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AUTHOR’S NOTE: Second Samuel - Chapter 24 AND First Chronicles - Chapter 21-29
David Insists on a Census, 2 Samuel 24:1-4 AND 1 Chronicles 21:1-4
Here is another event, the chronology of which is hard to determine. Attempts have been made to identify it with the plague of drought relative to Saul’s attempted extermination of the Gibeonites (II Samuel, ch. 21), but they are not the same. It may be that it occurred early in David’s reign since it is the prophet Gad through whom God speaks to David, rather than Nathan, who appeared later in his career. Gad had been with David in the days of flight from Saul.
On the surface it might seem to some there is a contradiction in verses 1 of the parallel passages. Whereas Samuel says the Lord moved David against Israel to number Israel because He was angry with them, the Chronicles account says Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. Of course there is no contradiction. Both passages taken together indicate this course of the matter: 1) Israel was guilty of trespass against the Lord for which He was angry with them; 2) David, of himself, conceived the notion of numbering Israel that he might know how many fighting men he could raise; 3) this idea was fostered and promoted in David by Satan; 4) David did not seek the will of the Lord, so that the Lord moved him, or allowed him, to proceed with his fleshly desire to know his strength.
Joab appears in the matter as more aware of the Lord’s will in it than was David. He objected to the census, as did all the captains of the host, when David instructed him to number the people from Dan to Beer-sheba. It is interesting to note that Chronicles reverses the command to read "Beer-sheba to Dan," for the Jewish writers preferred their city of Beer-sheba over the idolatrous city of Dan in the north. Joab was willing that the Lord greatly multiply Israel, even a hundred times, and even then they would all be servants of David. So why should David wish to number the people?
Yet David’s insistence sent the census-takers on their way. It appears from later events, and - a suggestion from verse 4 of Chronicles, that the census was never finished. Joab traveled throughout Israel until he came to Jerusalem, where the plague which followed finally ended, probably before he had numbered those of the city.
Joab’s Findings, 2 Samuel 24:5-9 AND 1 Chronicles 21:5-6
The Samuel account goes into considerably more detail about the gathering of the census than does Chronicles. It traces the route of the captains as they moved around the country numbering the men who were capable of bearing arms in a conflict. It appears that they started east of the Jordan There were three towns in Israel named Aroer, and two of them were east of Jordan.
This particular one was in Gad in the central area. From here the count proceeded outward through Gilead to Tahtim-hodshi, which visas on the way to Dan-jaan. Both these latter places are indefinite. Some think the first should have been translated "land of the Hittites of Kadesh." Dan-jaan means Dan-of-the-woods, and may be a designation of the northern city of Dan, or a place near Gilead, or another Dan in the area of the Phoenician cities northwest of Galilee.
From that place the rounds went on to Zidon and Tyre the chief of the Phoenician cities. The cities of the Hivites and Canaanites were in the hinterland of the Phoenicians, including the land of Cabul which Solomon gave Hiram in payment for the temple materials (1 Kings 9:10-14).
Finally the census takers moved south and went all the way to Beersheba. Joab returned to Jerusalem without having completed the census, for Chronicles states that the Levites and Benjamites were not numbered, Joab still finding the task not to his liking. The whole time had taken nine months and twenty days.
Many suppositions have been made as to the difference in the numbers as given in Samuel (800,000 of Israel; 500,000 of Judah) and Chronicles (1,100,000 of Israel; 470,000 of Judah), but none are wholly satisfactory. Since Chronicles was written long after the event, and the census, incomplete at the time, may have been completed by Solomon in connection with the building of the temple, the larger numbers may be the result of Solomon’s work.
David’s Hard Choice, 2 Samuel 24:10-17 AND 1 Chronicles 21:7-17
When the census neared its completion David was suddenly convicted of his wrong in calling for the numbering. It is sad that many, like David, are so unmindful of the Lord’s leadership, they become convicted only after they have committed irrevocable wrong, (See 1 Timothy 6:9-10). David confessed his sin, referring to it as foolishness and iniquity and besought the Lord to pardon it. But it had gone too far for the Lord to ignore it. There must be punishment as an example to others.
The Lord sent Gad, David’s court prophet (seer), to deliver His message of chastisement to the king. He was offered three choices of chastisement: 1) seven years of famine (three years according to Chronicles); 2) three months to suffer defeat by the sword of his foes; 3) three days of pestilence in the land by the sword of the Lord. No one knows whether the Kings account or the Chronicles account is the correct number of the famine. A long ago change by a scribal copyist probably accounts for the different numbers. Perhaps seven is correct, but someone thought the three should be consistent in all the choices; or perhaps one thought the seven was a number often associated with famines and thus made it conform.
David admitted that he was in a great strait. There was no good choice. In the famine the country would suffer from disruption of the course of nature, and a major portion of the people might perish. In the three months’ warfare the whole-country would suffer at the hand of pagan kings and people. So David chose the three days’ pestilence, hoping for the mercy of the Lord to intervene, for it was in the hand of God. It was the wisest choice, of course, and the sequel proves that David was correct in thinking the Lord would extend His mercy in the end.
So the Lord sent the pestilence, which began early in the morning and continued to the third day as promised. People died from one end of Israel to the other, to a total number of seventy thousand who perished. However, it appears that the plague spread in waves, reaching Jerusalem on the last day. Here the angel was poised with his drawn sword to destroy the city, when the Lord extended His mercy and bade the angel desist from striking the city of Jerusalem. The place where the angel stood was over the threshingfloor of Araunah (Oman in Chronicles, accounted for by orthographical change) the Jebusite. Here came David and elders of Jerusalem, clothed in sackcloth of mourning and repentance, and looked up to see the poised angel with his drawn sword.
The king and elders fell on their faces before the destroying angel, and again David prayed for the Lord’s forgiveness. While the Lord allowed the judgment to come on all Israel because they were guilty of trespass against Him (see verse 1), David took all the blame. In a sense he was to blame, for it was he in his pride of power, who commanded that the numbering be done. He admitted his guilt and willingness to receive God’s judgment on himself and his house, but exonerated Israel as innocent sheep.
