1 Chronicles 26

1 Chronicles 26 continues the preparation of handing over the throne to Solomon.  David is placing people in positions to serve people and enable worship. He begins with assigning the gatekeepers.  This may seem like a rather menial task, but it is far from it.  These men had the responsibility for security, both in a practical and spiritual sense. They made sure that only those who were ready to serve and worship God could come to the temple and its associated building. Their work had to be organized and arranged just as much as the work of the priests who officiated at the sacrifices.

Essentially their duty was to make ordinary people aware of the practical limits of holiness, for anyone entering the sanctuary unlawfully did so on penalty of death.  They had a very important responsibility.  And the writer calls out the family of “Shemaiah….with their sons and brothers, able men qualified for the service”.  You might not think that a gatekeeper would need to be able and qualified.  Able men might be better translated, ‘strong men’. The job might entail removal of unwelcome people or objects that were not prepared or right to enter.

These divisions of the gatekeepers, corresponding to their chief men, had duties, just as their brothers did, ministering in the house of the Lord”.  Shemaiah’s was the family of gatekeepers, yet his sons rose to positions of high responsibility because they were men of great ability.  Some would make a distinction between the spiritual work of the temple and the practical work of the temple and regard the spiritual work as more important. The writer here is careful to remind us that the work of these gatekeepers, whose service was more practical in nature, was esteemed by God as just as valuable.  God has created and ordained each of us for important work in His kingdom.  One task is not more important than another.

To determine who would take which gate, “they cast lots by fathers’ houses, small and great alike, for their gates”.  They determined the order and arrangement of the service for the gatekeepers the same way that they determined the order and arrangement for the priests in their service.  David let the LORD decide when it came to organizing and ordering the gatekeepers, and he did not let prestige or position determine their appointments.  The other thing that happened was David set in order the financial organization necessary to oversee the building of the temple, including oversight of the all the riches brought in by David’s conquest of neighboring peoples.  He certainly didn’t miss many details!

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