1 Chronicles 22

The temple David had in mind (22:7) was to be a magnificent structure of fame and splendor. But as Stephen will point out in the New Testament, it was David’s project – not the Lord’s. David wanted to do something for God that would get the attention of the surrounding nations.

The temple, however, was a holy place: the place of God’s dwelling. No one who had shed as much blood as David could build such a holy place, but David could prepare for its preparation. Notice the amount of materials assembled: at least 3,700 tons of – over five billion dollars in today’s market. We are told of all this so we will know what a tremendous structure it would be – and what a great king David was.

But there was something more important than the physical materials, and that is the preparation of those who will build the temple. Already David has been excluded because of his life. If Solomon is successful, he need to give attention to the law of God in his own life – and so would the leaders of Israel (see verses 13 and 19).

The place where God dwells is today the Church, and we are each the precious materials out of which it is built (Ephesians 4:15-16). Let no one of mature spiritual mind denigrate the Church. It is a magnificent structure not of man’s making, but of God’s. If it is to be a worthy structure, those who make it up must give themselves to holiness – and to dedicated service.

Saturday, April 19. 1 Chronicles 18 – 21

There’s something missing from this section, do you remember what it is?

David’s sin with Bathsheba.

You should not think that the Chronicler is white-washing David’s image. As has been evident from chapter ten forward, the Chronicler expects that his readers will be familiar with the David story in Samuel. He even gives us reminders of it with the phrases “when all the kings go off to war” and “but David remained in Jerusalem.”

So why doesn’t he tell it?

David is not a perfect man. The Chronicler knows that. But there are traits David has that endear him to God. He longs for a relationship with God. He knows sin destroys that relationship and when he sins, he admits it and repents. He doesn’t always know the way of the Lord, but he wants to know it, seeks it, and when he misjudges it, makes correction quickly. Sin, in an of itself, does not destroy a leader’s ability to lead, nor absolve him of the responsibility. Sin can be dealt with and forgiven and we can continue to find ourselves blessed of God. Though the story of Bathsheba is not present in this chapter, the reader knows it, knows of David’s penitence, and sees that God continues to bless the king in a royal way.

As the royal house of God, the Lord will do the same for us when we respond to Him as David did.

Friday, April 18. 1 Chronicles 15 – 17

As I read chapter 16 I wonder where in the world David got the authority to do what this chapter tells us. First, he separates the Ark of the Covenant from the Tabernacle and forms two places of worship: one in Jerusalem, another in Gibeon. Second, he evidently creates a dual High Priesthood with Zadok serving in Jerusalem and Abiathar in Gibeon (see 1 Chronicles 15:11 and 18:16). Third, he creates a new ministry, a music ministry whose function was to petition, praise, and give thanks to the Lord.

On top of all this, David performed the function of a priest (offering sacrifices and the wearing of the linen ephod – see parallel account in 2 Samuel 6:14).

The chapter does not explain David’s authorial presumption. Presumably, as God’s anointed monarch, he had divine approval. Given previous examples of how God dealt with those who chose to go their own way in worship rather than stick with His directives, one might want to be cautious about throwing caution to the wind on the basis of David’s actions here.

Still, surely this text is important for us. But why?

The chapter contains the only hymn in the book. The purpose of the musicians was to petition, praise, and give thanks. This hymn does precisely that in that it calls us to thank, praise, and remember all that God has done.

My take-away from this chapter is that worship should have some thought put into it. A preacher who put no time into preparing his sermon would not last very long. Why then do we put up with pray-ers who believe they can get up, lead me in prayer and speak to God on my behalf all the while doing so “off the cuff”? Why do we put up with song directors whose selection of hymns is sometimes hastily put together and poorly thought out? Some churches assign these functions to the “clergy” (or the paid help) hoping to ensure better preparation. But this betrays simply a persistent inattentiveness on the part of the laity to what really ought to be the most important part of our week.

One final note about music. On a recent trip to Vietnam, a little girl in worship caught my eye. She was singing with the congregation with all her heart, but she never looked at the hymn book. Asking about her later, I found out that she had only been coming to church about six months and that, at eight years old, she had a learning disability that affected her long term memory. Her school work suffered horribly. But there she was, singing the “songs of Zion.” From memory. I believe David knew that music could do what sermons cannot: embed the will of God on the hearts of people. Music in church deserves more time, more effort, and more participation. God may be satisfied with offerings “according to what one has,” but He will not be satisfied with just whatever we decide to give.

Tuesday, April 15. 1 Chronicles 6 – 8

The tribe of Benjamin receives a second notice (see 7:6ff) in chapter 8, probably to note their tribal lands. Remember, Chronicles was written after the exile. The returnees would need to know where their ancestral lands were.

Benjamin is the father of Bela, and Belah was the father of Gera who was the father of Ehud (vs. 3. Abihud is best read as “father of Ehud” – see the footnote in the NIV). This Ehud branch of the family line settled in Geba (between Jerusalem and Bethel).

