Thursday, July 20, 2017

Reading Through the Book of First Chronicles #3 (18-29)

ChroniclesThis week we continue reading through the book of Chronicles accompanied by, 1 & 2 Chronicles, The College Press NIV Commentary, Old Testament Series, by John Mark Hicks. In this section of Chronicles the chronicler records the establishment of David’s kingdom, but more importantly, his preparation for the building of the temple and the worship that will take place there. I have been posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the commentary are in blue below…
1 Chronicles 18-22 summarizes the wars of David with 18-20 recording his victories. The point is that God is keeping His promise (17) to protect David from his enemies and give him victory over them. The section is bounded by the victories over the historic enemy of Israel, the Philistines, who are championed by the Rephaim, the supernatural "giants" that Joshua and Israel had been commanded to exterminate. Ammon, Moab and Aram were also enemies that threatened the peace of Israel and the land that God had given them. David was God's agent to rule and protect God's people and their promised inheritance. David did well as long as he stayed within that boundary.
Whereas in 2 Samuel David’s military success is scattered throughout the narrative, the Chronicler connects them. He concentrates the military adventures not only to signal the fulfillment of divine promises, but also to contextualize the census...First Chronicles 18–20 reports David’s victory and 1 Chronicles 21 reports his sin. 1 Chronicles 18-20, 186–187
Solomon used the bronze taken from Hadadezer to make the bronze Sea, the pillars and various bronze articles. This links the Davidic wars with preparations for the temple. Chronicles strengthens the connections within the whole context: God builds David’s house through military victories, and David prepares for God’s house with the spoils of military victories. Dedicating the booty to the temple is David’s grateful response. 1 Chronicles 18, 189
The Chronicler brings the past into the present in order to bear witness to the faithfulness of God. At the same time he calls his postexilic community to hope on the basis of God’s faithfulness to David...David’s conquests garnered him the promised land. God had, just as he promised, given Israel the land through David. His faithfulness engenders hope in the postexilic community. 1 Chronicles 20, 197–198
In the midst of these great victories David sins by commanding a census. The text does not specifically say why the census was wrong, but intimates that David failed to trust God when an enemy (a "satan") was raised up. It may also be that David was greedy for land beyond what God had promised and was evaluating his military might to prepare for conquest. Trusting in military might rather than God was to be a recurring sin in Israel's history. God gives Israel over to a destroying angel and David repents. Most of chapter 21 recounts the story of how David's repentance leads to God's mercy and the establishment of Jerusalem's temple mount as the place of God presence in Israel. The temple would be the place where God's grace and presence would become available to the nation. This leads to the transition, in chapter 22, as Solomon and the nation are commissioned and prepared to build the temple.
In the light of God’s faithfulness and grace, would David be content with his military conquests? To answer the question, God raised up an enemy (śāṭān) that threatened Israel and incited David’s military census. He tested David to reveal David’s greed. David failed the test, and Israel was punished. 1 Chronicles 21, 202
That same grace of God which triumphed over David’s sins and led to the establishment of God’s house remains God’s principal attribute available to human beings. Available through repentance and reaching out to draw and sustain the weak. God himself always takes the lead in lifting up the fallen. The temple, then, is the place of sacrifice. God’s gracious presence redeems. 1 Chronicles 21, 210
The postexilic community, having returned to the land, looks to the promise of David and the election of Solomon with hope. Their temple, just like Solomon’s, is a symbol of God’s redemptive presence among them. 1 Chronicles 22, 216
Chapter 23 moves the story to the end of David's reign as he names Solomon co-ruler and organizes the nation for temple worship and government administration. David functions as a "new Moses" as he authoritatively changes Israel's worship from a movable tent to a settled temple with an administrative structure that lasts into the post-exilic generations. David sets up 24 divisions of priests. He organizes the Levites into 4 groups: 24,000 temple workers, 4,000 gatekeepers (guards, tax collectors, police force), and 4,000 musicians in Jerusalem, and spread 6,000 Levites throughout the nation as officials and judges.
The theological rationale for the move from tabernacle to temple is located in God’s dwelling presence in Jerusalem. Israel is no longer a wandering nation nor is she oppressed within her own borders. At the end of David’s life, God has granted rest to his people and has come to dwell in Jerusalem forever. Now God will have a permanent dwelling place rather than a portable tent. Israel will find security in that permanence since God has determined to give his presence to his people in a temple. 1 Chronicles 23-24, 223
(The singers') proclamation was by the power of the Lord who acted through the singers. “Their praise was effectual because in it they proclaimed the LORD’s name and announced his goodness to his people. Thus, the proclamation of the singers was prophetic in status, manner, function and power.” This is liturgical proclamation. 1 Chronicles 25, 228
The Levites, then, typify the role of prophet, priest, and king. The Levites, more than any other tribe, are God’s royal and priestly nation...The Levites point forward to the priesthood of all believers. As a royal priesthood, they offer spiritual sacrifices to God through the prophetic Spirit (1 Pet 2:5–9). The Levitical function in the temple is the contemporary function of Christians in the service of God (1 Chr 23–26). 1  Chronicles 26, 234
Chapter 27 lists David's administrative leadership of the nation. It begins with the standing army, tribal officials, moves to the stewards of the king's land, herds and agricultural endeavors, and then closes with his trusted advisors. 28 records the enthronement of Solomon and David's exhortation to Solomon and the nation's leaders to be faithful to seek YHWH and His will and build the temple. In 29, David calls the people to give generously, of which he is an example, to the temple building project and they respond as an act of worship. David then thanks God for His gracious provision beyond their needs and for His promises. The nation then acknowledges Solomon as God's king. 1 Chronicles ends with a note about God's calling of David and his faithful life.
David acts on God’s faithfulness, and God blesses his kingdom in preparation for the building of the temple. As SELMAN notes, “the temple preparations bear a sharper testimony to the reliability and effectiveness of the kingdom of God (cf. 17:14; 29:11, 23) than to the kingdom of David.” 1 Chronicles 27, 237
God makes sovereign decisions that arise out of his love, faithfulness, and purposes. The enthronement of Solomon is a divine act. Theologically, election depends on divine grace. Judah did not deserve to be the royal house. David did not deserve to be king. Solomon did not rise to power by his own initiative and power. Consequently, the following exhortations are grounded in God’s active grace rather than human achievement. Divine commands are rooted in God’s gracious acts. 1 Chronicles 28.1-10, 240–241
The task of ministry needs the resolve to seek God’s face. Leaders must orient themselves toward God’s purposes as they accept the lot God has given them. David accepted his role of preparation. But resolve is not enough. Leaders also need a supportive and equipped community who will follow them. Solomon cannot build the temple alone. But even community is not sufficient. The fundamental ingredient to successful ministry is the enabling presence of God who strengthens his people. Thus, personal commitment, community, and divine presence build temples. That combination also builds the church into a holy temple (1 Cor 3:1–18).  1 Chronicles 28, 246
The OT’s “presentation of man’s relationship with God is above all in terms of joy” and wholehearted devotion that rejects “the path of self-gratification.” God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7). 1 Chronicles 29.1-20, 249
Theologically, Solomon did not sit on David’s throne (cf.1 Kgs 2:12). Chronicles places him on the throne of the LORD. The kingdom belongs to God, and the one who sits on the throne does so by grace rather than right. Solomon’s kingdom is a manifestation of the kingdom of God on earth. 1 Chronicles 29.21-25, 255

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