The Plague Stayed, 2 Samuel 24:18-25 AND 1 Chronicles 21:18-30
At the cessation of the plague the Lord sent Gad to David again with a message to go up to the threshingfloor of Araunah and there erect an altar on the site. While this was taking place Araunah (Ornan) and his four sons were busily employed threshing wheat in the threshing-floor. They looked up and saw the angel also, and were filled with such great fright they hid themselves. Perhaps they connected him with the pestilent disease which was upon the land because of David’s infraction of God’s will and thought they were about to be stricken by him.
Here they were when they again looked out and saw the approach of David and the elders. At this Araunah (Ornan) came out of hiding to meet the king, bowing down in deference to him. David informed Araunah (Ornan) that he had come to buy the threshingfloor to set up an altar to the Lord that the plague on the land might be stayed. Araunah (Ornan) wanted to give the materials to David for the offerings and sacrifices. There were the oxen for the sacrifices, the threshing instruments and yokes of the oxen for the wood, and the wheat for a meat (food) offering. All this Araunah (Ornan) would willingly give with the prayer that it be accepted of the Lord.
A statement in 2 Samuel 24:23 has raised the question with some whether Araunah (Ornan) was a king. If so, he was deposed. Since he was a Jebusite, of the original inhabitants of Jerusalem, it is possible that he was a descendant of the former kings of the city. However, David would not take the things offered as a gift, for to sacrifice that which was a gift was no sacrifice at all. There is a good lesson for all here, in that to properly worship the Lord with one’s offerings there must be a sacrifice of the things of one’s own, not the gift of another. There should be something to give up that is rightfully one’s own, else the sacrifice comes from the giver.
Thus David purchased the materials and the threshingfloor from Araunah (Ornan). II Samuel records that David paid Araunah (Ornan) fifty shekels of silver for the threshingfloor and the oxen, or about $365 in present day values. I Chronicles states that David paid 600 shekels of gold for the place, or about $218,400 in present day values. There is no contradiction as might first be thought by the reader. The Samuel purchase was for the oxen and the threshingfloor, which was a good price for the times. The Chronicles purchase is for the entire hill of mount Moriah on which Solomon later built the temple.
When the sacrifices had been made on David’s new altar the Lord was entreated for the city, and the angel replaced his sword in its sheath. When David realized the significance of what had occurred he made this site, thereafter, his place of sacrifice. The old tabernacle was then situated at the high place in Gibeon and still contained the brazen altar, though the ark had been brought to Jerusalem by David (2 Samuel ch. 6). During the time that the angel had stood poised over Jerusalem with the drawn sword of the pestilence David was afraid to go to Gibeon to sacrifice. The Lord had instructed him to build the altar on the site of Araunah’s (Ornan’s) threshing floor and had accepted his sacrifice there by fire. 1 Chronicles 22:1 indicates David’s selection of the place as the site of the proposed temple, "Then David said, This is the house of the Lord God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel."
Many good lessons can be found from this chapter: 1) God’s children ought never to undertake any project without seeking His will; 2) pride and prestige, or the desire for it has wrecked many believers’ lives; 3) one sometimes will so conduct himself that he must suffer chastisement without alleviation; 4) the best course to follow at such times is always to confess the wrong and seek the mercy of the Lord; 5) spiritual altars of worship, erected at times when one has been forgiven, should be constantly revisited that one may be always mindful of God’s will.
1 Chronicles 22:1
Temple Preparations, 1 Chronicles 22:1-13
(Author’s note: First Chronicles, chapters 22-29, contain information concerning the closing years. of David’s reign not found in the Book of Second Samuel. They are treated here [in 2 Samuel hardbound commentary] in this commentary because this is their chronological position in the Scriptures. For an introduction to the Books of Chronicles see comments following Second Kings, chapter 25.)
This account follows immediately upon the account of David’s offering at the threshingfloor of Oman the Jebusite. This came at the cessation of the plague on Israel because of David’s insistence on taking the census of able-bodied fighting men contrary to God’s will. The opening words of David in this chapter indicate his selection of the site of the threshing floor for his proposed house of God, or temple. The angel had appeared to him here poised with sword over Jerusalem to destroy it, but the Lord had relented and spared the city. Since the Lord had accepted the offering of David here the king had concluded that the Lord was pleased for the building of the temple in this place, and the erection of His burnt sacrifice altar in this very spot.
David proceeded to gather the material and make the plans needful for the erection of a great temple. He began by training an adequate work force. For this purpose he conscripted the strangers, or non-Israelites, who lived in Israel. These would have included the descendants of the Canaanites left in the land, as well as any other who may have come to dwell in the land. This may have been a great boon for these people, inasmuch as they must make their living other than on the land which was allotted to the families of Israel. These were trained as masons and stone cutters.
David also collected iron for nails and doors in the gates, and for hinges and clasps, etc. He acquired brass in such abundance its weight ceased to be accounted. Cedar timbers were brought down from the land of Lebanon, via the cities of Zidon and Tyre.
David reasoned that this great preparation should be made because of the youth of Solomon. Though the Scriptures do not indicate the exact age of Solomon when he became king it seems likely he was no more than twenty years of age. David says he was young and tender, or inexperienced and immature. Yet the temple was to be a glorious and magnificent structure, so David felt he should do all that he could to see that this was accomplished, and to assist his young son before his death.
David brought Solomon before him to charge him with the momentous task of constructing the temple. He first reviewed his own plans, which had been frustrated by the Lord’s refusal to allow him to build a house of God. David had purposed to build the house in honor of the Lord, but God had refused to allow it, chiefly because of the much blood he had shed in his wars. He speaks of this bloodshed being in the Lord’s sight, showing the serious regard God has for the shedding of men’s blood (see Genesis 9:4-6; Leviticus 17:11). The Lord had proceeded to tell David that his son after him would build such a house for Him as he was proposing (cf. 2 Samuel 7:12-13; 1 Chronicles 17:11-12). That son would have rest from war around him and would rule in a period of peace and quietness. David informed Solomon of the Lord’s promise to be with his son to establish His kingdom over Israel for ever. This last promise was, of course, prophetic of the divine Son of David, Jesus Christ.