Verse 8 takes up with Bela’s son Shephuphan (or Shaharaim) and his sons, mainly Elpaal, who descendants settled in Ono and Lod (just north of Gezer in Philistine territory) and Aijalon (between Gezer and Jerusalem).

Beginning with verse 14, we have other descendants of Elpaal through his son Beriah, who, along with Elpaal’s other sons (vs. 17) lived in Jerusalem with descendants of others of this tribe (vss. 17-28). Verses 29 – 33 list the descendants of Benjamin who lived in Gibeon and verses 34 – 40 list the descendants of Saul.

One of the reasons so much attention is given to Benjamin is that it was one of the main post-exilic tribes. It would be important to verify as many of the family heads as possible and their land allotments. This discussion of Benjamin brings to an end the genealogy in this first section of Chronicles.

It is interesting that at the end of Judges, the Benjaminites are nearly wiped out by their own brethren due of their immorality. But after the exile, they occupy a prominent place among
God’s people. It is a testimony to the long-suffering and grace of God, and the kind of change that can come about in the lives of seemingly hopeless people when they but put their hearts and minds to the task of loyalty to God.

Friday, September 13. 1 Chronicles 27 – 29

Chapter twenty-eight is a somewhat different story from the palace intrigue presented in the book of Kings. The story is not contradictory, but simply supplementary. It appears in Kings that no one really knows who is to be king after David’s death. Yet Nathan knows, as does Bathsheba. To those who know the story, the questioning of Kings is really a story of rebellion. The Chronicler presents a seamless story without the black mark of rebellion in David’s house. David’s speeches here are important.

For the first time, the temple is called a place of God’s rest. The “rest” is so important that David cannot build the temple, for he is not a man of rest. Solomon has that designation (1 Chronicles 22:9).

Second, the choice of Solomon as king is not of David’s choosing, but God’s. Solomon is not the natural choice for king. David has many sons. A good number of them are older than Solomon. Besides, Solomon was conceived in adultery. Yet, he is the Lord’s choice and not just to be king over Israel, but to be king over the “kingdom of the Lord” (vs. 5) – a phrase occurring only twice in the Bible, both times in Chronicles.

Solomon’s success, and Israel’s, would be inseparably keyed to seeking the Lord and His will – and obeying what they found.

The New Testament speaks of a “rest” for the people of God, a rest that Israel never was able to enter (Hebrews 3-4). The rest was tied to the temple of God and obedience to God. It still is, and is why Christians should not fail to get the message: The temple – the Church, God’s family – is the place of God’s rest. Those who would enter that rest must enter the place of rest, and to do so, they must seek the Lord and be obedient to his will. Anything else will leave them coming up short.

Thursday, September 12. 1 Chronicles 24 – 26

Remember that the priests were descendants of Jacob’s son Levi through Aaron, but the priests were not the only Levites. The rest of the Levitical family served as assistants to the priests. The priests were divided into twenty-four sections. Likewise, the Levites were divided into twenty-four sections. From among the Levites, three families were selected to be the musicians: Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun. Their families were divided into twenty-four sections as well to correspond to the Priests and the other Levites.

Who decides who serves when?

It could have been that the wealthiest families, or the largest families, or the most talented families could have received preferential treatment, but to avoid just such a scenario, the families “cast lots” for their place in the order of service. You see it plainly in the list of chapter twenty-five: the lots are cast in the order of the families of Asaph, Jeduthun, Asaph, Jeduthun, Asaph, Heman, Asaph, Jeduthun, Heman . . . and so on.

Two points stand out about chapter twenty-five: First, music was to play an important part in temple worship. Further, this was not about entertainment, for the duty of the musicians was to “prophesy,” to teach and to remind Israel of her covenant with God. Musicians ministers need to remember this: your ministry is not to entertain, but to teach and remind.

The second lesson is that preferential treatment should not be a part of leadership. If it comes down to it, and choices must be made, drawing straws might be the best way – not to decide on qualified leaders – but to assign qualified leaders to areas of service.

Wednesday, September 11. 1 Chronicles 21-23

The temple David had in mind (22:7) was to be a magnificent structure of fame and splendor. But as Stephen will point out in the New Testament, it was David’s project – not the Lord’s. David wanted to do something for God that would get the attention of the surrounding nations.

The temple, however, was a holy place: the place of God’s dwelling. No one who had shed as much blood as David could build such a holy place, but David could prepare for its preparation. Notice the amount of materials assembled: at least 3,700 tons of – over five billion dollars in today’s market. We are told of all this so we will know what a tremendous structure it would be – and what a great king David was.

But there was something more important than the physical materials, and that is the preparation of those who will build the temple. Already David has been excluded because of his life. If Solomon is successful, he need to give attention to the law of God in his own life – and so would the leaders of Israel (see verses 13 and 19).

The place where God dwells is today the Church, and we are each the precious materials out of which it is built (Ephesians 4:15-16). Let no one of mature spiritual mind denigrate the Church. It is a magnificent structure not of man’s making, but of God’s. If it is to be a worthy structure, those who make it up must give themselves to holiness – and to dedicated service.

