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1 Chronicles 16:1-3
These three verses rather belong to the close of the last chapter, and they carry on the parallel of 2 Samuel 6:1-23. in its 2 Samuel 6:17-19.
1 Chronicles 16:1
In the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it. So 1 Chronicles 15:1 distinctly states that David had "pitched a tent" for the ark, and evidently to be ready for its arrival. On the other hand, there is no mention of any such tent having been got in readiness in 1 Chronicles 13:1-14. or in 2 Samuel 6:1-11, which give the account of the attempt that disastrously failed. The expressions which are there used would rather lead to the conclusion that David's intention was to take the sacred structure into his own home (2 Samuel 6:9, 2Sa 6:10; 1 Chronicles 13:12, 1 Chronicles 13:13), for a while, at all events. The אֹהֶל (tent) of the original designates, when Intended strictly, a haircloth covering, resting on poles or planks (Exodus 26:7, Exodus 26:11; Exodus 36:14, Exodus 36:19). The first occasion of the use of the word is found in Genesis 4:20. The סֻכָּח (booth) was made of leaves and branches interwoven (Leviticus 23:34, Leviticus 23:40; 42; Deuteronomy 16:13). The מִשְׁכָּן (tabernacle) was the dwelling-place or pavilion, which owned to the ten inner curtains as well as the outer covering and the framework (Exodus 25:9; Exodus 26:1, Exodus 26:12-15, etc.; Exodus 39:32; Exodus 40:2, Exodus 40:29). The first occurrence of this word is in the first of these last-quoted references. Burnt sacrifices and peace offerings. The identical words of 2 Samuel 6:17, 2 Samuel 6:18, where the Authorized Version translates "burnt offerings and peace offerings." These were the two great sacrifices—the former speaking of atonement (Le 2 Samuel 1:3-9, etc.), the latter of reconciliation effected and the enjoyment of peace (Le 2 Samuel 3:1-5, etc.). Neither here nor in the parallel place is any mention made of the altar upon which these sacrifices were offered.
1 Chronicles 16:2
He blessed the people in the name of the Lord; i.e. reverently in the Name of the Lord, and as vividly conscious of being in his presence, he pronounces blessings upon the people, and by short ejaculatory prayer and holy wish further begs for them those blessings which God only can give. In the time of David and Solomon (1 Kings 8:14) the king realized far more closely the idea of the paternal relation to the people than had ever been since the time of the patriarchs of the elder days.
1 Chronicles 16:3
Each little clause of this verse is replete with interest. The royal giver, who now dealt to every one of Israel, was, after all, but a channel; yes, and only one channel, through which the fulness and the bounty of the royal Giver of every good and perfect gift, of all good whatsoever, of all things necessary to life and godliness, are supplied to every one of his creature-subjects. But it is highest honour, as servant and instrument alone, to figure forth him in any way. The second little clause tells us either that women took a recognized place on occasion of this joyous festival, or that the hospitality of such an occasion did not forget them and their homes. And the following three little clauses require closer examination. The word here translated "loaf" in the expression loaf of bread is כִּכַּר, for which in this sense we may turn to Exodus 29:23; Judges 8:5; 1 Samuel 2:36; 1 Samuel 10:3; Proverbs 6:26; Jeremiah 37:21. The corresponding word, however, in the parallel place is חַלַח (for which see Exodus 29:2, Exodus 29:23; Le Exodus 2:4; Exodus 7:12, Exodus 7:13; Exodus 8:26; Exodus 24:5; Numbers 6:15, Numbers 6:19; Numbers 15:20). The essential meaning of the former word is a circle, hence applied to the cake because of its shape, and of the latter word perforation, hence applied to the cake because it was perforated. A good piece of flesh. This is the Authorized Version rendering of אֶשְׁפָּר, which occurs only in the parallel place and here. The Vulgate translates assatura bubulae carnis; the Septuagint, ἐσχαρίτη. The imagined derivation of the word from פָּר (ox) and אֵשׁ (fire), or from שָׁפַד (to burn), seems to be what has led to these translations, helped, perhaps, by the apparent convenience of adapting meat from the sacrifice to the bread. But Gesenius, Rodiger, Keil, and others prefer the derivation שָׁפַר (to measure), and they would render "a measure" of wine. And a flagon. This is the Authorized Version rendering of the original אֲשִׁישָׁה, found in the parallel place as well as here, and also in the only other places (two in number, and in the plural) where it occurs (Song of Solomon 2:5; Hosea 3:1). But there is no doubt, or but little, that the rendering should rather be "dried, pressed cakes of raisins or grapes." It is then to be derived from the root אָשַׁשׁ (to press). The substantive has both masculine and feminine form in plural. The Vulgate translates similam frixam oleo, which means a "baked cake of flour and oil;" and the Septuagint, λάγανον ἀπὸ τηγάνου in the parallel places. But here the Septuagint reads ἄρτον ἐ͂να ἀρτοκοπικὸν καὶ ἀμορίτην as the whole account of the loaf, the good piece of flesh, and the flagon.
1 Chronicles 16:4-7
These verses contain a statement of the arrangement David made of a more permanent nature, but to date from this commencement, for the service of thanksgiving by the Levites.
1 Chronicles 16:4
To minister; i.e. to officiate, as we should say, in the service before the ark. The verse seems to describe what should be the essence of that service. It was threefold—to record, to thank, and to praise the Lord God of Israel. The word here used for "record" is the Hiph. of זָכַר (to remember), and is remarked upon by Gesenius as a title strictly appropriate to the character of the two Psalms 38:0. and 70; on the head of which it stands, as meaning, "to make others remember" (see also such passages as Exodus 20:24; 2Sa 8:16; 2 Samuel 18:18; 2 Samuel 20:24; Isaiah 43:26; Isaiah 63:7). The minds of the people were to be refreshed in this service and in their very psalm of praise (so note in this sense 1 Chronicles 16:8, 1Ch 16:9, 1 Chronicles 16:12, 1 Chronicles 16:21, etc.), by being reminded or told, so far as the youngest of them might be concerned, of God's marvellous and merciful deeds for their forefathers of many, many a generation. Then they were to give intelligent and hearty thanks. And, lastly, they were to offer to approach that purest form of worship which consists in adoring praise. One might imagine with what zest they would have accepted, with what fervour they would have added lip and instrument of music to it—that one verse which needed the revolution yet of nearly another three thousand years, that it might flow from the devotion or' Addison.
"When all thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view I'm lost
In wonder, love, and praise."
1 Chronicles 16:5
Obed-edom. No colon should follow this name. And the first time of the occurrence of the name Jeiel in this verse should probably have shown the Jaaziel of 1 Chronicles 15:18. The contents of this verse put us, then, into possession of this much, that Asaph presided (1 Chronicles 6:39) at this musical service, and that his instrument was the cymbals (1 Chronicles 15:19), with which time was kept; that Zechariah was next to him, and, with eight others formed a band, who played on psalteries (or lutes) and harps. If we may guide ourselves by verse 20, 21 of the preceding chapter, three of these—viz. Mattithia, Jeiel, Obed-edom—performed on the harp, the other six on the psaltery, or lute.
1 Chronicles 16:6
Jahaziel. Probably the Eliezer, who in 1 Chronicles 15:24 is coupled as priest with Benaiah, should stand in the place of this name or else vice versa.
1 Chronicles 16:7
The rendering should run, On that day did David first commit to the hand of Asaph and his brethren to render praises to Jehovah; i.e. after the following manner and words. The word first marks the solemn establishment of set public worship in the metropolis.
1 Chronicles 16:8-36
These verses, then, provide the form of praise which David wished to be used on this, and probably in grateful repetition on some succeeding occasions. David makes selections from four psalms already known; for it cannot be supposed that the verses we have hero were the original, and that they were afterwards supplemented. The first fifteen verses (viz. 8-22) are from Psalms 105:1-15. The next eleven verses (23-33) are from Psalms 96:1-13; but a small portion of the first and last of these verses is omitted. Our thirty-fourth verso is identical with Psalm evil. 1; Psalms 118:1; Psalms 136:1; and forms the larger part of Psalms 106:1. It is, in fact, a doxology. And our thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth verses consist of a short responsive ("and say ye") invocation, followed by another doxology. These are taken from Psalms 106:47, Psalms 106:48. Hereupon "all the people" are directed to find the final outburst of praise to Jehovah, and "Amen." In the first of these selections (Psalms 106:8-23) there is no material variation from the language of the psalm itself. Yet the original psalm has Abraham, where our own thirteenth verse reads Israel. And the original psalm uses the third person, where our fifteenth and nineteenth verses have the second person. In the second selection it is worthy of note that our Psalms 106:29, "Come before him," probably preserves the ante-temple reading, while Psalms 96:8 was afterwards, to fit temple times, altered into, "Come into his courts." The arrangement of all the succeeding clauses does not exactly agree with the arrangement of them found in the psalm, as for instance in the latter half of our verse 30 and in verse 31, compared with the clauses of Psalms 96:10,Psalms 96:11 of the psalm. Again, one clause of the tenth verse of the psalm, "He shall judge the people righteously," is not found in either alternative position open to it through the inversion of clauses, in our verses 80, 81. The rhythm and metre of the psalm are, however, equally unexceptionable. The whole of the twenty-nine verses of this Psalm of praise (Psa 96:8 -36 inclusive) are divided into portions of three verses each, except the portion verses 23-27 inclusive which consists of five verses. As regards the matter of it, it may be remarked on as breaking into two parts, in the first of which (Psa 96:8 -22) the people are reminded of their past history anti of the marvellous providence which had governed their career from Abraham to the time they were settled in Canaan, but in the second (verses 23-36) their thought is enlarged, their sympathies immensely widened, so as to include all the world, and their view is borne on to the momentous reality of judgment.
1 Chronicles 16:8-10
These verses are an animated invocation to thanks and praise.
1 Chronicles 16:11-14
The call to thanksgiving and to the praise of adoration is nosy in these verses suceeded by an earnest admonition to practical seeking of the Lord, and mindful obedience to him.
1 Chronicles 16:14-22
These verses rehearse the ancient and blissful covenant which had made Israel so to differ. These are called mine anointed… my prophets, in harmony with what we read in the splendid passage, Exodus 19:3-6. The substitution in our Exodus 19:15, Exodus 19:19 of the second person pronoun plural, in place of the third person of the psalm, helps speak the reality of this occasion and its dramatic correctness. The literal original of our Authorized Version in Exodus 19:19, but few, even a few, is, men of number, i.e. men who could easily be numbered.
1 Chronicles 16:23-36
The grandeur and unusual comprehensiveness of the adoration and homage here proclaimed, as to be offered to the omnipotent Ruler of all nations, should be well pondered. Our eye and ear may have become too familiar with it, but when put a little into relief, and referred to its original time of day, it is fit to be ranked among the strongest moral evidences of inspiration in the word and the speaker.
1 Chronicles 16:23
This verse is composed of the latter half of each of the first two verses of the psalm (96.).
1 Chronicles 16:34-36
These verses, from the first, forty-seventh, and forty-eighth of Psalms 106:1-48, must have suggested the sad intermediate contents of that psalm, the significant key-note of which is sounded in our thirty-fifth verse. The suggestion in the midst of the unbounded gladness of this day is affecting, and must have been intended for salutary lesson and timely warning. In the midst of the fulness of praise and joy, the people are led to prayer—say ye—and the prayer is an humble petition for salvation, union, and protection from every enemy. God's treatment of his anointed people had been on his part one continued protection and one prolonged salvation. Yet they had often neither prayed for these nor acknowledged them. Now they are led again by the hand, as it were, to the footstool of the throne.
