Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Reflections on 2 Chronicles 5

 2 Chronicles 05(Contemporary English Version)
  1. After the LORD's temple was finished, Solomon put in its storage rooms everything that his father David had dedicated to the LORD, including the gold and silver, and the objects used in worship.
  2. The sacred chest had been kept on Mount Zion, also known as the city of David. But Solomon decided to have the chest moved to the temple while everyone was in Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Shelters during the seventh month. Solomon called together all the important leaders of Israel.
  3. (SEE 5:2)
  4. Then the priests and the Levites picked up the sacred chest, the sacred tent, and the objects used for worship, and they carried them to the temple.
  5. (SEE 5:4)
  6. Solomon and a crowd of people walked in front of the chest, and along the way they sacrificed more sheep and cattle than could be counted.
  7. The priests carried the chest into the most holy place and put it under the winged creatures,
  8. whose wings covered the chest and the poles used for carrying it.
  9. The poles were so long that they could be seen from just outside the most holy place, but not from anywhere else. And they stayed there from then on.
  10. The only things kept in the chest were the two flat stones Moses had put there when the LORD made his agreement with the people of Israel at Mount Sinai, after bringing them out of Egypt.
  11. The priests of every group had gone through the ceremony to make themselves clean and acceptable to the LORD. The Levite musicians, including Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their sons and relatives, were wearing robes of fine linen. They were standing on the east side of the altar, playing cymbals, small harps, and other stringed instruments. One hundred twenty priests were with these musicians, and they were blowing trumpets. They were praising the LORD by playing music and singing: "The LORD is good, and his love never ends." Suddenly a cloud filled the temple as the priests were leaving the holy place.
  12. (SEE 5:11)
  13. (SEE 5:11)
  14. The LORD's glory was in that cloud, and the light from it was so bright that the priests could not stay inside to do their work.

After 7 years, the temple was completed and the special furnishings and consecrated things were moved into it. Solomon's father David had gathered so much gold for the temple that it was not all used in the construction and Solomon placed it in the temple treasuries.

Though new furnishings had been made for the temple, the furnishings made by Moses that were contained in the tent of meeting were all brought into the temple. As the priests and Levites moved the ark, tent of meeting, and holy utensils from the tent of meeting, Solomon and the congregation of Israel gathered around the ark and sacrificed unnumberable sheep and cattle.

When the furnishings had been moved into the temple and the priests came out of the holy place, a large contingent of musicians, including 120 trumpeters, lifted their voices and instruments in praise and thanks to the Lord. The sound must have been awesome. Then, to cap it off, the temple was filled with a cloud as the glory of the Lord entered the place. For those present on that day, this must have been an unforgettable occasion.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Reflections on 2 Chronicles 4

 2 Chronicles 04(Contemporary English Version)
  1. Solomon had a bronze altar made that was thirty feet square and fifteen feet high.
  2. He also gave orders to make a large metal bowl called the Sea. It was fifteen feet across, about seven and a half feet deep, and forty-five feet around.
  3. Its outer edge was decorated with two rows of carvings of bulls, ten bulls to every eighteen inches, all made from the same piece of metal as the bowl.
  4. The bowl itself sat on top of twelve bronze bulls, with three bulls facing outward in each of four directions.
  5. The sides of the bowl were four inches thick, and its rim was in the shape of a cup that curved outward like flower petals. The bowl held about fifteen thousand gallons.
  6. He also made ten small bowls and put five on each side of the large bowl. The small bowls were used to wash the animals that were burned on the altar as sacrifices, and the priests used the water in the large bowl to wash their hands.
  7. Ten gold lampstands were also made according to the plans. Solomon placed these lampstands inside the temple, five on each side of the main room.
  8. He also made ten tables and placed them in the main room, five on each side. And he made a hundred small gold sprinkling bowls.
  9. Solomon gave orders to build two courtyards: a smaller one that only priests could use and a larger one. The doors to these courtyards were covered with bronze.
  10. The large bowl called the Sea was placed near the southeast corner of the temple.
  11. Huram made shovels, sprinkling bowls, and pans for hot ashes. Here is a list of the other furnishings he made for God's temple:
  12. two columns, two bowl-shaped caps for the tops of these columns, two chain designs on the caps,
  13. four hundred pomegranates for the chain designs,
  14. the stands and the small bowls,
  15. the large bowl and the twelve bulls that held it up,
  16. pans for hot ashes, as well as shovels and meat forks. Huram made all these things out of polished bronze
  17. by pouring melted bronze into the clay molds he had set up near the Jordan River, between Succoth and Zeredah.
  18. There were so many bronze furnishings that no one ever knew how much bronze it took to make them.
  19. Solomon also gave orders to make the following temple furnishings out of gold: the altar, the tables that held the sacred loaves of bread,
  20. the lampstands and the lamps that burned in front of the most holy place,
  21. flower designs, lamps and tongs,
  22. lamp snuffers, small sprinkling bowls, ladles, fire pans, and the doors to the most holy place and the main room of the temple.

In constructing the temple Solomon also gave detail to the furnishings. Each piece of furnishing had a purpose beyond decor, that related to the various functions of the temple. Huram was the craftsman sent to Solomon by King Hiram of Tyre. He oversaw the creation of all the furniture, casting the bronze pieces in clay molds in the Jordan valley. So much bronze was used that the weight of it all was never determined. The same could no doubt be said of the gold. Gold was not only used in the furnishings but also in much of the construction.

Solomon's temple was a lavish and fitting tribute to the God of Israel. It is understandable as to why the Israelites were so attached to it.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Reflections on 2 Chronicles 3

 2 Chronicles 03(Contemporary English Version)
  1. Solomon's workers began building the temple in Jerusalem on the second day of the second month, four years after Solomon had become king of Israel. It was built on Mount Moriah where the LORD had appeared to David at the threshing place that had belonged to Araunah from Jebus.
  2. (SEE 3:1)
  3. The inside of the temple was ninety feet long and thirty feet wide, according to the older standards.
  4. Across the front of the temple was a porch thirty feet wide and thirty feet high. The inside walls of the porch were covered with pure gold.
  5. Solomon had the inside walls of the temple's main room paneled first with pine and then with a layer of gold, and he had them decorated with carvings of palm trees and designs that looked like chains.
  6. He used precious stones to decorate the temple, and he used gold imported from Parvaim
  7. to decorate the ceiling beams, the doors, the door frames, and the walls. Solomon also had the workers carve designs of winged creatures into the walls.
  8. The most holy place was thirty feet square, and its walls were covered with almost twenty-five tons of fine gold.
  9. More than a pound of gold was used to cover the heads of the nails. The walls of the small storage rooms were also covered with gold.
  10. Solomon had two statues of winged creatures made to put in the most holy place, and he covered them with gold.
  11. Each creature had two wings and was fifteen feet from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other wing. Solomon set them next to each other in the most holy place, facing the doorway. Their wings were spread out and reached all the way across the thirty foot room.
  12. (SEE 3:11)
  13. (SEE 3:11)
  14. A curtain was made of fine linen woven with blue, purple, and red wool, and embroidered with designs of winged creatures.
  15. Two columns were made for the entrance to the temple. Each one was fifty-two feet tall and had a cap on top that was seven and a half feet high.
  16. The top of each column was decorated with designs that looked like chains and with a hundred carvings of pomegranates.
  17. Solomon had one of the columns placed on the south side of the temple's entrance; it was called Jachin. The other one was placed on the north side of the entrance; it was called Boaz.

Construction of the temple in Jerusalem finally began after what must have been nearly 40 years of anticipation. David's dream for the temple began early in his reign which lasted 40 years, and construction finally began in the 4th year of Solomon's reign. The temple took 7 years to build, so it was completed in the 7th year of Solomon's reign. Including the final preparations left to Solomon which he attended to in the first 4 years of his reign, construction of the temple took a great deal of his attention for the first one-fourth of his reign.

The temple design outlined in this chapter was given to David by the Lord and passed along to Solomon. So it was the Lord's design and based on the design of the tabernacle that Moses built. The entire structure of the temple was 105 feet long and 30 feet wide. This length included a porch on the front and two rooms on the main floor within. Entering from the front of the temple there was the 'larger room' which was paneled with cypress wood overlaid with gold and decorated with palm trees and chains. This room was divided from the second room, the most holy place, by a large veil or curtain which was made of "blue, purple, and crimson yarn and fine linen, and he wove cherubim into it." (3:14)

The entire area of the most holy place was overlaid with gold using gold nails in the construction. Two sculptured cherubim stood in the most holy place facing the larger room. Each cherubim had a wingspan of 15 feet. Standing side by side their wings spanned the entire width of the room.