Tuesday, September 10. 1 Chronicles 18 – 20

What was the kindness Nahash had showed David in chapter nineteen?

We are not told. Perhaps, after David’s coronation, Nahash believed David was someone he could work with and effected a treaty. We simply don’t know.

In any case, upon Nahash’s death, David sent a diplomatic delegation to his son Hanun. The delegation was shamefully treated and this episode helps us to see the cementing of David’s power.

In the reading, don’t miss the progression of the story, which has a particular formula. When the Ammonites saw (vs. 6) that David was insulted, they gathered mercenary soldiers to help them. When Joab saw (vs. 10) the armies arrayed against his own, he divided his forces, formulated a plan, and left the success in the hands of the Lord. When the Arameans saw (vs. 16) they had been defeated by a smaller army, they called for reinforcements. When the Arameans saw they had been defeated by Israel, they made peace with David (vs. 16) and became subject to him.

Notice how the story shifts from the Ammonites, who could have never defeated David, to the Arameans (Syrians) who should have been able to defeat him. No one can. God is on His side.

Though we should regard every battle as the Lord’s, success will seldom come without our own planning and involvement. If this is true, why should we say it’s in the Lord’s hands if, in fact, it is in our own? Note the Syrians planned too, and had a superior force, but they could not defeat the Lord, and we cannot win our battles without Him.

Monday, September 9. 1 Chronicles 15 – 17

Samuel’s account of David bringing the ark back to Jerusalem is a bit puzzling (see 2 Samuel 6). It’s fundamentally the same story as in 1 Chronicles 13 and 15, but in Chronicles we have the reason for Uzzah’s death: the ark was not supposed to be carried on a cart of any kind, but was to be borne by the Levites.

Keep in mind that we are reading Chronicles in its chronological order. It is one of the last books of the Old Testament to be written and it was composed after the exile. Chapter fifteen points to at least three things: First, the importance of the Levites. When the Ark was no longer being carried from place to place, but was situated in Jerusalem, there would be little for three Levite clans to do (see their assignments in Numbers 4). This is probably why, after the exile, the Levites were held in such low esteem (see Nehemiah 13:10). Though they may have little to do, these people are highly regarded by God and Israel is bound to support them and respect them. Second, the chapter tells us the new assignments for the Levites (since the temple was making their old assignments obsolete). And third, it tells us who was responsible for those assignments: David.

This brings up a matter of biblical interpretation: Where did David get the authority to make these assignments? There appears to be no real directive from the Lord, but on the other hand, these men should have important substantive work to do. David recognized both and made assignments. Without divine directive, David made the decision. Silence was permission. The debate continues to rage over the authority of silence in scripture. Is it prohibitive or permissive? It is best to let silence be silence. Unless you are a king taking the part of a priest (note David dresses as both here), you have no authority to make this decision.

Two points remain: Notice the preparation that went in to bringing the ark to Jerusalem. Notice that everyone consecrated themselves (spent time in preparation holiness – perhaps prayer, sacrifice for sin, whatever needed to be done that one might present his life cleansed before God). Note also that they put on their best clothes (note “fine” linen 15:27). Preparation for worship should be from the inside out, but should include the outside. Appearing before the Lord without thoughtfulness to appearance is a disgrace.

Finally, notice Michal, Saul’s daughter. All Israel was rejoicing in worship before the Lord. She, however, like a lot of spoil-sport Christians, had something stuck in her craw (the Chronicler doesn’t even tell us what it was) and refused to join in the celebration. The command to rejoice with those who rejoice is a command to deny self and come before the Lord with singing and praise. If something isn’t going your way, don’t let it spoil your worship or the worship of others. Get over yourself and rejoice that at least, you are one of the people of God.

Sunday, September 8. 1 Chronicles 11 – 14

The material in chapters eleven and twelve of 1 Chronicles cannot be found anywhere else in the Bible. You should notice three important places mentioned here: the “stronghold” (David’s cave fortress where he hid from Saul), Ziklag (a Philistine city given to David while he was on the run from Saul) and Hebron, where David was crowned king.

Chapter eleven begins with Hebron. Chapter twelve ends with Hebron. In between is the account of those who came over to David’s side during the Saul conflict – and their number and quality is significant. Saul’s own family (the Benjaminites) even defected to David. In the middle of chapter twelve is the reason: God was with David.

Notice the number of times the word “help” is used in chapter twelve – more than in any other chapter in Chronicles. The scene is one of God’s people, banding together in a common cause, behind God’s chosen leader, helping him and one another – a scene of unity. The result is blessing. The chapter ends with this note: “Their neighbors from as far away as Issachar, Zebulun and Naphtali came bringing food on donkeys, camels, mules and oxen. There were plentiful supplies of flour, fig cakes, raisin cakes, wine, oil, cattle and sheep, for there was joy in Israel.

This is the way it is supposed to be: God’s people acting in concert, supporting and helping one another as they move to make God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.