chapter 10 is where the chronicler’s narrative begins. He starts with Saul’s death and takes us to David’s death at the end of 1 Chronicles.
Whereas before, Satan had appealed to David’s desires to lead him to sin, the Holy Spirit apparently worked on David’s conscience to lead him to repent (see 2 Sam 24:10). He confessed to God: I have sinned greatly . . . . Now, please take away your servant’s guilt, for I’ve been very foolish (21:8). To repent means to change one’s mind and reverse direction. It’s like reversing course when you realize you’ve been traveling the wrong road. David’s confession of his sin was what the Lord was waiting for, but it did not eliminate the consequences of his sin.
21:9-13 God is faithful to discipline us for our sin—for our good and for his glory. So, through Gad the seer, God confronted David with three choices of consequences for his actions (21:9-12). Each of the choices was horrific, so David chose to appeal to God’s grace. He said, Let me fall into the Lord’s hands because his mercies are very great (21:13). David knew that though the Lord’s discipline can be extremely severe, he doesn’t exercise it as with vengeance toward an enemy, but rather as a father toward his children.
21:14-16 God sent a plague on Israel and seventy thousand Israelite men died (21:14). The angel was wreaking havoc when God relented and ended the destruction (21:15). When David saw him with his drawn sword . . . stretched out over Jerusalem, he and the elders fell facedown (21:16). This scene brings us to an important aside: angels in the Bible aren’t pictured as sweet cherubs with rosy cheeks. When visible in all their glory, they’re overwhelming and fearsome-looking creatures (see Dan 10:5-9; Rev 22:8-9).
21:17 David begged God for mercy. He said, Wasn’t I the one who gave the order to count the people? I am the one who has sinned and acted very wickedly. In other words, he didn’t attempt to excuse his actions or explain them away. He didn’t claim he’d made a mistake. David called what he’d done what it was: sin. He accepted full responsibility for it, and he pleaded with God to punish him instead of the people. When the Holy Spirit convicts you of your sin, humbly agree with him.
21:18-19 An insight gained here helps explain why the chronicler included this larger story in God’s Word. The rest of the chapter describes how David purchased this piece of property, the threshing floor of Ornan, on which to build an altar and offer sacrifices to atone for his sin and stop the plague (21:18).
21:20-24 David asked the owner to sell him the piece of land at full price—no favors, no discounts. He said, Give it to me for the full price, so the plague on the people may be stopped (21:22). Ornan was more than glad to do his part and donate the land (21:23), but his offer only led to David’s famous statement, I insist on paying the full price, for I will not take for the Lord what belongs to you or offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing (21:24). Now, if our churches were infused with this kind of attitude toward God and Christian service, we would have fewer problems. David understood that sacrifice isn’t sacrifice if it doesn’t hurt. Likewise, service isn’t service if it doesn’t cost you something.
21:25–22:1 After David bought the land from Ornan, built an altar, and made offerings to the Lord, God answered him with fire from heaven and commanded the angel to put his sword back into its sheath (21:25-27). In the midst of this, David immediately recognized the importance of his purchase: This is the house of the Lord God, and this is the altar of burnt offering for Israel (22:1). That means that David concluded that this was where God wanted Israel to build him a temple, a good idea confirmed in 2 Chronicles 3:1, which says, “Solomon began to build the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the site David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.” In his sovereignty and providence, then, God directed the sinful actions of David into a positive outcome by leading him to the very place, Mount Moriah, where Abraham had offered Isaac (see Gen 22).
Although God allowed the enemy of our souls to lure David into sin, God turned the devil’s plan on its head by identifying Israel’s holiest site as a result of what happened. The devil is evil and the enemy of God, but he is God’s devil in the end. Our awesome God has Satan on a leash. He can take the devil’s wicked schemes and turn them around to accomplish his own righteous purposes.
22:2-5 Even though God did not permit David to build the temple personally, David did everything in his power to ensure that his son would have what he needed to do the job. The chronicler distinguishes himself from the authors of 1–2 Samuel and 1–2 Kings by describing David’s significant efforts to acquire the workers and the resources for the temple. He did this to help ensure that the house [that would] be built for the Lord [would] be exceedingly great and famous and glorious in all the lands (22:5). David was determined that God’s temple would be the best—and that people from every land would know it. Is your service to the Lord marked with this same demand for excellence?
Don’t miss the insight that David knew these lavish preparations were necessary because Solomon was too young and inexperienced to pull off the upcoming building project on his own (22:5). This suggests that David spent his remaining days preparing his son to be a leader. Dads, take note.