1 Chronicles 16:37-43
These verses give the now new-ordained distribution of priests and Levites, to minister and to attend to the service of praise before the ark. And the first of them may be considered to mark an important step in advance in the crystallizing of the world's ecclesiastical institutions. Asaph and his brethren of song are left there before the ark of the covenant… to minister before the ark continually, as every day's work required. A permanent local ministry and choir are thus established, with a fixity of place on Zion, and regularity of time that had been hitherto unattainable.
1 Chronicles 16:38
Obed-edom with their brethren. Explanation is needed of the plural pronoun "their." Either another name is wanted with Obed-edom, or tacit reference is made to "Asaph and his brethren," as though the name Asaph had not been followed in its own place by the clause "and his brethren." Keil draws attention to the "three score and two" of 1 Chronicles 26:8, in connection with the three score and eight of this place; and it has been proposed to make up this number by some of the sons of Hosah, of our following verse and of 1 Chronicles 26:11. In this case the name Hesah might be the name missing before, "and their brethren." Conjecture, however, has not sufficient clue here to warrant it, and the textual state of this verse must be debited with the obscurity. The ambiguity respecting the name Obed-edom has already (1 Chronicles 13:14) been alluded to. Neglecting this ambiguity, it may be repeated that Obed-edom,… son of Jedithun (as the Keri of this passage is) was a Merarite Levite, while Obed-edom son of Jeduthun (1 Chronicles 15:25) was of Gath-rimmon, a Gittite (2 Samuel 6:10-12; Joshua 21:24), a Kohathite (1 Chronicles 6:66, 1 Chronicles 6:69), and a Korhite (1 Chronicles 26:1-5).
1 Chronicles 16:39
While those above-mentioned were to officiate before the ark on Zion, those mentioned in this and following verses are the officiating staff at Gibson. It is now brought into prominence that the ark and the tabernacle are in two separate places. The great ordinary sacrifices and services, "all that is written in the Law of the Lord," are carefully observed on the original altar (Exodus 38:2) in the tabernacle. Other and special sacrifices evidently were offered in the presence of the ark. The tabernacle erected in the wilderness was first stationed at Shiloh (Joshua 18:1; 1 Samuel 4:3, 1 Samuel 4:4). The occasion of its removal to Nob (1 Samuel 21:1; 1 Samuel 22:19) is not narrated. The present passage first tells us where it had been since the slaughter of the priests at Saul's command by Doeg the Edomite. Some distinct statement, like that of 1 Chronicles 21:29 and 2 Chronicles 1:3, might have been expected here. Zadok the priest is given (1 Chronicles 6:4-9) as in the line of Eleazar.
1 Chronicles 16:40
To offer burnt offerings; i.e. the customary morning and evening sacrifices.
1 Chronicles 16:41, 1 Chronicles 16:42
Comparing these verses with 1 Chronicles 16:4-6 and 1 Chronicles 16:37-40, it may be supposed that we are intended to understand that of all who were set apart and who had been expressed by name (as e.g. 1 Chronicles 15:4-24), some were now formally appointed to serve before the ark, and some in the tabernacle at Gibeon. The confusion existing in these verses by the repetition of the preposition with, and the proper names Heman and Jeduthun, betrays some corruptness of text. The Septuagint does not show them in the latter verse. The sons of Jeduthun are found in 1 Chronicles 25:3.
1 Chronicles 16:43
(See 2Sa 6:19, 2 Samuel 6:20.)
1 Chronicles 16:1-43 -The inaugural services on Zion's height, typical.
The greater part of the contents of this chapter must be viewed as borrowed matter—the appropriating of portions of sacred songs or psalms which already existed, to this individual occasion. The stricter homiletic treatment, therefore, of our 1 Chronicles 16:7-36 may be better found in the portions of the psalms concerned, in their own proper place. But there are some larger aspects offered by the matter of this chapter, which may be appropriately considered in this place. And we may notice —
I. FIRST OF ALL, THE GATHERING FORCE OF RELIGION. It has indeed already gathered such force as to conquer for itself the place which it holds on this great day of David. To this it has grown since the day of Seth and Enos, when we read of it thus, "Then began men to call on the Name of the Lord" (Genesis 4:26). And though true it is that we may not critically make any great doctrine or argument depend on the uncertain exegesis of that one sentence, yet we know that the facts, so far as we require them now, were not distant from what the sentence says. The religion of mankind then, where existent at all, was the pure, individual, essential principle, Heaven-given and reigning in the hearts of a very few—this still and evermore of necessity its essence. Then, however, when men could be numbered only by the score, it was manifestly impossible for religion to exhibit the "effects n which it does in the time of David. Nay, of ages afterwards it were, of course, true to say the same thing, and to add this also, that when, so far as numbers were concerned, it became possible, still it did not become fact. Through all these ages, however, with all receding tides, and notwithstanding some extraordinary checks, religion never became utterly lost to sight. Once during those ages it showed a number not. exceeding eight, another time not fewer than seven thousand, and, for the most part, what the number was, greater or less, God only knew—he alone could say. Yet through good report and ill, through good times and bad, it was acquiring strength unmeasured and immeasurable. It was insisting on its own vitality; it was proving the courage of its convictions; its tone was of no uncertain kind; its mien was ever of the undaunted. In patriarchal succession of families, what pungent lessons religion many a time taught and made itself known thereby! In Egyptian times, amid temptation and snare, what various knowledge and determination it was maturing! In the wilderness, how carefully by form, by sacrifice, by sign, by judgment, it was shaping individual and national life. Amid the dangers and the glories of the people's settlement in the land of promise, amid the achievements of judges and leaders and captains, and the multitudinous strifes of little kings, its pronounced voice spoke the word and it was done, or, if the voice was silent, the people were undone. All this time, measurable only by thousands of years, it was betraying its existence, indicating its nature, betokening a large store of sleeping strength, and anything but seeming to exhaust or to strain its own energy. But now the principle of religion seems to have burst into full life. Its many and outspreading branches hang down with ripe and golden fruit. Now it is the light and life, the joy and strength, the reverence and pride of a whole nation, from the highest to the lowest. All business, all pleasure, all other thought or care, stand still to look, or throng to join in a scene festive of festivity itself. The day itself is ablaze, not with the ordinary light and heat of a splendid sun over Zion's heights, but with the service and joy of religion in a hundred thousand hearts—in "Jerusalem and all Judea," but culminating in Zion. And it is all because "In Judah God is known, his Name great in Israel In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling-place in Zion." Blessed glimpse of what it will be for this world, when "God shall all renew," and the joy become universal.
II. THE ATTAINMENT OF A CONSPICUOUS AND FIXED HOME FOR RELIGION. Though the world of mankind is some three thousand years old, religion had been as yet but a wayfarer. It had never deserted men. Its spirit had influenced, guided, ruled their spirit; it had consoled their sorrows, heightened their joys ten thousand separate times; but it has not yet had an honoured dwelling-place, a worthy throne, a fixed home. To this it has now come, and to this it has been brought up by the willing enthusiasm of king and prophet, priest and people. There can be no doubt that its local habitation exposes it to some danger, to some misunderstanding. The long process of ages has been undoing, is still undoing the danger, correcting the misunderstanding. The city then emphatically set on a hill has never been hidden. Ten thousand others, the spiritual copies of it, have taken its name upon them, and have helped thereby to prove practically that Zion's glory that day did not foreshadow the exclusiveness of an individual place, but only the sure foundation and settled firmness of God's own Church, and its exalted, commanding prominence. The typical lessons, therefore, of the day on which David fixed the symbols and the services and the servants of a true, revealed religion on Zion are not to the effect that religion itself is anything less than a pure, silent, but mighty principle in the heart, but rather that it is to be the avowed, conspicuous, and abiding principle of the life, and of the life of all. The distribution of religion is emphatically not to be partial. The influences of it am emphatically not to be intelligible only to an initiated few. The force of it is emphatically not to expend itself invisibly, and exhaust itself according to individual fickleness or frailty. It is to state its character, its quality, its very nature before all the world, and under the blaze of publicity itself—a testimony for or against every man to the eye or ear of whom it has become proclaimed. And in spite of one or two temporary and superficial appearances to the contrary, these were the truths which that day was proffering to teach. For a while, perhaps, it was "Zion's height alone;" some thought it was to be always "Zion's height alone;" but faithful history and imperious necessity have proved the contrary, and have proved that to have been never meant,
"Not now on Zion's height alone
Thy favoured worshipper may dwell.
* * * * * *
"To thee, at last, in every clime
Shall temples rise and praise be sung."
III. THE ELEMENTS OF THE RELIGIOUS JOY OF A NATION'S GRANDEST FESTIVAL. These are certainly not obscurely told here. They consist in thanks for all that is, and adoring praise for him, from whom all good is. The mind and memory have been stirred up, and from their depth and their breadth come the testimonials of his boundless compassion, mighty deliverance, tenderest mercy, good gift and grace. The heart knows the meaning, and, though often too insensible, now owns the joy. Happy is that teacher of religion who, with Divine help and the Divine Spirit, can make the mind and memory do this, some of their highest and most fruitful work. He will be a useful teacher, preacher, pastor, guide of souls. Angels very likely may spring at once to adoration's highest reach and strain direct. But we are permitted to rise thither through the appeal to our nature of gratitude. The religious service and language of this day is the reiteration of appeal to give thanks, while the ground for doing so is simply and impressively told. This mingles a vein of pathos, of confession, of dependent prayer; and then acclamation and the praise not of thanksgiving, but of adoration, fill every heart and tongue. Such is the worship for such as we have been, when we get above. Such are the songs of heaven and its temple. Such the joy of each and of all, who there recount with the fulness of gratitude dangers past, sin forgiven, guilt cleansed away, salvation freely given, till the enraptured soul is lost in adoration and "glories in the praise" of Jehovah.
HOMILIES BY J.R. THOMSON
1 Chronicles 16:2-Sacrifice and blessing.
The manner in which David celebrated the reception of the ark into its appointed tent on the height of his city was thoroughly characteristic. He acted as a king, and as a kind of royal mediator between the God of heaven and the chosen people Israel.
I. HE BLESSED THE LORD IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE. For this was certainly the significance of the sacrifices, burnt offerings, and peace offerings. In offering them, the king was publicly acknowledging the authority of the supreme Lord, was publicly adoring and praising him as the God of the nation, and was publicly seeking his favour and countenance. Not that David offered these sacrifices with his own hands. What he did by means of the priests, whom he directed, he is represented as doing himself. It was a high day, a solemn and joyful festivity; and it was becoming that the Lord should be recognized, sought, and praised.
II. HE BLESSED THE PEOPLE IN THE NAME OF THE LORD. Probably he pronounced a solemn benediction, invoking the gracious regard of the God of Israel upon the chosen nation. With the ark of the covenant in their possession, in the midst of their metropolis, the people might well be encouraged to rejoice in the presence and favour of him who is ever the Source of all good. It is a proof of David's policy that he took this opportunity of feasting the assembled multitudes. This would no doubt create a favourable impression upon all minds. Their spiritual privileges, and their happiness in having a king so considerate and liberal as David to reign over them, would be associated in their minds. They would connect their religion and their loyalty together, and would cherish happy recollections of the solemnities of the day.—T.