Solomon was commended to the Lord by David, that he might prosper in the building of the house of God as the Lord had promised. He prayed for his son that he might be a roan of wisdom and understanding, that he might have proper charge over Israel as their king, and that he might be obedient to the law of the Lord, as it had been given Israel by Moses. By this David assured his son he would be able to prosper. He closed his admonition with the repetition of the blessing given by Moses, from the Lord, to Joshua, when Moses was about to die and pass on the leadership of Israel to Joshua (De 31:7-8; cf. Joshua 1:9).
1 Chronicles 22:14
Solomon Presented, verses 14-19
David stated to Solomon that he made elaborate preparations for the building of a temple for the house of God in the midst of all his trouble. He must have had reference to his domestic sorrows, relative to Bathsheba, Amnon, Absalom, etc., as well as his many wars. Yet he had amassed a great amount of material.
He mentions specifically a hundred thousand talents of gold and a million talents of silver; brass (or bronze) and iron in unaccounted weight; also much timber and stone, to which Solomon would need to add. David mentioned the adequate work force which he had trained for the building, along with skilled workmen for the intricate work.
Recent evaluation of the gold and silver mentioned in verse 14, according to recent values, is said to be $100,090,000,000 for the gold and $21,840,000,000 for the silver, or almost $122 billion. Verse 16, in the King James Version of the Bible, says the gold, silver, brass, and iron was without number.
This translation gives a misleading inference that seems to contradict verse 14 with reference to the gold and silver. The meaning in verse 16 is understood when the word "limit" is read for "number". David meant that these metals were to be accumulated without limit. He ended his words to Solomon by admonishing him to rise up and be preparing the work.
The princes whom David assembled from the various tribes were next addressed. The condition of peace within the kingdom was to be noted by them, and they were to give credit to the Lord for it. Therefore, he admonished them to aid Solomon in the great task at hand.
Not only was there peace with the neighboring kingdoms, whom David had subdued during his reign, but at last the Canaanite people and the Philistines, living among the Israelites, were totally subjected to David’s rule. This was the nearest Israel had ever come to the condition the Lord desired for them when they came into the land from Egypt.
David admonished the the princes and leaders of Israel to 1) set their hearts on the will of God; 2) to act on His will by rising up and building the temple; 3) to bring the sacred ark and holy vessels into this permanent house which should be prepared for them. This should be done to honor the name of the Lord.
Some lessons to consider from the chapter would include: 1) the Lord’s will can be ascertained by careful consideration of the things He allows to transpire with us; 2) our work and actions for the Lord’s service should be in part to prepare the coming generation to continue in His service (2 Corinthians 12:14); 3) the challenges of past men of God are usually pertinent for the rising generation as well; 4) there is no limit of things usable in the service of the Lord; 5) opportunity to serve the Lord should be seized without delay and acted upon promptly (Galatians 6:10).
1 Chronicles 23:1
Verse one ties the present ’chapter, with what preceded in chapter 22. The advanced age of David is stressed, and his appointment of Solomon as his successor. This information here indicates that David had made perfectly clear, some time before his death, his desire that. Solomon be king after him. The account of First Kings, chapter one, shows that many of the leading men of the kingdom, and Adonijah the oldest surviving son of David, sought to thwart the plans of the old king and usurp the throne from Solomon for Adonijah. This great assembly included the prince of each tribe, as well as leading men, also called princes, with the spiritual leaders, the priests and Levites. This was a very important meeting.
1 Chronicles 23:3
Levites, verses 3-23
The numbering of the Levites began at age thirty because it was at that age they were eligible to enter into their official duties (Numbers 4:3 and other verses in the chapter). The number came to only thirty-eight thousand, which seems a small number for the time. However, the active years of Levitical service extended only to age fifty, where doubtless the numbering also ended. This enumeration was especially important to those who returned from the Babylonian exile with Zerubbabel, Ezra, and others. At that time they had to establish their lineage to officiate ( see Ezra 2:61-63). This would help to explain why these matters were recorded in the Books of Chronicles, which were composed after the exile, but not in the Books of Kings.
The thirty-eight thousand Levites were divided into four groups A large group numbering twenty-four thousand were devoted strictly to the work of maintaining the house and worship of the Lord. Six thousand were appointed as officers and judges in the towns and tribes where they were scattered. Four thousand more were porters, or temple watchmen, while the remaining four thousand supplied the choristers and instrumentalists for the temple choir and orchestra.
The families of the Levites were arranged in courses according to their patronage, stemming from the three sons of Levi. These were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. Verses 7-11 enumerate the sons and descendants of Gershon (sometimes Gershom). None of these are particularly prominent otherwise. It is interesting to note, from verse 11 that small families were included with larger ones.
The Kohathites were the largest family. The priestly family of Aaron came from the Kohathites, but most of the Kohathites were merely Levites, not priests. Verses 12-20 enumerate the heads of this important family. Amram was the father of Moses and Aaron. Though Moses was the great leader of Israel, the family of Aaron succeeded to greater prestige in later generations, and the sons and descendants of Moses were mere Levites. This is specifically indicated by verses 1517, where the descendants of Moses’ two sons are listed. Eliezer (the younger son) fathered a large family known as the sons of Rehabiah.
The families of the Merarites numbered only two, but in their times were about as numerous as some of the others. Very little is noted of them in this context. It is noted that one of the more prominent descendants died without sons. His daughters married their cousins and maintained their father’s lineage within the tribe of Levi (seethe law relative to this situation, Numbers, chapter 36).
1 Chronicles 23:24
New Duties, Verses 24-32
A difficulty with the text appears from a comparison of verses 24-27, and verse 3. Whereas the thirty for the age of an active Levite is commensurate with the Numbers citation above, twenty is given as their age from which polled here. The age of twenty-five years is given at Numbers 8:24-25. Various explanations have been made, some suggesting a period of apprenticeship to age of thirty, which does not explain "twenty" in verses 24, 27. Therefore, there must obviously be a copyist’s error in one of the places where ages differ. The Septuagint rendered it ’Twenty-five" in every place, indicating that to be the age observed when the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek.