In front of the temple were two freestanding pillars which were 27 feet tall with a 7 1/2 feet high capital on top, making it 34.5 feet tall altogether. Solomon named the pillar on the south Jakin, meaning "He establishes," and the one on the north Boaz, meaning "in Him is strength." So the pillars symbolized what is stated in 2 Chronicles 7:16, that the Lord had established His house and would maintain it forever.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Reflections on 2 Chronicles 2

 2 Chronicles 02(Contemporary English Version)
  1. Solomon decided to build a temple where the LORD would be worshiped, and also to build a palace for himself.
  2. He assigned seventy thousand men to carry building supplies and eighty thousand to cut stone from the hills. And he chose three thousand six hundred men to supervise these workers.
  3. Solomon sent the following message to King Hiram of Tyre: Years ago, when my father David was building his palace, you supplied him with cedar logs. Now will you send me supplies?
  4. I am building a temple where the LORD my God will be worshiped. Sweet-smelling incense will be burned there, and sacred bread will be offered to him. Worshipers will offer sacrifices to the LORD every morning and evening, every Sabbath, and on the first day of each month, as well as during all our religious festivals. These things will be done for all time, just as the LORD has commanded.
  5. This will be a great temple, because our God is greater than all other gods.
  6. No one can ever build a temple large enough for God--even the heavens are too small a place for him to live in! All I can do is build a place where we can offer sacrifices to him.
  7. Send me a worker who can not only carve, but who can work with gold, silver, bronze, and iron, as well as make brightly colored cloth. The person you send will work here in Judah and Jerusalem with the skilled workers that my father has already hired.
  8. I know that you have workers who are experts at cutting lumber in Lebanon. So would you please send me some cedar, pine, and juniper logs? My workers will be there to help them,
  9. because I'll need a lot of lumber to build such a large and glorious temple.
  10. I will pay your woodcutters one hundred twenty-five thousand bushels of wheat, the same amount of barley, one hundred fifteen thousand gallons of wine, and that same amount of olive oil.
  11. Hiram sent his answer back to Solomon: I know that the LORD must love his people, because he has chosen you to be their king.
  12. Praise the LORD God of Israel who made heaven and earth! He has given David a son who isn't only wise and smart, but who has the knowledge to build a temple for the LORD and a palace for himself.
  13. I am sending Huram Abi to you. He is very bright.
  14. His mother was from the Israelite tribe of Dan, and his father was from Tyre. Not only is Huram an expert at working with gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone, and wood, but he can also make colored cloth and fine linen. And he can carve anything if you give him a pattern to follow. He can help your workers and those hired by your father King David.
  15. Go ahead and send the wheat, barley, olive oil, and wine you promised to pay my workers.
  16. I will tell them to start cutting down trees in Lebanon. They will cut as many as you need, then tie them together into rafts, and float them down along the coast to Joppa. Your workers can take them to Jerusalem from there.
  17. Solomon counted all the foreigners who were living in Israel, just as his father David had done when he was king, and the total was 153,600.
  18. He assigned 70,000 of them to carry building supplies and 80,000 of them to cut stone from the hills. He chose 3,600 others to supervise the workers and to make sure the work was completed.

Solomon was now ready to turn his attention to building the temple for the Lord that his father was so intent on having him do. He began by conscripting workers from among the foreigners living in Israel. While verse 2 does not identify them as foreigners we derive this from verses 17 and 18.

Although his father, David, had already gathered considerable materials for the temple, Solomon still needed more and went to his father's friend, King Hiram of Tyre. He requested of Hiram "a craftsman who is skilled in engraving to work with gold, silver, bronze, and iron, and with purple, crimson, and blue yarn." and also for more timber, "cedar, cypress, and algum logs from Lebanon." (2:7, 8)

Hiram was pleased to work with him as he had Solomon's father and agreed to his request, sending him a craftsman whose mother was an Israelite. Solomon had offered to pay the woodcutters who cut the trees, "100,000 bushels of wheat flour, 100,000 bushels of barley, 110,000 gallons of wine, and 110,000 gallons of oil." (2:10) and Hiram did not quibble over it.

All had been ordained by the Lord, starting with his appointment of Solomon to build the temple and including Hiram's cooperation in providing help. Hiram was a polytheist, believing in multiple gods, so he had no problem accepting Israel's God even though he also worshiped other gods. Whether or not he agreed with Solomon that the God of Israel "is greater than any of the gods" is a question for which we have no answer. But he was not offended by Solomon's assertion.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Reflections on 2 Chronicles 1

 2 Chronicles 01(Contemporary English Version)
  1. King Solomon, the son of David, was now in complete control of his kingdom, because the LORD God had blessed him and made him a powerful king.
  2. At that time, the sacred tent that Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the desert was still kept at Gibeon, and in front of the tent was the bronze altar that Bezalel had made. One day, Solomon told the people of Israel, the army commanders, the officials, and the family leaders, to go with him to the place of worship at Gibeon, even though his father King David had already moved the sacred chest from Kiriath-Jearim to the tent that he had set up for it in Jerusalem. Solomon and the others went to Gibeon to worship the LORD,
  3. (SEE 1:2)
  4. (SEE 1:2)
  5. (SEE 1:2)
  6. and there at the bronze altar, Solomon offered a thousand animals as sacrifices to please the LORD.
  7. God appeared to Solomon that night in a dream and said, "Solomon, ask for anything you want, and I will give it to you."
  8. Solomon answered: LORD God, you were always loyal to my father David, and now you have made me king of Israel.
  9. I am supposed to rule these people, but there are as many of them as there are specks of dust on the ground. So keep the promise you made to my father
  10. and make me wise. Give me the knowledge I'll need to be the king of this great nation of yours.
  11. God replied: Solomon, you could have asked me to make you rich or famous or to let you live a long time. Or you could have asked for your enemies to be destroyed. Instead, you asked for wisdom and knowledge to rule my people.
  12. So I will make you wise and intelligent. But I will also make you richer and more famous than any king before or after you.
  13. Solomon then left Gibeon and returned to Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel.
  14. Solomon had a force of one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses that he kept in Jerusalem and other towns.
  15. While Solomon was king of Israel, there was silver and gold everywhere in Jerusalem, and cedar was as common as ordinary sycamore trees in the foothills.
  16. Solomon's merchants bought his horses and chariots in the regions of Musri and Kue. They paid about fifteen pounds of silver for a chariot and almost four pounds of silver for a horse. They also sold horses and chariots to the Hittite and Syrian kings.
  17. (SEE 1:16)

2 Chronicles chapter 1 picks up where 1 Chronicles chapter 29 left off. Some time had passed in between, however, for Solomon had "strengthened his hold on his kingdom" (1:1) by 'cleaning house' and getting rid of challengers to the throne, as recorded in the first three chapters of 1 Kings. Without comment as to the reason, we are told that on this particular occasion Solomon gathered all the leaders of Israel with him at God's tent of meeting in Gibeon and offered sacrifices there to the Lord.

This was unusual since although the tent of meeting was in Gibeon, David had moved the ark of the Lord to Jerusalem and worshiped the Lord there. So it had been years since the king, both David and presumably Solomon, had worshped in Gibeon. We can only guess that Solomon went to Gibeon on this occasion in preparation of beginning his task of building a temple for the Lord in Jerusalem, replacing the tent of meeting. This 'guess' has some support in that the second chapter begins with mention of Solomon beginning to take steps to build the temple.

Following Solomon's offering of sacrifices to the Lord in Gibeon, the Lord appeared to him that evening and asked Solomon, "What should I give you?" It is hard for us to imagine the Lord asking us what He should give us as if we could ask for anything and He would give it to us. But in a sense, God does ask every believer what they want, and what we ask of the Lord determines largely what we get in life. For many, this means asking to live their lives as they want without being bothered by problems. There seems to be this expectation that God's greatest responsibility is to see that people don't have problems in life. We would do better to ask, as did Solomon, for wisdom so we would know how best to deal with those problems we encounter.

God, in His wisdom, knows that it is for our good that we have problems, for they are like spiritual exercise. We are prone to approach spiritual exercise as we do physical exercise by trying to avoid it. But as lack of physical exercise is not good for our physical health, neither is lack of spiritual exercise good for our spiritual health. God knows this and as a loving Father does not always enable us to avoid it. Like spoiled children, though, we get angry with Him when He does not help us avoid problems and fail to look for or acknowledge the help He offers us to deal with those problems.

