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Saturday, July 4, 2015

1 CHRONICLES+—An Illustrated Summary of Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible by G. Campbell Morgan

"On every page of the God-breathed writings are many thoughts that stretch out like long, clear arms of light across the darkness, discovering things otherwise hidden and illuminating wider areas than those of the immediate context. They are searchlights. From a multitude of these, I have selected one in each chapter of Scripture, for at least one central thought in every chapter should arrest the mind and affect the life," wrote G. Campbell Morgan, a wise, warm-hearted, careful Bible teacher who conducted a classic 3-year chapter-by-chapter study called Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible. Here are the fruits of that timeless study—summarized, illustrated, and amplified—on all 66 books of the Bible (posted one book at a time, cumulatively).


1 Chronicles 1:1 "Adam, Seth, Enosh." That is a strange beginning for any book. The method, however, is systematic, illustrating this underlying principle of the next 10 chapters especially: Divine Election. The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles, like those of Samuel and Kings, are historical records, but the Chronicles focus on the southern kingdom of Judah. They refer to the northern kingdom of Israel only in cases where Judah is directly involved. Within the kingdom of Judah, emphasis is placed on the house of David, all other matters being referred to as they affected, or were affected by, the Davidic line. In 1 and 2 Kings we see the history of this period from the standpoint of God interacting with human will; here we see it from that of the divine choices and procedure. The history of 1 Chronicles begins with the death of King Saul in chapter 10, but the chronicler prefaces it with 9 chapters of genealogical tables, which relate Saul's reign to all that had preceded it. They are not exhaustive, but serve a clearly defined purpose: indicating the divine choice of channels for accomplishing divine purposes. Carefully observe the technical method of this first chapter in the highlighted verse above. Adam had more than one son, but the only one mentioned is Seth. We learn from Genesis 5:7 that Seth himself had other sons and daughters, but the only one mentioned here in 1 Chronicles is Enosh. Chapter 1 goes on to trace the godly line from Enosh to Noah. Then an excursion gives brief genealogies of Japeth and Ham, sons of Noah, because of the relation of their descendants to Shem and Abraham, through whom are descended King David and the greater David, the Messiah or Christ. Another thread traces descent through Ishmael and the sons of Keturah. The direct progression here continues through Isaac. A third and elaborate thread traces the descendants of Esau. The first words of 1 Chronicles hint to the value of these genealogies. Cain, the first murderer, is omitted. There are men whom God excludes from His purposes, and the choices of God have a relation to their character.

1 Chronicles 2:3 "The sons of Judah." In this chapter the direct line of the divine movement centers in the tribe of Judah. Judah's sons are named, and once again we see the practice of selection operating upon the principle of character. For example, Er (Judah's firstborn) is slain because of his wickedness, and down the line Achan (aka Achar) is well described as the "troubler of Israel" since his greed led to national disaster in Joshua 7. On the positive side the main movement passes through Perez, Hezron, and Ram somewhat indirectly. Then it becomes very direct through Jesse to David, through whom the royal line is at last to reach the appointed Messiah. This chapter is very technical and carefully observed, revealing the fact that the elections of God constantly set aside the prejudices and plans of men. The law of primogeniture (the eldest child being the automatic heir), for instance, has no place in the divine reckoning. Of this the last illustration in the series of divine choices before us is that of David, and he was the seventh son—the youngest of them all. Also, the principle of choosing and appointing impressive men, or those who by outward appearance seem to be men of power, is entirely ignored. So in God's way of doing things, privilege is not hereditary, neither is it bestowed upon natural ability. Everything depends on character, for God looks at the heart.