In his assembly David called to mind that the old task of the Levites in conveying the tabernacle and its articles of furniture from place to place would no longer be necessary. For that reason he appointed them their new tasks as noted above. It is again delineated in verses 28-32. These may be summarized as: to wait on the priests in the service of the house of the Lord, as they worked in the outside courts and the inner rooms to 1) keep the purity of the holy things; 2) to arrange for the shew bread and the fine flour for the meat (meal, or food) offering; 3) to oversee preparation of the pan-baked and fried unleavened cakes of every size and measure; 4) to stand every morning to praise the Lord and thank Him, and to repeat the exercise in the evening; 5) to assist in the offering of the burnt sacrifices on the sabbath, new moons, feast days continually; 6) to guard the sanctity of the tabernacle and the sanctuary of the temple according to the direction of the priest.
Note these lessons from chapter 23: 1) it is good to teach God’s will to others to the very end of the Christian life; 2) God calls and sets apart some to a special office in His kingdom; 3) orderliness is expected of the Lord’s people, as he requires (1 Corinthians 14:40); 3) not everyone can occupy the highest offices, as men construe them, but there is an important place in God’s service for all; 4) there is great blessing in standing in the presence of, and aiding, those who may have greater responsibilities.
1 Chronicles 24:1
Priests’ Courses, 1 Chronicles 24:1-19
In his preparation for the temple and its worship David had also reorganized the families of the priests. The chief families of Aaron’s descendants were mentioned first. Aaron had had four sons, but the two older, Nadab and Abihu, had been slain. by the Lord because they offered strange fire at the dedication of the tabernacle (Leviticus 10:1-5). their infraction against the Lord’s holiness, in seeking to fire His altar by their own fire, was never forgotten in Israel. It had already remained as a negative lesson for many generations, and it stands as a warning today to those who would prefer their own methods over those of the Lord.
Nadab and Abihu died childless, so the lineage of the priests came through Aaron’s younger sons, Eleazar and Ithamar Eleazar had succeeded to the high priesthood following the death of Aaron, and Eleazar’s son, Phinehas, had followed him (Numbers 25:10-13). Some think the Lord’s words to Phinehas on that occasion meant that the high priesthood should continue in the descent of Phinehas perpetually. This did not occur, however, for Eli was of the family of Ithamar This is apparent from verse 3, where it is said that Ahimelech was of the family of Ithamar Ahimelech was the son of Abiathar, the priest who had escaped Saul’s slaughter (1 Samuel 22:20-23) and become a fugitive from Saul with David. Abiathar was the son of an older Ahimelech, the son of Ahitub, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli.
David had appointed a chief priest from each of the two Aaronic families, Zadok for Eleazar and Ahimelech for Ithamar There were twenty-four other chief priests, though inferior in office to Zadok and Ahimelech. Each of these headed a course of priests, but there were sixteen from the family of Eleazar, which was the more numerous, to eight from the family of Ithamar Their order of service was determined by lot. They were called governors (or princes) of the sanctuary and governors (or princes) of the house of God. It is uncertain whether these designations are synonymous or were separate appointments. It has been suggested that the princes of the sanctuary served in the most sacred precincts, whereas the princes of the house of God served in the outer precincts of the temple.
The scribe, Shemaiah, who was a Levite, recorded the twenty-four orders and the name of the chief priest of each, whose name continued to be called on that particular order throughout Israel’s history. It was witnessed by the high priests Zadok and Ahimelech. The orders are enumerated and named in verses 7 through 18. None of these men are otherwise notable in the Scriptures. It is interesting, however, to note that Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, was of the order of Abijah (Lu 1:5), the eighth course of the priests.
1 Chronicles 24:20
More Levites, Verses 20-31
The purpose of casting lots for the men named here is not clear. They were ordinary Levites, the families of whom are first named in chapter 23. None of these is prominently mentioned elsewhere in the Scriptures. They may have served a specific function on behalf of the priests as may be suggested by verse 31. That it was very important is implied by the presence of the chief priests, the high priests, the chief of the Levitical families, and even King David, when the lot was cast.
Some lessons to note: 1) One awful mistake may result in lingering effect, though it may also serve as a long-time warning; 2) the testimony of a good man will also abide through the generations after him; 3) God has His purposes in deeds and events which may not always be clear to us.
1 Chronicles 25:1
Chief Singers and Musicians, 1 Chronicles 25:1-7
These verses set forth the chief families of the Levites who were devoted to the service of song and music in the temple. It is unclear why the captains of the host are mentioned in connection with their separation. Three chief men were set apart to this work; Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman. Asaph was head of the choir, and some twelve of the Psalms are titled to him, or his sons. This may mean that they were prepared for his choral use, or he may have been the author of some of them. There were four sons of Asaph over the remainder of his family. They were of the Levitical family of Gershon.
Jeduthun was of the Levitical family of Merari. Some think he is the same person called Ethan in other places. He and his family assisted the Asaphites in the choir, and played on the harp also. Jeduthun had six sons who were over other members of the family.
Heman was of a very prominent. family in Israel, the son of doel and grandson of the prophet Samuel. His family composed the orchestra, and provided most of the musical instrumentation in the temple worship. His was also the largest family of the three, being fourteen sons and three daughters. It seems the daughters may also have been included among the musicians. They represented the Levitical family of Kohath. Heman is called the king’s seer, which means that he received revelations from the Lord for the king and conveyed them to him. To "lift up the horn" means that he exalted the word of God to the king.
It is said that these men all ’prophesied" with their songs and instruments of music. Many times in the Old Testament the word "prophesy" is used in about the same sense as "preach" is used today. All singing and music should exalt the Lord and extol His word, and that is just what these people did so long ago. Their service was for the Lord and advanced His name and cause in Israel.
The chief musicians then, were three: Asaph, with four sons under his hand; Jeduthun, with six sons under him; Heman, with fourteen sons (and possibly three daughters over the ladies of the choir). Under all these were many other singers and musicians to the total number of two hundred and eighty-eight. What a wonderful medley of voice they must have rendered in praise of the Lord! (Ephesians 5:18-21; Colossians 3:16).