Solomon must have already had a good measure of wisdom, for he exercised wisdom in requesting greater wisdom of the Lord and nothing else. This pleased the Lord and He granted Solomon even what he didn't ask for, which was wealth and glory. What a great heavenly Father we have. I cannot enumerate the times or the ways in which God has granted me more than what I asked for and in ways I could not even imagine.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Reflections on 1 Chronicles 29

 1 Chronicles 29(Contemporary English Version)
  1. David told the crowd: God chose my son Solomon to build the temple, but Solomon is young and has no experience. This is not just any building--this is the temple for the LORD God!
  2. That's why I have done my best to get everything Solomon will need to build it--gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, onyx, turquoise, colored gems, all kinds of precious stones, and marble.
  3. Besides doing all that, I have promised to give part of my own gold and silver as a way of showing my love for God's temple.
  4. Almost one hundred twenty tons of my finest gold and over two hundred fifty tons of my silver will be used to decorate its walls
  5. and to make the gold and silver objects. Now, who else will show their dedication to the LORD by giving gifts for building his temple?
  6. After David finished speaking, the family leaders, the tribal leaders, the army commanders, and the government officials voluntarily gave gifts
  7. for the temple. These gifts included almost two hundred tons of gold, three hundred eighty tons of silver, almost seven hundred tons of bronze, and three thousand seven hundred fifty tons of iron.
  8. Everyone who owned precious stones also donated them to the temple treasury, where Jehiel from the Levite clan of Gershon guarded them.
  9. David and the people were very happy that so much had been given to the LORD, and they all celebrated.
  10. Then, in front of everyone, David sang praises to the LORD: I praise you forever, LORD! You are the God our ancestor Jacob worshiped.
  11. Your power is great, and your glory is seen everywhere in heaven and on earth. You are king of the entire world,
  12. and you rule with strength and power. You make people rich and powerful and famous.
  13. We thank you, our God, and praise you.
  14. But why should we be happy that we have given you these gifts? They belong to you, and we have only given back what is already yours.
  15. We are only foreigners living here on earth for a while, just as our ancestors were. And we will soon be gone, like a shadow that suddenly disappears.
  16. Our LORD God, we have brought all these things for building a temple to honor you. They belong to you, and you gave them to us.
  17. But we are happy, because everyone has voluntarily given you these things. You know what is in everyone's heart, and you are pleased when people are honest.
  18. Always make us eager to give, and help us be faithful to you, just as our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob faithfully worshiped you.
  19. And give Solomon the desire to completely obey your laws and teachings, and the desire to build the temple for which I have provided these gifts.
  20. David then said to the people, "Now it's your turn to praise the LORD, the God your ancestors worshiped!" So everyone praised the LORD, and they bowed down to honor him and David their king.
  21. The next day, the Israelites slaughtered a thousand bulls, a thousand rams, and a thousand lambs, and they offered them as sacrifices to please the LORD, along with offerings of wine.
  22. The people were very happy, and they ate and drank there at the LORD's altar. That same day, Solomon was crowned king. The people celebrated and poured olive oil on Solomon's head to show that he would be their next king. They also poured oil on Zadok's head to show that he was their priest.
  23. So Solomon became king after David his father. Solomon was successful, and everyone in Israel obeyed him.
  24. Every official and every soldier, as well as all of David's other sons, were loyal to him.
  25. The LORD made Solomon a great king, and the whole nation was amazed at how famous he was. In fact, no other king of Israel was as great as Solomon.
  26. David the son of Jesse was king of Israel
  27. for forty years. He ruled from Hebron for seven years and from Jerusalem for thirty-three years.
  28. David was rich and respected and lived to be an old man. Then he died, and his son Solomon became king.
  29. Everything David did while he was king is included in the history written by the prophets Samuel, Nathan, and Gad.
  30. They wrote about his powerful rule and about the things that happened not only to him, but also to Israel and the other nations.

David's reign as king ended on a very different note than that of his predecessor, king Saul, and of many of his successors. The last years of his reign were devoted to the occasion recorded in this last chapter of 1 Chronicles, preparation for the building of the temple and for his son, Solomon, to succeed him and start construction of the temple. Building the temple was a dream of David's throughout his reign even though God let him know from the out start that he was not the one to build it. This did not keep him from making much, if not most, of the preparations for its construction.

In the ceremonies of chapter 29, David, before an assembly of all Israel's leaders, enumerates the materials he gathered for the temple and then dedicated gold and silver from his personal treasures. Furthermore, he challenged the leaders to do the same, asking them, "who will volunteer to consecrate himself to the LORD today?" (29:5) The leaders responded generously leading to a time of rejoicing and praise to the Lord followed by a prayer of thanksgiving from David.

The next day was an even bigger day with a huge offering of sacrifices to the Lord followed by a big feast and capped off by anointing Solomon king for a second time. It would appear that Solomon immediately began his reign following the ceremonies of that day. It is not known how much longer David lived beyond Solomon's ascension to the throne, but it is thought to have been only a brief period. David had reigned 40 years as king over all Israel.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reflections on 1 Chronicles 28

 1 Chronicles 28(Contemporary English Version)
  1. David called a meeting in Jerusalem for all of Israel's leaders, including the tribal leaders, the government officials, the army commanders, the officials in charge of the royal property and livestock, the palace officials, and the brave warriors.
  2. After everyone was there, David stood up and said: Listen to me, my people. I wanted to build a place where the sacred chest would be kept, so we could go there and worship the LORD our God. I have prepared all the supplies for building a temple,
  3. but the LORD has refused to let me build it, because he said I have killed too many people in battle.
  4. The LORD God chose Judah to be the leading tribe in Israel. Then from Judah, he chose my father's family, and from that family, he chose me to be the king of Israel, and he promised that my descendants will also rule as kings.
  5. The LORD has blessed me with many sons, but he chose my son Solomon to be the next king of Israel.
  6. The LORD said to me, "Your son Solomon will build my temple, and it will honor me. Solomon will be like a son to me, and I will be like a father to him.
  7. If he continues to obey my laws and commands, his kingdom will never end."
  8. My friends, you are the LORD's people. And now, with God as your witness, I want you to promise that you will do your best to obey everything the LORD God has commanded us. Then this land will always belong to you and your descendants.
  9. Solomon, my son, worship God and obey him with all your heart and mind, just as I have done. He knows all your thoughts and your reasons for doing things, and so if you turn to him, he will hear your prayers. But if you ignore him, he will reject you forever.
  10. The LORD has chosen you to build a temple for worshiping him. Be confident and do the work you have been assigned.
  11. After David finished speaking, he gave Solomon the plans for building the main rooms of the temple, including the porch, the storerooms, the rooms upstairs and downstairs, as well as the most holy place.
  12. He gave Solomon his plans for the courtyards and the open areas around the temple, and for the rooms to store the temple treasures and gifts that had been dedicated to God.
  13. David also gave Solomon his plans for dividing the priests and the Levites into groups, as well as for the work that needed to be done at the temple and for taking care of the objects used for worship.
  14. He told Solomon how much gold and silver was to be used in making the sacred objects,
  15. including the lampstands and lamps,
  16. the gold table which held the sacred loaves of bread, the tables made of silver,
  17. the meat forks, the bowls and cups,
  18. the gold incense altar, and the gold statue of a chariot for the winged creatures which were on the lid of the sacred chest.
  19. David then said to Solomon: The LORD showed me how his temple is to be built.
  20. But you must see that everything is done according to these plans. Be confident, and never be afraid of anything or get discouraged. The LORD my God will help you do everything needed to finish the temple, so it can be used for worshiping him.
  21. The priests and Levites have been assigned their duties, and all the skilled workers are prepared to do their work. The people and their leaders will do anything you tell them.

All of the activities described in the previous chapters in organizing the priests and Levites and government officials was building to the occasion recorded in chapter 28. The timing of this occasion was due not only to the fact it was now time to build the temple but also that David had grown old and his death was imminent. So David called together all of these newly appointed leaders along with his son Solomon and instructed them on what was to happen next and why.