1 Chronicles 3:1 "The sons of David." In this chapter the genealogical tables have special reference to David. The names of 19 of his sons are given, 4 of them by Bathsheba. Solomon was chosen and the descent is traced through him. In referring to Solomon and his 3 brothers, no reference whatever is made to the famous sin of David and Bathsheba. Indeed, nowhere in the Chronicles are any of the failures of David referred to except his numbering the people. The standpoint of observation throughout is that of divine government, and continuity of God's purpose. And is there not here a deeper note? In the election of Solomon we see that God does not allow a wrong for which a man is not responsible to serve as an impenetrable barrier. Everything depends on the relation of the man to Himself whether the man is a fit instrument for the divine work. If a man is right with God, his lack of advantages can be supplied, and his disqualifications overcome.


1 Chronicles 4:10 "Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let Your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request." Here another line from Judah is traced, and must be viewed in light of the royalty manifested in David. It is the story of the multiplication and settlement of the people who became workers in the great kingdom. The text highlighted gives us the prayer of an honorable man  whom God blessed by answering his prayer. Regarding the people, we have the descent of those who became workers in fine linen, pottery, and other kingdom needs. The king of Judah would need the sons of Judah equipped by God for the work of the kingdom, and here we are reminded that they are chosen and appointed by God to their work. Therefore all their work is as sacred as that of the king. One of those people, Jabez, was given a name meaning "causing pain" by his mother, which perhaps cast a shadow over his life. Here we see him praying to be free from that. For us the beauty of his story is its revelation of God's interest in individuals. While through these genealogies we are occupied with government of the nation for the accomplishment of the divine purpose in human affairs, it is refreshing and helpful to be halted by the story of one man who took his need directly to God, and obtained an immediate answer by His grace.

1 Chronicles 5:2 "From him came the leader." This again is speaking about Judah, but amid the genealogies of Simeon, Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh. Here the principle we have been thinking through all these chapters—divine election—flames out centrally. "The leader" or Messiah toward whose arrival everything was moving was not to come through Reuben, the firstborn, who forfeited his birthright because of disrespect and disobedience. God's selections are based upon His complete knowledge and undeviating justice. Such light is at once the occasion of joy and fear in the heart. The joy comes from confidence that no mistakes are ever made in the divine government. All the blunders and failures of men are overruled and resolved into the harmony of the perfect wisdom and might of God. That very assurance, however, must have the effect of solemnizing the heart and filling it with wholesome fear since it is inescapably clear that no birthright or other right will prevail with God if His conditions are violated by the disobedience of men.

1 Chronicles 6:1 "The sons of Levi." This long chapter of 81 verses is wholly devoted to the priestly tribe. It is in harmony with the viewpoint from which these Chronicles proceed. Only Judah, the kingly tribe, has more space devoted to it: 102 verses. The tribe of Levi was God's choice for priestly service. Listed here are Levi's sons—Gershom, Kohath, and Merari—with their descendants, duties, and living arrangements throughout the nation. History shows their failure to exert a godly influence on their nation, and their function replaced by Christ, who by "a single offering has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14). Nevertheless, we see here how very complete were the provisions made ideally. The Levites, all having vital connection in the discharge of their duties within easy access of all the people, ought to have exerted the highest influence. The failure was not in the system, but in the men. This is always so.

1 Chronicles 7:1 "The sons of Issachar." Since the chronicler's mind was obviously dominated by his recognition of Judah being chosen as the kingly tribe, tribes most closely associated with Judah have much fuller treatment than the others. With Issachar, Benjamin, and Asher, not only genealogies but also the numbers of fighting men are given, probably during the time of David, around whose reign the principal interest of this book revolves. The special help of these tribes is indicated. Of Issachar it is said they were mighty men of valor, among the chiefs of the nation. The same is said about Benjamin and Asher; Naphtali is dismissed in a verse. Concerning Ephraim and Manasseh a few names are given, along with some of their possessions. All this is technical, yet full of interest since it reveals another side to this history. Here tribes and individuals are seen as gaining importance and value in proportion as they cooperated in the purpose of God. While His elections are sovereign, they have a relation to the attitude of human choices in pursuing the known will of God. Issachar, Benjamin, and Asher were elect instruments so long as they walked in the way of the divine will—and no longer, as subsequent history will reveal.