1 Chronicles 16:4-Ministerial service.
Although the Levites were set apart for the service of the Lord's house, even from the days of Moses, it is certain that the Levitical services were more fully organized by David, and that from his time there was more of system and more of efficiency in their ministrations. There is so marked a difference between the Jewish Church and the Christian Church, that we can only apply the general principles of the former to the latter. Yet the text may well suggest to us that —
I. PUBLIC WORSHIP HAS SCRIPTURAL AUTHORITY. Worship, to be acceptable, must be from the heart. But out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak. It is natural and appropriate that the sentiments and desires of the soul should find a vocal utterance; and it is also natural and appropriate that those who have the same tribute to offer should join together and offer it in common. The Book of the Acts in the New Testament sanctions such worship equally with these Books of Chronicles in the Old.
II. PUBLIC WORSHIP SHOULD CONSIST LARGELY OF THANKSGIVING AND PRAISE. According to the text, the Levites recorded and celebrated the glorious deeds of the Most High, adored his attributes, gave thanks for his forgiving mercy, his bounty, and loving-kindness. We do not want less prayer in our congregations, but we do want more praise. "His mercy endureth for ever;" and while his mercy endures his praises should not cease.
III. PUBLIC WORSHIP SHOULD BE LED BY APPOINTED MINISTERS. Common sense may teach us so much. If praise is to be sung, some musical leaders must conduct it. If the Scriptures are to be read, some human voice must read them. If prayer is to be offered, some one must pour forth the language of petition, in which others may join, whether silently or audibly. If the gospel is to be heard by men, "how shall they hear without a preacher?" Scripture precedents abound for ministerial service.
IV. While public worship must be properly conducted, IT MUST NOT BE DELEGATED ANY FUNCTIONARIES OR OFFICIALS, WHOSE SERVICES MAY BE SUBSTITUTED FOR THAT OF THE PEOPLE. Levites under the old dispensation, pastors and teachers under the new, may aid the devotions of the people, but their offering cannot be accepted in the place of what God requires—a song, a prayer, from every heart. "Praise the Lord, all ye people!" The Christian Church admits of no exclusive priesthood; all Christians are priests unto God the Father, inasmuch as all offer to him sacrifices of willing obedience and grateful praise.
1. A rebuke to the ungrateful and undevout, who, whilst they daily receive God's mercies, acknowledge not the Giver.
2. A rebuke to the formal and ceremonial, who excuse themselves from offering sacrifices of praise on the ground that this "religious duty" is fulfilled by appointed officials.
3. A reminder and summons, to which all sincere Christians will do well to take heed. Some spiritual ministry and service may be fulfilled by every Christian; and it is a high honour to be permitted to lead the praises and the supplications of the people of the Lord.—T.
1 Chronicles 16:7-36 -A psalm.
When the king had organized a choir of musicians, had provided them with their instruments, had assigned them their duties and their maintenance, it remained for him to decide what they were to sing. He was himself "the sweet psalmist of Israel." It is difficult for us to imagine what psalmody must have been before the time of David. It is a grand vocation—that of putting words of praise into the lips of worshippers. And it was a glorious burst of sacred song which pealed from the heights of Jerusalem when the sublime odes of David were first rolled to heaven upon the wings of the wind. What a revelation of God, what an inspiration for man, what new life to the world, when the psalms were first wrought into shape by the glowing heart and the glorious eloquence of David! The later Levitical psalms are perhaps more reflective and elaborate, but those composed by the lyrical sovereign of Israel have at once the simplest piety, the profoundest feeling, and the most vigorous eloquence. The occasion of the composition, or, at all events, the first public rendering of David's odes, was one worthy of such efforts. When the ark found a resting-place in the city of David, when Jerusalem was consecrated by the public and regal recognition of the Divine Law, when the Levites solemnly addressed Jehovah in the name of Israel,—then this magnificent psalm was sung, now in melodious recitative, and again in resounding chorus, to the accompaniment of cymbal, of trumpet, and of harp. It was a fitting inauguration of a series of sublime solemnities. When we examine the structure of the psalm, we are surprised and filled with admiration at the appropriateness, the beauty, the comprehensiveness of the composition. The psalm, as it is recorded in this place, agrees with what we find in the hundred and fifth, ninety-sixth, hundred and seventh, and hundred and sixth psalms. Taken as we here find it, it contains —
I. AN ADMONITION AND SUMMONS TO PRAISE THE LORD. This is addressed to nature (1 Chronicles 16:30-33), to mankind in general (veres 28), especially to Israel (1 Chronicles 16:13).
II. A RECORD OF GOD'S GOODNESS. And this both to the patriarchs (1 Chronicles 16:15-18), and to Israel as a nation, to whom that goodness had been displayed in the most critical period of their history (1 Chronicles 16:19-22).
III. PRAISE OF GOD'S ATTRIBUTES AND CHARACTER. (1Ch 16:24-29, 1 Chronicles 16:34.) Never had these been so devoutly and at the same time so poetically celebrated as now and here.
IV. PRAYER FOR SALVATION. This petition (1 Chronicles 16:35) flows most naturally out of what precedes. In the register of Divine acts, in the recounting of Divine attributes, a foundation had Been laid for this devout and urgent entreaty.
V. BLESSING AND AMEN. A glorious closing (1 Chronicles 16:36) to a glorious psalm. "All the people" here concurred with, adopted as their own, the worship of the Levites. The reval psalmist's heart must have beat high with sacred joy when his plans proved successful, when his ministers rendered his compositions in a manner worthy of their substance, and when the soul of a nation was raised into fellowship with God.—T.
HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON
1 Chronicles 16:1-3-Hours of elation.
The path of human life lies, for the most part, along the level of simple and ordinary experiences, amid scenes and circumstances that annoy or depress but do not greatly grieve, or that please or gladden but do not excite to tumultuous delights. Sometimes, however, that path leads down into deep valleys of profoundest sorrow; sometimes it leads up to the high hills of exhilarating joy. Whether in the depth or upon the summit, we are in peculiar peril. We breathe an unusual air and are in danger of losing control of our full spiritual faculties. Men are sometimes overwhelmed by great sorrow or by supreme delight, and either lose their mental balance altogether or commit actions which they never cease to regret. It is a great thing to have a vent for our intenser feelings, a right channel through which they may safely flow, or rather a sphere in which they may spend their strength, to our own positive advantage and to the profit of others. Our text suggests such a sphere for our energies in the hours of elation. We are reminded —
I. THAT WE MAY GO TO GOD IN SELF-PRESENTATION. In the midst of their rejoicing "they offered burnt sacrifices before God" (1 Chronicles 16:1). The burnt offering was the type of self-dedication unto God. As the offerer brought his victim to be wholly presented to Jehovah, so we are invited to offer our whole selves unto the living God. Our intensest joys attend our greatest mercies, and these may well lead us to renew our vows unto our Redeemer, freely and gladly presenting ourselves, once more, to him whose we are.
II. THAT WE MAY GO TO GOD IN THANKFUL ACKNOWLEDGMENT. "They offered peace offerings" also: these are suggestive of the act of praise by which we render thanks to God for all his goodness to us. There can be no time so suitable for this as the hour of elation, when unusual Blessings have been conferred by him. We are bound to recognize him as the Source and Spring of all our joy.
III. THAT WE MAY GO TO GOD IN UNSELFISH INVOCATION. "When David had made an end… he blessed the people in the Name of the Lord" (1 Chronicles 16:2), i.e. he invoked the Divine blessing upon them. He doubtless used such words as these: "The Lord bless you, and keep you: the Lord make his face shine upon you," etc. (Numbers 6:24-26). We have no power to impart blessedness by any direct volition of our own, but we can express our earnest desire that men may be blessed; and we can do one thing more and better than that—we can solemnly and earnestly invoke the blessing of God to rest on those whom we love and with whom we desire to share our own prosperity and joy.
IV. WE CAN GO OUT TO OUR NEIGHBOURS IN GENEROUS KINDNESS. David's good feeling took the form of hospitality (1 Chronicles 16:3). He gave to every one then present, bread, flesh, and wine, wherewith to find nourishment and pleasure. When God, in his providence, sends us prosperity, we should distribute freely to our poorer fellows. We may distribute, as David did, of those things which furnish the table. We may let our generosity take other, possibly better, forms than this; we may spend our strength in securing education for the ignorant, position for the unemployed, privilege for the spiritually destitute, opportunity for the aspiring. If thus, in dedication, in thanks-giving, in invocation, in generosity, we escape from ourselves and go forth unto God and man, we shall pass scathless through the perilous hour of elation, and be not only unharmed by it but blessed in it.—C.
1 Chronicles 16:4-7, 1 Chronicles 16:36-43.-Regular Divine service.
These verses may suggest to us wholesome truths respecting the constant worship of God as distinguished from acts of exceptional devotion.
I. THAT DEVOTION MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO EVAPORATE IN TEMPORARY EXCITEMENT, David was wise in not sending the people home (1 Chronicles 16:43) until he had designed a plan or arrangement in virtue of which the thankful spirit of the people should express itself in ordinary and regular exercises (1 Chronicles 16:4-37). The time of revival, of exceptional religious excitement, of spiritual ecstasy, may be very pleasant and promising, but it will end in nothing or in positive evil, if those who prompt and lead it do not devise measures by which it shall find due utterance in permanent institutions.
II. THAT SACRED THINGS MUST BE ENTRUSTED TO THE CHARGE OF CAPABLE AND RESPONSIBLE PERSONS. However admirable the institution, it will not take care of itself. Good things will soon wane and die if they be not taken charge of by living earnest souls. David sought and found the best men to be engaged in the service of praise (1 Chronicles 16:5, 1 Chronicles 16:6). In every part of Divine service, success can only be attained and maintained by competent and responsible men taking the matter in hand. If we trust to the intrinsic excellency of the exercise, and allow negligence or favouritism to enter, we may expect speedy, or, at any rate, certain decline and ultimate extinction. In God's service let each post be assigned to that man whom he has made fittest for it, and who will feel that he is personally accountable for the way in which it is kept.
III. THAT INFERIOR POSTS ARE NOT WITHOUT A REAL IMPORTANCE IN THE SERVICE OF GOD. Much mention is made here (as elsewhere) of doorkeepers (1 Chronicles 16:38-43; see Psalms 84:10). The doorkeepers of our sanctuaries are men of humble position; nevertheless, they may contribute much by conscientious carefulness and Christian courtesy to the comfort, peace of mind, and devoutness of spirit of the worshippers; and thus to the cause of God. Any position in the service of the Supreme, of a gracious and almighty Redeemer, is one which we do well to "magnify" in our esteem, that we may do our duty therein faithfully, as unto the Lord as well as unto men.
IV. THAT PRAYER AS WELL AS PRAISE MUST BE INCLUDED IN DIVINE SERVICE. Though there was to be daily service at Jerusalem for the future, there must also be daily sacrifice at Gibeon (1 Chronicles 16:39, 1 Chronicles 16:40). The choir-master could not do the work of the priest; there must be sacrifice as well as praise. We should multiply our service of song and can hardly go too far in sacred psalmody; yet we must never make light of the prayer of confession, of the entreaty for Divine mercy, of our need to seek again the pardoning love of God.
