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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

1 Chronicles 23

Verse 1

Introduction

In the last months of his life David prepares everything for the house of God and the service therein:
1. Materials for the temple in 1 Chronicles 22.
2. Levites for the temple in 1 Chronicles 23.
3. Priests for the temple in 1 Chronicles 24.
4. Singers for the temple in 1 Chronicles 25.
5. Gatekeepers and treasurers for the temple in 1 Chronicles 26.
6. Officials in his realm in 1 Chronicles 27.
7. Plans for the building of the temple in 1 Chronicles 28.
8. Final preparations for the temple in 1 Chronicles 29.

David Makes Solomon King

David starts to completely reorganize the service of the priests and the Levites and bring it to a totally different plan. But first he appoints Solomon as king in his place. He knows that his task is over (cf. 2 Timothy 4:6; Genesis 50:24). It is good that, when our task is over, we are handing over our service to young people who are ready for it. We see this for example with Paul and Timothy, with Moses and Joshua, with Elijah and Elisha. We do this not by some official transfer, but by encouraging a young believer to a certain task and giving our help.

The description of the transfer of the throne by David to Solomon is here different from in the first book of Kings. In the first book of Kings Solomon becomes king in reaction to those who assumed the right to the throne and David must be persuaded to make Solomon king (1 Kings 1:5-Matthew :). We don’t see anything of that here. Here David makes Solomon king according to his sovereign will, according to God’s counsel.

Verses 2-5

Numbering the Levites

After his preparations for the building of the temple, the materials he has prepared for it, David will now arrange matters related to the service in the temple. The whole order that David establishes for the house is a picture of what Christ does toward His house, the church. He starts with the census of the Levites. They serve from their thirtieth year to their fiftieth year (Numbers 4:1-:). The Lord Jesus began His public service when He “was about thirty years of age” (Luke 3:23).

There are those who oversee the house of the LORD. Others are officers and judges. Still others are gatekeepers. Finally there are the singers for whom he had musical instruments made (cf. Amos 6:5). What Joab did not do in the census of the people – counting the Levites (1 Chronicles 21:6) – David does here himself. This time he counts with good motives, because now it is about service to the LORD. At the count at the beginning of the wilderness journey there are more than 22,000 Levites (Numbers 3:41-John :), now there are 38,000.

They are all assigned their places (1 Chronicles 23:4-Deuteronomy :), so that every available hand can be used and every part of the work can be done, with the corresponding care. The great number is a contribution to the honor of Him in the service of Whom they stand. More than two-thirds, 24,000, must oversee the work in the house of the LORD. They assist the priests in slaughtering the sacrifices, washing, cutting and burning them, removing dirt, keeping the temple utensils clean, and keeping everything in place.

There are also 6,000 officials and judges. They see to it that in the land everything goes to the right of the LORD. They apply God’s laws to the lives of the people of every day as disputes arise. There are also 4,000 gatekeepers. They must ensure that nothing enters the temple that should not enter it. In the new Jerusalem they are not needed (Revelation 21:25-Daniel :). Finally, there are 4,000 singers. They praise the LORD.

Verses 6-23

David Divides the Levites Into Divisions

The division of the Levites into divisions in this section is to keep the overview and also that no one can evade his task. “God is not [a God] of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). A good division of tasks promotes peace. The application for us is not a question of human organization, but of giving heed to the Holy Spirit “distributing to each one individually just as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:18). There is also care if a family is small (1 Chronicles 23:11). Then families can work together.

The description of the task of the Levites (1 Chronicles 23:13) is much more extensive, because the task of the priests is great in content. First of all, the priest must ensure the holiness of the most holy things. This requires a constant contact with the holy God. Then he burns incense, which refers to prayers (Psalms 141:2). It is his privilege to minister the LORD, which is true for his whole life and especially in the sanctuary. For that he is a priest. A priest is directed toward God. Only then is he able “to bless in His name forever” outside the sanctuary. His ministry is a matter for his whole life; blessing in the name of the LORD is a matter done for eternity. In summary, we see that priests sanctify, sacrifice, minister and bless.

For us, it means that we must first live a holy life. This is necessary if we are to have a proper awareness of the most holy things. This leads us to bring sacrifices to God and to serve Him all our lives. This is not limited to the meetings of the church. The call is that we “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15). It is even so that we present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God (Romans 12:1), while the results of the priestly service are also mentioned, because those results are brought to God (cf. Romans 15:16).

There are two aspects to our priesthood. One aspect is the holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God in the heavenly sanctuary. The other aspect is the royal priesthood, where we come out of the heavenly sanctuary with blessing for those around us (1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9).

Therefore, we should not limit our priestly task to Sunday worship. Our whole life must be worship. All believers are called to this priestly service. If we don’t do such a service, the cause often lies in foreclosures that we owe to ourselves, or because of incompetence or wrong education.

Moses is called “the man of God” (1 Chronicles 23:14; Deuteronomy 33:1; Psalms 90:1). This special title does not mean that his sons are given priestly status. They are ‘ordinary’ Levites (1 Chronicles 23:15-Esther :).

Verses 24-32

The Task of the Levites

We see something of the special authority David has to arrange the Levite service. He subtracts another five years from the age already lowered by the LORD by five years (1 Chronicles 23:24; Numbers 8:24). The reduction to 20 years is confirmed in 1 Chronicles 23:27. The reason is that there is now rest (1 Chronicles 23:25). The Levites are no longer in wilderness conditions. The task has become easier. They no longer need to demolish and rebuild everything and no transport is needed anymore (1 Chronicles 23:26). Therefore, the age limit can be lowered.

In the spiritual application this is about the limit of the spiritual maturation. There are circumstances that this can be reduced. Even the youngest believer can already perform a certain service in the church. Where conditions are favorable and a simple service is requested, a young believer with little spiritual exercise can perform it. When it comes to greater responsibilities, there will have to be a greater spiritual maturity. In any case, young people who perform a spiritual service should behave in such a way that no comments can be made about their youth (1 Timothy 4:12).

1 Chronicles 23:28-Jonah : summarize the service of the Levites. What is that task? They serve the priests who in turn serve the LORD. According to Moses’ ordinances, the Levites were given as a gift to the priests (Numbers 18:6). The Levites serve to support the priestly service.

Levite service in a New Testament sense is a service for building up the church. Their service is aimed at teaching believers to praise God more and better. The purpose of their service is that the believers will offer their lives more as sacrifices to God and offer the results of their work for God to Him. If in a local church the believers live in a spirit of worship, this will be noticed in worship and in the practical life of the believers.

There are also Levites that go over the courts (1 Chronicles 23:28). These are the gatekeepers. Different people are standing at the gates. They must ensure that only the right people are admitted in the courts. Another task of the Levites is “the purifying of all holy things”. A worthy sacrifice service can only take place by cleansed persons and cleansed means. Levites ensure that there are no elements in worship that disturb or harm the sacrifice service. They supervise the purity of worship.

Furthermore, they have a task with regard to “the work of the service of the house of God”. That is for us to apply to our behavior in the house of God. We need to know how we have to behave there (1 Timothy 3:15). For this purpose, the Lord has given His instructions in His Word.

There is extensive reference to different types of bread (1 Chronicles 23:29). It is about “the showbread”, which is the bread on the table of the showbread, and about various forms of the “grain offering” (cf. Leviticus 2:1-Nehemiah :). There is talk of “well-mixed” and of fittings’ and of “all measures of volume and size”. All these breads speak of the Lord Jesus. The Levites make sure that the loaves are of the right composition (“well-mixed”), that the right volume is used and that the right size is also maintained.

We can apply this to our being busy with the Lord Jesus as the true grain offering and as the true bread of life. The Levites are for us the teachers who explain God’s Word to us. They show by means of God’s Word Who the Lord Jesus is as food for God. The “well-mixed” or the composition of the bread represents that we confess Christ as come into the flesh (1 John 4:2). That is, He truly became Man – however, without participating in the sinful nature that every man has (Hebrews 4:15) –, but at the same time never ceases to be the eternal Son of God. They must beware not to go deeper – we must pay attention to the right ‘measure of volume’ – nor further – the right ‘measure of size – than what God’s Word makes clear. We should not try to enter into things that God hides from us (cf. Matthew 11:27), nor add to what God’s Word shows us.

The order in the house of God is also maintained by the Levites, which is represented in the care for the table of the showbread. They must also ensure that the volume and size of everything is to the measure of the sanctuary. Only then can a service take place that can be accepted by God. No personal interpretation may be given in any way about the composition of, for example, a grain offering.

Again other Levites have the task of singing (1 Chronicles 23:30-Obadiah :). Every day in the morning and evening, every week, every month and every year they let their voices be heard on those days and at those occasions when bringing the burnt offering. The sacrifices at different feasts must be brought by the priests, but they are prepared by the Levites. Levite service precedes every sacrificial service. Young priests gratefully use Levites.

Finally, a summary of the tasks is given (1 Chronicles 23:32). The tasks of the Levites are primarily connected with “the tent of meeting”. This is the place where God meets His people, it is a place of fellowship between God and His people. The people there may come to God on the basis of the sacrifice, which is a picture of the Lord Jesus and His work on the cross, to worship Him for the gift of that Sacrifice.

This leads to the second task, which is their “charge of the holy place”. In the sanctuary it is about approaching God rather than being together. With a view to approaching God, priests must know what is appropriate. That is what the Levites make clear to them. This also explains their third task, their “charge of the sons of Aaron their relatives, for the service of the house of the LORD”. They prepare the priests, here described as “the sons of Aaron”, to perform their service properly in the house of the LORD.

They do not do this as their superiors, but as “their relatives””, or “their brothers. We read here that the Levites and the priests are brothers of each other. This is the only right relationship to serve other members of God’s people. The New Testament believer is as much a priest as a Levite. Both aspects should be expressed in his life, to the Lord Jesus and God as a priest and to the fellow believers as Levites.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Chronicles 23". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/1-chronicles-23.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.