1 Chronicles 8:1 "And Benjamin..." This whole
chapter constitutes a fuller account of the house of Benjamin. It is little more than a list of names, with the added detail of family members who settled in Jerusalem. When the kingdom tore in two after the death of Solomon, the ten northern tribes revolted, but Benjamin remained with Judah and the kingly line. That fact in itself explains this particularly full accounting. In the course of reading this chapter we come across two names, almost buried among the rest yet standing out conspicuously in the history of David: Saul and Jonathan. Of these, the father was David's most implacable enemy for many years, and the son his choicest friend throughout his whole career. The love of Jonathan very largely canceled the cruelty of Saul for David, as his treatment of Mephibosheth revealed. How wondrous it is that Benjamin, tribe of the first king, Saul, should eventually become the one tribe that remained loyal to the kingdom of David, as it persisted in Judah, when Israel broke away! Although there were strong partisans reflecting Saul's hate who caused trouble, it seems the influence of Jonathan was stronger than that of his father among the people as a whole. How often we look back over life and find that our Sauls and our Jonathans come from the same stock of some Benjamin, but in the long issues the force of love and friendship is mightier than hate and enmity. Happy are those in the now of stress who count on the long issues and God!

1 Chronicles 9:13 "Very able men for the work of the service of the House of God." In this chapter the genealogies are completed, for they reach the latest point in their history and the time when these chronicles were written: the prophesied return to Jerusalem after 70 years of captivity in Babylon. This chapter lists the dwellers in Jerusalem by family heads over Judah, Benjamin, the priests, and the Levites. It is an account of the attempt to restore order and worship that had been lost during the captivity. The main focus is the priests, on whom the chief responsibility rested. Around these were grouped the Levites, both porters and singers, helping them in all their work. The highlighted phrase "very able men" is elsewhere translated "mighty men of valor" (for example, Nehemiah 11:14). That description is usually reserved for military men, making its use here the more arresting. Valor is always spiritual ultimately, and men who are not called to actual physical conflict need it if they are to lead the people of God according to His commandments. If the priests, whose work was maintaining a relationship between God and His people, lacked valor, then the valor of the fighting men would be wrongly inspired, and sooner or later would fail. The valor of ministers today must always be that of courageous and even daring loyalty to righteousness and purity, as with everything else that reflects God's character.

1 Chronicles 10:13 "Saul died for his trespass ...against the Lord, because of the Word of the Lord which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, seeking guidance." Before the chronicler focuses on the reign of David, he briefly records the tragic death of King Saul. Routed by his enemies, Saul died shamefully by his own hand. First and foremost, Saul trespassed against God by repeatedly disobeying His Word. One terrible example is the king sought counsel from the dark underworld of evil spirits. When a person is called to serve God, he or she will be guided by God. If that person disobeys, divine guidance is necessarily withdrawn to lead to repentance, but if the person remains stubborn yet craves supernatural guidance, he or she will stumble down a destructive path towards witchcraft. Notice also in this chapter the justice of God, as described by Bible scholar Matthew Henry: "Sinners sin and at length suffer for it themselves, though they be long reprieved; for, although sentence be not executed speedily, it will be executed. It was so upon Saul; and the manner of his fall was such as, in various particulars, answered his sin. (1.) He had thrown a javelin more than once at David, and missed him; but the archers hit Saul, and he was wounded by the archers. (2.) He had commanded Doeg to slay the priests of the Lord; and now, in despair, he commands his armour-bearer to draw his sword and thrust him through. (3.) He had disobeyed the command of God in not destroying the Amalekites, and his armour-bearer disobeys him in not destroying him. (4.) He that was the murderer of the priests is justly left to himself to be his own murderer; and his family is cut off who cut off the city of the priests. See, and say, The Lord is righteous."