1 Chronicles 25:8
Twenty-four Orders, Verses 8-31
These verses show how the four sons of Asaph, six sons of Jeduthun, and fourteen sons of Heman formed the twenty-four orders of the music department in the temple worship.
Each of the twenty-four sons was responsible for twelve of his family, including himself, in the two hundred eighty-eight member group.
The American Standard Bible renders verse 8, "And they cast lots for their duties, all alike, the small as well as the great, the teacher as well as the pupil."
This clarifies somewhat the reference to "wards" in the King James Version.
Each of the men named as sons of the three fathers of the singers and musicians in verses 1-7 cast lots for places of leadership in the service of song and instrument. Some were more proficient than others, and some were teachers and others pupils, but each son had his place to serve.
There is some variation in the names between the first listing and this in verses 8-31. For instance, Zeri becomes lzri (vs. 3, 11); Asarelah becomes Jesharelah (vs. 2, 14); Uzziel is written Azareel (vs. 4, 18); Shebuel is Shubael (Vs. 4, 10).
Shimei (v. 17) is not mentioned earlier, but must be the sixth son of Jeduthun, not named with his five brothers (v. 3).
Lessons can be learned from God’s Word, even when the passages being studied consist mainly of lists of names, as here: 1) Singing and music are a very important part of the worship of the Lord’s churches; 2) choral and musical worship should be orderly and appropriate in the Lord’s house; 3) scriptural music and songs should honor the Lord and convey His message to the hearers; 4) all who desire to praise the Lord in song and music should be allowed to do so.
1 Chronicles 26:1
The porters were doorkeepers, or gatekeepers, who guarded the entrances to the temple area. This passage shows how they were arranged by orders, similarly to the choristers and musicians in chapter 25. Their chiefs are enumerated in this chapter, but from 1 Chronicles 23:5 it is seen that as many as four thousand were so employed at times. They drew lots for their stations and rotated in service, it seems, on a weekly basis (2 Kings 11:5-7). The position was an honored and respected one (Psalms 84:10).
The porters were divided into four groups, three representing the Levitical family of Kohath, one that of Merari, and none from the family of Gershon. Of these, the three Kohathite groups were all descended from Korah, the infamous rebel against the Lord in the wilderness. He sought to usurp the priesthood, and God opened up the earth and swallowed him, with all his goods, into the ground alive (Numbers 16:23-35). However, the children of Korah did not perish with him (Numbers 26:9-11), and at this time have succeeded to an honorable position in the land. This goes to show the Lord can overcome evil with good in those surrendered to Him (Romans 12:21).
The sons of Meshelemiah consisted of eighteen sons and descendants. One of these sons was Zechariah, who is described as "a wise counselor," and who was allowed a special place among the porters. He was appointed, with his sons, to guard the north gate of the temple. The other sons of Meshelemiah were appointed over the east gate.
Obed-edom was the Levite in whose house the ark was kept after the breach of Uzza (1 Chronicles 13:13-14). The Scriptures here call him a man greatly blessed of the Lord. This alludes also, no doubt, to the large number of his sons and descendants, for he had eight sons and a total of sixty-two descendants serving among the porters. Their appointment was to the south gate and over Asuppim, or the house of collections. This latter probably refers to the storehouses where tithes and votive offerings were kept.
The family of Hosah, who represented the tribal family of Merari, numbered thirteen sons. They were appointed to the west gate and to the gate Shallecheth. This latter was the gate by which the refuse was removed from the temple area and was sometimes referred to as the dung gate. It was by the causeway, going up from the valley below. Hosah was assisted by another Levite, Shuppim (verse 16). An interesting thing is said of Hosah in verse 10, in that he set aside his firstborn son, giving the honor to a younger, Simri. This was contrary to the law of Moses (De 21:15-17), but may have been interpreted only relative to a man with multiple wives. The case with Hosah is not further known, but it seems unusual that one supposedly devoted to the Lord’s service would set aside the law.
Six Levites were appointed to guard the east gate, the main entrance to the temple area; four daily to the north gate; four to the south gate and two and two to Asuppim; four over the west gate, at the causeway, and two more at the Parbar. The Parbar was the area west of the temple and adjacent to it. The Tyropoean valley ran through the city there.
1 Chronicles 26:20
Over the Treasury, Verses 20-28
It was noted in the enumeration of the head porters in the foregoing verses the Levitical family of Gershon was not included. However, it is found now that this family headed those who presided over the treasuries, or storehouses. The head officer over the temple was a man named Ahijah, whose family is not specifically noted. The Gershonites were of the family of Laadan, the eldest son of Gershon. They were over the storehouses for the tithes and freewill offerings.
Others associated with the Gershonites included several of the descendents of Kohath, another son of Levi, the patriarchal father. Most interesting among these are those descended from Moses, the great man of God and their lawgiver. One son of Gershom (not Gershon, mentioned above) is named and several descendants of Eliezer, Moses’ younger son. The prominence of Rehabiah was previously noted among the Levites (1 Chronicles 23:17). Here it is found that one of his sons, Shelomith, had the special assignment of guarding the spoils of Israel’s wars, which had been accumulating for several generations, and were dedicated for the house of God.
This dedication of the spoil had begun with Samuel the seer, or prophet. It had been added to by the victories of King Saul, his captain, Abner; of King David, and his captain, Joab, and also included things dedicated for that purpose by various others able to do so. Samuel had led Israel in the defeat of the Philistines; Saul had also defeated the Philistines on several occasions, as well as a number of other kingdoms, including notably the Amalekites. Of course, David and his heroic captain, Joab, had subjugated many nations, by which they had accumulated a great amount of spoil.
1 Chronicles 26:29
Other officials, verses 29-32
The outward business over which these Levites were made officials pertained to things outside of Jerusalem, away from the temple. In fact, this was in keeping with one of the responsibilities of the Levites, who had their homes scattered throughout the cities of Israel. In those cities where they dwelt they were to be leaders of the people in example and to serve as their judges in religious and secular affairs.
Both the chief families over the outside business, the 1zharites and the Hebronites, were of the Levitical tribal family of Kohath. They were particularly answerable to the king, and may have been employed by him to see that his will was imposed in their jurisdiction. Chenaniah of the 1zharites and Hashabiah of the Hebronites had charge of these affairs of the king on the west side of the Jordan, in the nine and a half tribes of Israel in Canaan. They numbered seventeen hundred valorous men.