V. THAT ONE MAN MAY LEAD, BUT ALL MUST PARTICIPATE IN, THE SERVICE OF GOD. David alone prepared and delivered the psalm. Asaph alone received it at the king's hand, and made the musical arrangements (1 Chronicles 16:5-7); but "all the people said Amen and praised the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:36). It is well sometimes that one man should speak for others, they following and participating in thought, and saying "Amen" at the end, in token and utterance of their hearty assent. It is also well—perhaps better—that "all the people" should utter together the words of prayer and praise. Most men can best follow the sense when they utter the sound of sacred words. This is a question fur individual and congregational aptitudes and preferences; the matter of importance is that, whatever method be adopted, the service of God shall be one in which all hearts unite in supplication, in adoration, in thanksgiving, in consecration.—C.
1 Chronicles 16:8-14 -The constituents of piety.
In our psalms and in our prayers we often indicate the real elements of religion as fully, and perhaps as clearly, as in our exhortations. In this psalm of David we have the essential principles of piety.
I. MINDFULNESS OF GOD'S POWER AND GOODNESS. (1 Chronicles 16:8, 1Ch 16:9, 1 Chronicles 16:12.) We cannot feel toward him as we should except we consider "his deeds among the people," except we "talk of all his wondrous works," except we "remember his marvellous works." Calling these to mind, we shall be powerfully and rightly affected by a realization of his Divine power and goodness. We shall naturally dwell on his works in nature, his power as displayed in the creation and sustenance of our own spirit and our own human life, his handiwork in the providential ordering of the world.
II. A SENSE OF HIS INTIMATE DIVINE RELATION TO US AND TO THE WHOLE WORLD. (1 Chronicles 16:13, 1 Chronicles 16:14.) As the children of Israel felt that they were chosen of God, having received direct and special communication and consideration; as they could speak of themselves as his "chosen ones," and could say, "He is the Lord our God;" so we may and must feel that we all are the objects of his Divine regard, that he looks with benignant eye on us and stretches out the hand of Divine friendship toward us, that he is the Lord our God who has chosen us and whom we have chosen. And as they were taught to feel that "his judgments are in all the earth," so we also are to think of him as the supreme almighty Power reigning and ruling everywhere, "speaking and it is done, commanding and it stands fast" (Psalms 33:9).
III. THANKSGIVING IN MEMORY OF HIS GOODNESS AND MERCY. (1 Chronicles 16:8, 1 Chronicles 16:9.) A large part of the sacred service of the Jews consisted in praise. In heathendom there was much of deprecation, something of supplication, little or nothing of praise. God's own people had such a sense of his absolute excellence that they "gave thanks at the remembrance of his holiness," and such a remembrance of his distinguishing goodness to them that they sang psalms of praise because they were such large recipients at his hand. The piety of the Hebrew was vocal with constantly recurring praise; the psalms of the "sweet singer of Israel," and of Jewish worship altogether, were so largely hymns of thanksgiving, that we always associate the thought of praise with the name of them. And from us, for whom as for them God has done such great things, for whom, indeed, God has done greater things than for them, it may well be that praise is found to be the prevailing note of our worship, the chief strain in our piety.
IV. JOY IN GOD. (1 Chronicles 16:10.) The people were encouraged to "glory in God's holy Name," to triumph in the thought that they were worshipping him who was the "Holy One of Israel," in every way worthy of their profoundest adoration; also to "rejoice" in him as in One the knowledge and service of whom was the spring of truest and abiding satisfaction. We may well do the same; and having "such an High Priest" as we have, such a Saviour and Divine Friend, such a Refuge of our soul, we may glory and rejoice with intenser joy than they.
V. COMMUNION WITH GOD. (1 Chronicles 16:11.) We do not enter into the full heritage of the people of God until we "seek the face of the Lord continually." Both in his house and in our own home, we are to seek him, to "seek his strength," to come consciously into his presence, to draw nigh with our spirit to his Spirit, to walk with him, to hold converse with him, to pour out our heart before him, to dwell in the house of the Lord for ever, beholding his beauty as well as inquiring in his temple (Psalms 27:4).—C.
1 Chronicles 16:15-22.-Human mindfulness of Divine promises.
I. THAT GOD HAS MADE DISTINCT PROMISES TO MANKIND. David speaks here of the "covenant which God made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac" (1 Chronicles 16:15, 1 Chronicles 16:16; see 1 Chronicles 16:18 and Genesis 17:2, Genesis 26:3, etc.). We know that he also promised David that he should sit on the throne, and his children after him (1 Chronicles 17:17). We think also of the primeval promise, looking far forward and embracing such large results (Genesis 3:15). God has made "exceeding great and precious promises" to us in Christ; he promises to those who are in him pardon, peace, joy, the indwelling Spirit, sanctity, eternal life,
II. THAT OF THESE HIS PROMISES HE HAS GIVEN US ASSURING CONFIRMATION. He "confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant" (1 Chronicles 16:17); he did this in word (1 Chronicles 16:18) and in deed (1 Chronicles 16:19-22). All the promises which are made to us in Christ are confirmed both in word and deed.
1. In Divine Word. By repeated assurances not only from the lips of the Lord himself, but also from the utterances of his inspired apostles. In Scripture we have the most abundant assurances that those who believe in Christ shall enjoy the favour of the eternal Father and possess everlasting life.
2. And also in Divine action; for we have the testimony of all succeeding generations of Christian men, who bear unvarying witness that "God is faithful, who hath called us to the fellowship of his Son" (lCo 1 Chronicles 1:9). This is surely a confirmation of God's working; for are not all these witnesses his workmanship? are they not his husbandry, his building (Ephesians 2:10; 1 Corinthians 3:9)?
III. THAT IT BEHOVES US TO KEEP THEM IN CONTINUED AND LIVELY REMEMBRANCE. "Be ye mindful always of his covenant" (1 Chronicles 16:15). In the day of spiritual awakening, in the midst of earnest Christian work, in the time of trouble, in the hour of spiritual struggle and misgiving, in the valley of the shadow of death, we have especial need to be mindful of the promises of God. But they should never be far from us, they should be always within reach, like a sword at our side, like bread beneath the roof, that we may draw them at the approaching danger, that we may resort to them when our heart is a-hungered. We may add, though it is not in the text —
IV. THAT WE MUST NOT FAIL TO COMPLY WITH THE CONDITIONS ATTENDING THEM. God's promises are never unconditional: there is always an "if" implied if not expressed (2 Samuel 7:12; 1 Kings 2:4; Psalms 132:11, Psalms 132:12). His promises to us of eternal life are conditional on
(1) our acceptance of Jesus Christ, and
(2) our faithfulness unto death.—C.
1 Chronicles 16:23-36.-The broader aspect of Hebrew piety.
It cannot be denied that there was an aspect of exclusiveness in the religion of Jewry, as seen in the days of our Lord. But it is a question how far this was a lawful and how far an unlawful development of the teaching which had come from above. To some extent it was necessary that the people of God should be separated, in intercourse as well as in thought and sympathy, from the nations around them. We may, however, be assured that the narrow and bigoted ideas which were so firmly embedded in the Jewish mind were the product of their own misconstructions of the Divine Word. Our text, indeed, shows:
1. That the Jewish nation was taught to feel that God was their God in a peculiar sense. He was continually spoken of, in worship, as "the Lord God of Israel" (1 Chronicles 16:36). He had not dealt with any nation as with Israel: he had not made known his judgments to any people as he had to them (Psalms 147:20). He was their God, inasmuch as he had shown peculiar and distinguishing favour to them.
2. That they looked to God for deliverance and separation from other nations. "Save us… and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen" (1 Chronicles 16:35). They were led to regard surrounding peoples, with their idolatries and immoralities, as foes over whom they might religiously triumph, and from contact with whom they would wisely shrink. Yet, on the other hand, in distinction from this element of exclusiveness and this narrowness of view and ambition, we have certain elements of breadth. They were taught to regard —
I. THE ENTIRE EARTH AS GOD'S CREATION, AND THE WHOLE WORLD AS UNDER HIS RULE. They sang "of his marvellous works among all nations" (1 Chronicles 16:24). So far were they from imagining that the gods of other nations made those lands, while Jehovah brought themselves and their own land into being, that they sang continually, "All the gods of the people are idols, but the Lord made the heavens" (1 Chronicles 16:26); "The world also shall be stable, that it be not moved" (1 Chronicles 16:30). They undoubtedly believed that the God whom they worshipped had unbounded sovereignty over all lands and nations.
II. THE HEATHEN AS THOSE WHO OUGHT TO WORSHIP GOD. They were invited, in their public worship, to express the sentiment that it was only "due to the Name of the Lord" that "all the earth" "should sing to him, and show forth his salvation from day to day;" that all "kindreds of the people" should ascribe "glory and strength" unto him (1Ch 16:23, 1 Chronicles 16:28, 1 Chronicles 16:29). They expressed, before God, their desire that his glory might be declared among the heathen (1 Chronicles 16:24), that all the earth should fear him (1 Chronicles 16:30). They evidently felt that it was right and due that anthems of praise should be sung to Jehovah by every lip, that before him every knee should bow.
III. THE HEATHEN AS THE FUTURE INHERITANCE OF GOD. In their higher moods and more exalted hours, they looked forward to the time when all the world should be subject to the Divine sway. How far this grand hope took possession of the popular mind we cannot tell, but it was not beyond the reach of those who thought the most and saw the furthest (1 Chronicles 16:31-35). All inanimate creation was invoked to rejoice, because the Lord was coming to judge the earth, because the good and merciful One (1 Chronicles 16:34) was to reign over all the nations (1 Chronicles 16:31). It is for us:
1. To rejoice that what was only dimly foreshadowed to them is clearly revealed to us. We have a clear vision of the blessed and glorious time when "Jesus shall reign where'er the sun," etc.
2. To rejoice that God's gracious purpose is being fulfilled before our eyes. All nations are coming and worshipping, etc. (Psalms 86:9).
3. To do our part in our generation towards the blissful consummation. God has committed unto us the word of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19).—C.
1 Chronicles 16:29.-The right, the acceptable, and the beautiful thing.
Why should we worship God? "Wherewithal shall we come before the Lord?" How shall we honour and please him? These are three questions to which our text will suggest replies. We are reminded —
I. THAT TO REVERENCE GOD IS THE ONE RIGHT THING FOR US TO DO. There are many things which it is well, proper, right, for us to do; things which make for the well-being of others; things which contribute to our own ennoblement and self-respect. But the thing which, above all others, it is right for us to do is to revere and honour God, to "give unto the Lord the glory due to his Name." That which is due to our kindred and friends, that which is due to ourselves,—this is as nothing compared with the reverence, obedience, and submission which are due to him from whom we come, without whose creative energy we had not been, without whose sustaining power we should cease to be, "in whom we live, and move, and have our being," to whom we owe everything we are and have. To serve God is to secure ourselves against the worst evils; it is to avail ourselves of our highest privilege; it is also, and foremost of all, to discharge our deepest obligation; it is to render that which is due indeed.
II. THAT TO BRING TO GOD OUR CONTRIBUTION MAY BE AN ACCEPTABLE THING TO Do. "Bring an offering, and come before him." It is true that he "needeth nothing' at our hand; that "if he were hungry he would not tell us;" that "every beast of the forest is his, and the cattle upon a thousand hills" (Psalms 1:1-6.). It is also true that there were conditions under which God was "pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering" (Psalms 51:19). And it is also true that the Divine Lord who sits over against the treasury is pleased with the two mites which the widow gives of her poverty. We may "bring an offering" now that may be very large and "munificent" in the sight of men, which shall be very lightly esteemed, or even weigh nothing or less than nothing, in the sight of the holy and the pure One. But then we may "bring an offering" that may be very small in man's reckoning, which, laid by the hand of love on the altar, shall weigh much in the balances of heaven.
