1 Chron. 16 - Declare His glory among the nations

1 Chronicles 16:8-36

Declare His glory among the nations



I.             Introduction


The highest of missionary motives is neither obedience to the Great Commission, nor love of sinners who are alienated and perishing, but rather zeal – burning and passionate zeal – for the glory of Jesus Christ.

John Stott


Today I want to look into this text in 1 Chronicles 16 and expound it, and stay true to it, so that you will see the glory of God in Missions.  You might think it odd to preach about Missions from the Old Testament because the gospel of Jesus Christ, Jesus Himself, and His commission to the church to make disciples of all nations will not occur for 400 years after this book was written.  I want you to see and I hope you already have seen from the reading of this passage that the entire philosophy of Missions is here. 


This passage is a song of thanks from David that is actually composed of 3 Psalms.  Psalm 105:1-15, Psalm 96:1-13, and Psalm 106:1, 47-48 were woven together to make this song of David. 


The immediate context is the successful transfer of the ark to Jerusalem.  You may remember the previous events leading up to this.  David was just anointed king of Israel, he stormed into Jerusalem and took the city, he assembled all of Israel and called for the ark to be returned to Jerusalem, they started to bring the ark and were all rejoicing when Uzzah touched the ark and God’s anger was kindled and Uzzah was killed because he wasn’t a Levite and only Levites could touch the ark.    David was afraid to move the ark after this, which you can’t blame him, so he left the ark at the home of a guy named Obed for three months.  Meanwhile David conquered some Philistines and built houses for himself and prepared a place for the ark.  He then assembled all Israel together again to make another go at it and this time he made sure no one except Levites could touch the ark.  The brought the ark up this time with success and rejoicing and had a huge celebration because the ark of God was back in Jerusalem which brings us to our text, David’s song.


That is the immediate context but the philosophy of missions today can be taken from this song.  I want to make four points from this passage.  I will tell you what they are and then draw from the texts of this passage to validate each point. 

The four points are:


1.      We are to make God’s deeds known to the people.

2.      We must not just stay were we are, we must go to all nations.

3.      We must go to the nations in a Biblical manner.

4.      Whether we go or not, will not prevent God from accomplishing His purpose, but He gives us this task as a privilege and as the means He will use to accomplish His end.

II.           Make God’s deeds known among the peoples

A.     Verses 8 and 9 say, “Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known His deeds among the peoples!  Sing to Him; sing praises to him; tell of all the wondrous works! 

The first thing that must be true is that God actually does have wondrous works that are worth speaking of.  The immediate context of these great deeds are in verses 14 through 22 about God’s covenant with Abraham to preserve Israel.  The way that God preserved Israel over the years through the deliverance from Egypt and the giving of the promised land to Israel.  These deeds were to be focused on and remembered by Israel

A few ways these great works of God of preserving and delivering were to be remembered by were all the feasts and by all the songs focusing on them.  We do the same thing today with all the great hymns we sing of the works of God and glory of Christ and by specific days like Easter focusing on the resurrection and at Christmas focusing on the birth of Christ. 

The next thing we see in these verses is that we should first make God’s works known among the people.  The word “peoples” does not mean “nations”, it means specifically the Hebrew people.  The great works of God were to be first remembered and told to the future generations of the people of Israel

In this same way should we apply the deeds of God.  If the wonderful works of God are not told to the church first or the church is unaware of these works of God then how would you expect the church to tell the nations.  We learn of these works by reading our Bibles for one and the true Christian has personally experienced a great work of God himself when he was converted by God and made into a new creation.  So none of us have an excuse for not knowing the great works of God that must be proclaimed and if you are truly saved it should be an absolute joy to tell people of these great things God has done in the world and to you specifically. 

So we know the works of God in the world and in us and we know that we should first proclaim, teach and preach them from the pulpit so does it stop hear.  We see that it doesn’t and it can’t.

III.          Why should we go to the nations?

A.     Verses 23-24 say, “Sing to the Lord, all the earth!  Tell of his salvation from day to day.  Declare His glory among the nations, his marvelous works among the peoples! 

