destiny to build a Temple for the Ark of the Covenant of God.  Sometimes having good intentions just isn’t good enough. David desired to honor and bless God with a house he thought was more suitable but God wasn’t having it.  That’s the point. It may not be our place to do every good thing that crosses our mind. We should first prayerfully seek God and then seek the counsel of wise saints of God.  If you believe God is saying yes and saints filled with wisdom are in agreement then you’re off to a good start. 

Key Characters in the text: 

King David – The central figure as he conquers the City of Jerusalem and builds a place to keep the Ark of the Covenant (Townsend).  

Nathan the Prophet – A prophet in the court of David.  David informs Nathan of his plans to build a house for the Ark of the Covenant.  Later, Nathan informs David that God would not accept his plans but would instead build a house (dynasty) for David.    

Key Words:  

Covenant– A formal agreement or treaty between two parties that establishes a relationship and in which obligations and mutual responsibilities may be enacted.  

Prophet –   One who speaks on behalf of God to God’s people, most prominently the Hebrew prophets whose writings are found in the Old Testament.  

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas:  

When God changes your plans.        


David refused to take Or’nan’s gift without payment.  Do all sacrifices cost us something?      

Concluding Thought:

The Chronicler is writing to people who no longer have the tabernacle nor do they have the Ark of the Covenant.  But they do have what remains of the Temple. He writes to give them purpose and a mission to both recall the former glory and to strive for the restored and future glory of God’s place and presence among them in a rebuilt and restored Temple.    

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