III. THAT TO WORSHIP GOD MAY BE A BEAUTIFUL THING TO DO. "Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." That which is called Divine worship may be an altogether unbeautiful thing in his sight. That which is rendered carelessly, slovenly, thoughtlessly, stiffly, heartlessly, or hypocritically, is utterly unbeautiful before him. But there is worship of another kind. We render our service in the beauty of holiness when:
1. From a pure desire to give to God our best, we worship him most tastefully. When, thus prompted and with this aim in view, we erect for his worship the costly and beautiful building, we sing his praise with perfected harmony, we read his word and preach his truth with cultured carefulness.
2. We bring to his worship the most excellent and requisite graces—humility, faith, docility, gratitude, adoration, generosity, consecration of spirit. Then, when clothed upon with these beautiful garments of the soul, do we most truly "worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."—C.
HOMILIES BY R. GLOVER
1 Chronicles 16:1.-The ark and the tabernacle.
"So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it: and they offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings before God." The incident of Uzza has distracted the attention due to the return of the ark. The preacher has laboured to justify the ways of God to men; has expounded the sanctity attaching to the ark as the immediate throne of God, the strict injunctions as to its removal, its covering, its Levitical bearers, and the strictness with which access to it was limited to the high priest alone once a year, and shown that during its sojourn in Abinadab's house, familiarity had permitted a lighter and less reverent regard to possess those about it. So that when it was brought back it was in a right spirit, but in a wrong way. This irreverence found its penalty in the death of Uzza; but finding God's blessing rested on the house of Obed-edom, David resumes the purpose he had framed of bringing the ark to Jerusalem. This event is not sufficiently considered. We are apt to imagine that from Moses to Solomon there was a continuous identity of service and of sanctuary; that the expressions which we read in the psalms of devotion to the tabernacles of God had been the habitual expressions of God's people for centuries; whereas it is far otherwise. It is probable that never, till the reign of Hezekiah, was the sacrificial service of God confined to one sacred spot. Samuel sacrificed at Ramah; David, on the threshing-floor of Araunah; Solomon, at Gibeon; others at Carmel, Beersheba, Bethel. The true worship of the true God finding many centres when the Law of Moses contemplated it should have but one, the later historian, imbued with stricter sentiments of a later day, brings it as a fault against almost all the good kings of Judah, that, though they abolished all idolatry, "nevertheless the high places were not taken away;" but our text brings us face to face with something more striking than this multiplication of centres of sacrifice. It reminds us that, for a space of about a hundred years, the ark of God and the tabernacle of God, which God had joined together, had been put asunder. Never since the ark was taken by the Philistines in Samuel's boyhood, had it returned to the tabernacle. It rests in Beth-shemesh for a few months, then for nearly a hundred years in Kirjath-jearim, in the house of Abinadab. During all the time of Samuel we hear very little of the tabernacle at Shiloh, and, I think, nothing of the ark. In Saul's reign the tabernacle is at Nob, and still the ark is separated. The ark, God's earthly throne, the holiest centre of all Mosaic worship, had no tabernacle, with its altars and its regular service. The tabernacle had its altars of burnt and of peace offerings, but no presence within the veil. It was a first court without a second; a staircase which seemed to lead nowhere. So that for a hundred years the tabernacle worship was cut in two—here altars; there ark. Perhaps one may almost say, cut in three during part of this period; for the high priest came with his ephod, and lived with David. So that the priesthood with its service stood thus: Abiathar, with his ephod, "inquiring of God," kept company with David; some of the priestly families repaired to Nob after the massacre of the three hundred priests by Saul, and there offered the appointed sacrifices; while at Kirjath-jearim was the ark, in charge of a Levities! family, "neglected in the days of Saul," but doubtless sought by individual worshippers. To make the confusion more complete, Samuel, David, Solomon, all sacrifice where is neither ark nor tabernacle, and when David brings the ark to Jerusalem, he builds a new tabernacle to receive it, with its proper arrangement of altars, while still leaving the old one at Nob, to continue for some time longer (until the reign of Solomon), on its own lines, its series of sacrifices and worship. I do not bring this state of confusion forward to justify it, or suggest that all the ordering of God's house, concerning which so many minutest precepts had been given, were unimportant and superfluous. It was undoubtedly a vast gain to all subsequent generations when, in Zion, the tabernacle of God rose supreme above all other places honoured by his worship. It was a still grandee service when all the high places where sacrifice had been offered were destroyed. It was fitting that the one God should have one earthly throne, everywhere accessible, but in one place revealed. The one temple rendered something of the same sort of service that the one Bible did in later times; it kept "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." But while, as we shall see, the centering of all sacrificial worship in one spot rendered grand service, yet it is well to contemplate the state of external confusion registered in the facts thus brought before us, and endeavour to learn their lessons. What are these?
I. First of all obviously, there is this: THAT THE EXTERNAL ORDERING OF GOD'S HOUSE NEVER REALIZES ITS IDEAL. As elsewhere, so here. The ideal and the real go not hand-in-hand. The most that reality can say is, "I follow after, if that I may attain." The letter of the holiest and wisest law never gets complete accomplishment. The very generation to which the Law of Sinai was given neglected one of most important sacraments, circumcision, through all the wilderness journey between Egypt and Canaan. Somehow the very eminence of judges and prophets made, for centuries, God's tabernacle at Shiloh play an inconspicuous part in the history of the nation. In the instance of our text the tabernacle is really cut in two, and the holy place is at Nob, while the holy of holies is miles away at Kirjath-jearim. Solomon's temple was hardly consecrated before it was desecrated by the neighbourhood of idolatrous temples in Jerusalem itself. The secession of the ten tribes deprived them of any temple services, save the irregular ones instituted by Jeroboam. There is always something missing, or something crooked, in the external institutions of religion. The Lord's Supper at Corinth is desecrated by selfish conviviality, even in Paul's lifetime; and some disciples had been baptized who did not so much as know there was a Holy Ghost. When the Church went in for more order, the lack of the power and the charity of earlier times became more conspicuous. Churches that have retained more of external unity have lacked vitality; and Christian communities which have been marked by great vitality have lacked unity of charity and action. In Tertullian's days the Church almost entirely lost the use of the sacrament of baptism by men postponing the observance of it to life's end, fearing there was no further or other washing away of sins after it had taken place. To-day she has almost entirely lost the use of the same sacrament by applying it at life's beginning to those absolutely unconscious of its meaning. God is arrays amongst us, but not always the ark, the sacraments, the proper order. Reality is rough—never more than a mere approximation to what we desire. And if so, there should be charity for differences, and we should address ourselves rather to the maintenance of" the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
II. The second lesson to be learned is: GOD MAKES THE MOST OF ALL THAT IS IMPERFECT, AND MAKES THE BEST OF WHAT IS WRONG, In what utter hopelessness would the religious state of Israel have appeared to any ancient High Churchman! The altars without the ark; the ark without the altars; no high priest with the ark. All the suggestion of Divine mercy on the one hand and Divine lordship on the other, which the ark suggested, lost. Both in places undistinguished. It was, for the time, an utter collapse of the entire system of sacrificial worship as instituted by Moses. And in these circumstances what do we witness? The utter disappearance of faith and godliness? Far from it. True, there was a general coldness, or such a state of things would not have been permitted to endure. But God did not abandon his people because ark and altar were separate. The same love which ordained all these arrangements for high, united, solemn fellowship with himself, bent its energies to supply the void caused by their neglect in some other way. Is the ark taken and the priesthood degenerate? God raises up Samuel the prophet. Are altars and tabernacles neglected because weak through separateness? God comes near, and, through Abiathar, Gad, Nathan, and other prophets, makes up for the lack of priestly service. Has he virtually no outward dwelling? He comes nearer to individual souls, and woos them with the mystic voice which the sheep hear and gladly follow; so that faith, service, goodness, are all found. There are probably about seventy psalms written by David, most of them in the first half of the psalter. Many of these, written after the ark had found a new dwelling in Jerusalem, breathe a profoundly spiritual attachment to "the house of God." But the greater part of them, written prior to that event, are altogether void of allusion to either tabernacle or altar; but, like the rest, rich in devoutest recognition of the nearness, preciousness, and help of God. An old Catholic theologian supposed that, just as in the absence of rain, the usual means of fertility, there was a "mist that came up and watered Eden," similarly, in the absence of all usual means of grace, God invents fresh methods by which he reaches and refreshes the hearts of men; even so, amidst the cold and unspiritual half-century that intervened between the death of Samuel and the establishment of the ark in Jerusalem, there were still all the Divine activities going on; and the devout found in "the Law" what they missed in "the service." And God waked many, many hearts to seek after him. In this lesson also there is vast importance. We are too apt to say a blessing is impossible unless such and such arrangements are made. Some said in olden times, "Where the Church is the Spirit is; and outside the Church is no salvation." Some in modern times hold sacraments essential to salvation. Some with more reason, but still going beyond Scripture, think Jesus can only save those who know his history. God works the more to bless us, the more through our ignorance we frustrate his means of grace. If through presumptuousness we neglect any duty, it is a sin which he will. sternly correct; but if through ignorance we neglect any duty, God will try and make up our loss. The evangelical Churches of to-day have mostly, I think, lost a sacrament. God makes the other sacrament do double duty, and loads it with double blessings.
III. THE EXTERNAL ORDERING OF GOD'S HOUSE IN GOD'S WAY CARRIES WITH IT A GREAT BLESSING. David was Israel's second Moses. He rehabilitated the whole tabernacle service with its solemn united access to God; helped the people to unite in approaching God, by bringing priests, ark, and altar under one tabernacle. He did more; arranging for the services of the sanctuary, he gave a liturgy for the closet. While in the sacrifices men found the proper form for approaching God, in the psalter they caught the proper spirit. In my judgment the stronger grip that Judah took of the Law of God than Israel; her greater wealth in saintly kings and prophets; her unity; her power to learn the sweet uses of adversity; her recurrence after the Captivity to a purer and more ardent service of God than she had ever reached before; her grander service to mankind; her endurance in national existence till the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus; the strange persistence that has marked the children of Judah from that day to this; all were due in a great degree to the tabernacle of David, the temple of Solomon, the temple of Ezra. From the hour when the ark rested in Zion, Zion was the sacred centre of the land, the source of holy influences binding men to God and to one another. Was it only external arrangements that David made? And is it only an external arrangement that he makes who builds a chapel, or erects a school, or helps men to come together unitedly to observe God's sacraments and learn his ways? David, who knew more of private communion with God than any of us, said, "One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple." Let there be no latitudinarianism, the poor substitute for true charity. If we can help to give back to the Church of Christ a lost sacrament, a neglected truth, a means of freer fellowship with one another and with God, we do something on which the blessing of God will rest, and from which the good of man will flow.—G.
HOMILIES BY F. WHITFIELD
1 Chronicles 16:1-43.-David's thanksgiving psalm.
After having brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom and set it in the tent that David had made for it, there was a general offering of sacrifices by David and the congregation as thank offerings to the Lord, and David blessed the people. Of these thank offerings he ordered that certain portions should be given to every man and woman in Israel—"a loaf of bread, a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine." Having done this, he set in order the service of the Levites in the holy tent on Zion. "Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the Lord into the hand of Asaph and his brethren? The meaning of this passage is that David committed to Asaph the carrying out of the service of song; that liturgical singing was then to be introduced. This beautiful psalm was doubtless composed by David himself for liturgical song in the public worship. The first half of the psalm (1 Chronicles 16:8-22) recurs in Psalms 105:1-15; the second half (Psalms 105:23-33) in Psalms 96:1-13.; and the conclusion (verse 34-36) in Psalms 106:1, Psalms 106:47, Psalms 106:48. There is a swelling ascription throughout the psalm, commencing with Psalms 106:8. From that verse down to the end of Psalms 106:22 the call is to Israel to praise the Lord. From Psalms 106:23 to Psalms 106:29 the call is to the heathen or Gentile nations to praise the Lord. From Psalms 106:30 to Psalms 106:34 the call is to the whole earth and to inanimate nature to praise him. Psalms 106:35 seems a prophetical anticipation which David commands to take the form of a prayer that the time may soon come when God's ancient people shall be gathered to their own land, and when the Church of God redeemed from among men shall assemble round his throne throughout eternity to praise his holy Name. Then the earthly people of God, having accepted the Lord Jesus as their Messiah, and the Church of Christ gathered to him at his coaling, shall sing their hallelujahs of praise, and the glory of the Lord fill heaven and earth.—W.
HOMILIES BY R. TUCK
1 Chronicles 16:1-3.-Signs of entire consecration.
When the ark was safely placed within the curtains of David's new tabernacle on Mount Zion, and the fact of God's dwelling with his people was freshly impressed by the permanent presence of his symbol, it was fitting that, in some most solemn and expressive way, the full consecration of the people to the service of Jehovah should be declared. For this purpose special burnt offerings and peace offerings were presented. The special features of these two kinds of offering may be indicated so as to bring out their particular adaptation to the circumstances of the day. The victim, in the case of the "burnt offering," might be any kind of animal fit for sacrifices, but it must be a male. And it must be wholly offered, and burnt with fire. Kurtz says that this "burning by fire" marked it as an expression of perpetual obligation to complete, sanctified self-surrender to Jehovah. This kind of offering embodied the general idea of sacrifice, and in a sense represented the whole sacrificial institute. "The peace offering' was presented upon the acceptance of any special Divine mercies, and portions of the victim were restored to the offerer, who, with his family and friends, feasted on them. "This sacrificial feast was peculiar to the peace offerings, and indicated that the atonement was complete, that the sin was covered and cancelled which had separated the offerer from Jehovah, who now welcomed him to his table, and in this meal gave him a pledge of reconciliation" and acceptance. So the two offerings, together with the subsequent feast, signified thankful recognition of God's mercies, entire consecration to God's service, and a happy realization of God's acceptance. These were precisely suitable to the occasion of the restoration of the ark.
I. ONE THING IS RIGHT FOR MAN—TO BE WHOLLY GOD'S. Right because of the Divine relations; right because of the Divine claims; and right because of the Divine mercies. Our Lord expressed the duty of man in a brief sentence, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and mind, and soul, and strength."
II. THIS MAN MAY FITTINGLY DECLARE IN A SOLEMN PUBLIC ACT. Because, in his love and loyalty to God, he should wish to influence others by his own consecration. A man may not keep his religious life to himself; he is responsible to God for making it a gracious persuasion and power upon others. Press the duty of the public modes of expressing our dedication to God, such as "confirmation" and "joining the Church." Such acts of public consecration may be wisely and helpfully renewed on special occasions. Illustrate by such a public acknowledgment of God as was made at the "thanksgiving" for the recovery of the Prince of Wales. That was, for this Christian age, just such a scene as David's offering of burnt and peace offerings.
III. IN OLDEN TIMES THE APPROPRIATE ACT WAS OFFERING A BURNT OFFERING. In it the sacrificer consecrated to the Deity alone the enjoyment of the whole victim, and it represented the full and complete surrender of the man himself to God. It was called the whole burnt offering, or perfect sacrifice, because the whole creature was as it were sent up to God on the wings of fire. It signified that the offerer belonged wholly to God, and that he dedicated himself soul and body to him, and placed his life at his disposal.
IV. SUCH AN OFFERING WAS RIGHTLY MADE EVERY DAY. At the morning and evening services; and the offering was doubled on the sabbath (Exodus 29:38-44; Le Exodus 6:9-13). "Every morning and evening a lamb was sacrificed, with its usual meat and drink offering, as a burnt offering on behalf of the whole covenant people, and the evening victim was to be so slowly consumed that it might last till the morning, an expressive symbol of that continual self-dedication to God, which is the duty of man."
V. SUCH OFFERINGS WERE RENEWED ON SPECIAL OCCASIONS. These were
(1) at the new moon,
(2) the three great festivals,
(3) the great Day of Atonement, and
(4) the Feast of Trumpets.
On every great national occasion a solemn public reassertion of the nation's full consecration to God was made by means of the burnt offering. For us such offerings are appropriate at the new year, birthdays, etc.
VI. SUCH OFFERINGS MIGHT BE REPRESENTATIVE, AND OFFERED IN THE NAME AND ON THE BEHALF OF OTHERS. As was the case with Job's offerings for his children, and in some degree with David's offerings on this occasion. This point leads on to dealing with the Lord Jesus Christ as our great Burnt Offering, which we make ours by faith, and present to God as the solemn pledge that our "whole selves we dedicate to him," and hold as his. "Every such sacrifice was a type of the perfect offering made by Christ, on behalf of the race of man, of his human nature and will to the will of the Father." Compare St. Paul's pleadings, "I beseech you, therefore, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."—R.T.
1 Chronicles 16:8-10.-The duty of praise.
David calls upon the people, as a matter of solemn duty, to "give thanks unto the Lord… and sing psalms unto him." Dr. Goulburn well says, "Praise is the religious exercise—the one religious exercise-of heaven. Angels are offering it ceaselessly, resting not night or day. Saints are offering it ceaselessly in paradise, Nature in her every district is offering it ceaselessly. From the heavens, which declare the glory of God, and the firmament which showeth his handiwork, down to the dew-drop which sparkles with the colours of the rainbow, and the lark, who tunes his cheerful carol as he salutes the rising sun, the whole creation sends up one grand chorus of praise to the throne of God." The sincere heart will ever fee! disposed to sing ―
"I'll praise my Maker with my breath;
And when my voice is lost in death,
Praise shall employ my nobler powers;
My days of praise shall ne'er be past,
While life, or thought, or being last,
Or immortality endures."
I. PRAISE IS DUE TO GOD. "For his mercy endureth for ever." Recall the reasons for praise each man can find, and each nation, especially noting those which are associated with religion, and illustrated in the connections of this passage.
II. PRAISE IS REQUIRED BY GOD. AS the fitting mode of expressing our feeling towards him and our sense of what he is and does. His own declaration is, "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me."
III. PRAISE IS ACCEPTABLE TO GOD. It is to him as "sweet-smelling incense." It is the sacrifice he most desires.
IV. PRAISE IS SERVICEABLE TO GOD. It is a gracious influence. It draws forth right feeling in men. The praise of one calls out the praise of many, and so aids in carrying on God's purpose in the blessing of men.
These points sufficiently suggest of themselves lines of treatment, and scarcely need further elaboration. But it may be well to discuss the question how far our praise must needs be intelligent—shaped, that is into forms that our minds can distinctly grasp and fully follow. Cannot sound—music without words—by its tone and character find adequate utterance for soul-emotion? Illustrate by the power of music to express varying emotion. A great musical composer gives us 'Songs without Words.' On this point the following passage from a sermon of the great Florentine preacher, Savonarola, may be suggestive. It refers directly to prayer, but it is equally applicable to praise:—"In prayer, a man may be attending to the words, and this is a thing of a wholly material nature; he may be attending to the sense of the words, and this is rather study than prayer; and lastly, his whole thoughts may be directed to God, and this alone is true prayer. It is unnecessary to be considering either sentences or language—the mind must be elevated above self, and must be wholly absorbed in the thought of God. Arrived at this state, the true believer forgets the world and its wants; he has attained almost a foreshadow of celestial happiness. To this state of elevation the ignorant may arrive as easily as the learned. It even frequently happens that he who repeats a psalm without understanding its words utters a much more holy prayer than the learned man who can explain its meaning. Words, in fact, are not indispensable to an act of prayer: when a man is truly rapt in the spirit an uttered prayer becomes rather an impediment, and ought to yield to that which is wholly mental. Thus it will be seen how great a mistake those commit who prescribe a fixed number of prayers. God does not delight in a multitude of words, but in a fervent spirit." Apply to the difficulty often felt in mentally following the words and truths and figures of our hymns, and show how true praise is not dependent on precise mental apprehensions. Also carefully impress that private acts of praise, however numerous, orderly, or sincere, can never relieve a man from the duty of joining in the praises of the great congregation.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 16:11.-God's strength and God's face.
We are bidden, in seeking the Lord, to seek both his strength and his face; and these two are set in such a connection of parallel sentences that we may assume them to be differing expressions for the same thing, though each helps to throw light on the other. The uses of the terms in the Book of Psalms need careful study. In this passage God's strength is thought of as having been illustrated in the successful bringing back of the ark; but that event was quite as fully a proof of the Divine favour—it indicated that God's face was turned smilingly towards both the king and the people. Such experiences of God's "strength" and "face' should establish the permanent resolve to seek that "strength" and "face" in all the more ordinary scenes in the life of the individual and the nation. For "strength," comp. 1 Samuel 15:29; Psalms 27:1; Psalms 29:1; Job 9:19; Psalms 46:1; Psalms 62:11; Psalms 68:34; Psalms 73:26, etc.; Isaiah 26:4; Isaiah 45:24. For "face," comp. Psalms 31:16; Psalms 67:1, etc.
I. GOD'S STRENGTH STRENGTHENETH MAN. Open and explain that man's physical energy depends upon his vital force, and his religious life upon his spiritual force. God has access to these secret sources, and can renew them with his own vitality. He "strengtheneth us with strength in our soul." He makes "all grace abound, so that we may have all-sufficiency in all things." The experience of the religious life unfolds the marvellous adaptations and fitnesses of Divine grace to the thousandfold needs that arise. No matter what may be our circumstances of perplexity and difficulty, there is always strength for us in God. It may come as an efficient help for bearing actual life-burdens, or for doing actual life-duties; and we should undertake none without prayerfully seeking to lay hold of the Divine strength. How it can be perfect in human weakness, so that a man may be strong to bear the unusual ills, and zealous to do the unusual duties, of life, is taught us in the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, and, after him, in the example of his servant St. Paul. But we should be quite sure that it will come as an inward renewal, if it may not come for the achievement of material success. We may be "strong in the Lord and in the power of his might;" and this is the assurance of the eternal triumph, if it is not of the earthly.
II. GOD'S STRENGTH IS CONNECTED WITH GOD'S FACE. He gives his strength with a smile. The turning of his face towards us is the sign of his approval and acceptance. The influence of such a mark of Divine regard may be illustrated.
1. It cheers and encourages. "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
2. It recovers us from depressions. There can be nothing overwhelming in our circumstances if God smiles on us. We look into his face and feel that they are causing him no anxiety, and so our heads are lifted up. He can make "ways in seas and paths in great waters."