1 Chronicles 11:3 "David made a covenant with the people before the Lord. They anointed David king over Israel, according to the Word of the Lord through Samuel." We now come to the period of history with which this book in concerned: the reign of David. It was in many ways the greatest time in the kingdom of Israel. Significantly, the chronicler makes no reference to the 7 years when David ruled over just Judah. He begins with the crowning at Hebron, when all Israel acknowledged David's kingship. There may be two reasons for that. First, this history is written from the standpoint of David's greatness, so the years of the partial reign are omitted. Second, only after David's coronation did his activities concerning the Ark and the Temple commence, which the author of Chronicles focuses on. Notice also the covenant King David makes with his people before the Lord. Matthew Henry observes, "If ever any prince might have claimed an absolute despotic power, David might, and might as safely as any have been entrusted with it; and yet he made a covenant with the people, took the coronation-oath, to rule by law." There is no divine right of kings, but God does expect kings and other leaders to rule by His authority and Word.

1 Chronicles 12:1 "These are the men who came to David at Ziklag ... and they were among the mighty men, his helpers in war." The story of David's mighty men is always full of fascination. Think of what most were in the days of David's exile during Saul's ruinous reign: men graphically described as in debt, in danger, and discontented. They sought David out in his mountain hideouts, sharing his sorrows and victories. His influence is seen in their devotion to him and still more surprisingly in the heroic character they developed. Now they and others come up to celebrate David's coronation, and the chronicler notes some of their attributes. They "could use both the right hand and the left," which speaks of their careful training. They were "mighty men of valor ... trained for war"; this reveals their disciplined strength. They "could handle shield and spear," so could act on the defensive and offensive. Their "faces were like the faces of lions," for they had become a kingly company. They  were "as swift as gazelles in the mountains," which demonstrates their perfect fitness. They were, moreover, men of differing capacities, all of which were devoted to David's service. Among the sons of Issachur were "men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do." The sons of Zebulun were "not of double heart," or inclined to treachery. It was a great company of men who truly became great, but not for themselves. Their greatness resulted from the influence of David, and was consecrated to his and the nation's interest. Every word of this chapter carries the mind on to David's greater Son and the men and women He gathers about Him for His work now.

1 Chronicles 13:3 "Let us bring the Ark of our God back to us." David's consciousness of God being at the center of the new kingdom is seen in his immediate concern about the Ark. This sacred symbol had been for long years at Kirjath-jearim, apparently neglected. He now set himself to bring it into the midst of the people as a recognition of the nation's relationship with God, their true King. David knew his own rule depended on God's will, and he wanted to make sure his people understood that as well. That is why he was determined to bring in the Ark, but then a terrible event taught David a lesson of deep solemnity. If God's will is truly to be done, it must be done His way, as recorded in His Word. The long neglect of the Ark may have the people unfamiliar with the very explicit commands concerning the method of its removal, or they may have grown careless about the importance of attending to such details. Whichever was the case, they arranged for the Ark's removal by a device of their own. The swift death of the man who dared to touch the Ark was evidence at once of the presence of God and the necessity for perfect conformity to His minutest instructions. David was angry and afraid. The whole project was halted and the Ark properly carried to the nearby house of Obed-edom, where it remained for 3 months and brought abundant blessing. Most graphically does this story teach the people of God that zeal for Him must be according to knowledge.

1 Chronicles 14:15 "When you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall go out to battle, for God has gone out before you." God's going before His people is a precious and recurring theme. Here David is seeking the Lord's will before leading his army on a defensive battle against the Philistines, who are determined to test the new king. In the first battle he was told to go, and victory resulted. The second time he was forbidden to go until hearing the supernatural sign highlighted above. David obeyed, waiting for the sign, and then went forward when receiving it onto another victory. In our time, signs of this particular kind are not given. They are no longer necessary to a people whose holy right it is to live in constant and close fellowship with God through His Son by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Yet God's people today still seek for God to go before them. Part of the Holy Spirit's job is to let them know internally the hour of their opportunity. There are times when waiting for such promptings is the best thing to do. When they are granted, there is no mistaking them, and they are always in accord with God's revealed Word. Their method cannot be tabulated, but the fact of them is one of the most real experiences of the life of fellowship with God.

