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CRITICAL NOTES.] The courses of the porters (1 Chronicles 26:1-12); lots cast for gate-keepers (1 Chronicles 26:13-19); keepers of treasures (1 Chronicles 26:20-28); the officers and the judges (1 Chronicles 26:29-32).
1 Chronicles 26:1-12.—Divisions of the porters. On the importance of the office cf. chap. 1 Chronicles 9:17-27; 1 Chronicles 23:5. There were 4,000 (chap. 1 Chronicles 23:6), all from the families of Kohathites and Merarites (1 Chronicles 26:14), divided into twenty-four courses, as the priests and musicians. Mesh. Seven sons of whom mentioned (1 Chronicles 26:2); eighteen given in 1 Chronicles 26:9, which includes relatives. Another name given (1 Chronicles 26:14); probably alluded to in chap. 1 Chronicles 9:19. Asaph. Not of preceding chap. A Gershonite, probably the same as Ab. in Exodus 6:24; and Ebi, 1 Chronicles 6:37, an actual son of Korah. 1 Chronicles 26:4. Obed, a porter for time of fixing of ark in Jeremiah 15:21; Jeremiah 16:21. Blessed (cf. chap. 1 Chronicles 25:5; 2 Samuel 6:11-12). 1 Chronicles 26:6. Mighty. 1 Chronicles 26:7. Strong. The office of porters required physical strength to open and close ponderous gates, act as guard against theft and insurrection. 1 Chronicles 26:12. Chief men, overseers of the watch. Translate “to these divisions of the porters, principal men (use assigned) the watches, together with their brethren, for service in the house of the Lord,” i.e., the “chief men,” enumerated in 1 Chronicles 26:1-11, and amounting to no more than ninety-three, kept the watch and ward of the house, together with a further number of their brethren (4,000 are mentioned in chap. 1 Chronicles 23:5), who assisted them from time to time [Speak. Com.].
1 Chronicles 26:13-19.—Arrangements of porters. Lots, by which duties assigned to them as to the other Levites, and names of chiefs or captains given, with respective gates allotted to them. 1 Chronicles 26:15. Assupim, literally the house of collections (cf. Nehemiah 12:25); probably a storehouse for grain, wine, and offerings for sustenance of priests. 1 Chronicles 26:16. Shall, literally “the gate of projection,” the gate, i.e., through which were “thrown out” the sweepings of the temple, the ashes, the offal of the victims, and the like [Speak. Com.]. 1 Chronicles 26:16. Against ward. Watch opposite to watch. Hosah had two watches, western and the gate Shallecheth, hence kept one watch over against the other. 1 Chronicles 26:17. Six, because eastward gate most frequented. 1 Chronicles 26:18. Parbar must designate the space between the western wall of the temple building and the wall of the court, which would be a sort of “precinct” or “purlieu” of the temple. Here were two gates, at one of which two guards were stationed; while at the other, called Shallecheth, which gave upon the causeway, there were four. It is noticeable that in this whole account the Temple is spoken of as if it were existing, when it was not as yet built. We must suppose that David formed the whole plan of the Temple, and fixed the stations and numbers of the porters, though it was left for Solomon to carry his instructions out [Speak. Com.].
1 Chronicles 26:20-28.—Levites in charge of treasures. Ahijah, doubtful reading. The Scriptures give Aheyhem, “their brethren,” which is preferable, especially as there is no other mention of this A. [Speak. Com.]. Treasures, gifts and payments (Exodus 30:12; Numbers 18:16). Load. (chap. 1 Chronicles 6:17). Jehi. (1 Chronicles 26:22), the Jehielite. Jehiel gives name to the family, which accordingly includes his two brothers (1 Chronicles 23:8). Two of this family were the grand treasurers, under whom many of the Gershonites may have been employed [cf. Murphy]. 1 Chronicles 26:23. Of or for the four houses of Kohathites, a kind of preface to rest of the chapter. Ruler (1 Chronicles 26:24), chief custodian. 1 Chronicles 26:26. Dedicated, for service. 1 Chronicles 26:28. Hand, in the care of Shel.