In the last year of David’s reign another family of the Hebronites was appointed to the business of the king on the east side of Jordan, in the two and a half tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh. For some reason unknown a group of the Kohathites had settled in Gilead of Gad, though that Levite family had been assigned no cities in that tribe. These Hebronites, under their chief, Jerijah, were sought out by David and found to number twenty-seven hundred men of valor. They became David’s representatives in all matters pertaining to God and the king.
Lessons to note: 1) God’s people are to maintain the sanctity of His house; 2) those appointed over the material things of the Lord’s house serve in an honorable position; 3) the wealth of men, which the Lord allows them to acquire, should be dedicated to His honor and glory; 4) gifts to the Lord’s work should be guarded and expended in a worthy manner; 5) the Lord’s people living among the rest of the populace should be witnesses to their acquaintances of His goodness and mercy.
1 Chronicles 27:1
The Standing Army, 1 Chronicles 27:1-15
David’s army was divided into twelve courses of twenty-four thousand men each, for a total of 288,000 men in the standing army. Each course was on active duty for one month of each year. There are listed here the chief captain of each course, with some subordinate, or successors, also mentioned in places. It is interesting to note several of David’s mighty men named among them, as well as heroes whose exploits have been noted previously. Some of the tribes were more notably represented than others, particularly those of Judah, Ephraim, and Benjamin.
Jashobeam, captain during the first month, was apparently the hero who slew several hundred Philistines in one campaign and was numbered among the mighty men (1 Chronicles 11:11). He was of the Judahite family of Perez. Dodai, in the second month, was the father of Eleazar, another of David’s heroes and mighty men. His subordinate was famous enough to be named also, a man named Mikloth. The captain in the third month was perhaps the most famous of all, Benaiah, whose father, Jehoiada, was one of the chief priests. Benaiah was one of the chief of the mighty men, captain of the Cherethites and Pelethites and succeeded to the chief captaincy after the execution of Joab, when Solomon became king. His son was his subordinate officer, Ammizabad, who may have succeeded to his father’s position under Solomon. He was, of course, a Levite.
Others of interest include Asahel, captain in the fourth month. Since Asahel was killed in battle by Abner before David was made king over all the tribes, this military organization must have begun while David was rulina in Hebron over the tribe of Judah. Asahel’s son, Zebadiah, succeeded him. Helez, the seventh captain, and another Benaiah, the eleventh captain, were from the tribe of Ephraim. Abiezer was of the tribe of Benjamin, and served in the ninth month.
David’s own tribe furnished chief captains in the first, fourth, sixth, eighth, tenth, and twelfth months, exactly half of the captains being from Judah. Others not mentioned above included Sibbecai, who slew one of the Philistine giants in the Philistine wars (1 Chronicles 20:4), of the Judahite family of Zerah. Maharai was also of the family of Zerah, and from the town of Netophah. Heldai, in the twelfth month, was also a Netophathite, and a descendant of the first judge of Israel, Othniel (Judges 3:8-11). Shamhuth, the fifth captain, is thought by some to be the same as Shammai the Harodite, one of the mighty men. It is not surprising that these heroes were made chief captains.
1 Chronicles 27:16
Tribal Princes, Verses 16-24
From the postscript to the listing of the tribal princes, verses 23, 24, it seems that these men served with Joab in the numbering of the people at the order of David (1 Chronicles 2-1; 2Samuel chapter 24). There are thirteen of these, though only twelve tribes, and two of the tribes, Gad and Asher are not named, for some unknown reason. There are two princes for Manasseh, one for those east of the Jordan and one for those in Canaan. In addition to the prince of Levi, Zadok the high priest is named as the prince of the Aaronites, the priest family.
Most of these princes are not otherwise known in the Scriptures. It is interesting to note that the prince of Judah was Elihu, one of David’s non-warrior brothers (who were Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah). the prince of Benjamin was Jaasiel, the son of Abner, the captain of the host under King Saul.
This passage might shed further light on the difficulty of the numbers in David’s census, as recorded in 2 Samuel 24:9 (800,000 Israel; 500,000 Judah) and 1 Chronicles 21:5 (1,100,000 Israel; 470,000 Judah.) Chronicles having been written several centuries later may have had access to records not available in the time Samuel was written. It would also appear there is a rounding of figures in the Samuel account more sharply than in Chronicles.
1 Chronicles 27:25
Domestic Officers, verses 25-31
The twelve men named in these verses were supervising servants of David, to oversee the various interests he had of a material nature. That he had widespread possessions, and varied, is evident from these verses. None of those named here of any further prominence in the Scriptures. The first had charge over his treasures; the second over his stores in the fields, cities, villages, and castles (or towers); the third over the land to cultivate it for the king; the fourth over the vineyard horticulture; the fifth over the making and storing of the wine; the sixth over the culture of the olives and wild sycamore figs.
Also, the seventh was over the storage cellars for the olive oil; the eighth over David’s herds in the rich plain of Sharon; the ninth over the herds which fed in the valleys; the tenth was over the camels (this man, Obil, was an Ishmaelite, possibly a camel-breeder from that desert country where camels are used extensively); the eleventh over the asses (donkeys); the twelfth over the flocks of sheep and goats.
1 Chronicles 27:32
The Royal Council, Verses 32-34
David’s royal council consisted of seven men, most of whom are met with in other places. Jonathan, the first named of the counselors, is called David’s uncle, but some scholars think the translation should be "nephew;" David had a nephew so named, who slew one of the Philistine’s giants (2 Samuel 21:21). Jehiel is not further known, but he had the very important task of tutoring and advising the princes, David’s son. Ahithophel, David’s counselor, went over to Absalom in that rebellion, and committed suicide when his counsel was rejected for that of Hushai the Archite (2 Samuel 17:1-14; 2 Samuel 17:23). Hushai is called the king’s companion, and seems to have been a kind of a personal adviser. After the death of Ahithophel, Jehoiada and Abiathar, older priests, became advisers. Joab continued as general over the army.