1 Chronicles 15:29 "She despised him in her heart." This is a revealing statement about David's wife Michal. Sadly, the circumstances were those of the greatest joy to David. Michal, having no understanding of the reasons for that joy, despised her husband for the dancing that gave expression to it. The Ark was brought at last to Jerusalem—correctly, as the earlier part of this chapter details. We see that David learned the lesson that the death of Uzzah was intended to teach. After careful preparation of the Tent for its reception, the ceremony of the Levites' bearing the Ark to its resting place was carried out. Companies of instrumentalists and singers were appointed, and with high jubilation the Ark was borne by the priests into the prepared Tent. David, full of holy gladness, accompanied the glad procession, making music himself and dancing. Michal looked upon all this and especially David with disdain. This incident illustrates the perpetual inability of the worldly minded to appreciate the gladness of the spiritually minded. External manifestations of spiritual joy cannot convey to those dead inside the real meaning of that spiritual delight. Meetings for prayer and praise are still held in contempt by those who have no personal experience of the peace and joy that comes from knowing and loving the Most High. This text practically begs us to consider whether there is anything in our outward demeanor, born of our inward experience with God, that provokes the disdain of the worldly.

1 Chronicles 16:7 "On that day David first delivered this Psalm into the hand of Asaph and his brethren, to thank the Lord." That could mean this was the day when Asaph and his brethren were first officially appointed to the service of praise, or it could be the first occasion on which this Psalm was employed. What is important is the Psalm itself, which also appears in segments in the Book of Psalms: the first part (verses 8-22) in Psalm 105:1-15, the second part (23-33) in Psalm 96:1-13, and the third part (34-36) in the opening and closing sentences of Psalm 106. These three parts or movements indicate a growth of experience in the glory of the divine government, which the Ark symbolized. The first is an ascription of praise, merging into a call to remembrance of the specific works of God and His covenant. In the second the praise moves to a higher level, expressing itself in adoration of God for who He is in Himself in majesty. In the third this Psalm reaches its highest level in uttering heartfelt thanksgiving for salvation and mercy. In the restoration of the Ark after a period of neglect, the people found a sure token of that mercy.

1 Chronicles 17:16 "Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house that You have brought me this far?" The presence of the Ark in the royal city seems to have created—or renewed—a strong desire in David's heart to provide it with a worthy and permanent resting place. The desire in itself was certainly not unworthy, but God had other plans. How He handled this matter with David is full of suggestiveness. David was brought into the conscious presence of the Lord, and what passed through his mind was all that God had done for him. The man who desired to build a house for God was reminded that God was building a house for him. David's desire to do something for the Lord was set in the light of what the Lord had done for him, and would do for him in establishing a lasting dynasty for him through Christ the Messiah. David at once submitted to the will of God, expressing worship rooted in his deep sense of his own unworthiness, and of the consequent greatness of God's mercy and goodness. Then he rested his soul in the blessing promised. In all this there is much of spiritual value for us. Our relationship with God is always based on what He does for us, never on what we do for Him. If He wills that we build a Temple, it is ours to do it, but the doing of it creates no merit by which we may claim anything from Him. Conversely, if He wills that we should not build, we have lost no merit by not doing it. Our relation with Him remains the same, sure founded upon His grace, which inevitably moves us to love, obedience, and holiness.

1 Chronicles 18:11 "King David dedicated
these also to the Lord." With very slight variations, this chapter is identical to 2 Samuel 8. It tells the story of David's victories over surrounding enemies, by which his nation secured and even extended its boundaries, especially regarding trade. In the immediate view of David's desire to build the Temple of God, this chapter is of special interest. It shows how in these wars he was amassing treasure by the providence of God that his son Solomon, by divine designation, would use to build the Temple after David's reign. The Moabites, Syrians, and others from afar brought presents and tribute. Shields of gold, very much brass, and vessels of gold and silver were sent and dedicated to the Lord God of Israel. Through all the days of conflict, David's greatness was on display for those who had eyes to see. To be willing to do the work of preparation when not permitted to undertake the principal service is proof of real devotion. This story reveals to us the possibility open to us of serving the work of God in very real ways, even when we are not permitted to do those things we most desire to do. For example, a passion to serve Him on a foreign field may be blocked by the will of God. The temptation will be to assume we are excluded from the work altogether. It is not so. There are many ways we can serve the same enterprise. If in no other way, we may do as David: collect treasure for the work and so help it.

