Archive for July, 2015

1 Chronicles 27

1 Chronicles 27 has David getting detailed about leadership of his army and kingdom.  David has collected “the number of the people of Israel, the heads of fathers’ houses, the commanders of thousands and hundreds, and their officers who served the king in all matters concerning the divisions that came and went, month after month throughout the year, each division numbering 24,000”.  He divided his army into divisions of 24K men, each with a leader.  All these men were prepared, disciplined, and ready at a call.  He did not use mercenaries in his army as was common practice in many kingdoms of the day.  These were all his own people.

There were 12 divisions of 24K each, and “Zabdiel….was chief of all the commanders”.  In addition to the army, “these were the leaders of the tribes of Israel”.  Each tribe had a leader who was appointed by David to oversee things.  This list describes tribal leaders who were not priests or military leaders, but administrators in the civil service of the Kingdom of Israel.  They were to take care of the administration within each tribe.  Political appointees if you will, to oversee things.

David had ordered a count of all the people, but wisely stopped that midstream to obey God’s earlier instruction.  “David did not count those below twenty years of age, for the Lord had promised to make Israel as many as the stars of heaven. Joab the son of Zeruiah began to count, but did not finish. Yet wrath came upon Israel for this, and the number was not entered in the chronicles of King David”.  He didn’t stop in time, as we read earlier about God’s punishment by killing 70,000 people for this act of disobedience.

The rest of the chapter lists out key administrators over a number of areas in the kingdom.  “Treasuries . . . storehouses . . . work of the field for tilling the ground . . . vineyards . . . olive trees . . . herds . . . camels . . . donkeys . . . flocks”:  David had trusted men to oversee these areas, and they were just as important to the kingdom as the more obviously spiritual leaders.  The last leaders mentioned were special roles, very close to the king:

  • Jonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor
  • He and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni attended the king’s sons
  • Ahithophel was the king’s counselor
  • Hushai the Archite was the king’s friend
  • Joab was commander of the king’s army

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!

1 Chronicles 25

1 Chronicles 25 has David continuing to set up the structure for worship.  Chapter 25 concerns David’s organization of the four thousand Levitical musicians into courses of service that correspond to those of the priests and temple Levites.  “David and the chiefs of the service also set apart for the service….who prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals”.  Interestingly, the captains of the army took part in the selection and organization of the musicians or “worship leaders” for Israel. David sensed a connection between the security of the kingdom and the worship and honoring of God.

Did you catch the word “prophesied” along with the instruments?  They weren’t just good musicians.  Their service was connected with the dynamic of prophesy in the sense that it was inspired by God. Their ministry in music was not merely the product of good musicianship; it was a gift of the Holy Spirit being exercised through them.  Their music proclaimed God’s word with God’s authority.  It was an important part of the kingdom then, and we need to view music as a sacred part of our worship today too.

The writer calls out “Heman, the kings seer” as someone special.  He is called the king’s seer, either because the king took special delight in him, or because he frequently attended the king in his palace, executing his sacred office there, while the rest were constantly employed in the tabernacle.  Scripture also calls out some anointed men.  “Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under the order of the king”.  These enormously talented and Spirit-anointed men knew how to submit themselves under the leadership of David, under the authority of the king.

We learn that the musicians cast lots for the role of musician.  David didn’t give the choice worship assignments only to the most talented and greatest. He let God do the choosing and it was both a prevention of pride for the great and the teacher, and a learning opportunity for the small and the student.  David wanted it to be God’s choice, not his based merely on human knowledge.  “The number of them along with their brothers, who were trained in singing to the Lord, all who were skillful, was 288”.  The Lord was in charge and David just followed His direction.

1 Chronicles 24

1 Chronicles 24 gets into the details of how Aaron’s sons would serve.  He had four sons, but “Nadab and Abihu died before their father and had no children, so Eleazar and Ithamar became the priests”.  Remember that back in Numbers 10, God judged Nadab and Abihu because they dared to bring strange fire before the LORD, blaspheming God’s commandments for sacrifice.  So that left two sons – Eleazar and Ahimelech – as the families that would be charged with being the sacred officers and officers of God.