David made it clear these instructions were not his own but from the Lord. Out of all Israel, the Lord had chosen him to be king and now out of all his sons the Lord had chosen Solomon to succeed him. Though many of these leaders had no doubt heard it before, David explained how he had wanted to build a house for the Lord but the Lord told him, "You are not to build a house for My name because you are a man of war and have shed blood." Furthermore, the Lord told David, "Your son Solomon is the one who is to build My house and My courts." (28:3, 6)

After giving this background, David then instructed the gathered leaders to "observe and seek after all the commandments of the LORD your God so that you may possess this good land and leave it as an inheritance to your descendants forever." Then he instructed Solomon, saying, "As for you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. Realize now that the LORD has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary. Be strong, and do it." (28:8, 9-10)

Following this gathering with the leaders of Israel, David gave all the plans for the temple to Solomon. These were not his plans, though, but plans the Lord had given him, for "By the LORD's hand on me, He enabled me to understand everything in writing, all the details of the plan." (28:19) David had not only gathered materials and workmen for building the temple, he had organized the priests and Levites to assist in this project. All that was left for Solomon was to make it happen which David challenged him to do, "Be strong and courageous, and do the work." (28:20)

These are words for all of us to hear for ourselves, "Be strong and courageous, and do the work." The abundant life God has in store for all of us is found not in taking the path of least resistance but in accepting the path God lays before us and traveling it with strength and courage that only He can give us.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Reflections on 1 Chronicles 27

 1 Chronicles 27(Contemporary English Version)
  1. Each month a group of twenty-four thousand men served as soldiers in Israel's army. These men, which included the family leaders, army commanders, and officials of the king, were under the command of the following men, arranged by the month of their service:
  2. In the first month, Jashobeam the son of Zabdiel,
  3. a descendant of Perez;
  4. in the second month, Dodai the Ahohite, whose assistant was Mikloth;
  5. in the third month, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada the priest,
  6. who was the leader of the Thirty Warriors, and whose son Ammizabad was also an army commander;
  7. in the fourth month, Asahel the brother of Joab, whose son Zebadiah took over command after him;
  8. in the fifth month, Shamhuth from the Izrah clan;
  9. in the sixth month, Ira the son of Ikkesh from Tekoa;
  10. in the seventh month, Helez from Pelon in the territory of Ephraim;
  11. in the eighth month, Sibbecai from Hushah of the Zerah clan;
  12. in the ninth month, Abiezer from Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin;
  13. in the tenth month, Maharai from Netophah of the Zerah clan;
  14. in the eleventh month, Benaiah from Pirathon in the territory of Ephraim;
  15. in the twelfth month, Heldai from Netophah, who was a descendant of Othniel.
  16. Here is a list of the leaders of each tribe in Israel: Eliezer son of Zichri was over Reuben: Shephatiah son of Maacah was over Simeon; Hashabiah son of Kemuel was over the Levites, and Zadok the priest was over the descendants of Aaron; Elihu the brother of David was over Judah; Omri son of Michael was over Issachar; Ishmaiah son of Obadiah was over Zebulun; Jerimoth son of Azriel was over Naphtali; Hoshea son of Azaziah was over Ephraim; Joel son of Pedaiah was over West Manasseh; Iddo son of Zechariah was over East Manasseh; Jaasiel son of Abner was over Benjamin; Azarel son of Jeroham was over Dan.
  17. (SEE 27:16)
  18. (SEE 27:16)
  19. (SEE 27:16)
  20. (SEE 27:16)
  21. (SEE 27:16)
  22. (SEE 27:16)
  23. When David decided to count the people of Israel, he gave orders not to count anyone under twenty years of age, because the LORD had promised long ago that Israel would have as many people as there are stars in the sky.
  24. Joab the son of Zeruiah had begun to count the people, but he stopped when the LORD began punishing Israel. So the total number was never included in David's official records.
  25. Azmaveth the son of Adiel was in charge of the king's personal storage rooms. Jonathan the son of Uzziah was in charge of the king's other storerooms that were in the towns, the villages, and the defense towers in Israel.
  26. Ezri the son of Chelub was in charge of the workers who farmed the king's land.
  27. Shimei from Ramah was in charge of the vineyards, and Zabdi from Shepham was in charge of storing the wine.
  28. Baal Hanan from Geder was in charge of the olive and sycamore trees in the western foothills, and Joash was in charge of storing the olive oil.
  29. Shitrai from Sharon was responsible for the cattle that were kept in Sharon Plain, and Shaphat son of Adlai was responsible for those kept in the valleys.
  30. Obil the Ishmaelite was in charge of the camels, Jehdeiah from Meronoth was in charge of the donkeys, and Jaziz the Hagrite was in charge of the sheep and goats.
  31. These were the men in charge of David's royal property.
  32. David's uncle Jonathan was a wise and intelligent advisor. He and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni taught David's sons.
  33. Ahithophel and Hushai the Archite were two of David's advisors.
  34. Jehoiada the son of Benaiah was the king's advisor after Ahithophel, and later, Abiathar was his advisor. Joab was commander of Israel's army.

In chapter 27 the chronicler continues to outline the organization of David's kingdom, moving now from temple officials to military and government organization. Three areas are addressed in this chapter: organization of military, tribal leaders, and the national leaders over various aspects of government.

Israel's peace-time army consisted of 12 divisions of 24,000 men each who rotated on a monthly basis. The 12 divisions are not identified by tribe but it is likely they corresponded closely to the tribal pattern. However the divisions were identified geographically, each geographic division provided 24,000 men each month, rotating those who were on duty. This gave Israel an ongoing army of 288,000 men.

Next, in verses 16-24, the officials over the tribes are listed. Though the tribes of Gad and Asher are not included in the list, the tribe of Levi and two parts of the tribe of Manasseh are included to give a total of 12 tribal officers.

Verses 25-34 of the chapter lists those who were leaders over the various governmental entities. These entities included:

  • storehouses
  • royal assets
  • farm labor
  • vineyards
  • vintage
  • olive & sycamore trees
  • olive oil
  • herds in Sharon 

  • valley herds
  • camels
  • donkeys
  • flocks
  • a counselor
  • tutor of the king's sons
  • the king's close confidant
  • commander of the army 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Reflections on 1 Chronicles 26

 1 Chronicles 26(Contemporary English Version)
  1. The temple guards were also divided into groups according to clans. Meshelemiah son of Kore was from the Korah clan and was a descendant of Asaph.
  2. He had seven sons, who were born in the following order: Zechariah, Jediael, Zebadiah, Jathniel,
  3. Elam, Jehohanan, and Eliehoenai.
  4. Obed-Edom had been blessed with eight sons: Shemaiah, Jehozabad, Joah, Sachar, Nethanel, Ammiel, Issachar, and Peullethai.
  5. (SEE 26:4)
  6. Shemaiah was the father of Othni, Rephael, Obed, Elzabad, Elihu, and Semachiah. They were all respected leaders in their clan.
  7. (SEE 26:6)
  8. There were sixty-two descendants of Obed-Edom who were strong enough to be guards at the temple.
  9. Eighteen descendants of Meshelemiah were chosen for this work.
  10. Hosah, from the Merari clan, was the father of Shimri, Hilkiah, Tebaliah, and Zechariah. Hosah had made Shimri the family leader, even though he was not the oldest son. Thirteen men from Hosah's family were chosen to be temple guards.
  11. (SEE 26:10)
  12. The guards were divided into groups, according to their family leaders, and they were assigned duties at the temple, just like the other Levites.
  13. Each group, no matter how large or small, was assigned a gate to guard, and they let the LORD show them what he wanted done.
  14. Shelemiah was chosen to guard the East Gate. Zechariah his son was a wise man and was chosen to guard the North Gate.
  15. Obed-Edom was then chosen to guard the South Gate, and his sons were chosen to guard the storerooms.
  16. Shuppim and Hosah were chosen to guard the West Gate and the Shallecheth Gate on the upper road. The guards were assigned the following work schedule:
  17. Each day six guards were on duty on the east side of the temple, four were on duty on the north side, and four were on duty on the south side. Two guards were stationed at each of the two storerooms,
  18. four were stationed along the road leading to the west courtyard, and two guards stayed in the court itself.
  19. These were the guard duties assigned to the men from the clans of Korah and Merari.
  20. The Levites who were relatives of the Korahites and the Merarites were in charge of guarding the temple treasury and the gifts that had been dedicated to God.
  21. Ladan was from the Gershon clan and was the father of Jehieli. Many of his other descendants were family leaders in the clan.
  22. Jehieli was the father of Zetham and Joel, and they were responsible for guarding the treasury.
  23. Other guards at the treasury were from the Kohathite clans of Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel.
  24. Shebuel was a descendant of Gershom the son of Moses. He was the chief official in charge of the temple treasury.
  25. The descendants of Gershom's brother Eliezer included Rehabiah, Jeshaiah, Joram, Zichri, and Shelomoth.
  26. Shelomoth and his relatives were in charge of all the gifts that were dedicated to the LORD. These included the gifts that King David had dedicated, as well as those dedicated by the family leaders, army officers, and army commanders.
  27. And whenever valuable things were captured in battle, these men brought some of them to the temple.
  28. Shelomoth and his relatives were responsible for any gifts that had been given to the temple, including those from Samuel the prophet, King Saul the son of Kish, Abner the son of Ner, and Joab the son of Zeruiah.
  29. Chenaniah from the Izhar clan and his sons were government officials and judges. They did not work at the temple.
  30. Hashabiah from the Hebron clan and one thousand seven hundred of his skilled relatives were the officials in charge of all religious and government business in the Israelite territories west of the Jordan River.
  31. Jerijah was the leader of the Hebron clan. David assigned him and two thousand seven hundred of his relatives, who were all respected family leaders, to be the officials in charge of all religious and government business in the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh. David found out about these men during the fortieth year of his rule, when he had a list made of all the families in the Hebron clan. They were from the town of Jazer in the territory of Gilead.
  32. (SEE 26:31)