The Suspicious King Humiliated David's Men
1 Chronicles 19:2 "I will show kindness to Hanun, the son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me." David's attempt to deal kindly with the new king of Ammon was basely misinterpreted and resented, leading his officials to abuse David's messengers. This does not detract from the nobility of David's gesture in not forgetting the kindness of the late neighbor king over a nation long at odds with the Jewish people. Perhaps David was not being politically expedient, but he acted in obedience to the higher considerations of nobility and gratitude. This is a life lesson: the man or woman who acts in accord with the promptings of a generous nature will be rich in character as a result. A more cautious person, actuated by suspicion, will silence these higher suggestions in the interests of his or her own safety and dignity, but to the detriment of character. It is a great thing to hold one's own life true to the highest ideals, even though doing so incurs the risk of slander. He who does so is strengthened, not weakened. Notice what happened in this chapter from the war that erupted: even though the attacking Ammonites were heavily supported by Syrian mercenaries, with God's help David's generals Joab and Abishai sent them all into a rout. The panicky Ammonite warriors fled behind the gates of Rabbah, their capitol, and the Syrians refused to help them anymore.

1 Chronicles 20:1 "But David remained at Jerusalem." David would have done much better if he accompanied Joab and the army back to Rabbah to finish off the siege there. This is the only reference made in this book to the greatest sin and failure in the history of David. The insertion of the full story, as given in 2 Samuel, would not have served the purpose of the chronicler, but we ought not to allow ourselves to forget the warning it affords. The story in Samuel is introduced by exactly the same statement highlighted here: David's remaining at Jerusalem at the time when kings go out to battle. There is nothing more full of subtle danger in the life of any servant of God than remaining inactive when the enterprises of God demand that he or she be out on the field of conflict. It is truly said that Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do. If you ought to be at Rabbah with the army, but are lingering at home in ease, then almost certainly some Bathsheba will present herself, by whom you may be utterly undone. And that is not to blame Bathsheba: she also sinned and shared the wrong of David, but neither would have been involved had David been in his true place on the field of battle.

Who was David listening to here?
1 Chronicles 21:1 "Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel." This statement at once reveals Satan's motive in doing so and explains why the action was wrong. The chief sin of Satan, originally and persistently, is that of pride and ambition. That was David's sin on this occasion. His victories apparently went to his head, and in his arrogance he would know the number of his people as a means of boasting. Taking a census of the army or the people in general was not essentially wrong, however; everything depends on the motive. There were occasions when the people of God were numbered by the command of God, and there was always a reason for such commands. It is, however, an action that we do well to safeguard with the greatest care. When it is born of pride, it is the subtlest of perils, inclining us to trust in human strength rather than God. How foolish to assume that God is on the side of the big battalions! He may be, but it is by no means always so. It depends on the character of the men who make up the battalions. Sometimes our numbering comes from worry, but a decrease in membership is not always a calamity. God can do more with 300 men and women of quality than with 32,000 of a mixed mob of fearful and self-centered souls. When we are moved to number the people, we may rest assured that the impulse is divine or satanic, and we may determine which by the motive. If the motive is service, it is from God. If the motive is pride, it is from Satan.