The word “nations” in verse 23 means a foreign nation.  It is the same Hebrew word used in verse 20 when it says Israel was wandering from nation to nation.  So this word translated as nation hear can’t mean the nation of Israel because it wouldn’t make sense in verse 20.  It would say that Israel was wandering from Israel to Israel.  This word means a foreign nation. 

The immediate context is the writer is exhorting Israel to tell all the nations of God’s wonderful works, His wonderful deeds, His wonderful salvation, which is the preserving and delivering of them, and His wonderful glory, in that all of these things were worked out by God for His own glory and purpose. 

So this same principle applies to all Christians and missionary philosophy by exhorting us to tell all the nations of God’s wonderful works, His wonderful deeds, His wonderful salvation, which was accomplished by Him sending His Son Jesus Christ to suffer and die in our place and satisfy His divine justice by crushing His own Son instead of crushing us and through the work of Christ reconciling us to Him, and His wonderful glory, in that all of these things were worked out by God for His own glory and His own purpose and for the good of those who love Him. 

So why should we go to the nations?  We have such good news and such hope for the all the nations that we must tell everyone.  We see here in 1 Chronicles that we must declare the glory and works of God among the nations but does the rest of Scripture speak of this.  Let’s look at a few verses:  First of all we are commissioned by Christ to go to the nations:


Matthew 28:19-20   Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  (20)  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.


The word for nations translated here is ethne and means foreign nations.  If it meant anything else it would have been translated different.  Christ has commissioned us to make disciples of all nations.  If this was the only verse in the Bible that spoke of us going to the nations then it should be enough but it isn’t the only verse there are many, many verses.


Isaiah 12:4  And you will say in that day: "Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.


Psalms 67:3-7  Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!  (4)  Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah  (5)  Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!  (6)  The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us.  (7)  God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!


Mark 13:10  And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.


Luke 24:47  and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.


Rom 1:5  through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,1 Timothy 3:16  Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.  It is clear from Scripture that the gospel was brought to the nations and that we must continue to bring the gospel to the nations because the gospel is the means that God uses to save men. 

There are some that argue this point.

When speaking of foreign missions we often hear something like this:

There are heathen at home; let us seek and save, first of all, the lost ones perishing at our doors.”’ We must evangelize our home front first, before we worry about the rest of the world. Aren’t there millions of sinners living all around us? Isn’t it logical and right to preach to them first?...’

Hear is how the Father of modern Missions, William Carey, who spent many years in India in the late 1700’s, answered this question:

...That there are thousands in our own land as far from God as possible, I readily grant, and that this ... See More ought to excite us to ten-fold diligence in our work, And in attempts to spread divine knowledge amongst them is a certain fact; but that it ought to supersede all attempts to spread the gospel in foreign parts seems to want proof.

Our own countrymen have the means of grace, and may attend on the word preached if they choose it. They have the means of knowing the truth, and faithful ministers are placed in almost every part of the land, whose spheres of action might be much extended if their congregations were but more hearty and active in the cause: but with them the case is widely different, who have no Bible, no written language, (which many of them have not,) no ministers, no good civil government, nor any of those advantages which we have.

Pity therefore, humanity, and much more Christianity, call loudly for every possible exertion to introduce the gospel amongst them."

It is very easy to see that America is lost and needs Christ.  I have been taking a poll over the last few years involving Christianity.   I have asked many random people on the street the question, “what do you think it takes to get to heaven” and the results may surprise you.  This is a good question to ask because a wrong answer will immediately show the state of their soul. 

Of a little over 500 people I asked this question to I found that 20 people thought you just had to believe in God to be saved, around 40 thought you had to have faith and work at salvation (most of these were Catholics and Mormons), around 80 didn’t have a clue and another 80 were atheists and an overwhelming 240 people thought you had to be a good person to merit your way to heaven.  Only 60 people gave me the correct answer.  That is only 13% of the people I asked were professing Christians.  After questioning them all, it turned out that many of the 13% were not actually Christians, they just knew the answers.  So, very realistically if this survey represents all of America then it is possible that only around 7% of the people in the United States are actually Christian.

The US is almost an unreached country today.  If you look into the culture for 45 seconds this point will be validated.  We know America is lost and needs Christ and this fact should give us renewed zeal to go to those in our own town and proclaim Christ to them.  We should be laboring tirelessly to give sinners the gospel.  We don’t have to go too far to find them. 

So what do we do?  Let all the nations perish until the US is won for Christ?  Do you understand that salvation is in God’s hands, not ours.  This way of thinking is putting man in charge of salvation. 

Do you also understand that every person in America has 100% access to the gospel.  100% access to Bibles, churches, pastors, Christians, and books.  100% freedom to search all this out for himself.  If people in American reject Jesus Christ, it isn’t because they have never heard the gospel.  It is because they heard the gospel and rejected Christ anyway because they love themselves and hate Christ.  Most people I have talked to that raise this objection to foreign missions do absolutely nothing with the gospel to the people around them that they are saying we must go to.  They are very critical of a missionary who forsakes all that he has and all that is familiar and comfortable to go and give his life in a hostile country where most people hate him in order to proclaim hope to the heathen nations. 

The people that are critical of going to foreign nations don’t bother me too bad because they are little boys and girls that never do anything for the Kingdom of God but criticize the people are doing the will of God.  A few years after they die, everyone will forget about them.  We must be laboring for the gospel at home first, where it is easy.  Sills tells us:

If someone does not have a missions heart at home, nothing magical happens when they buckle the seat belt on the airplane.


So we have a remnant of solid churches, and pastors and evangelists in American that God has called to stay and proclaim Christ at home, but God loves all the nations and has called some people to pick up everything and give their life for the gospel in some foreign country for some lost heathens that most of the world has never heard of.  God is raising up some to stay and preach Christ and some to go to the nations and preach Christ so I would be very careful of who you criticize for you may be criticizing the anointed of God.


B.     We should go because the Lord is great

Verse 2 tells us what should motivate us to go to the nations. 

For great is the Lord, d greatly to be praised, and He is to be held in awe above al gods 

God is so worthy to be glorified among the church and among every person on the face of the earth. 

David Sills tells us that today, 112 years later, 94% of the people in the world recognize the Coca-Cola logo and product.  In 112 years, we can reach the world for profit's sake, but we cannot do it for the glory of God in 2,000 years.

If anyone is worth telling the world about it is our great, Sovereign God that made the Universe and holds it together by His word.  Verses 27-34 speak of the glory we should ascribe to God, the creator. 

1 Chronicles 16:27-34  Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place.  (28)  Ascribe to the LORD, O clans of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!  (29)  Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;  (30)  tremble before him, all the earth; yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.  (31)  Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns!"  (32)  Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it!  (33)  Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.  (34)  Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! 

Not only does God creating the universe show His mighty deeds, He is sending us hope, a way out of sin and misery through Christ makes Him worthy and great.  It’s not like we are commissioned to go to the nations for some business purpose.  We are to go to the nations with the greatest gift of all.  God is so great for sending Jesus Christ to reconcile sinners to Himself that we should be looking for people to tell this to. 

Man was born in sin and separated from God because of his sin.  God created us and gives us life and a law to live by and in return we have broken all of God’s laws and rebelled our whole life against Him.  God is perfect and just and must punish this transgression of His law.  He must punish us in Hell for all eternity to satisfy His justice, but instead of doing this He sent His Son Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, to live a perfect and sinless life and then go to a cross to die in our place.  God gave us the perfect, sinless lamb to be slain in our place.  The Father crushed the Son, it say’s in Isaiah 53, in order to satisfy His justice and pardon those who will repent and believe.  On the cross a great exchange took place.  A legal transaction was made.  We put our sin on Christ and He in return gave us His righteousness.  The believer is now accounted as righteous by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. 

God had to kill you and throw you in Hell for all eternity or He had to kill His Son in your place. 

What a sacrifice.  Is this not the greatest thing anyone could ever do?  Is our God not the greatest and so worthy to die to ourselves and go to the nations for?  Is this not the best news to bring to dying people who do not know it? 

Like a doctor that discovered the cure for cancer wants to tell the world to save them, we have the cure to death and should want to tell all people so that God may save them.

C.    We should go because all the gods of the nations are idols.

The heathen world does not know the true and the living God.  All their gods are idol, they are either carved images that they think have some power or they are figments of their imaginations.  There is only one God, the True and the Living God who made the heavens and the earth, there is no other. 

The word “idol” translated here is translated in the Septuagint as demonia which means demons.  All the idols the heathen world is worshiping are actually demons. 

The Hebrew word for “idols” in this verse means, “Nothing, empty, vain”  This means that these “gods” had no existence, they were creations of the imagination.  So we must go to the nations because the people of the nations are lost and are worshiping idols.  If they don’t hear the truth.  If they don’t hear the great deeds and wondrous works of God.  If they don’t here of the salvation and hope of God then they can’t be saved.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.  They have no hope outside of Christ. 

IV.   How should we go to the nations?

A.     Biblically and sound in doctrine

Verse 23 says that we are to tell of His salvation from day to day.  In order for us to tell of His salvation we must first have experienced it and next we must actually know what it is. 

It is an absolute waste of time to send someone who is not biblically sound to the mission field.  The churches don’t need to be wasting money by sending people on vacation in the name of missions.  And the nations don’t need another heretic to teach them false teachings that will mess them up worse than they are.   

We must send people to the nations that know the Word of God inside and out and are willing to give their lives for this truth.  We don’t need to spend $15,000 to send a bunch of kids, who are probably all lost themselves, to some other country in the name of “youth missions.” 

I wonder how many kids would volunteer to go with me into the mission field if I told them 75% of them would be killed in the jungle?  I wonder how many parents would let them go?   You see, peoples view of sending missions changes when there is a risk, but isn’t Jesus worth it.  We need mature, solid, biblical Christians who are willing to go into the nations and preach Christ and Him crucified until either God converts the nations or the nations kill them.

We see in verse 24 that we are to declare the glory of God among the nations not the glory or ourselves.  Everything we do in our lives should be fro the glory of God.  If we are exalting ourselves in anyway then God isn’t in it and if God isn’t in it then at best we are wasting our time but more likely we are sinning against Him and will give an account for it.

B.     We must also go to the nations as missionary martyrs.   The church is built on the blood of the martyrs.  Persecution thrives the church and complacent, easy living and wealth destroys the church.  Do you know how many people have been tortured and killed for the sake of the gospel since the foundation of the church?  Only God truly knows but it is in the millions. 

Did you know that all of the apostles were martyred but John, and they tried to kill John by boiling him in oil for a long time but they couldn’t so they put him on an island.   

Did you know that since the beginning of the church in Jerusalem the church was almost continually persecuted for hundreds of years. 

Did you know that the Catholic church, during the Inquisition, probably killed and tortured more Christians for their faith in Christ than Hitler. 

Everyone in this room should be willing to die for the gospel and offer your life up as a sweet aroma to God.  Is Jesus Christ not worth it.  Is Jesus Christ not worth giving up your time, wealth, estate, comfort and even your life?  The greatest privilege that God could ever give us is to let us die for Him.  Most of us are not worthy to die for the sake of the gospel.   

Whether we go or not, will not prevent God from accomplishing His purpose, but He gives us this task as a privilege and as the means He will use to accomplish His end.


V.         God will accomplish His purpose v. 26b-34

A.     God has ordained to gather His people from the nations.  We see this all over Scripture.  Lets look at a few:


Matthew 24:14  And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.



Matthew 25:32-33  Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  (33)  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.


Psalms 86:9  All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.


Isaiah 66:18  "For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory,


Revelation 7:9-10  After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,  (10)  and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"


Revelation 14:6  Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.


Rev 15:4  Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.

We see from these verses that the gospel will go to all the nations and God will gather His people from all the nations.  The game is over my friends.  God has already ordained the end and the means to His end. 

Like a guy named Alistair Begg always says, “There may be moves left on the board but check mate has already been established.”  No one can stop God from accomplishing His purposes of gathering his people from the nations. 

So if the end is already foretold and we know God will gather his people from the nations then why should we go ourselves to the natiosn?


Jesus already told us that we would be the means that God would use to bring His end when He gave us the great commission but we see elsewhere in Scripture that God uses us as the means to saving the nations.