1 Chronicles 26:29-32.—The officers and judges. Officers, ceribes or secretaries; magistrates who, attended by their clerks, exercised judicial functions. Outward, the people’s private and public affairs, contrasted with functions of sacred worship. “There were 6,000 (chap. 1 Chronicles 2:3-4) of them, who probably acted like their brethren on the principle of rotation, and these were divided into three classes—one (1 Chronicles 26:29) for the outward business over Israel; one (1 Chronicles 26:30), consisting of 1,700, for the rest of Jordan, ‘in all the business and in the service of the king’; and the third (1 Chronicles 26:31-32), consisting of 2,700, were rulers ‘for every matter pertaining to God, and affairs of the king’ ” [Jamieson], i.e., superintended religious matters and the interests of the king.
PORTERS AT THE DOORS.—1 Chronicles 26:1-19
Porters not like burden-bearers of modern times, but gate-keepers with special duties and responsibilities (Latin portarius, the man who attends the porta).
I. Their special qualifications. An office of considerable dignity, and only conferred upon men of first rank. More desirable than a courtier’s position in a worldly palace. “I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, &c.” (Psalms 84:10).
1. Physical strength. “Strong men” (1 Chronicles 26:7); “able men” (1 Chronicles 26:8). To open and shut heavy gates, ward off attacks, and quell insurrection, to exclude intruders and unclean, and to guard against thieves and robbers. In some respects the office military. They were the soldiers of Jehovah and guards of the temple.
2. Patient in spirit. To direct the worshippers, to instruct, to encourage the timid, and continue watch night and day (Deuteronomy 10:10; Leviticus 8:35; Psalms 134:2). “A man called ‘The Man of the Mountain of the House’ went round every night to see that all were in their places, and that none of them slept. If he found any one asleep he struck him, and had liberty to burn his clothes. To this Lightfoot thinks there is a reference in Revelation 16:16 : ‘Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments.’ ”
3. Fixed in number. No less than 4,000 mentioned, a given number at each door, relieved by others at a certain time. How the number of porters were distributed under 25 chiefs or the 93 captains not informed.
II. Their peculiar mode of appointment. “They cast lots” as usual. The lot for sacred purposes sanctioned by divine authority (Leviticus 16:8; Numbers 26:55; 1 Samuel 14:41; Proverbs 16:33), and continued until the time of our Lord (Luke 1:9). Among the heathen often used in choice of a champion or priority in combat; in the decision of fate in war; and in the appointment of magistrates, jurymen, and other functionaries. It appears to be a solemn appeal to an omniscient God, and teaches that things apparently accidental are under his control. “What is chance to man, is the appointment of God,” says one. “He hath cast the lot for them, and his hand hath divided it unto them by line.”
THE BLESSING OF OBEDEDOM.—1 Chronicles 26:5
“God blessed him,” a short, suggestive phrase connecting past history with present condition, and giving an insight into Obededom’s history and God’s providence. Learn—
I. That God will honour signal service. Everything in material creation is made to serve; no insect, element, or atom created for itself. Man is made to serve. Wealth, social elevation, and privilege put him under greater obligation. Our aim should be to do our duty, that God may lead us to higher and nobler work. Caleb, Phineas, and Obededom distinguished for service and honour.
1. Honour is given naturally for service. In war, commerce, and legislation, men are promoted, knighted, and made peers of the realm. “Whoso keepeth the fig-tree shall eat the fruit thereof (by natural law, through diligent cultivation); so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured” (Proverbs 27:18).
2. Honour is given providentially. “He that waiteth faithfully on his Divine master shall be honoured.” Joseph, Nehemiah, and Daniel “stood before kings and not mean men.” “If any man serve me, him will my Father honour;” honour with his friendship and presence on earth, and at length approved before an assembled universe, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
II. That signal service thus rewarded is commended to our notice. “Honourable mention” often found in Scripture.
1. That we may discern the goodness of God. The smallest service, even a cup of cold water, not overlooked. He is gracious, accepts and crowns our service for him. “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love.”