3. It renews our fervour and zeal. The smile tells of such love that we feel we can do or bear anything for his sake.
4. It glorifies the right; for it is only on that God ever smiles. He approves the good, but turns away from the evil. And that must ever seem to to be the most beautiful on which God's smiling face can rest.
Press, in conclusion, how the promises assure us that just these two things, or, better, this two-sided thing, God's strength and face, he is ever ready to give to those who with true hearts wait upon him. Those promises in effect say, "I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee." And the uplifted smile says, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee."—R.T.
1 Chronicles 16:12-14.-The contents of a godly memory.
"Remember, recall the records of Divine dealings; set afresh before your minds your own personal experiences of the Divine goodness and mercy." The conception of the "solidarity of the race" is matched by that of the essential unity of the race, in its mental and spiritual experiences, throughout all the ages. Really to know God's dealings with any one people is to know his dealings with all peoples. And therefore the story of his relations with the Jews is so minutely recorded, and so graciously preserved for us on whom the "ends of the world are come." And yet, further, it may be shown that an individual experience really affords the race-type. God is essentially to each what he is to all. We too often fix our attention on the changeable accidents of a man's career, and then think that his experience is unique. If it were so it were of little use to keep any record of the Divine dealings with men, for one man's experience could not help another. What then, are the usual contents of the godly memory? We can only deal with such as are suggested by the terms of the verses before us.
I. IT HOLDS ITS OWN PERSONAL MEMORIES OF GOD'S GOODNESS. Not merely has the godly man a general belief in God and God's merciful ways, but he has the assurance that God has been merciful to him. He can see in page after page of his life's story how guidance, restraint, comfort, teaching, and strength have come in precise adaptations to his own conditions and needs. He can speak of the "good hand of his God which has ever been upon him for good." The importance of fixing the memory of God's dealings by pious attention to them at the time, and by frequent review of them afterwards, should be pointed out. A richly stored memory becomes an unfailing well-spring of comfort in later life. To our view all our past should be dotted over with pillars we have raised, on which we have inscribed our "Ebenezer"—"Hitherto the Lord hath helped us;" and at any time we should be able to look back and bid these pillars remind us of the "wonderful works that he hath done."
II. IT HOLDS THE RACE-MEMORIALS OF GOD'S GOODNESS. Scripture tells us of God's dealings with men, both before he separated the Jewish people and while he had them under his special leadings. "The God of the whole earth shall he be called." It is characteristic of David's psalms that they are full of large broad thoughts of God's relations to the whole world. And both Scripture and secular history should provide us with stores for the memory, as they reveal God's workings towards his gracious ends of substantial and eternal good. If Israel may say, "He is the Lord our God," it must go on to say, "His judgments are in all the earth."
III. IT HOLDS THE COVENANT PEOPLE'S MEMORIALS OF GOD'S GOODNESS. This is the. peculiar treasure of the godly. We have the Bible records of the covenant race—God's peculiar people, whom he had chosen for himself. Show what a large portion of the good man's memory is taken up with the Scripture story of Israel. God's ways with his covenant people are to us the model and example of all his dealings, and upon these we argue what he is and will be in his ways with us. But they are wonderful ways, marvellous works; often mysterious, often severe; ways of judgment as well as mercy.
Impress that the use of due occasions for considering the contents of the memory, for refreshing the memory, and for making new grounds of praise and trust, is a most important, but often neglected, part of Christian duty, bearing direct relation to Christian strength and joy.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 16:15.-Abiding thoughts of the covenant.
Comparing the first clause of this verse with the answering clause in Psalms 105:8, it would seem that it is rather a statement concerning God than a counsel given to man; and it may be rendered, "He hath remembered," or "He hath been mindful always of his covenant." But man may very properly be urged to keep God's covenant ever in mind, on the very ground that God himself, in Divine faithfulness, keeps it ever before him. We may dwell on the moral influence exerted by cherishing thoughts of those covenant conditions under which God has been graciously pleased to set us. Explanations should be given of the Adalnic covenant, or covenant of creation; the patriarchal covenant, renewed again and again in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the Mosaic covenant, solemnly accepted by God and the people at Sinai, and made the condition of the national prosperity; and the Christian covenant, pledged for all believers in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. It should be shown how fully the Mosaic covenant became interwoven with Jewish thought; and how, by fresh and arousing incidents, the claims of the covenant were renewed; and also how, to the more devout Jewish mind, that covenant was glorified. The following points will be suggestive. It is morally helpful to keep before us —
I. THE HONOR OF BEING IN THE DIVINE COVENANT. All accesses to God are honourable. Compare our estimate of the honour of presentation to an earthly sovereign, and our sense of the yet higher honour of coming into direct relations of friendship and service with him. Illustrate by Abraham's oppressed feeling at the honour of close communion with the Lord and permission to intercede for Sodom, or by the surprised feeling of St. Paul when he thinks of himself as being a co-worker together with God. This "honour" exercises a moral influence on us especially in this, that it inspires us to be our best. It makes us feel, "What manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness?'
II. THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING IN THE DIVINE COVENANT. For we must be favoured above others; and if we are right-minded, all signs of special favour and regard bow us down in humility, as they did David, leading him to say, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou visitest him?" Seeing that there is "no respect of persons with God," it is necessary that we should keep from associating favouritism with his dealings. If he brings some—a few—under a special covenant, it is only for the service of the many, and with a view to the final blessing of the whole through them. So the sense of "privilege" should always be associated with the "humility" of the true servant; and we remember the covenant that we may be ever kept humble under God's gracious hand.
III. THE RESPONSIBILITY OF BEING IN THE DIVINE COVENANT. For it involves solemn pledges bearing relation to the
(1) maintenance of a high character;
(2) rendering of a pure witness; and
(3) doing an earnest work.
These may be set forth in both their Jewish and their Christian phases. The sense of responsibility has this moral influence—it cultures earnestness and diligence, and it arouses the whole powers to the attainment of "faithfulness."
IV. THE REWARDS OF BEING IN THE DIVINE COVENANT. Those rewards come in the fulfilment of the promises attached to the covenant. In the Jewish case they concerned material good, national peace and prosperity. In the Christian ease they concern moral and spiritual blessings, with earthly good conditioned upon the Divine wisdom and will. Rewards have this moral influence—they brighten, cheer, and encourage those who may be in the midst of toil and trouble.
In each of the above it may be shown how the sense of covenant-relations is corrective of the precise forms of worldly influence to which we are subject. And, in conclusion, we may dwell upon the holy rest of the thought that God himself is in pledged and holy covenant with us in Christ Jesus.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 16:23-25.-Christian joy a witness.
These verses reappear in Psalms 96:1-13. In that psalm the sacred nation is charged to praise Jehovah, and to spread the good tidings in all places. Such praise is fitting, seeing that all other deities are nothing, and Jehovah is God alone. Calvin, writing on this psalm, says, "It is an exhortation to praise God, addressed not to the Jews only, but to all nations. Whence we infer that the psalm refers to the kingdom of Christ; for till he was revealed to the world his Name could not be called upon anywhere but in Judaea." It is said that when the sun is going out of sight the pious Swiss herdsman of the Alps takes his Alpine horn and shouts loudly through it, "Praise ye the Lord." Then a brother herdsman on some distant slope takes up the echo, "Praise ye the Lord." Soon another answers, still higher up the mountains, till hill shouts to hill, and peak answers to peak, the sublime anthem of praise to the Lord of all. Characteristic of the psalmist is joy in God: and in this he is the one great Scripture example; Isaiah, perhaps, coming next after him, and St. Paul having much of the same feature marking even his toilsome and suffering life. Joy, as an element of religious life, must in part depend on:
1. Disposition. Some are of sanguine and hopeful, others of desponding, disposition. Some can easily turn everything into song, while others can never get beyond stern prose. We are not responsible for our natural dispositions, but we are for their due modification, harmony, and culture. Often latent and unsuspected faculties can be developed, and it is seldom wise to excuse failure and shortcoming on the ground of "human nature'"
2. Poetical faculty. Where this is given joy and song would seem to Be easy; yet, on the other side, it may be said that poets are often sad-toned men, probably because accompanying the poetical faculty is a power of insight which brings to the poet's eye the wrong that lies at the heart of so much that is seemingly good. But this cannot apply to thoughts and views of God. Insight and faculty can only find reasons for joy and song when they have to do with him and his all-merciful ways.
3. Youthful piety. Those who seek God early, as David did, usually have a brightness and gladness and joy of full trust on their whole religious lives Which the later-renewed can never reach. This is one of the best of the rewards given to early piety.
4. Earnest soul-culture. This, by leading to renewals of trust, to firmer hold of revealed truth, and to deeper experiences of Divine communion, bears directly upon the joy side of Christian feeling. When attained, Christian joy becomes a witness for two reasons or in two ways.
I. IT MEETS THE COMMON SENTIMENT THAT A THING MUST BE GOOD IN ITSELF IF IT TENDS TO MAKE US BRIGHT AND HAPPY. How common this sentiment is may be shown from ordinary life. The people who always cheer us, we feel sure, must be good people, and the same may be said of books, etc. In this way, therefore, our personal joy in God may become a gracious moral power on all who are around us. And hazy Christians have a most noble and blessed witness.
"Sing on your heavenward way,
Ye ransomed sinners, sing."
A weary world sadly needs the sweet relief and cheering of much Christian song.
II. IT SETS CHRISTIANITY IN A DISTINCT AND IMPRESSIVE CONTRAST WITH ALL OTHER RELIGIONS. They are familiar enough with the sentiment of fear. In perilous rebounds they know seasons of intense sensual excitement, which caricature true joy. But the prevailing tone of all other religions besides Christianity is sad. Only the Christian may "abound in joy through the Holy Ghost." Who could sing before that Athenian altar whereon was inscribed, "To the unknown God"? And who could fail to sing ann give praise, that might look into the face of the Father of Jesus, and say, "This God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our Guide even unto death "?—R.T.
1 Chronicles 16:29.-Sincerity and fervour in worship shown by gifts.
In accordance with the Mosaic regulations, and as a fitting expression of pious feeling, the people were enjoined to "bring an offering, and come before him." By an "offering" here we are to understand a gift rather than a sacrifice (see Ma 1 Chronicles 2:8-10). From the very earliest beginnings of the human race it was distinctly apprehended—whether by following the instincts with which God endowed man, or by special Divine revelations, we cannot say—that a man can and may give himself to God by and through the presentation to God of something that he has. This is the underlying principle of all tithes, offerings, and sacrifices. Nothing presented to God can be acceptable unless it carries with it the person presenting, seeing that what he cares for is man's love and trust and service. Illustrate from the case of Cain and Abel, each bringing a thank offering from that in which God had blessed him. Show how the principle gained development in the Mosaic system; the regular devotement of property being enjoined, and gifts being required in connection with all sanctuary attendances. Show that the principle has our lord's commendation, and passed over into the early Church, forming one of the first impulses of awakened Christian feeling (see Barnabas), and being specially commended to the attention of the Churches by the apostles (Acts 2:45; Gal 2:10; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 1 Corinthians 16:2). It may be enforced —
I. THAT CHRISTIAN FEELING STILL IMPELS GIFTS. The sense of indebtedness and of thankfulness always wants this mode of expression.
II. THAT CHRISTIAN FEELING STILL SEEKS RIGHT SPHERES FOR GIFTS. These are found in every age in connection with Divine worship. And as Christ is not now with us in the body, we find spheres for gifts in helping and blessing others for his sake.
III. THAT CHRISTIAN FEELING STILL SEEKS TO SERVE GOD BY ITS GIFTS. Letting them be
(1) signs to him, and
(2) inspiring examples to our fellow-men.
Press the duty of seeking right ideas concerning the trust of money, and the due apportionment of it so that God may be glorified in its use.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 16:29.-The claims of God to the worship and homage of his creatures.
What I have to demonstrate is:
1. That God is entitled to the homage of his creatures, and claims it as proper and right.
2. That these claims are made upon us, his intelligent creatures. It will therefore be necessary to show that we are capable of knowing God to all the extent necessary to excite in our minds the feelings of awe, reverence, and admiration, since these are essential to homage and worship. Also to prove that such claims are not only reasonable, but founded in justice and right.
3. That the worship and homage required is such that it not only does not degrade, but elevates the man that pays it; that it is not the hard requirement of despotism, but the righteous claim of infinite excellence; not the service of flattery and servility, but the free-will offering of a discerning and admiring mind (J. Robinson).—R.T.
1 Chronicles 16:29.-The clothing of true worshippers.
The expression "in the beauty of holiness" is rendered in the Septuagint Version, "in his sanctuary;" and by the Syriac Version, "with reverence and thanksgiving? A similar expression is found in 2 Chronicles 20:21, "That should praise the beauty of holiness;" this is translated by Bertheau, "in holy attire;" and by Malvenda, "Praise the Lord with the same costume, and dignity, and magnificence, as in the temple." The term "beauty of holiness" may be regarded as including inward devotion, and also with outward reverence. Jennings and Lowe, in their note on Psalms 96:9, translate, "in holy vestments;" and they quote a passage in Ecclesiastes 1:11, where it is said that Simon the high priest "put on the robe of honour, and… made the garment of the sanctuary honourable." For man external forms of worship are necessary, but in his relations to them there is a constant peril of formality, and so a constant need for a watchful and careful culture of the spiritual life and feeling which alone can make forms acceptable. Illustrate the danger of formality by the Jewish wearing of the tallith, etc; and by exaggerated rabbinical regulations. Note with what constant anxiety our Lord taught that they who "worship the Father must worship him in spirit and in truth." Holiness, as here used, has no precise equivalent. It includes "sincerity," and also "reverence," but it should be thought of as embracing "whole-heartedness" and "devout earnestness" and "spiritual preparedness." The term may be suggestively compared with the "integrity" of David and the "perfect" of the New Testament. The worship-clothing which is expressed in the term "beauty of holiness" may be treated as including
(6) and openness to receive.
In the Christian Church is a "kingdom of priests," a "holy priesthood," then we should be devoutly anxious to secure the priestly clothing for our high and noble spiritual worship.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 16:31.-God's present reign.
"The Lord reigneth," or "Jehovah is king." David saw, in the restoration of the ark, a new and solemn resumption of his direct government by Jehovah; and of this glorious fact he bids the people make acknowledgment and render witness. Explain fully the Jewish conception of the theocracy, and show how it was connected with a present and abiding outward symbol—at first the pillar-cloud, and then the ark. The importance of the theocratic idea, and the actual influence of it on mind and heart, depended on the differing religious dispositions of the people. To the worldly minded Jew it would be a vague notion, a sort of sublime, but impractical, philosophical conception—a sort of hereditary national sentiment, and nothing more. To the truly spiritually minded man it was the first, most impressive, and most practical of all truths. It was the thought that put glorious meaning into commonplace life and labour. Life has its holy issues, and it might well have its shrouded mysteries, for "the Lord reigneth." This Jewish notion passes over into Christianity, and we realize Jehovah's present spiritual reign in the administration of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Maccabean times there was a tendency to lose the idea that "the Lord doth reign," and to substitute for it a phrase which indicated a great outlooking for a coming Deliverer and a golden age, "the Lord shall reign." And a similar evil tendency still affects the Christian Church; failing to realize Christ's present rule, some sections of the Church keep looking on to some fancied near time, when Christ shall come again and take to himself his great power and reign. And the antidote is full and faithful teaching on the point of which the psalmist makes so much—the present direct, and every way practical, present reign over the earth and the Church, of Jehovah, apprehended in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Keeping the present reign in Christ before our minds, it may be instructive to show —
I. THAT CHRIST'S LIFE ON EARTH HELPS OUR APPREHENSION OF THE REIGN. The reign of God the Spirit must ever seem to man an unreal, intangible thing, unless it can take some outward and material shape; and yet that shape and form must be such as will in no sense imperil the spiritual character of the reign. No merely human sovereignty could be satisfactory, for none could be worthy of that sublime royalty which it presumed to represent. Christ's life on earth was the theocracy materialized for human apprehension. Our Lord's humanity sets God before our thought in human terms and figures such as we can understand. And the kingship of Jesus was felt and acknowledged by friend and foe, wherever he went, and not exclusively by those disciples who knew him most intimately. His teaching was given "with authority;" his personal relations were a rule. It can be no wonder that people should cast their garments in his way, and wave palm branches, and shout, saying, "Hosanna to the King that cometh in the Name of the Lord!" His life is the earth-picture of the Divine reign over the hearts and lives of men.
II. THAT CHRIST'S GLORY IN HEAVEN MAKES US REALIZE THE REIGN AS A SPIRITUAL REIGN. It takes all the merely carnal features out of it. The reign is such a one as our exalted, glorified, ascended, spiritual Lord and Saviour may have, who is "Lord of lambs the lowly, King of saints the holy." The risen, heavenly Christ we feel must have, as the sphere for his rule, not our bodily actions only, but our wills, our choices, our affections; gaining, as he must, his beginnings in our souls, and extending his holy authorities over all the relations we sustain.
Explain and impress how, in our common, everyday life, we can realize the theocratic conception, and practically live in the joy and impulse of being daily "in the great Taskmaker's eye."—R.T.
1 Chronicles 16:33.-God always coming to judge.
"Judgment" is, in Scripture, a large and comprehensive term. It is sometimes synonymous with "rule," or "government," because in ancient monarchies actual magistracy—due personal consideration and decision of rival claims, or accusations of crimes—took a prominent place. Sometimes reference is intended to that appointment of deserts in men's earthly experiences which may be regarded as a Divine judgment continually working. And sometimes the allusion is to that great occasion on which the anomalies of life are to gain permanent adjustment, and the issues of human conduct to be eternally fixed. Whatever other figures for God may gain attraction to us, we may not lose our thought of him as the "Judge of all the earth." We fix attention on the fact that the judging of God is no merely future thing, the glory of a coming day. It may be urged that—
I. GOD IS "EVER COMING TO JUDGE" IN THE WITNESS OF MEN'S CONSCIENCES. No man has to wait for his judgment. He has it at once in the inward conviction of the rightness or wrongness of his action. We should never, in our thought, separate conscience from the inward voice of God our Judge.
II. GOD IS EVER "COMING TO JUDGE" IN THE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN SIN AND SUFFERING. Suffering being the proper issue of sin, and necessarily connected with it by God in order to reveal its character. All suffering may be regarded as a beginning and present illustration of God's judgment.
III. GOD IS EVER "COMING TO JUDGE" IN THE CONVICTIONS WROUGHT BY THE PRESENCE AMONG US OF HOLY MEN. Illustrate how Enoch and Noah carried God's judgment on their sinful generation, in the conviction produced by their holy lives. And in the fullest sense this was true of the Lord Jesus as the holiest of men. His presence among them was God's abiding judgment on a sinful and adulterous generation. ]n measure the same is true still of both private and public spheres—the presence of holy men and women tests us, and, too often, both judges and condemns.
IV. GOD IS EVER "COMING TO JUDGE" IN THE ORDERINGS OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE. Calamities, and even disappointments, are signs of the Divine presence recognizing and dealing with wilfulness and sin. And this is quite as true when we are able to trace the natural laws according to whose legitimate workings the calamities or failures may have come.
V. GOD IS SURELY ALSO COMING WITH HIS FINAL JUDGEMENT ON THE LIVES AND RECORDS OF NATIONS AND OF MEN. Of that fact we are well assured; of the manner and method of it we have only as yet vague poetical figures, which we are unable to trans- late into earthly fact. Enough is told us to make the thought of coming judgment a present moral power. David connected the Divine "judgment" with "righteousness" and with "truth," as these, he knew, had been so gloriously manifested in the fulfilment of ancient promises. "These being the characteristics of Jehovah's judgment to which the view is directed in this psalm, the essentially joyous tone of it is accounted for." Think aright of God's judgment, and of it we may even learn to sing.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 16:36.-The people's Amen.
With this incident should be compared the public response of the people at the seasons for the renewal of the covenant (Joshua 24:16-24, etc.). In the united cry of the people, when David's psalm closed, we have their acceptance of all that had been said in their behalf. The word "amen" means "firm, faithful, verily;" and the proper signification of the word is when one person confirms the word of another, and expresses his wish for the success and accomplishment of the other's vows and declarations. For Scripture use of the word, see the following representative passages: —Numbers 5:22; Deu 27:15; 1 Kings 1:36; Psalms 41:13; Psalms 106:48; Jeremiah 28:6; Matthew 6:13; Revelation 22:20. The following early authorities confirm the fact that the word "Amen" was repeated aloud as a response by the Christian congregations:—Justin Martyr, A.D. 138, notices that the people present say the "Amen" after prayer and thanksgiving. Dionysius of Alexandria, A.D. 232, speaks of one who had often listened to the thanksgiving, and joined in the "Amen" which followed. Cyril of Jerusalem, A.D. 320, says that the Lord's Prayer is sealed with an "Amen." And Jerome, A.D. 331, speaks of the thundering sound of the "Amen" of the Roman congregations. It is very interesting to note that all the hymns found in the third book of 'Chaldaean Magic' close with an Accadian word Kakama, which is represented in Assyrian as amanu, and is precisely the "Amen" with which we are accustomed to close our prayers and hymns. The word was used in the services of the synagogue. "The formula of consecration in the Holy Eucharist is in most ancient liturgies ordered to be said aloud, and the people respond aloud, Amen." "In most Greek liturgies also, when the priest in administering says, 'Soma Christou,' the receivers answer, 'Amen.' We may dwell on —
I. THE COMMON WORSHIP. Whenever a congregation of people gathers together for worship in connection with religious ceremonial, only some of them can take actual part by voice or by act. All may share in sympathy, interest, and common feeling. This is illustrated in David's bringing up the ark. All shared, but only a few were actually engaged in the ceremonial.
II. THE REPRESENTATIVE VOICE or voices, of priest or of singers, of minister or of clerk. Such voices and actors should be conceived as
(1) set forth by the people to act for them;
(2) understanding the wants, conditions, and feelings of the people; and
(3) speaking for the people.
III. THE GREAT AMEN. This is to be regarded as solemnly sealing, acknowledging and accepting what has been said or done in the people's name. It is curious that it should come to be spoken by the minister, not the people.
Impress the interest
(1) to God of the people's Amen;
(2) to the representative speaker; and
(3) to the people themselves.
Show the importance of regarding it as a solemn duty to attend so fully to Divine service, that, in uttering our Amen, we intelligently and solemnly take what is said, or what is done, and make it ours—our own.—R.T.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 16". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19