David organized them according to the appointed duties in their service”.  David took the descendants of Aaron – the priestly family of Israel – and together with Zadok he divided them into 24 sections, to serve according to the schedule of their service.  The priesthood is divided by lot into 24 sections.  “The scribe Shemaiah, the son of Nethanel, a Levite, recorded them in the presence of the king and the princes”.  David went to great lengths to make sure the plan was in place.

David knew that because there were so many descendants of Aaron by this time, the priests should be divided so they could fairly be assigned the privileged service of the temple.  He didn’t want there to be any confusion.  Clarity is a key leadership skill and David makes sure the assignments and responsibilities are clear.  The number 24 is not random.  The number of twenty-four courses was based on a lunar calendar of forty-eight weeks, with each course serving for a week at a time and thus twice in a year.

The end of the chapter lists the rest of the sons of Levi.  They too, were to provide service but it was not part of the 24 sections.  “The head of each father’s house and his younger brother alike, cast lots, just as their brothers the sons of Aaron”.  There was mingling in the arrangement of the older and the younger men, so that the experience of age and the enthusiasm of youth were mixed together.  David shows much leadership skill and wisdom as he continues to get the kingdom ready to hand over to Solomon.

1 Chronicles 23

1 Chronicles 23 begins with “When David was old and full of days, he made Solomon his son king over Israel”.  I’ve been told that I’m full of things, but this is a nice way to talk about old age – full of days.  David makes the move to put Solomon on the throne before he dies.  That wasn’t the typical transition, which usually happened when the sitting king died.  But David had other sons who might also claim the throne of Israel after his death (especially Adonijah).  He wanted to be sure Solomon was the next king.

David doesn’t just throw the leadership over the fence though.  “David assembled all the leaders of Israel and the priests and the Levites”.  He calls together those whose life was devoted to serving the people and makes sure they all knew the plan and their role.  Service by the Levites began at age 30, so he brings together 38,000 men as part of these assignments.  There were four main buckets of responsibility he dished out:

  1. “Charge of work of the Lord – 24,000
  2. Officers and Judges – 6000
  3. Gatekeepers – 4000
  4. Praises to the Lord with instruments – 4000

He “organized them in divisions corresponding to the sons of Levi”.  He takes it one step further in the process and assigns them leaders among the Levites.  There is little left for chance here.  David obviously wants Solomon not only to take the throne but to come into an organized and well defined machine.  He is working to set up success.  These family groupings were defined hundreds of years earlier, and David was reinforcing the assignments and making sure things were going to continue after he turned over the keys.

  • Gershon: The Gershonites were to take care of the skins that covered the tabernacle itself.
  • Kohath: The Kohathites were to take care of the furniture of the tabernacle including the Ark of the Covenant, the table of showbread, and so forth, under the direction of Eleazar the priest, son of Aaron.
  • Merari: The family of Merari was to take care of the structural aspects of the tabernacle including the pillars, the boards, and so forth

David reminds the people “The Lord, the God of Israel, has given rest to his people, and he dwells in Jerusalem forever”.  It is time for a permanent house of God to be built, which Solomon will do.  And the Levites won’t have to carry all the things around any longer, but rather just serve in the house of the Lord.  “They were to stand every morning, thanking and praising the Lord, and likewise at evening…. keep charge of the tent of meeting and the sanctuary….for the service of the house of the Lord”.  David has things in order for Solomon.

1 Chronicles 22

1 Chronicles 22 has David preparing to hand over the task of building God’s house to his son Solomon.  David is pulling together materials and manpower so his young son can take over the job.  “Solomon my son is young and inexperienced, and the house that is to be built for the Lord must be exceedingly magnificent, of fame and glory throughout all lands. I will therefore make preparation for it”.  David has been told by God that he is not to build the temple.  But he is going to do all he can to set Solomon up for success.