Some lessons to learn from chapter 27: 1) All things proceed when properly ordered; 2) activity is important to the right function of any group; 3) good performance of one’s duties will result in reward and advancement; 4) loyalty to one’s rulership will result in better rule and quietness in his life.
1 Chronicles 28:1
A Great Assembly, 1 Chronicles 28:1-8
With chapter 28 the chronicler has reached the event for which the foregoing listing of offices and persons was the groundwork. Chapters 23-27 contain the names of all the leading men of Israel at the close of David’s reign. It is these whom David now calls to assemble themselves to Jerusalem for his farewell address. In addition to those who were specifically named there are also gathered the lesser captains of the army, the captains of the thousands and of the hundreds; the king’s sons, the princes; the mighty men and other valiant men, for obvious reasons. This calling of the people to a farewell address is reminiscent of the farewell addresses of Moses (all the Book of Deuteronomy) and Joshua (chapters 23, 24). It is a measure of David’s godly concern for Israel, in that he wished them to continue to enjoy His blessings by being obedient to His word.
The great task which would devolve on David’s successor would be the building of the house of God. David begins his address by reminding his people how he had longed in his heart to build the temple, but was denied the privilege by the Lord Himself, because he had been a man of war and bloodshed. David had indeed been involved in war with every nation around Israel, except the Phoenicians, who had made a covenant with him through their king, Hiram of Tyre. He had furthermore been guilty of murder in the matter of Uriah the Hittite, and all these things doubtless entered into the Lord’s refusal to allow David to build Him a house.
Nevertheless, David reminded the people that God had chosen him to be their king. God had chosen Judah to be the ruling tribe in Israel, and had chosen the house of Jesse for the king. Out of Jesse’s sons God had preferred David. Now, said David, God had further extended His choice to take Solomon, among the many sons of David, to be king after his father. The Lord had spoken to David in covenant (2 Samuel 7:4-17; 1 Chronicles 17:3-15), telling him these things. The Lord had promised to make Solomon His son and to be his Father, to establish his kingdom forever if he remained faithful to the Lord’s commandments and judgments.
David’s words presented Solomon to the assembly as the divinely appointed heir to the throne and kingdom, and this great gathering was to recognize and abide by this fact. David sought a pact between the people, whom he calls the congregation of the Lord (by virtue of their representation of the entire nation of Israel), and the audience of God Himself. Their adherence to the commandments of the Lord God will accrue to them continued possession of the good land He had given them and its retention as the inheritance of their children. These admonitions are worthy the consideration of any generation and nation (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 2 Timothy 1:13).
1 Chronicles 28:9
Solomon’s Instruction, Verses 9-19
David instructed Solomon publicly in the building of the temple, when he should become king, that both the new king and his people would understand it was the will of the Lord.
Note the points of David’s instructions to his son... 1) he should know, have saving knowledge, of the God of David; 2) he should serve the Lord in his reign perfectly and out of a willing heart; 3) he should remember that the Lord knows the imperfections of man, and will judge him accordingly; 4) if Solomon will seek the Lord, He may be found of him, and thus he may count on His faithfulness (Isaiah 55:6; Ecclesiastes 12:1); 5) if he should forsake the Lord, the Lord will certainly forsake him (1 Kings 11:4; 1 Kings 11:9-10).
Next, David proceeded to give Solomon instruction concerning the building of the temple as to its pattern. Solomon is told that the Lord has chosen him to build the house of God, and he should therefore strengthen himself to do it. The pattern given Solomon by David was comprehensive, leaving very little to be decided by Solomon as to its form and worship. The pattern included instruction for the porch (or colonnade), the houses, their treasuries, upper chambers in the wall, parlors, place of the mercy seat (holy of holies), the treasuries (storerooms) for the tithes and dedicated things. David claimed knowledge of this by the spirit of the Lord.
The pattern also included the coutses of the priests and Levites,
in regard to their order of service in the temple worship. It told how the vessels of gold and silver should be constructed, the weight of gold or silver to be used in each object. These included the candlesticks and their lamps, the shewbread tables, bowls, fleshhooks for handling the carcasses of the sacrificial animals, the basins of gold and silver for the blood and other functions of the worship. It even included the altar of incense and the cherubim which overspread the mercy seat in the holy of holies.
In verse 19 David lays claim to divine inspiration in these things. It appears that he felt God had guided his hand in drawing the blueprint for all of them. If this be the true meaning of David’s words one must conclude that God was in the building of the temple in much the same way that He was in the building of the tabernacle under Moses (Exodus 25:40). Some have questioned whether the Lord desired that a temple should be built for Him.
Such a question might arise from the Lord’s comments to David by Nathan when he first proposed to build the temple. God questioned David whether He had ever at any time, during all the time of the judges and afterwards spoken anything about the building of a temple for Him (see 2 Samuel 7:7). One should not doubt that the building of the temple was in the permissive will of God, and if David’s claim to inspiration has been rightly interpreted, it should be concluded that the Lord was indeed pleased with its building.
1 Chronicles 28:20
Solomon’s Charge, Verses 20-21
The charge to Solomon by David is reiterated here (see comments earlier on 1 Chronicles 22:13). The charge as stated here is very much like that given to Joshua when he was to assume leadership of Israel following the death of Moses (De 31:6-7; Joshua 1:6-9). It would require strength of will and courage, for there would be great obstacles and doubtless opposition by some. He should have no fear, nor be dismayed (or perplexed at his problems). For the Lord God would be with Solomon, the God of David. David was an example for his son, of the goodness and mercy of the Lord, and he wanted Solomon to count on the same divine care.
David now divulged what was, perhaps; his reason for organization of the priestly and Levitical service. He wanted Solomon to have the full support of the Lord; the priests and Levites would be in a position to intercede for him in the work. So Solomon is told that he may count on these representatives of the Lord to support him. In addition David has arranged to lighten the physical load of his son when he begins to build the temple. He had already assigned trained workmen to the work of building. Their skills would be available for whatever need he had. This gathering of the princes was to assure him their wholehearted support in the monumental task he is to undertake. there is much to be accomplished in the co-operation of God’s people (2 Corinthians 6:1).