2 Corinthians 2:14  But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.


We are the aroma of Christ that goes to the nations which God has ordained to use for the purpose of communicating the gospel which is the truth of salvation.  God doesn’t in any way need us to save the nations, He just gave us the privilege of being part of it.  He gave us the privilege of talking the good news of the gospel and letting us watch Him save men.  Why does He use us, instead of an angel?  1 Cor. Tells us.


1 Corinthians 1:26-29  For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  (27)  But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;  (28)  God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,  (29)  so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.


Why did God use us lowly creatures that have to depend on Him even to breath?  Because He will get the most glory for Himself by saving the nations in this way.



B.     Verse 35 in this song is the climax of the song. 

1 Chronicles 16:35-36  Say also: "Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather and deliver us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise. When it says, “save us and gather and deliver us from among the nations”, it doesn’t necessarily mean, “we are scared that the other nations will kill us.”  They are actually asking God for a greater restoration and gathering of a scattered people together to worship God. 

Is this not the end goal of God, to gather all His people to Himself so that they can all worship Him which brings Him all the glory in His creations?  This is the goal.  Like John Piper says, “the reason that missions exist is because worship doesn’t.”  If everyone in all the nations already worshiped God then we would have no need for missionaries, but they don’t.  The world for the most part is lost.

So it comes down to this, we have a choice; 

1.      We can go to the foreign nations with the gospel and preach it to them biblically.

2.      Not everyone is called to go to the foreign nation with the gospel, some are called to be the senders.  Romans 10:14-17says:  How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  (15)  And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"  (16)  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?"  (17)  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

This is the call of Missions.  This is the call of God to be a Go-er or a sender. The people leaving everything behind and going into the foreign mission field to preach the gospel must be sent.  They must be  supported or they can’t go.   Sending is also a huge privilege that God gives us.  We have the privilege of being involved in His great   commission to gather the nations to Himself by supporting     missionaries instead of actually going.  Both those going and those sending are equally important and they depend on each other. 

The church is a sending force.  How it usually works is, God will raise   up missionaries with a burden for the nations within the church and    then the church will send him and support him.  In the meantime and all the time the church is evangelizing their local community.


3 John 1:5-8  Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are,  (6)  who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God.  (7)  For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.  (8)  Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.


God has given us this privilege of sending but if you don’t take this privilege then he will raise up senders from anywhere He wants and they will take the privilege of sending. 

We should be like the Moravians.  Some Moravians, in South Africa,   saw a large enclosed space of ground, in which there were persons rotting away   with leprosy, some without arms and legs; and these Moravians could not preach to the poor lepers without going in there  themselves for life to rot with them, and they did so. 

 A man owned an Island in the West Indies and he had it filled with  slaves.  He would never allow a Christian or Missionary step foot on the island.  Two more of the same noble band of brethren sold      themselves into slavery on this island, in  order that they might be allowed to preach to the slaves.

 It is the same way with going; if God calls you to go and you don’t then He will raise up laborers from somewhere else to go but you will suffer loss.  God will accomplish His purpose through obedient Christians willing to go or send.

3.        We are called to Go to the nations or stay home and send those called to go but there is a third choice.  We can disobey.  All Christians are called to be involved in the great commission by either going or sending.  The only other option is to disobey God and if you have no problems disobeying God then your lost and need Christ.

What a privilege we are given by God to be involved in missions for the glory of God.  If they church was healthy we should never have to tell people to tell others about Christ, they would do it naturally.  So I will leave you with this final exhortation:

The greatest gift ever given to man was the gift of the Son given by the Father.  The only hope of all mankind.  The love and mercy of God was so great that He gave us a way out through Jesus Christ.  This is the greatest news that has ever been told. 

So if you want a purpose for your life, make it this: To glorify God by obeying Him and telling everyone from Simms to the ends of the earth this great news.  If you are not called to go then send, but give your whole life to this.  I pray that God will raise up laborers from this church that will have the same attitude as a guy named Keith Falconer who said:  I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with lights.

Sacrifice your time, your money, your comfort, and even your own body for this great privilege.  Someone told you about Christ, shouldn’t everyone be told. 

I will end by reading verse 36 to seal this song:  Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!  Then all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the Lord.







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