As we enter a fourth chapter outlining the assignments and duties related to the Lord's temple we are struck by the orderliness of it all. This chapter addresses assignment of the gatekeepers, the Levitical treasurers, and the levitical administrators. There were 4,000 gatekeepers in all and 4,400 administrators who served throughout Israel as judges. We are not given the number of treasurers, but there were different divisions with responsibility over revenues from tithes, offerings, and other sources given to the Lord and then divisions over plunder gained from wars and used for temple repairs.

The old saying, "cleanliness is next to godliness" comes to mind here. While this saying is not found in scripture, it is a principle found in the Mosaic law. All of this organization outlined here in 1 Chronicles reminds us of the orderliness found throughout scripture and seen in creation and leads one to consider the coining of another saying, "orderliness is next to godliness." Reflecting on this we realize that godliness is not found in chaos and that once people follow God and His teaching their lives take on orderliness. It doesn't mean that we become godly simply by becoming orderly, but if we become godly we will not remain in disorder and chaos.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Reflections on 1 Chronicles 25

 1 Chronicles 25(Contemporary English Version)
  1. David and the temple officials chose the descendants of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun to be in charge of music. They were to praise the LORD by playing cymbals, harps and other stringed instruments. Here is a list of the musicians and their duties:
  2. Asaph's four sons, Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah, and Asarelah, were under the direction of their father and played music whenever the king told them to.
  3. Jeduthun's six sons, Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, were under the direction of their father and played harps and sang praises to the LORD.
  4. Heman had fourteen sons: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel, Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, Romamtiezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, Mahazioth.
  5. Heman was one of the king's prophets, and God honored Heman by giving him fourteen sons and three daughters.
  6. His sons were under his direction and played cymbals, harps, and other stringed instruments during times of worship at the temple. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman took their orders directly from the king.
  7. There were two hundred eighty-eight of these men, and all of them were skilled musicians.
  8. David assigned them their duties by asking the LORD what he wanted. Everyone was responsible for something, whether young or old, teacher or student.
  9. The musicians were divided into twenty-four groups of twelve, and each group went by the name of their family leader. They were assigned their duties in the following order: Joseph, Gedaliah, Zaccur, Zeri, Nethaniah, Bukkiah, Asarelah, Jeshaiah, Mattaniah, Shimei, Uzziel, Hashabiah, Shebuel, Mattithiah, Jerimoth, Hananiah, Joshbekashah, Hanani, Mallothi, Eliathah, Hothir, Giddalti, Mahazioth, and Romamtiezer.
  10. (SEE 25:9)
  11. (SEE 25:9)
  12. (SEE 25:9)
  13. (SEE 25:9)
  14. (SEE 25:9)
  15. (SEE 25:9)
  16. (SEE 25:9)
  17. (SEE 25:9)
  18. (SEE 25:9)
  19. (SEE 25:9)
  20. (SEE 25:9)
  21. (SEE 25:9)
  22. (SEE 25:9)
  23. (SEE 25:9)
  24. (SEE 25:9)
  25. (SEE 25:9)
  26. (SEE 25:9)
  27. (SEE 25:9)
  28. (SEE 25:9)
  29. (SEE 25:9)
  30. (SEE 25:9)
  31. (SEE 25:9)

The appointment of temple services continues into a third chapter with the appointment of musicians, both singers and instrumentalists, who were to prophesy through music. Evidently they were to proclaim divine revelation through musical expressions. The appointment of these musicians by David and the military leaders suggests a connection between the military and religious orders. We know David considered it important to seek God's guidance for his military endeavors which may have inspired this appointment of musicians for worship ceremonies prior to military campaigns.

In the fulfillment of their duties, Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under the king's authority, while their sons were under their father's authority. Again, appointments were made impartially through the casting of lots.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Reflections on 1 Chronicles 24

 1 Chronicles 24(Contemporary English Version)
  1. Aaron's descendants were then divided into work groups. Aaron had four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.
  2. But Nadab and Abihu died long before their father, without having any sons. That's why Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests.
  3. David divided Aaron's descendants into groups, according to their assigned work. Zadok, one of Eleazar's descendants, and Ahimelech, one of Ithamar's descendants, helped David.
  4. Eleazar's descendants were divided into sixteen groups, and Ithamar's were divided into eight groups, because Eleazar's family included more family leaders.
  5. However, both families included temple officials and priests, and so to make sure the work was divided fairly, David asked God what to do.
  6. As each group was assigned their duties, Shemaiah the son of Nethanel the Levite wrote down the name of the family leader in charge of that group. The witnesses were David and his officials, as well as Zadok the priest, Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, and the family leaders from the clans of the priests and the Levites.
  7. Each group of priests went by the name of its family leader, and they were assigned their duties in the following order: Jehoiarib, Jedaiah, Harim, Seorim, Malchijah, Mijamin, Hakkoz, Abijah, Jeshua, Shecaniah, Eliashib, Jakim, Huppah, Jeshebeab, Bilgah, Immer, Hezir, Happizzez, Pethahiah, Jehezkel, Jachin, Gamul, Delaiah, Maaziah.
  8. (SEE 24:7)
  9. (SEE 24:7)
  10. (SEE 24:7)
  11. (SEE 24:7)
  12. (SEE 24:7)
  13. (SEE 24:7)
  14. (SEE 24:7)
  15. (SEE 24:7)
  16. (SEE 24:7)
  17. (SEE 24:7)
  18. (SEE 24:7)
  19. These men were assigned their duties at the temple, just as the LORD God of Israel had commanded their ancestor Aaron.
  20. Here is a list of the other descendants of Levi: Amram was the ancestor of Shubael and Jehdeiah.
  21. Rehabiah was the ancestor of Isshiah, the oldest son in his family.
  22. Izhar was the father of Shelomoth and the grandfather of Jahath.
  23. Hebron had four sons, in the following order: Jeriah, Amariah, Jahaziel, and Jekameam.
  24. Uzziel was the father of Micah and the grandfather of Shamir.
  25. Isshiah, Micah's brother, was the father of Zechariah.
  26. Merari was the father of Mahli, Mushi, and Jaaziah.
  27. Jaaziah had three sons: Shoham, Zaccur, and Ibri.
  28. Mahli was the father of Eleazar and Kish. Eleazar had no sons, but Kish was the father of Jerahmeel.
  29. (SEE 24:28)
  30. Mushi had three sons: Mahli, Eder, and Jerimoth. These were the descendants of Levi, according to their clans.
  31. Each one was assigned his duties in the same way that their relatives the priests had been assigned their duties. David, Zadok, Ahimelech, and the family leaders of the priests and Levites were the witnesses.

Chapter 24 continues with David's organization of the priests and Levites for the duties they would have once a temple was built. All was done publicly, that is, in the presence of the existing officials, and was done impartially by lot. As lots were cast, the results were carefully recorded in the presence of the king and the officers. The appointments of priests and Levites needed to be done properly according to God's design and impartially without the designs of any individual, including the king. These religious leaders were serving both God and the people and needed to do so without any hindrances that might be brought about through partiality of appointment.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Reflections on 1 Chronicles 23

 1 Chronicles 23(Contemporary English Version)
  1. David was old when he chose his son Solomon to be king of Israel.
  2. Some time later, David called together all of Israel's leaders, priests, and Levites.
  3. He then counted the Levite men who were at least thirty years old, and the total was thirty-eight thousand.
  4. He said, "Twenty-four thousand of the Levites will be in charge of the temple, six thousand will be temple officials and judges,
  5. four thousand will be guards at the temple, and four thousand will praise the LORD by playing the musical instruments I have given them."
  6. David then divided the Levites into three groups according to the clans of Levi's sons, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.
  7. Gershon had two sons: Ladan and Shimei.
  8. Ladan was the father of Jehiel, Zetham, and Joel.
  9. They were all family leaders among their father's descendants. Shimei was the father of Shelomoth, Haziel, and Haran.
  10. Later, Shimei had four more sons, in the following order: Jahath, Zina, Jeush, and Beriah. But Jeush and Beriah didn't have many children, so their descendants were counted as one family.
  11. (SEE 23:10)
  12. Kohath had four sons: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel.
  13. Amram was the father of Aaron and Moses. Aaron and his descendants were chosen to be in charge of all the sacred things. They served the LORD by offering sacrifices to him and by blessing the people in his name.
  14. Moses, the man of God, was the father of Gershom and Eliezer, and their descendants were considered Levites.
  15. (SEE 23:14)
  16. Gershom's oldest son was Shebuel.
  17. Rehabiah, who was Eliezer's only son, had many children.
  18. The second son born to Kohath was Izhar, and his oldest son was Shelomith.
  19. Hebron, the third son of Kohath, was the father of Jeriah, Amariah, Jahaziel, and Jekameam.
  20. Kohath's youngest son, Uzziel, was the father of Micah and Isshiah.
  21. Merari had two sons: Mahli and Mushi. Mahli was the father of Eleazar and Kish.
  22. Eleazar had no sons, only daughters, and they married their uncle's sons.
  23. Mushi the second son of Merari, was the father of Mahli, Eder, and Jeremoth.
  24. These were the clans and families of the tribe of Levi. Those who were twenty years and older were assigned to work at the LORD's temple.
  25. David said: The LORD God of Israel has given his people peace, and he will live in Jerusalem forever.
  26. And so, the Levites won't need to move the sacred tent and the things used for worship from place to place.
  27. From now on, all Levites at least twenty years old
  28. will serve the LORD by helping Aaron's descendants do their work at the temple, by keeping the courtyards and rooms of the temple clean, and by making sure that everything used in worship stays pure.
  29. They will also be in charge of the sacred loaves of bread, the flour for the grain sacrifices, the thin wafers, any offerings to be baked, and the flour mixed with olive oil. These Levites will weigh and measure these offerings.
  30. Every morning and evening, the Levites are to give thanks to the LORD and sing praises to him.
  31. They must also give thanks and sing praises when sacrifices are offered on each Sabbath, as well as during New Moon Festivals and other religious feasts. There must always be enough Levites on duty at the temple to do everything that needs to be done.
  32. They were once in charge of taking care of the sacred tent; now they are responsible for the temple and for helping Aaron's descendants.

Verse 1 of chapter 23 reports that David had become old and so he installed Solomon, his son, to succeed him as king. However, we do not see any mention of Solomon in regard to kingly duties until chapter 1 of 2 Chronicles. One exception is 1 Chronicles 29:23 where we are told, "Solomon sat on the LORD's throne as king in place of his father David. He prospered, and all Israel obeyed him." Given David's advanced age, it would seem that his installation of Solomon as king at this time was to guarantee that Solomon would succeed him should he die suddenly. But as long as David was alive and well, he continued to act as king.

Though construction of the temple had not yet begun, David continued to make preparation for it. He had already gathered many of the materials and workmen for the construction, and now he organized the priests and Levites who would care for and maintain the temple and the activities related to it. The priests, who were descendants of Aaron, would conduct the activities related to worship, and the Levites, descendants of Levi, would assist the priests in their duties.

In this chapter David gave attention to the duties of the Levites. Their duties would be greatly increased once there was a temple. First, David numbered the Levites ages 30 and above and found there to be 38,000 of them. As he began to assign duties he discovered the need for more so he dropped the age to 20 for those to be used in the service of the LORD's temple. Duties to which they were assigned included: officers and judges, gatekeepers, and musicians. Levites were needed also to purify the holy things, to make the bread of Presence and wafers of unleavened bread. Additional Levites were needed to give the morning and evening thanks and praise to the Lord and to conduct the burnt offerings on the Sabbaths and special festivals.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reflections on 1 Chronicles 22

 1 Chronicles 22(Contemporary English Version)
  1. David said, "The temple of the LORD God must be built right here at this threshing place. And the altar for offering sacrifices will also be here."
  2. David ordered the foreigners living in Israel to come to Jerusalem. Then he assigned some to cut blocks of stone for building the temple.
  3. He got a large supply of iron to make into nails and hinges for the doors, and he provided so much bronze that it could not be weighed.
  4. He also had cedar logs brought in from the cities of Sidon and Tyre.
  5. He said, "The temple for the LORD must be great, so that everyone in the world will know about it. But since my son Solomon is young and has no experience, I will make sure that everything is ready for the temple to be built." That's why David did all these things before he died.
  6. David sent for his son Solomon and told him to build a temple for the LORD God of Israel.
  7. He said: My son, I wanted to build a temple where the LORD my God would be worshiped.
  8. But some time ago, he told me, "David, you have killed too many people and have fought too many battles. That's why you are not the one to build my temple.
  9. But when your son becomes king, I will give him peace throughout his kingdom. His name will be Solomon, because during his rule I will keep Israel safe and peaceful.
  10. Solomon will build my temple. He will be like a son to me, and I will be like a father to him. In fact, one of his descendants will always rule in Israel."
  11. Solomon, my son, I now pray that the LORD your God will be with you and keep his promise to help you build a temple for him.
  12. May he give you wisdom and knowledge, so that you can rule Israel according to his Law.
  13. If you obey the laws and teachings that the LORD gave Moses, you will be successful. Be strong and brave and don't get discouraged or be afraid of anything.
  14. I have all the supplies you'll need to build the temple: You have four thousand tons of gold and forty thousand tons of silver. There's also plenty of wood, stone, and more bronze and iron than I could weigh. Ask for anything else you need.
  15. I have also assigned men who will cut and lay the stone. And there are carpenters and people who are experts in working with
  16. gold, silver, bronze, and iron. You have plenty of workers to do the job. Now get started, and I pray that the LORD will be with you in your work.
  17. David then gave orders for the leaders of Israel to help Solomon.
  18. David said: The LORD our God has helped me defeat all the people who lived here before us, and he has given you peace from all your enemies. Now this land belongs to the LORD and his people.
  19. Obey the LORD your God with your heart and soul. Begin work on the temple to honor him, so that the sacred chest and the things used for worship can be kept there.

God's ways are truly beyond us. None of us would have predicted the flow of events that took place following David's sin of conducting a census. Had we been inclined to predict what was to follow David's sin, we might have imagined things going downhill for David as a result of his sin, but we would not likely have predicted these events would prepare the way for the building of the Lord's temple.

The punishment for David's sin in conducting the census was a plague that killed 70,000 men. These were probably fighting men since that was who David was counting, and it was David's pride over the size of his military strength that prompted the census. The plague would have killed even more people had the Lord not stopped it when He did. The place where the Lord stopped the plague was Araunah's threshing floor, and the Lord instructed David to build an altar there and offer burnt offerings. This location was also on Mount Moriah where Abraham offered to sacrifice his son for the Lord.

David came to realize that this place was to become the new place of worship and no longer went to Gibeon to the tabernacle for worship. He further realized this to be the location where God's temple was to be built and began to make preparation for construction. He reasoned that his son, Solomon, who was to build the temple, was "young and inexperienced" and the task of building the temple was a big one. David felt the temple had be "exceedingly great and famous and glorious in all the lands." (22:5) So he began the task of gathering materials and workers for construction so the task would not be so huge for Solomon.

Though David did not attempt to gather all the materials for the temple, he made major headway. When he was well along in gathering materials, he summoned Solomon and gave him instructions "to build a house for the LORD God of Israel." (22:6) In giving these instructions David helped Solomon understand the significance of the task. It was a task that had been given to him from the Lord and not from David who was now instructing him. David pointed out to Solomon that he had wanted to build the temple but the Lord would not allow him to do so. The Lord told him, "You have shed much blood and waged great wars. You are not to build a house for My name because you have shed so much blood on the ground before Me. But a son will be born to you; he will be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies, for his name will be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel during his reign. He is the one who will build a house for My name. He will be My son, and I will be his father. I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever." (22:8-10)

After instructing Solomon about the temple, David gave an inventory of materials and workers he had gathered for the task and then he "ordered the leaders of Israel to help his son Solomon." (22:17) God can indeed use all things for His purposes and for our good if we will cooperate with Him.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Reflections on 1 Chronicles 21

 1 Chronicles 21(Contemporary English Version)
  1. Satan decided to cause trouble for Israel by making David think it was a good idea to find out how many people there were in Israel and Judah.
  2. David told Joab and the army commanders, "Count everyone in Israel, from the town of Beersheba in the south all the way north to Dan. Then I will know how many people can serve in my army."
  3. Joab answered, "Your Majesty, even if the LORD made your kingdom a hundred times larger, you would still rule everyone in it. Why do you need to know how many soldiers there are? Don't you think that would make the whole nation angry?"
  4. But David would not change his mind. And so Joab went everywhere in Israel and Judah and counted the people. He returned to Jerusalem
  5. and told David that the total number of men who could serve in the army was one million one hundred thousand in Israel and four hundred seventy thousand in Judah.
  6. Joab refused to include anyone from the tribes of Levi and Benjamin, because he still disagreed with David's orders.
  7. David's order to count the people made God angry, and he punished Israel.
  8. David prayed, "I am your servant. But what I did was stupid and terribly wrong. Please forgive me."
  9. The LORD said to Gad, one of David's prophets,
  10. "Tell David that I will punish him in one of three ways. But he will have to choose which one it will be."
  11. Gad went to David and told him: You must choose how the LORD will punish you:
  12. Will there be three years when the land won't grow enough food for its people? Or will your enemies constantly defeat you for three months? Or will the LORD send a horrible disease to strike your land for three days? Think about it and decide, because I have to give your answer to God who sent me.
  13. David was miserable and said, "It's a terrible choice to make! But the LORD is kind, and I'd rather have him punish me than for anyone else to do it."
  14. So the LORD sent a horrible disease on Israel, and seventy thousand Israelites died.
  15. Then he sent an angel to destroy the city of Jerusalem. But just as the angel was about to do that, the LORD felt sorry for all the suffering he had caused the people, and he told the angel, "Stop! They have suffered enough." This happened at the threshing place that belonged to Araunah the Jebusite.
  16. David saw the LORD's angel in the air, holding a sword over Jerusalem. He and the leaders of Israel, who were all wearing sackcloth, bowed with their faces to the ground,
  17. and David prayed, "It's my fault! I sinned by ordering the people to be counted. They have done nothing wrong--they are innocent sheep. LORD God, please punish me and my family. Don't let the disease wipe out your people."
  18. The LORD's angel told the prophet Gad to tell David that he must go to Araunah's threshing place and build an altar in honor of the LORD.
  19. David followed the LORD's instructions.
  20. Araunah and his four sons were threshing wheat at the time, and when they saw the angel, the four sons ran to hide.
  21. Just then, David arrived, and when Araunah saw him, he stopped his work and bowed down.
  22. David said, "Would you sell me your threshing place, so I can build an altar on it to the LORD? Then this disease will stop killing the people. I'm willing to pay whatever you say it's worth."
  23. Araunah answered, "Take it, Your Majesty, and do whatever you want with it. I'll even give you the oxen for the sacrifice and the wheat for the grain sacrifice. And you can use the threshing-boards for the fire. It's all yours!"
  24. But David replied, "No! I want to pay you what they're worth. I can't just take something from you and then offer the LORD a sacrifice that cost me nothing."
  25. So David paid Araunah six hundred gold coins for his threshing place.
  26. David built an altar and offered sacrifices to please the LORD and sacrifices to ask his blessing. David prayed, and the LORD answered him by sending fire down on the altar.
  27. Then the LORD commanded the angel to put the sword away.
  28. When David saw that the LORD had answered his prayer, he offered more sacrifices there at the threshing place,
  29. because he was afraid of the angel's sword and did not want to go all the way to Gibeon. That's where the sacred tent that Moses had made in the desert was kept, as well as the altar where sacrifices were offered to the LORD.
  30. (SEE 21:29)

We are told in verse 1 here that David was tempted by Satan to sin by counting "the people of Israel." The count was not of Israel's population but of it military strength. But why was it a sin? It is not stated in this chapter why counting the people was a sin for David but is inferred that David's pride played a part. Israel had become strong militarily and he wanted to revel in the number of fighting me. Looking back into God's covenant with Israel we see no instruction against taking a census and, in fact, see some occasions on which God instructed Israel to take one. Exodus 30:12 might offer a further clue to David's sin in that his census may have been conducted improperly. This passage instructs Israel to have "each of the men pay a ransom for himself to the Lord" when conducting a census. There is no indication in the account of 1 Chronicles 12 of the men paying a ransom.

It is clear from the account, though, that Joab, to whom David gave the order to conduct the census, realized the order to be a sin. When given the order, Joab asked David, "Why should he (David) bring guilt on Israel?" But David persisted. Verse 7 says that God afflicted Israel because "This command was also evil in God's sight." We are given no explanation, however, of what this affliction was. But because of it David confessed his sin and asked God to take away his guilt. (21:8)

God would forgive and remove David's guilt, but there was a penalty to pay and God gave him three choices: three years of famine, three months of devastation by his foes with a sword, or three days of a plague. David's choice wasn't really any of the three options, he simply said he wanted to place himself at God's mercy rather than man's. Of the three options offered him, either the famine or the plague would have placed him at God's mercy. God chose the plague. And we see from the account that David made a wise choice, for God, in His mercy, stopped the plague short of its intended scope by not allowing it to enter Jerusalem.

Verse 15 gives the impression that God stopped the plague short of Jerusalem on His own initiative. But then verse 16 seems to say that when David saw the angel of the Lord with his sword drawn and stretched toward Jerusalem, and pleaded with God to act against him, the one who sinned, and not the people, God stopped the angel in response to David's plea.

David was instructed by the Lord, through the angel, to set up an altar to the Lord on "the threshing floor of Ornan" where the plague was stopped. There David was to offer burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Ornan who owned the land offered it to David without charge, but David refused to offer anything to the Lord that was not his and cost him nothing. So he paid Ornan for the land.

This location for an altar became the official site of worship in place of Gibeon and became the eventual site of the temple built by Solomon.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Reflections on 1 Chronicles 20

 1 Chronicles 20(Contemporary English Version)
  1. The next spring, the time when kings go to war, Joab marched out in command of the Israelite army and destroyed towns all over the country of Ammon. He attacked the capital city of Rabbah and left it in ruins. But David stayed in Jerusalem.
  2. Later, David himself went to Rabbah, where he took the crown from the statue of their god Milcom. The crown was made of seventy-five pounds of gold, and there was a valuable jewel on it. David put the jewel on his crown, then carried off everything else of value.
  3. He forced the people of Rabbah to work with saws, iron picks, and axes. He also did the same thing with the people in all the other Ammonite towns. David then led Israel's army back to Jerusalem.
  4. Some time later, Israel fought a battle against the Philistines at Gezer. During this battle, Sibbecai from Hushah killed Sippai, a descendant of the Rephaim, and the Philistines were defeated.
  5. In another battle against the Philistines, Elhanan the son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath from Gath, whose spear shaft was like a weaver's beam.
  6. Another one of the Philistine soldiers who was a descendant of the Rephaim was as big as a giant and had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. During a battle at Gath,
  7. he made fun of Israel, so David's nephew Jonathan killed him.
  8. David and his soldiers killed these three men from Gath who were descendants of the Rephaim.

Chapter 20 concludes accounts of David's wars. In these accounts there is no record given of David being defeated in battle. This is no doubt due to his faithfulness to God. But David was human and susceptible to what any person is susceptible to. Whether he became complacent or prideful or for whatever reason, he did succumb to personal failure, and it was in his personal life that David suffered defeat. But as with any of us, his personal failures did not affect only himself. They caused great turmoil for the nation.

Chronicles does not address David's first personal failure for which David is well-known, and that is the affair with Bathsheba and murder of her husband. These events occurred within the time frame of the events recorded in the first verses of this chapter. It was during the siege on the city of Rabbah, when David "remained in Jerusalem," that David had the affair with Bathsheba. This was his first big failure. Beyond the immediate repercussions of these events in which David was confronted by the prophet Nathan about his sin and David repented and asked forgiveness, it would seem that there were no other repercussions. But over time they continued to mushroom and plague both David and Israel.

A second personal failure by David is recorded in the next chapter of 1 Chronicles when David succumbs to Satan's tempting to count the people of Israel against God's instructions. We will reflect on that in the next chapter. The point here is that David was human and susceptible to the same temptations any of us are susceptible to. He paid dearly for his sins, but he never turned away from God and God never rejected him as He did Saul.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Reflections on 1 Chronicles 19

 1 Chronicles 19(Contemporary English Version)
  1. Some time later, King Nahash of Ammon died, and his son Hanun became king.
  2. David said, "Nahash was kind to me, so I will be kind to his son." He sent some officials to Ammon to tell Hanun how sorry he was that his father had died. But when David's officials arrived at Ammon,
  3. the Ammonite leaders said to Hanun, "Do you really believe King David is honoring your father by sending these men to comfort you? He probably sent them to spy on our country, so he can come and destroy it."
  4. Hanun arrested David's officials and had their beards shaved off and their robes cut off just below the waist, and then he sent them away.
  5. They were terribly ashamed. When David found out what had happened to his officials, he sent a message that told them, "Stay in Jericho until your beards grow back. Then you can come home."
  6. The Ammonites realized they had made David furious. So they paid over thirty tons of silver to hire chariot troops from Mesopotamia and from the Syrian kingdoms of Maacah and Zobah.
  7. Thirty-two thousand troops, as well as the king of Maacah and his army, came and camped near Medeba. The Ammonite troops also left their towns and came to prepare for battle.
  8. David heard what was happening, and he sent out Joab with his army.
  9. The Ammonite troops marched to the entrance of the city and prepared for battle, while the Syrian troops took their positions in the open fields.
  10. Joab saw that the enemy troops were lined up on both sides of him. So he picked some of the best Israelite soldiers to fight the Syrians.
  11. Then he put his brother Abishai in command of the rest of the army and told them to fight against the Ammonites.
  12. Joab told his brother, "If the Syrians are too much for me to handle, come and help me. And if the Ammonites are too strong for you, I'll come and help you.
  13. Be brave and fight hard to protect our people and the towns of our LORD God. I pray he will do whatever pleases him."
  14. Joab and his soldiers attacked the Syrians, and the Syrians ran from them.
  15. When the Ammonite troops saw that the Syrians had run away, they ran from Abishai's soldiers and went back into their own city. Joab then returned to Jerusalem.
  16. As soon as the Syrians realized they had been defeated, they sent for their troops that were stationed on the other side of the Euphrates River. Shophach, the commander of Hadadezer's army, led these troops to Ammon.
  17. David found out what the Syrians were doing, and he brought Israel's entire army together. They crossed the Jordan River, and he commanded them to take their positions facing the Syrian troops. Soon after the fighting began,
  18. the Syrians ran from Israel. David killed seven thousand chariot troops and forty thousand regular soldiers. He also killed Shophach, their commander.
  19. When the kings who had been under Hadadezer's rule saw that Israel had defeated them, they made peace with David and accepted him as their new ruler. The Syrians never helped the Ammonites again.

We see something of David's character in these verses concerning his show of kindness to the son of Nahash following Nahash's death. Though we don't know the occasion, Nahash had at some time in the past showed kindness to David and David seemed never to forget a kindness shown to him. Though Israel and the Ammonites had been enemies during Saul's reign, Nahash may have been kind to David during this time since Saul considered David his enemy.

No doubt due to this past animosity between the two nations, Hanun's advisors were suspect of the emissaries David sent to console Hanun in the loss of his father. They cautioned Hanun that these emissaries might actually be spys scouting out their land. Rather than treating David's messengers with caution, Hanun treated them with contempt by shaving their beards and cutting off the bottom half of their clothes. He evidently knew nothing about diplomacy. Too bad his advisors didn't also advise him in this as well.

Whether or not the Ammonites recognized their actions against David's messengers to be a mistake, they did realize soon after that these actions had made them repulsive to David. Though their suspicions of the messengers were unfounded, they now had reason to be concerned about aggression against them from the Israelites. So they hired mercenaries to bolster their own army. This, too, proved to be a mistake, for though David had no plans to attack Ammon he now felt threatened by this amassing army against him and so he went on the offensive and sent his army against them. Again, diplomacy might have averted military action.

David sent his army, under the leadership of Joab, to attack the combined Ammonite and Aramean armies and they were victorious. This time the Ammonites showed a measure of wisdom by accepting defeat and taking no further action. However, the Arameans did not accept their defeat. Instead they summoned their relatives from across the Euphrates River to join them against the Israelites. Again, David was faced with the threat of an amazing army against him which he could not ignore.

David moved quickly, crossing the Jordan and lining up in battle formation against this Aramean army, catching them off guard. They were again victorious, this time doing significant damage to the Aramean army. This was the last time the Arameans were willing to help the Ammonites.

There are times when diplomacy is called for and other times when it is not. God's wisdom can help us know which to use if we will not ignore it due to our pride.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Reflections on 1 Chronicles 18

 1 Chronicles 18(Contemporary English Version)
  1. Later, David attacked and defeated the Philistines. He captured their town of Gath and the nearby villages.
  2. David also defeated the Moabites, and so they had to accept him as their ruler and pay taxes to him.
  3. While King Hadadezer of Zobah was trying to gain control of the territory near the Euphrates River, David met him in battle at Hamath and defeated him.
  4. David captured one thousand chariots, seven thousand chariot drivers, and twenty thousand soldiers. And he crippled all but one hundred of the horses.
  5. When troops from the Syrian kingdom of Damascus came to help Hadadezer, David killed twenty-two thousand of them.
  6. Then David stationed some of his troops in Damascus, and the people there had to accept David as their ruler and pay taxes to him. Everywhere David went, the LORD helped him win battles.
  7. Hadadezer's officers had carried gold shields, but David took these shields and brought them back to Jerusalem.
  8. He also took a lot of bronze from the cities of Tibhath and Cun, which had belonged to Hadadezer. Later, Solomon used this bronze to make the large bowl called the Sea, and to make the pillars and other furnishings for the temple.
  9. King Tou of Hamath and King Hadadezer had been enemies. So when Tou heard that David had defeated Hadadezer's whole army, he sent his son Hadoram to congratulate David on his victory. Hadoram also brought him gifts made of gold, silver, and bronze.
  10. (SEE 18:9)
  11. David gave these gifts to the LORD, just as he had done with the silver and gold he had captured from Edom, Moab, Ammon, Philistia, and Amalek.
  12. Abishai the son of Zeruiah defeated the Edomite army in Salt Valley and killed eighteen thousand of their troops.
  13. Then he stationed troops in Edom, and the people there had to accept David as their ruler. Everywhere David went, the LORD gave him victory in war.
  14. David ruled all Israel with fairness and justice.
  15. Joab the son of Zeruiah was the commander in chief of the army. Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud kept the government records.
  16. Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar were the priests. Shavsha was the secretary.
  17. Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was the commander of David's bodyguard. David's sons were his highest-ranking officials.

Whether or not the military victories given in this chapter are representative of David's successes or a complete listing, the point the chronicler was making was that "The LORD made David victorious wherever he went." (18:6, 13) Based on examples given in previous chapters, it is safe to assume David inquired of the Lord in all he did, meaning that God directed him in these pursuits and then gave him victory. David was not power-hungry, attempting to control as many nations as possible. Rather he was attempting to complete the task God had commanded Israel to do of taking control of all Canaan which she had failed to do.

David's military victories not only brought peace to Israel but added to her riches from the plunder taken from those nations David defeated. These victories also made at least one friend for David among the neighboring nations, for King Tou of Hamath was pleased that David had rid him of his enemy, Hadadezer. To show his appreciation, he also added to David's coffers with gifts of gold, silver, and bronze.

Given the historical perspective of the Biblical books of history such as 1 & 2 Chronicles and 1 & 2 Samuel, it is clear that God blesses those who are obedient and faithful to Him. When we seek Him and faithfully carry out His purposes for us, He enables us to do what He directs for us and blesses us in the process. To this point Israel had not yet fully seen God's plan for her completed because she had not been faithful to follow His leading. But under the leadership of a godly king Israel prospered. When the kings following David and Solomon began to drift away from the Lord, Israel's prosperity declined along with it. Unless we reflect on God's great works through scripture we do not have the advantage of this perspective and are shortsighted and spiritually ignorant, leading to false assumptions and destructive pursuits.