Unpacking David’s Prayer of Praise

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. —1 Chronicles 29:11-12 ESV

John Piper on 1 Chronicles 29

1) “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness . . .” God is great. He is expansive. He is larger than any reality in the universe. When any little human greatness happens on the earth God means for your mind and heart to think about his magnitude and be more moved by him than by the little echo of his greatness that moves you here.

2) “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power . . .” God is powerful. All power belongs to God. He is not only big, he is strong. He is stronger than any atomic power like a hydrogen bomb, or any natural force like a hurricane or the ocean tides or an exploding star. He is not only great in size, but he can move that greatness to accomplish all he wills. He is very powerful.

3) “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory . . .” God is glorious. The word implies beauty and splendor. In other words, his greatness and power together are beautiful. They are not ugly. When we see God for who he is, our souls respond with tremendous satisfaction because we were made to behold glory. We were made to exult in infinite beauty. God is the source and essence of all great and powerful beauty—all glory.

4) “Thine, O Lord is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory . . .” God is victorious. The word means endurance—lasting and persisting and prevailing until all resistance is exhausted and God alone stands triumphant. God is always victor. He cannot be defeated.

5) “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty . . .” God is majestic. This means that he has the marks of royalty or kingliness. When he rides by, you take off your hat or you salute. You don’t slouch and you don’t swagger. You don’t joke and you don’t jest. You stand in awe, and tremble with joy that you have been granted to see and not die. God is majestic.

6) “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth.” God owns all things. “Thine, O Lord, is . . . everything that is in the heavens and the earth.” God owns the world and everything in it. He owns your home and car and television. He owns your mind and emotions and will and your very life. He gave it freely as a trust, and he may take it whenever he pleases and do you no wrong. We are not our own. Nor is anything we possess our own. God owns all of it. We are only trustees—of life and thought and possessions. What a revolutionary truth this is—we need to ponder it far more often than we do.

7) “Thine is the dominion, O Lord.” In other words he not only has the splendor of royalty, he has the authority of royalty. He actually rules as king over the world. He owns all that is in the heavens and the earth and he governs what he owns—namely, everything. He has dominion—ruling authority as king over all. His kingly decrees always hold sway.

8) “Thine is the dominion, O LORD, and Thou dost exalt Thyself as head over all.” God is the head over all things, that is, the leader and final authority. But not just that: it says he makes himself known as head over all. God is not incidentally or accidentally over all. He chooses to be head over all. He exalts himself over all. His position in the universe is a position he chooses to keep, his reputation as head over all is something he wills to make known. That is what was happening in Israel when the collection was taken for the temple and when Bethlehem Freed the Future from debt. God was exalting himself as head over all. Not to see that is to miss the main thing that has been happening.

9) “Both riches and honor come from Thee . . .” Not only does God own all things and rule all things and exalt himself as head over all things, he also is the source of all riches and honor that come to any man or woman or child. This is a direct challenge to media assessment of the event. From a merely human standpoint the riches and honor came from inheritance or good stock markets or shrewd real estate deals or savings accounts or hard work. But David says, “No, riches come from God.” This is the invisible work of God in and under and behind our work. You can’t see it. You believe it and exult in it because you believe in God, not because you see it with your physical eyes. And this invisible reality is the main thing in our lives and in our church and in our world.

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