22:6-10 A day came when David sent for Solomon to give him the charge to build the temple (22:6). He delivered to his son an incredible word of prophecy and promise from God concerning Solomon’s future reign (22:7-10). (Talk about being born with a silver spoon in your mouth!) I don’t know of anyone in the Bible who got off to a better start than Solomon. He not only inherited the kingdom of Israel, but God himself promised him rest from all his surrounding enemies (22:9). Even Solomon’s name was a daily reminder of God’s promise (22:9). “Solomon” is related to shalom, the Hebrew word for peace. This man inherited the covenant blessings and promises God had given to David to establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever (22:10). This means that Solomon was placed in the messianic line, just as he was chosen for the greatest assignment anyone in Israel could ever hope to have: to build a house for the Lord.
22:11-16 After this, David asked that the Lord might grant his son success in constructing the temple. Then, he said to Solomon, Above all, may the Lord give you insight and understanding when he puts you in charge of Israel so that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will succeed if you carefully follow the statutes and ordinances the Lord commanded Moses for Israel (22:11-12).
His father’s hope that God would grant him “insight and understanding” obviously had a significant affect on Solomon. Later, when God asked him what he would like most, Solomon requested “wisdom and knowledge” (2 Chr 1:7-10). He knew he couldn’t lead God’s people without heavenly insight for earthly living. Importantly, David’s heart desire for Solomon was the same as God’s heart desire for Solomon—that he would walk in the ways of the Lord. This should be the deepest desire of all Christian parents for their children.
Later, after the completion of the temple, the Lord similarly exhorted Solomon about keeping his “statutes” and commands. God promised that he would establish Solomon if he did everything he was commanded. He also warned him that if he turned away from keeping his law, he would uproot Israel from the land (see 2 Chr 7:17-22). Unfortunately, this warning would one day become a reality. But, at this point in 1 Chronicles, Solomon was just beginning a reign that was full of promise.
David’s final word of encouragement for Solomon echoed God’s words to Joshua that had been uttered long ago: Be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid or discouraged (22:13; see Josh 1:9). Why did he need to say that? Because the natural human tendency is to be afraid in the face of a huge assignment like the responsibility that was being laid on Solomon. And, it wouldn’t be long before Solomon lost his father’s advice and could no longer draw courage from him, for David would pass away not long after he assumed the throne. We need to remember that the people of Scripture were just that—people. They were human beings with the same fears and emotions we have. So, in the case of Solomon, feeling fearful and uncourageous would be understandable. Yet, the most powerful antidote to fear is knowledge of the Lord’s presence. That’s why David concluded with the phrase, May the Lord be with you (22:16).
22:17-19 After speaking to Solomon, David ordered all the leaders of Israel to help his son (22:17). He knew Solomon couldn’t go it alone, so David ensured that those who had been loyal to him would be loyal to his son. He exhorted them to seek the Lord and get started building (22:19). That’s perfect advice no matter what endeavor you are about to begin. Seek the Lord—and get started.
23:1 When David was old and full of days, he installed his son Solomon as king over Israel (23:1). He essentially made Solomon his co-regent. Then, with Solomon on the throne, David set about providing for the service of the future temple.
23:2-32 Temple service was to be accomplished by the Levites, whom the Lord had set aside to care for and transport the ark, the tabernacle, and all its furnishings (23:2; see Num 1:50; Deut 10:8). Once the temple was built, there would no longer be a need to carry the tabernacle or any of the equipment for its service (23:26). At that point, then, the Levites were to assist the descendants of Aaron (the Levitical family chosen for the priesthood) with the service of the Lord’s temple (23:28). So, while the priests offered sacrifices, the Levites not descended from Aaron were responsible for helping with various work in the temple (23:28-32).
The Levites served as Israel’s praise and worship team. Their ministry included standing every morning and evening to give thanks and praise to the Lord (23:30). In fact, David assigned four thousand Le-vites to praise the Lord with . . . instruments (23:5). We know based on how many psalms David wrote that he placed a high value on worship. He wanted to ensure that there were enough Levites—singers and musicians—to praise the Lord twenty-four hours a day.
24:1-31 By including the extensive lists of names seen in this chapter, the chronicler enabled Levites and priests in his day who had returned from exile to know how they fit into the plan of temple service. One of the Levites, a secretary . . . recorded them in the presence of the king and the other leaders (24:6). Service in the Lord’s temple was serious business.
How serious was it? As he lists Aaron’s sons, the chronicler mentions Nadab and Abihu who died before their father (24:2) because they “presented unauthorized fire before the Lord” (Lev 10:1). Moses had made it clear that these two men didn’t give proper regard for God’s “holiness” and “glory” (Lev 10:3). In other words, they failed to take God seriously. When you do that, you’re taking your life into your own hands. As a result of their sin, Nadab and Abihu had no sons to follow them into the priesthood (24:2).
Each of the different families had their assigned duties for service when they entered the Lord’s temple (24:19). This provided enough priests for the continual, round-the-clock worship of the Lord.
25:1-31 The praise and worship leaders are named in this chapter (see 23:5). Notice that the officers of the army were involved with David in making these appointments (25:1), a reminder that David was both a warrior and a worshiper. This close connection between worship and Israel’s military campaigns is obvious as far back as the conquest of Jericho (see Josh 6), when Israel basically defeated the city with praise music, marching around the city walls and blasting trumpets.
Notice that these people were all trained and skillful in music for the Lord (25:7). In other words, they weren’t born with musical talent. They had to train and practice to become highly skilled. This was their God-given job, and they did it with excellence.
We are all stewards in God’s kingdom. We all have responsibilities and gifts from him. Make the most of yours. One day, you’ll give an account for how faithful you were to your king’s agenda (see Luke 19:11-26). Life is like a coin. You can spend it anyway you want. But, remember: you only get to spend it once.
26:1-32 This chapter completes David’s preparations for the future temple. The gatekeepers (26:1) served as a security detail around the various gates, and they were carefully selected. They cast lots to determine their assignments (26:13). This doesn’t mean, however, that the assignments were random. The Lord providentially directs all things. As Solomon would write years later, “The lot is cast in the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Prov 16:33).
There were guards stationed at every watch (26:16). The temple of the Lord was to function twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The doors didn’t close. This reminds us that worshiping God is full-time work.
Levites were also in charge of the treasuries of God’s temple (26:20) and took care of the duties outside the temple as officers and judges over Israel (26:29). This concept of God-appointed spiritual leaders rendering decisions for his people, in fact, is reflected in Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthians for not being able to decide disputes among themselves without having to take them downtown to secular judges (see 1 Cor 6:1-8). Civil government has its own sphere of operation in God’s creation. But, as Paul reminds us, it’s wrong to take church matters to the civil courts.
27:1-34 As a nation, Israel also had civil or secular leaders for other areas of administration besides worship and the functioning of the temple. These included military commanders and their officers (27:1-15). There were also leaders over the various tribes of Israel (27:16-22). A third group had authority over the king’s storehouses, agriculture, and herds (27:25-31). Finally, there were counselors who advised the king on important matters (27:32-34).
God has ordained various forms of government in his creation: self-government, family government, church government, and civil government. The latter is a legitimate sphere within God’s world—but it has a limited agenda. Jesus legitimized government, and also limited its reach, in one brilliant statement: “Give, then, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt 22:21).
The biblical role of civil government is to maintain a safe, just, and righteous environment in which freedom can flourish. So, the government is supposed to spend its time and energy removing tyranny from the marketplace and producing harmony in society—in other words, promoting and administering justice, protecting law-abiding citizens, punishing the lawless, and ensuring that fairness operates in such areas as business and racial relationships. Government should work to prevent evil and injustice.
If individuals, families, and churches do their jobs—producing responsible self-government within individual lives—the civil government can focus on what it needs to focus on, rather than having to deal with people who look to the government to do everything for them. If you are expecting the civil government to do for you what God says you are to do for yourself, that is a misuse and misappropriation of government. Plus, if you expect Uncle Sam to do everything for you, you are destined for disappointment, anyway. Moreover, whenever we appeal to the civil government first to deal with a church matter like divorce, we rebel against God’s decentralized approach to government and ignore the separate spheres of his governments.
28:1 The book of 1 Chronicles ends with an incredible display of spiritual leadership and worship. With everything ready for the temple’s construction, David assembled all the leaders of Israel in Jerusalem for his final charge to them.
28:2-8 David rehearsed what we learned in chapter 17: he’d desired to build a temple for the Lord, but God told him his son would be the temple builder instead. But, David wanted to make something perfectly clear: The Lord God of Israel chose me out of all my father’s family to be king over Israel forever (28:4). Moreover, God had chosen Solomon to sit on the throne after him and to build the temple (28:5-6). Notice how many times David said God “chose” him, his tribe, and his son in verses 4-7. This was his way of telling them, “This family’s leadership over you is God’s doing. Get on board.”
The Lord said of Solomon, I will establish his kingdom forever if he perseveres in keeping my commands and my ordinances as he is doing today (28:7). Then, David said to the leaders, observe and follow all the commands of the Lord your God so that you may possess this good land and leave it as an inheritance to your descendants forever (28:8) Don’t miss the emphasis here on the condition for success in God’s kingdom: obedience to God and his Word.
28:9-21 Solomon was also present at this assembly, so David gave him a similar exhortation (28:9). He said, Be strong, and do it (28:10). Of course, this did not mean Solomon was to work in his own strength but rather in dependence on the Lord. David told him, Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He won’t leave you or abandon you until all the work for the service of the Lord’s house is finished (28:20). The temple would be the greatest achievement of Solomon’s reign and would require every ounce of his ability and dependence on God.
David handed over to Solomon all of the plans for the temple, its furnishings, and the divisions of the priests and Levites (28:11-18). With the help of the Lord, David had been enabled to complete all of the preparations (28:19). Nothing remained but to execute the plans.
29:1-5 David told the Israelites that the task they were about to begin was tremendous. But, he reminded them that the building [would] not be built for a human but for the Lord (29:1). In other words, they were not about to erect a skyscraper for the glory of man but a glorious temple for the worship of the living God. It would be worth the effort.
To the best of my ability I’ve made provision for the house of my God. David had acquired vast amounts of treasures for temple construction (29:2). But, that’s not all. Because of his delight in the house of [his] God, he also gave his personal treasures (29:3). David set the example and gave generously. That’s what leaders do.
29:6-9 In response to David’s actions, the leaders gave willingly and generously (29:6-8). When the people saw this, they rejoiced and King David did, too (29:9). This offering was given so spontaneously, so open-handedly, and so willingly that it provided the necessary funds for God’s work to be carried out without David even having to pass the plate.
29:10-19 What would drive believers to sacrificially give like this? That’s a good question because the attitude of willingness and generosity reflected in this offering is meant to be the norm for God’s people—not the exception. The answer to the question is found in David’s prayer that followed the offering.
David praised God because he recognized some key truths about giving and gratitude that we sing and talk about in church, but don’t always understand. David acknowledged that everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to the Lord in the first place (29:11). Riches and honor come from him (29:12). When we give to God, then, we are only giving back to him a portion of what he has given to us in the first place. David was rightly offering to God the praise due to him as the first and most abundant giver. If we as Christians don’t understand this principle of stewardship, we won’t be inclined to give. God has richly provided everything we have or will have. We should have hearts of generosity and gratitude in response.
When my children were young, there were times when they would ask for money so they could buy me a birthday present. What they didn’t realize was that they needed me to bless me. Now, I was still touched by their desire to give me a gift because their hearts were in the right place. But, you see, I wasn’t any better off having received a present that I had paid for. What was meaningful to me was that my kids wanted to bless me out of their hearts of love for me.
David understood this principle clearly: Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your own hand (29:14). He even acknowledged that his people were really just renters, more or less tenant farmers in the land of Israel, which ultimately belonged to God, too (29:15).
In part, the reason he prayed this way was because he understood another principle of giving that we need to embrace. God tests the heart (29:17). When it’s all said and done, giving is a heart thing. God is looking at the size of our hearts, not our checkbooks. Jesus gave us the best example of this in the story of the widow and her two small coins. He said of her actions, “This poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had—all she had to live on” (Mark 12:43-44).
Embracing that everything we have is a gift from God is the genesis of both generosity and thanksgiving. This is why we must approach not only our giving, but also all of life from a kingdom perspective that recognizes that everything we have and are, or will ever have or be, is from God’s hand. Like the lights on the dashboard of your car that show what’s going on deep down under the hood, your willingness to give generously indicates whether your heart is right.
29:20-25 The people of Israel had their hearts right in 1 Chronicles 29, and it showed. The reaction to David’s prayer was spontaneous and joyous. The whole assembly broke out into a worship party in which praise and sacrifices were offered in amazing quantities (29:20-22). That set the perfect stage for David to, once again, bring Solomon before the nation and anoint him as God’s chosen ruler (29:22-25).
Don’t miss the chronicler’s description in 29:23: Solomon sat on the Lord’s throne as king. This indicates that although Solomon was the king, he was God’s king, sitting on God’s throne in God’s kingdom. His was a stewardship of massive proportions.
The summary statement about Solomon’s reign tells the story of his unparalleled blessing from God: The Lord highly exalted Solomon in the sight of all Israel and bestowed on him such royal majesty as had not been bestowed on any king over Israel before him (29:25). This insight makes it even more tragic that Solomon would later squander God’s blessing (see 1 Kgs 11:1-13).
29:26-30 The final verses of 1 Chronicles summarize David’s reign. David was like a lot of great figures from history in that his influence did not end with his death. But, unlike all other kings and leaders, one of David’s descendants would have an eternal influence: his greater Son and our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. “He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever” (Isa 9:6-7). David looked forward to that day, and so do we.