1 Chronicles 22:1 "This is the House of the Lord God, and this is the altar of burnt offering for Israel." In connection with the sin of numbering the people, David chose to fall into the hand of God for punishment. In response to his cry of penitence and confession, the Lord answered him by fire on the altar he erected on the wheat-threshing floor of Ornan (aka Araunah the Jebusite) in Jerusalem, and there the judgment came to a halt. That is when David made the proclamation highlighted here. The site of the future Temple Solomon would build was the place where the mercy of God operated in stopping the plague resulting from the sin of David. The rest of this chapter is occupied with the final things David did in preparation for that building, and the charge he delivered to Solomon concerning the matter. The sins of David were lapses in his life, for the habitual set of his life was not what those things suggest. His focus was on God and His priorities, and we can be encouraged by his example of not wasting any time in regaining his focus as soon as he realized his error.

1 Chronicles 23:6 "David organized them in divisions." David's interest in the Temple as the future center of worship and national life occupied the end of his days on earth. Not only did he make material preparations by the location he selected, the treasure he collected, and the building stones and lumber he had prepared, but also he supervised the future order of worship. The specific work of the Levites, organized in divisions by David, is beautifully described by the chronicler in the closing verses of this chapter. They were to be the servants of the priests and the Temple, doing all that was necessary so the priests could fulfill their function and the orderliness of all the services there might be maintained. They were also appointed as singers every morning and evening to praise the Lord. This was a high and holy calling. The morning hour of praise would bathe the Temple atmosphere with expressed confidence in God and gratitude to His name for all His grace and goodness. The busy hours of service would proceed in the power of that early praise. As the shadows of evening fell, echoing throughout the Temple would be a hymn of adoration for the goodness and guidance of the day. It was a high national ideal, and the measure in which any nation approximates it is the measure of that nation's greatness. Israel sadly failed, but the conception was most noble. Never was the true kingliness of David more manifest than when he sought to make these arrangements for the consolidation around the Throne of God of that kingdom he so soon would leave.

1 Chronicles 24:5 "Officers of the sanctuary and officers of God." With great care and wisdom, the divisions or ranks of the priests were set in order. There was a tactful mixture of older and younger men so that in this highest and holiest national service, the experience of age and the enthusiasm of youth were merged. The former guided the latter, and the latter inspired and energized the former. Their highlighted description as officers of both the sanctuary and God is full of light, for they had no authority over the sanctuary, and certainly none over God. This description indicates the source of their authority rather than its sphere of operation. Their government consisted in their obedience within the sanctuary to the will of God. They, by obedience to all the service of God in the holy places, were to make possible the people's approach to God so they, now in touch with Him, would from the heart render obedience to His sovereign rule. Today, the New Testament priesthood of all believers consists of the same thing: in proportion as we exercise our holy service in perfect submission to the will of God in daily life do we exercise authority among those we influence by attracting them to God, making possible their immediate dealing with Him. To serve is to mediate and reign.

1 Chronicles 25:1 "Who prophesied with harps." That is an arresting statement, initiating a whole chapter on the sacred service of praise in the House of God. Imagine the delight of the poet-king in arranging the musical worship of the Temple! Music played a very important part in David's career. His skill with the harp had been his first introduction to King Saul. Those psalms distinctly attributed to him in the Scriptures breathe out the spirit of the varied experiences through which he passed: the days of his simple life as a shepherd, the period of his exile and suffering, the hours of battle and weariness, the triumph of his coronation, the agony of his sin, the joy of his pardon—these and many other experiences are reflected in the great collection. This man of great poetic gifting would necessarily find great joy in making sure that a setting as truly awesome as the Temple would have proper and skillful attention in its service of praise. Our chapter specifies that the Temple musicians were to prophesy with a variety of instruments "in giving thanks and praising the Lord...according to the words of God." The use of the word "prophesy" is a revelation of the value and method of the music service in the sanctuary of God. It is obviously used in its general sense of forth-telling or proclamation rather than in its more restricted one of foretelling. Music is a valuable medium for expressing the praise of the soul to God, and for proclaiming the reason for that praise in the hearing of men and women for their instruction and blessing.

1 Chronicles 26:13 "The small and the great alike." David seems to have neglected nothing in his arrangements concerning the Temple. Not only the Levites, priests, and singers, but gatekeepers also and those who managed the storerooms were set apart for holy service. Nothing connected with the House of God was considered in any way as unimportant. Everything was most sacred. Those who were appointed to these offices were chosen from families highest in national life as well as from those less known. The gatekeepers were not selected because of position, wealth, or social standing, but "they cast lots, the small and the great alike," as our highlighted text informs us. These men believed what King Solomon later expressed in proverbial form: "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord" (Proverbs 16:33). Whatever grading of society from high to low that may be inevitable in a fallen world on a human level, it ceases to operate in the House of God. The method of God's people today is not casting lots, but seeking guidance from the indwelling Holy Spirit. We need to remember that in our choice of men and women for God's work, the issue is not earthly privilege but gifts of service from the Spirit of God, who distributes "to each one individually just as He wills" (1 Corinthians 12:11).

All the King's Men Focused on...
1 Chronicles 27:1 "The commanders of thousands and hundreds, and their officers who served the king." These words refer to appointed officials over various services not mentioned elsewhere in this book that are associated with the Temple enterprise. This chapter is further proof that David treated everything connected with the House of God as sacred and therefore demanding the most careful thought and preparation. The chronicler demonstrates to us that in all the final acts of his life, David was preparing for that Temple. All the ordering of the internal things of the kingdom were invested in that high interest. The greatness of David as a king came not only from his many victories in battle, but also his peaceful administration to insure success for Solomon when it was time to build the Temple. The tilling of the fields and its cultivation, the tending of   livestock, and all other things pertaining to the welfare of his people were arranged for under qualified and appointed oversight. Thus the whole nation was enabled to devote itself to the central work of building the House of God. Under David the Hebrew people reached their greatest strength, even if they did not reach the height of their magnificence until the days of Solomon, but at no period were they stronger than when their thoughts were centered in the Temple. All this work kept the king and people focused on the deepest truth of their national life: being centered on God's sovereignty and administration.

1 Chronicles 28:9 "Know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind. " This is David's final public charge to his son Solomon. In a great assembly David first made an impressive declaration of God's governing hand in his own appointment as king, and in Solomon's. That, however, was but the background against which he declared what was nearest to his heart: the House of God. The fact that gave him unqualified satisfaction was that it would be built. His rejection as builder and Solomon's appointment were matters of minor importance: the chief thing to him was that the work would be done! David was supremely devoted to and passionate for his people to recognize the direct government of God in their midst. Out of that conviction came his charge to his son on the principles that were to govern him in ruling well over the people in the future. His duty toward God was twofold: to know Him and serve Him. The condition of soul making that possible is also twofold: a whole heart and a willing mind. To know God is to serve Him. All failure in service comes from a loss of vision of God or misapprehension of Him, arising from a growing distance from Him. The conditions for knowing God are always a whole or undivided heart and a willingness to obey. God will remain close to the man or woman so characterized. Moreover, He cannot be deceived, for as David explains near the end of our highlighted verse, "the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts."

1 Chronicles 29:28 "He died at a good old age, full of days, riches, and honor." With these words the chronicler ends the story of David. His had indeed been a great reign, and he was a great man. First and foremost he was a man of God; he was also a poet, warrior, and administrator. As the apostle Paul summarized, "David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep" (Acts 13:36). Full of beauty and revelation of all that was best in him is the closing Psalm of this chapter with which David praised God before all the people. By this act, his last among his people, he was directing their attention from himself to their everlasting King. He extolled the excellencies of God's Person and recognized His Throne and Kingship. Then he confessed that all the riches and honor that men possess are derived from Him. These thoughts were illustrated in a confession of personal poverty and unworthiness, together with an outpouring of gladness because God had so abundantly blessed David and the people, they were able and willing to give generously to help beautify the Temple. Praise then turned into petition that the state of mind in which those gifts had been given would be maintained, and that Solomon would obey God willingly in all things, including completing the work of the Temple building. This was a fitting and glorious ending to a magnificent reign!

 

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