So why not David?  Why did God decide to have Solomon build the temple?  God says “You have shed much blood and have waged great wars. You shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood before me on the earth”.  David has quite a history of fighting and waging war.  He certainly has had little peace in his life, dating back to his days serving Saul.  So God puts a different plan in place.  Solomon is to be the builder.

He shall build a house for my name. He shall be my son, and I will be his father, and I will establish his royal throne in Israel forever”.  David blesses Solomon with these words: “Now, my son, the Lord be with you, so that you may succeed in building the house of the Lord your God, as he has spoken concerning you. Only, may the Lord grant you discretion and understanding, that when he gives you charge over Israel you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the rules that the Lord commanded Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Fear not; do not be dismayed…. Arise and work! The Lord be with you”.  The power of a blessing.  David passes on his blessing to Solomon.

David goes even further and instructs his leaders to get involved.  “David also commanded all the leaders of Israel to help Solomon his son, saying….set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God. Arise and build the sanctuary of the Lord God, so that the ark of the covenant of the Lord and the holy vessels of God may be brought into a house built for the name of the Lord”.  David is taking every action to make sure Solomon succeeds with the one thing he did not accomplish in his life.  He isn’t leaving it up to change.  David sees this as part of his legacy and wants to be sure it gets done.

1 Chronicles 21

1 Chronicles 21 begins with these chilling words.  “Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel”.  Here we have a man after God’s heart tempted by the enemy.  What Satan is tempting here sounds pretty innocuous – just count the people.  But the principle of Exodus 30:12 speaks to God’s ownership of His people. In the thinking of these ancient cultures, a man only had the right to count or number what belonged to him. Israel didn’t belong to David; Israel belonged to God. It was up to the LORD to command a counting, and if David counted he should only do it at God’s command.

But David goes ahead and tells Joab, his commander of the army to “go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number”.  Joab pushes back.  Joab tactfully asked David to reconsider this foolish desire to count the nation. He questions why David would order this.  “Why then should my lord require this? Why should it be a cause of guilt for Israel”?  But David presses on and Joab obediently goes and makes the count.  “In all Israel there were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword, and in Judah 470,000 who drew the sword. But he did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering”.

The outcome is horrific.  “God was displeased with this thing, and he struck Israel”.  David figures out that he has sinned and confesses before God.  “I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly”.  But the problem with sin is not removed with confession.  We can receive forgiveness, but often the fallout of that action results in an outcome that is not stopped.  In this case, David’s attempt to intercede merely stopped God’s total destruction.  There were still consequences to his sin.  And God gives him three options to choose from.

What a spot to be in.  God says pick one of these:

  • three years of famine
  • three months of devastation by your foes
  • three days of the sword of the Lord….with the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the territory of Israel

Certainly no good choices here.  David has to pay a price for his sin, but he gets to pick his own punishment.  He chose the third option – three days of plague – “and 70,000 men of Israel fell”.  All because David chose to disobey God’s command not to count the people.  God was in the midst of destruction when David cries out and intercedes again.  “It is I who have sinned and done great evil. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand, O Lord my God, be against me and against my father’s house. But do not let the plague be on your people”.  God has mercy and David builds an altar to give honor to His mercy at Ornan.  Obedience matters.  David learns a painful lesson here.

1 Chronicles 20

1 Chronicles 20 gives us a list of victories that David’s army experienced.  In the spring “Joab led out the army and ravaged the country of the Ammonites and came and besieged Rabbah”. Joab was the leader of David’s army, but typically David was still around and part of the action.  Not this time.  “David remained at Jerusalem”.  Do you know why?  A lot happened between David stayed at Jerusalem and Joab defeated Rabbah.  Those words come closely together in scripture, but the drama that occurred was one of the biggest mistakes David made.

What happened when David remained at Jerusalem was so well known that the author did not need to record it. In his leisure David saw a woman bathing, took action on his feelings of lust, committed adultery and made her pregnant, and conspired with Joab to murder her husband Uriah to cover up his crime.  All the while Joab was doing battle on David’s behalf while he’s back at the palace living a life of sin.  Joab won the battle over Ammon and brought home the king’s crown for David.  He also managed to get Uriah killed as per David’s orders.