There are good lessons apparent in the chapter: 1) A nation’s leaders should be harmonious in planning for its welfare; 2) some acts in a person’s life may be a deterrent to his reputable acceptance in a task; 3) people ought to be presented with the known will of God; 4) those of one generation should desire to leave everything for the continuing good of the rising generation; 5) all of God’s children are challenged to do His work.
1 Chronicles 29:1
Giving Willingly, 1 Chronicles 29:1-9
First Chronicles, chapter 29, might be entitled "The Joy of Willing Giving." That is surely the greatest lesson contained in it. David began this part of his discourse by emphasizing two things about Solomon, and another about his task. First, Solomon was God’s choice to be Israel’s next king. Perhaps David already suspected there was an "Adonijah party," who preferred an older, more experienced one of the princes to be king. That such suspicions might have been well-founded is apparent from the sequel, recorded in the first chapter of First Kings.
Second, Solomon was indeed yet young and tender. The language of the original, as implied also in the English, indicates that he was perhaps no more than twenty years of age. Still, his being the choice of God made age of no consequence, and those who wished God’s will to be done should acknowledge that (cf. 1 Timothy 4:12).
Third, the task awaiting Solomon was no light one. The house of God was to be no ordinary structure. It was a palace for the Lord, not for man. It was to be lavish and spectacular. David knew it was not the work of one man, but would require much preparation, and wholehearted cooperation. It was not in the power of Solomon, though he had not been a youth, to have accomplished it alone.
But David had set the example for all the great men of Israel. Herein appears another purpose of the king in calling the great assembly, to challenge the wealthy to contribute of their riches to the building of the temple. David said he had prepared with all his personal means available to provide things for the work. His contributions consisted of gold, silver, brass, iron exotic woods, onyx stones, jewels for settings and beauty, and marble for building stones. Lest some should think that David had not personally sacrificed of his own wealth he proceeded to tell them that in addition to all that had come from the spoils of war he had given from his own, because he loved the Lord and longed to build Him a house. The gold of Ophir he provided was of the very finest to be had in that ancient time. A recent evaluation of the gold, according to present day values, is set at $3,280,000,000, and the silver at $152,880,000.
So David challenged the assembled princes, elders, captains and all the great men to follow his example and give out of willing hearts for the temple requirements. They responded willingly and pledged thousands of talents of gold and silver (about $218,400,000), beside much brass (or bronze, more accurately) and iron. Some also gave precious stones. It was put into the charge of Jehiel the Gershonite, whom David had made overseer of such (see 1 Chronicles 26:22).
The spirit of the Lord surged in the hearts of the people, and they rejoiced to be able to contribute to the construction of His house. No one gave out of coercion, and the heart of each. was of perfect willingness, and all were happy. Their aged king was very happy and rejoiced with great joy. The greatest joy of the Lord’s people should be in willing service to Him (Philippians 3:1; Philippians 4:4).
1 Chronicles 29:10
David Is Thankful, Verses 10-19
The response of the people to the appeals of David caused his heart to overflow with praise of the Lord. He poured out thanksgiving for many evidences of God before them. He praised Him for His eternal benevolence. He lauded Him as God of superlatives covering the entire scope of man’s experience, a God of greatness, power, glory, victory, and majesty. Certainly Israel had observed all these things in their God. He showed Himself greater than the gods of Egypt and Canaan, His power was evidenced in numerous miraculous events from the beginning of their nation, His glory was seen at Mount Sinai and on other occasions, it had been His victories which had enabled Israel to maintain themselves, and His majesty in comparison to others could not be denied.
Thus David concluded that the kingdom over which he ruled, and over which Solomon was shortly to reign, was not the kingdom of David, nor of Solomon, but the kingdom of the Lord. Thus all kingdoms of the world are His, and He will soon assume that right (Revelation 19:16). Because it is the Lord’s, and He owns it all, David acknowledged in the hearing of the assembly that all the riches it contained, and all the honor consistent with them, belonged to God. His power and might made it all possible, for which the king gave humble thanks.
David could see there is no right of man to be proud of what he does for God, for he does nothing but such as is made possible by the Lord’s goodness to him. When men call themselves giving to God they are simply returning a portion of that the Lord has given to them. Man’s days on earth are few and fleet, but God is eternal. Those things David and the assembly gave for God’s house (and those things men give today) are already His, and he can reclaim them. Man is just the steward of them for the few years of his lifetime, and God knows his heart and what his attitude is in giving to His cause.
Yet David rejoiced greatly that the people evidenced an awareness of this also in their liberal contribution. He called on Him as the God of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, to grant that this spiritual awakening in the hearts of the leaders of Israel might slot fail, but that they might continue with prepared hearts to serve Him. David concluded with a prayer for Solomon that his heart might also remain perfect before the Lord, to keep all His commandments, statutes, and testimonies, that he might not fail to build the palace (temple) for which David had prepared.
1 Chronicles 29:20
Assembly concluded, verses 20-22
After David’s conclusion of his personal prayer and thanksgiving, he called on all the assembly he had gathered to bless the Lord also. Again they responded heartily, bowing their heads in worship of the Lord and in reverence for the king.
The joining of the name of the king with that of the Lord in their worship by no means implies that they worshipped David in the same manner as they did the Lord, or even as did many in pagan nations toward their rulers. The people celebrated the occasion with three thousand sacrifices, a thousand each of bullocks, rams, and lambs for burnt offerings. It was a time of festivity, for the people were glad in the Lord.
(Author’s Note: The remainder of First Chronicles, chapter 29, sums up the reign of David and places Solomon on the throne. Chronologically it is parallel with 1Kings chapters 1 and 2, and will be discussed in connection with those chapters below.)
Note the following lessons: 1) God’s people should anticipate His requirements and provide for their eventuality (Lu 14:28); 2) harmony in the heart will beget cheerfulness in giving and all forms of worship (2 Corinthians 9:7); 3) to see oneself as God sees him and for what he really is brings him to an humble admission of his unworthiness (Lu 15:18, 19, 21; 17:10); 4) joy in serving the lord will cause others to rejoice in serving Him also.
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Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 24". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany