Handbook of 1 Chronicles
The Reign of David
The Twelve preceding Books of the Bible ended with the Hebrew nation in Captivity. These two books of Chronicles retell the same story, and end at the same point. They are a Recapitulation of all that has gone before, with special attention to the reigns of David, Solomon and subsequent kings of Judah.
I Chronicles is, in part, the same as II Samuel. It has to do with the story of David, prefaced with 9 chapters of Genealogies. The Genealogies cover the period from Adam to the Jews' Return front Captivity; a sort of epitome of all previous sacred history.
I and ll Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, were, originally, one series of of words. Jewish tradition had it that Ezra was the author.
Frequent reference is made to other histories, annals ans official archives: "The chronicles of King David" (I Chronicles 27:)4); "The book of Samuel the seer, the book of Nathan the prophet, and the book of Gad the seer" (I Chronicles 29:29); "The book of Nathan the prophet, the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite and the visions of Iddo the seer" (II Chronicles 9:29); "The book of Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the seer" (ll Chronicles 12:15); "The story of the prophet Iddo" (II Chronicles 13:22); "The book of Jehu the son of Hanani, who is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel" (ll
Chronicles 20:34); "The story of the book of the kings" (II Chronicles 24:27); "The acts of Uzziah, which Isaiah wrote" (II (Chronicles 26:22); "The vision of Isaiah the prophet" (II Chronicles 32:32); "The book of the kings of Judah and Israel" (ll Chronicles 32:32); "The savings of the seers" ( II Chronicles 33 :19.
Thus, it is seen, the author had access to journals, diaries and public records that are not now known. He also had access to previous Old Testament books. Guided of God, he transcribed that which suited the purpose of his own writing. So, in this part of the Old Testament, we have a double narrative.
Significance of the Double Narrative
Believing, as we do, that the whole Bible is the Word of God, designed for Universal use, we wonder if God had some purpose other than Ezra's immediate need in resetting the land in thus repeating TWICE over this part of the sacred story.
Repetition means Importance. At least, it is a caution not to neglect part of the Bible. Even though we think of Kings and Chronicles as rather dry reading, yet they contain the story of God;s dealings with His people; and then, in reading, we find therein some of the finest jewels of Scripture.
Difference between Kings and Chronicles
Kings gives a parallel account of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, while Chronicles confines itself to the Southern Kingdom. Chronicles seems to be concerned primarily with the Kingdom of David, and bringing his line down to date.
These genealogies seem to have had for their immediate object the resetting of the land according to the public records. Those who had returned from the Captivity were entitled to lands formerly held in their own families. In the Old Testament land had been apportioned to families, and could not be sold in perpetuity out of the family (see under Leviticus 25).
So, the Priesthood was hereditary in families. A priest was to be succeeded by his son. This was the law of the land.
So, with the Kingly Line of David. The most important and precious of all promises was that the World's Saviour would come in David's family. The central interest of the genealogies is their tracing the descent of David's line.
Most of the genealogies are incomplete, with many breaks in the list. But the main line is there. They were probably compiled from many records which had been written on tablets, papyrus or vellum; partly copied from preceding Old Testament books.
The 9 chapters of genealogies from the generation-to generation tie-up of all preceding Biblical history. They need not be real, for devotional purpose, as often as some others parts of Scripture. But in reality these, and similar genealogies, are the skeleton framework of the Old Testament, the thing that binds the whole Bible together, and gives it unity, and makes it look like real HISTORY, not legend.
The book of II Samuel, and the book of I Chronicles, except the genealogies, are both devoted entirely to the Reign of David. I Chronicles pays special attention to the Organization Temple Services. Being written after the Return from Captivity, it might
not be out of the way to say that I Chronicles was a soft of historical sermon, based on II Samuel, designed to encourage the Returned Exiles in the work of Restoring Temple Worship to its proper place in their national life.
In II Samuel 2-4 it is told how David was made king over Judah, after death of Saul, his capital at Hebron; and reigned there 7 1/2 years; in which time there was war with Saul's son, Ish-bosheth. After Ish-bosheth's death, David was made king over all Israel.
David's first act, as king over all Israel, was to take Jerusalem, and make it Capital of the nation. This is told more fully in II Samuel 5. Jerusalem was more central; and was impregnably located on a mountain with valleys on east, west and south sides. During the 400 years from Joshua to David Israel had been unable to take it. Jebusites were still there (Joshua 15:63; II Samuel 5:6-10; I Chronicles 11:4, 5).
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: The Watercourse. This Watercourse (II Samuel 5:8), by which David's men gained entrance to Jerusalem, was discovered (1866), by Warren, of the Palestine Exploration Fund. It is a sloping tunnel, with stairsteps, cut down through solid rock, from the top of the hill to Gihon Spring, which was at the east base of the hill, thus giving access, within the walls, to a water supply. The hill was surrounded by a wall 24 feet thick. It was impregnable till David discovered this
secret passage from the spring into the city.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: David's Wall. In 11:8 it is said that David "built the city round about." The remains of this wall have been uncovered for 400 feet. In places the old Jebusite foundations are still visible under David's masonry.
The Ark had been captured by the Philistines (I Samuel 4:11). It remained with them 7 months (I Samuel 6:1). Then was sent back to Israel, and was at Kiriath-jearim, 10 miles northwest from Jerusalem, for 20 years (l Samuel 7:2). David, having established Jerusalem as the national capital, assembled all Israel to bring the Ark, in a
grand ceremonial procession, to Jerusalem.
But the unfortunate Uzzah incident (13:10), interrupted the procession. Uzzah's death, for his impulsive gesture to save the Ark (13:9), to us seems severe. However, only Levites were to carry the Ark (15:2, 13). Then, too, Uzzah's act was in direct violation of the law (Numbers 4:15); his death, a warning to be careful.
After 3 months at the house of Obed-edom (13:14), who was a Levite (15:17, 18, 21, 24) , the Ark was brought into Jerusalem, amid great rejoicing, and placed in a Tent which David had made for it (15:1). The original Tent was at Gibeon (21:29).
David's Polygamy (14:3), was against the law of God. But it was the custom of ancient kings; one of the signs of prestige and royalty, which the people seemed to expect of their rulers; toward which, in Old Testament times, God seemed lenient. However, in family troubles, David reaped his harvest (see on II Samuel 13).
It was David's idea. God was satisfied with a Tent (4-6). However, God gave in. But he would not let David build the Temple, because he had been a "man of war" and had "shed much blood" (22:8; 28:3); and assigned the task to Solomon (17:11-14; 28:6).
Chapters 18, 19, 20. David's Victories. (See on II Samuel 8.)
Chapter 21. The People Numbered. (See on II Samuel 24.)
Though forbidden to actually build the Temple, David laid the plans for it, and devoted a large part of his reign to collecting vast stores of gold and silver, and all kinds of building material, estimated, variously, to value in our money between two and five billions of dollars. It was to be "exceeding magnificent, of fame and glory in all the earth" (22:5). It was to the the crowning glory of the kingdom. David's charge is expanded in chapter 28.
No more need to carry the Tabernacle (26), now, that the Temple was to be permanently located in Jerusalem, the work of the Levites was respecified. Some of them were to oversee the work of the Temple (4). Some, to be doorkeepers (5). Some to be musicians (5:15:16), a choir of 4000. Some were to be "officers and judges," "for
the outward business over Israel," and "for the affairs of the king" (23:4; 26:29, 32). This last certainly looks as if the Levites had some work to do for the Civil Government.
Into 24 courses, for service in the Sanctuary. They were called "princes of the sanctuary," "princes of God" (5). They had charge of the Sacrifices. Their business ceased with the coming of Christ. Ironically enough, it was "Priests" who engineered the Crucifixion of Christ (Matthew 27:1, 6, 20, 41). The Epistle to the Hebrews was
written to show that "priests" were no longer necessary. The only places where the world is used with a Christian meaning is in Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6; and there it applies to ALL Christians, and not solely to Christian Leaders.
For efficiency in the Temple service, and in Government of the nation: specially the Musicians, whose business did not cease with the Coming of Christ, but rather took on new meaning. David was a great musician. With all his soul, he delighted in making the heavens ring with Songs of Praise to God (15:27, 28; 16:41, 42).
Concerning the Temple. That is what his heart was on, as his soul took its flight to the "house not made with hands." The "man after God's own heart" had "served his generation" nobly. And what a joy it must have been when he met Him who later bore the name "Son of David."