It’s important to note that David’s sin didn’t take away his crown. Had David refused the voice of Nathan the Prophet it might have. Because David responded with confession and repentance, there was still a crown for his head.  That doesn’t mean he wasn’t accountable for his actions.  It does mean that God is a God of grace and mercy and forgiveness when we come to him with a contrite heart.  We can learn much about how we need to respond when sin impacts our lives.

The rest of the chapter captures the victory over Philistine giants shows that Israel could slay giants without David. “Sibbechai . . . Elhanan . . . Jonathan” were all men that dereated these men of great stature.  These men accomplished heroic deeds after David was finished fighting giants. David had done the first slaying and opened the door to the truth that with God, all things are possible.  God continues to raise up leaders when the leaders of the previous generation move on with life.  These men stepped up and continued the path David had blazed.

1 Chronicles 19

1 Chronicles 19 has Nahash king of Ammon dying and David reaching out to his son to offer condolences.  But the princes in Ammon advise the king “Do you think, because David has sent comforters to you, that he is honoring your father? Have not his servants come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land”?  It’s unclear what caused them to make this accusation, but it was a mistake.  The reality is that David wasnt content to feel kindness towards Hanun. He did something to bring the grieving man comfort.

So Hanun took David’s servants and “shaved them and cut off their garments in the middle, at their hips, and sent them away”.  Humiliating and very disgraceful actions to say the least.  In that time, many men would rather die than to have their beard shaved off, because to be clean shaven was the mark of a slave but free men wore beards.  And cutting their clothing at the waist would have left them naked and more ashamed.  Insulting these ambassadors of consolation was the same as insulting King David.

Hanun realized he had “become a stench to David” so he hires the king from Maacah and 32,000 chariots to join his army for battle with Israel.  David sees the intent, and has Joab put together his army.  There were two fronts that had to be dealt with, so Joab takes some of the men and assigns the rest to Abishai his brother to deal with the Ammonites while he dealt with the Syrians.  Joab tells his army to “Be strong, and let us use our strength for our people and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him”.

 The Syrians fled – this wasn’t really their battle – so Joab pursued.  When the Ammonites saw them flee, they did the same.  The two leaders let David know that their enemies had fled and David put together his army and killed 7000 chariot soldiers and 40,000 foot soldiers as well as killing the commander of the Syrian army.  The chapter ends with unfinished business at Rabbah. The offending Ammonites are still in their city and Joab has returned to Jerusalem.    

1 Chronicles 18

1 Chronicles 18 has David defeating and subduing the Philistines.  The Philistines had troubled Israel for centuries, and often dominated Israel.  Under David’s leadership, God’s people began to take territory from the enemy.  But it went further as he defeated the Moabites who became servants and brought treasure to them.  God did not want Israel to destroy every neighbor nation. Generally, God wanted Israel to be so blessed and strong that other nations were “taxed” by Israel, in recognition of their strength and dominance.

He also defeats King Hadadezer and then the Syrians.  Scripture tells us the real story of the chapter: “The Lord gave victory to David wherever he went”.  Let’s be clear about these victories.  David was a great leader and warrior, but it is God who gets the glory for what happens.  David was his anointed and blessed leader, but God is the victor.  Then David took what was the glory of the enemy and transformed it into trophies of the power and goodness of God.

He took much gold and bronze and silver as spoils and gave it to Solomon to use for God’s glory.  “These also King David dedicated to the Lord”.  David knew where this victory came from and dedicated the spoils to God and His temple.  David created a great kingdom but doesn’t let the power and wealth go to his head.  “David reigned over all Israel, and he administered justice and equity to all his people”.  He led well and took care of his people.  But he didn’t do it alone.

We see his leadership extend to those key men around him:

  • Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the army
  • Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder
  • Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar were priests
  • Shavsha was secretary
  • Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites
  • David’s sons were the chief officials in the service of the king

He had a close group of trusted leaders that did the work of the day as David provided the leadership at the top.  And it was a family affair as his sons were part of the leadership team and served in his service as well.

%d bloggers like this: