Brief Thoughts on 1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 11-17

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There is a great difference between the David of Chronicles and that of Samuel. The king in 1 Chronicles is the David of grace and blessing according to the counsels of God. The king in Samuel is the historical David exercised in responsibility.

In Chronicles we do not find the matter of Uriah nor that of Absalom. Even Joab with all his crimes, who is not cited in 2 Samuel 23, is here mentioned because he took the stronghold of Zion. This makes us understand what value Zion has in the eyes of God, and in what way the Chronicles regard the history. There is absolutely no evil reported, save that which is necessary to make us understand the history. In the book of Kings it is the history of Israel and the conduct of the kings under responsibility. In the books of Chronicles it is a question of God's mind, and in chapters 11 to 17 of the first book as to placing David in Jerusalem, chapter 10 having given us the fall of Saul.

1 Chronicles 11.

David begins to reign over all Israel with the desires of the people; he begins at Zion. Afterward we have his valiant men, and their joy at installing him as king.

1 Chronicles 12.

Here we see the heart of Israel returning to David, as it will return to Christ when He shall have established the throne in Zion. It is the heart of Israel which concentrates itself round the Beloved of God. Certain persons came when he was a stranger; now it is all Israel.

1 Chronicles 13.

Then it is a question of putting the ark of God in its place. Before this the ark had been taken. (See Ps. 78:59-72.) It is sovereign grace which returns. He chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which He loved.

1st. God was wroth and greatly abhorred Israel, so that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, and delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy's hand.

2nd. With David God takes up His people and sanctuary. David re-commences all the history of Israel.

6 Then, if Psalm 132 be looked at, this feature will be seen as to the ark: it was the sign of the covenant finally, and a new thing to be set in Zion. When Moses in Numbers 10 said, "Rise up, LORD," he did not add "into thy rest." The tabernacle in the wilderness could not be the rest of God. But Zion is the place that Jehovah chose for His rest. He desired it for His habitation (v. 13). And David enters into the mind of God. Compare verse 4. ("I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, until," etc.) We see in the Psalms generally all the deep feelings in the heart of David for God. On the other hand God makes Himself respected, as we see in His dealing with Uzza.

We have thus as a summary of all this: first, that God had rejected His tabernacle, Shiloh; and, secondly, that meanwhile He gives prophets to sustain sovereign relations with His people till Messiah comes. Samuel had truly begun prophecy, which is not anything established, but only serves meanwhile. See the song of Hannah who figures the remnant there. Prophecy declares that God is all, come what may, and that He sustains all things till He have raised the house of His anointed. Thirdly, at last in His anointed He accomplishes His mind. The people no more wished to have God working by prophecy than when He wrought by priesthood. They demand a king, and God gives Saul. Meanwhile God prepares His anointed by affliction. Hebrews 2 is just the counterpart of David's history. So, too, Jesus will reign over Judah before reigning over all Israel. In the Chronicles we have no history of David's reign in Hebron.

1 Chronicles 14.

David king over all Israel renders himself terrible to the nations (v. 17), as the Lord will in due time (Zech. 9; Micah 5). Victory follows dependence and obedience; and as the blessing of Jehovah comes, the fame of David goes out everywhere. Psalm 18 finds its place here: in taking it all, one must place it a little later.

1 Chronicles 15.

David now has no rest till he has prepared a resting-place for the ark of Jehovah; even as the Lord also, in the midst of conflicts, will have no rest till He establishes the tie between God and His people.

7 Knowing that the tabernacle was abandoned, David did not dream of putting the ark in the tabernacle. This would have been to restore things on the spoilt footing of the law. The external routine had quite fallen short of God's glory. The king takes the lead, as priesthood had failed; and the ark is put in the seat of kingly power; as Christ the deliverer in grace will order all by-and-by in Zion, whence the rod of His power is to go forth.

Then (v. 16) David institutes choral worship or psalmody: Heman, Asaph, and even David himself in an ephod of linen danced and played. It was he that recalled the due place of the Levites, and summoned the priests in their due order, who also had the singers appointed with instruments of music, psalteries, and harps, and cymbals sounding by lifting up the voice with joy. All is new here and in relation to David's mind touching Zion, the centre chosen, after having left aside the tabernacle at Gibeon and all the order established primitively by Moses. "So David, and the elders of Israel, and the captains over thousands, went to bring up the ark of the covenant of Jehovah out of the house of Obed-edom with joy. And it came to pass, when God helped the Levites that bare the ark of the covenant of Jehovah, that they offered seven bullocks and seven rams. And David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers: David also had upon him an ephod of linen. Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of Jehovah with shouting, and with the sound of the cornet and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps, And it came to pass, as the ark of the covenant of Jehovah came to the city of David, that Michal the daughter of Saul looking out at a window saw king David dancing and playing; and she despised him in her heart," v. 25-29. Nevertheless David was not king and priest like Solomon, though it be true that his faith made all the joy of the people of God. It is a sort of anticipation of the true Melchizedek.

1 Chronicles 16.

This song is composed of several Psalms. We find here all the principles on which God founds the blessing of His people for the last day. But there is a remarkable difference - that He does not put them in the definitive blessing. There is, to begin, a part of Psalm 105. He shews how He kept Abraham. He recalls the faithfulness of God toward them until then and bids them recollect it. Only He bids Israel be mindful always of His covenant without saying yet that He remembers it, because it is not yet the full blessing.

8 From verse 23 we have Psalm 96. It is always an invitation. It is not yet Psalm 98 where all is accomplished. The temple is wanting. From verse 34 we have the beginning of the Psalms which celebrate the faithfulness of God, 106, 107, 118, and 136. Psalm 106 is His goodness, faithful for ever, in presence of all the unfaithfulness of Israel. Psalm 107 is that which He has done to gather at the last day. Psalm 98 is the celebration of the Messiah come back. It is the psalm in which it is said that the stone rejected by the builders is become the head of the corner. Psalm 136 is the celebration of God's goodness which begins from the creation, and goes through to the millennium. In this psalm mercy occupies the place from one end to the other. After this (in verses 35, 36) he cites still the end of Psalm 106. One sees by verse 35 that at this moment, as in Psalm 106, all Israel is not yet brought back and everything not yet restored. Only the pledge of the covenant is there. All the scene of the re-commencement of the relations of God with Israel is found in the Chronicles.

In verses 39-43 the altar was still with the tabernacle at Gibeon. It was a high place which one had to condemn in following David who had the fresh truth. Faith did so, though Solomon did not, but clung to the altar. However, David with the priests to offer burnt-offerings established Heman and Jeduthun, etc., to give thanks to Jehovah because His mercy endures for ever. It is thus that one can judge what is old system in the church; though we can also say, His mercy endures for ever. The altar there was a testimony to the fallen state of the people, for the ark was not in the tabernacle.

It is touching to see that the Chronicles were written in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. At that time it was less necessary to tell all the sins of the people than to say, His mercy endures for ever. A basis is laid for all in Christ's death, and by His resurrection all are sure mercies to be displayed at His coming and kingdom.

1 Chronicles 17.

9 Here the condition laid upon the seed of David is not found as in 2 Samuel 7. God did not allow David to build the temple; because, when He would glorify Himself in the midst of the people, it was necessary that it should be in peace and that there be no more enemies. The warrior was the character of David, though at that moment there was rest all around. Because of that David could not build the house of Jehovah. Nevertheless as depositary of promises he learns that Jehovah will build him a house (v. 10), and that his son should build Jehovah a house, as He would establish David's house for evermore (v. 12-14). How touching is the prayer of David on this occasion! (v. 16-27).