Faith and Theology: Dr. John MacArthur Q&A


What does God desire in our giving?

King David called for consecrated giving to the building of the temple, based on his personal example of generosity (1 Chr. 29.3, 4). David gave his personal fortune to the temple building, a fortune almost immeasurable. He says that “over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, my own special treasure of gold and silver. three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir.” Assuming a talent weighed about 75 pounds, this amounts to almost 112 tons of gold. This was held to be the purest and finest in the world (Job 22.24; 28.16; Is. 13.12). Plus the 7,000 talents of silver, which would be 260 tons, the total worth of such precious metals has been estimated in the billions of dollars.

As he addresses the people, David notes the phrase “with a willing mind” (vv. 6–9). Here is the key to all freewill giving, i.e., giving what one desires to give. Tithes were required for taxation, to fund the theocracy, similar to taxation today. The law required that to be paid. This, however, is the voluntary giving from the heart to the Lord. The New Testament speaks of this (Luke 6.38; 2 Cor. 9.1–8) and never demands that a tithe be given to God, but that taxes be paid to one’s government (Rom. 13.6, 7). Paying taxes and giving God whatever one is willing to give, based on devotion to Him and His glory, is biblical giving.

The people rejoiced in their offering to the temple which was “five thousand talents…of gold” (1 Chr. 29.7). This amounts to 187 tons of gold. Add to that 375 tons of silver, 675 tons of bronze, and 3,750 tons of iron. The sum of all this is staggering and has been estimated into the billions of dollars. David responds to the phenomenal offering expressing amazing sacrifices of wealth with praise in which he acknowledges that all things belong to and come from God (vv. 10–15). David says that opportunities for giving to God are tests of the character, “test the heart,” of a believer’s devotion to the Lord (v. 17). The king acknowledges that the attitude of one’s heart is significantly more important than the amount of offering in one’s hand.