2. That we may imitate the example. We may not be in the same circumstances and able to do the same things, but we may cherish the same spirit and copy their example. “Nobleness of condition,” says Dr. Chalmers, “is not essential as a school for nobleness of character. It is delightful to think that humble life may be just as rich in moral grace and moral grandeur as the loftiest places in society; that as true dignity of principle may be earned by him who in homeliest drudgery plies his conscientious task, as by him who stands entrusted with the fortunes of an empire.”
“Howe’er it be, it seems to me,
’Tis only noble to be good;
Kind hearts are more than coronets,
And simple faith than Norman blood” [Tennyson].
GUARDS OF THE STORES TYPES OF CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS.—1 Chronicles 26:20-28
Temple watch a warfare. Two grand keepers of stores—one to maintain officers and services, the other for things consecrated to the building, “in the house of God.” Many assisted, as a kind of brotherhood, in the use and defence of treasures. This service a type of Christian warfare. I. In the acquisition of the treasure. Much of it “spoils won in battles,” taken from the enemy, therefore gained by courage, strength, and conflict. The treasures of Christian experience, the privileges of the Christian Church, and the advance of Christian missions only acquired through conflict. II. In the defence of the treasure. Religion in the soul, God’s kingdom in the world must be kept or maintained by fighting. Warfare is constant, enemies attack, temptations surround. The battle not yet over, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” III. In the use of the treasure. Ancient trophies were hung up in heathen temples. Plunder was divided, and priests had influence to procure the gods certain offerings and acceptable presents. Our “spoils” gained through God, and must be dedicated to him. Samuel, Saul, Abner, and Joab had collected treasures which David now consecrated to the highest purpose, “to maintain the house of the Lord.” Our gold and silver, time and strength, trophies gained over sin, Satan, and the world, all laid at the Saviour’s feet. Abraham gave Melchisedec the spoils, and the victorious officers presented their “oblation to the Lord” (Numbers 31:50).
THE OFFICERS AND JUDGES.—1 Chronicles 26:29-32
Three separate lists presented doorkeepers, treasure-keepers, and rulers of civil affairs, or “outward business over Israel.” Doorkeepers were Korahites and Merarites, to whom belonged Obededom and his descendants. The treasures of God’s house under the charge of Gershonite branches; the dedicated things under a branch of Kohathites. The service “of scribes and judges” was committed to the Izarites, along with Chenaniah (1 Chronicles 26:29). Notice—
I. The Character of their Office. There are two departments.
1. The judges administered the law. Singers, porters, and Levites employed in the service of the sanctuary were not concerned in this business. One department enough to fill and understand. Pray not for enlargement of your sphere, but for ability to fill it.
2. The officers collected the revenue. Managed “God’s tithes and the king’s taxes.” Thus city and country, Jehovah and the king were cared for, idolatry and injustice avoided, civil and sacred interests interwoven and advanced.
II. The period in which they held office. “In the fortieth year of the reign of David” (1 Chronicles 26:31), the last year of his reign. He felt the end approaching, and arranged the orders of the sanctuary. We should diligently improve our time, and if we do not reap the fruit of our labours, let us not grudge it to our successors.
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
1 Chronicles 26:5. Blessing of Obed. I. What it consists of.
1. Family increase. A large family of eight sons, descendants of whom he might be proud.
2. Family honour. His sons exalted to places of trust in the sanctuary. A great blessing to have children eminent in the service of God.
3. Family reputation. Held in great repute for conduct and character. “The memory of the just is blessed.” II. How it is gained. Not by wealth and worldly influence.
1. By a right mind. Obed, was willing, very ready to take the ark when all others were afraid. When the heart is right before God, we shall be eager to render any help.
2. By right action. This springs from genuine affection. The mind has its own thoughts and actings. These anterior to all outward acts. Hence the saying, “Think before you act.” “For as he thinketh in his heart so is he.”
1 Chronicles 26:10. A father’s favourite. Simri made chief, not by right of primogeniture, but in office. If the firstborn, that is, the issue of the firstborn had failed: we learn “the vicissitudes of families,” the uncertain tenure of earthly fame and fortune. But very likely he was better qualified for office than his elder brother. His father saw in him eminent qualifications. What differences in the same family! How anxious parents are to possess and promote clever children!
1 Chronicles 26:14. A wise counsellor. Lit. a giver of counsel with wisdom—a high commendation. Many have counsel, but no wisdom. Many give counsel, but not wisely. Zechariah, a wise man, equal to his father and held a chief place.
1. The service of God requires wise men.
2. God in his providence raises up wise men. Hence,
3. This service is wisely and efficiently carried on in all ages.
1 Chronicles 26:20-28. Ministers stewards in God’s house. “Allowed to be put in trust.” Hence responsibility and honour; requiring piety, administrative ability, and faithfulness. “Stewards of the mysteries of God.” Not depositories, nor owners, but dispensers (“rightly dividing” or dispensing) the word to others. “Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful” (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2). The treasury of God’s house.
1. Its origin. As far back as the time of Samuel its foundations laid (1 Chronicles 26:28); such had been once established under Joshua (1 Chronicles 6:24); but soon exhausted and not heard of under later judges until Samuel.
2. Its object. “To maintain the house of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 26:27) in its services and its officials. The Heb. means to strengthen, not the outward building merely, but to help its servants, encourage its efforts, and build up its worshippers.
3. The necessity of its replenishment. The more God gives to us the more we should devote to him. Great success in business, great “spoils” in war, call for proportionate returns. Church revenues ever needed. “The Lord’s position” should never be forgotten.
1 Chronicles 26:29-32. The two spheres of Christian service.
1. They are distinguished from one another. Civil and religious affairs, Church and State not opposed to one another, but entirely distinct. One concerns earthly, and the other heavenly affairs in nature and purpose. “My kingdom is not of this world.”
2. They are intimately related one to another. The Church may help and intone the State, but the State should never control nor oppose the Church. “It would certainly be ruinous to true religion,” says A. Clarke, “to make the State dependent on the Church; nor should the Church be dependent on the State. Let them mutually support each other; and let the State rule by the laws, and the Church live by the Bible.”
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 26
1 Chronicles 26:1-19. Porters. Five things are requisite to a good officer—ability, clean hands, despatch, patience, and impartiality [W. Penn]. Divisions. One man perhaps proves miserable in the study of the law, who might have flourished in that of physic or divinity; another runs his head against the pulpit, who might have been serviceable to his country at the plough; and the third proves a very dull and heavy philosopher, who possibly would have made a good mechanic, and have done well enough at the useful philosophy of the spade or anvil [South].
1 Chronicles 26:27. Spoils. There was a dispute in the army of Mohammed between young men who had fought and old who had stayed under the ensigns. Mohammed pretended to have received orders from heaven to divide the booty. This the origin of ch. 8 in The Koran, “entitled the Spoils, revealed at Medina,” beginning thus, “They will ask thee concerning the spoils. Answer, The division of the spoils belongeth unto God and the apostle” [cf. Ed. by Geo. Sale]. It was customary among the Romans, when entering upon war, to promise some part of their prey to their deities. There was a temple at Rome dedicated to Jupiter Prædator, because a part of the prey was due to him [cf. A. Clarke in loco].
1 Chronicles 26:29. Officers. The curious fact comes out in all the arrangements that office was hereditary. The heads of the different departments are named after the heads of the families employed in them. All that David seems to have done was to restore and regulate a system that had been organised at the first settlement of the nation. In this respect it presents a striking contrast to our modern customs [Murphy].
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 26". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19