II. The Reign of David (1 Chronicles 10:1–29:30)


II. The Reign of David (10:1–29:30)

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.

A. David Anointed as King (10:1–11:9)

10:1-14 Saul’s entire reign and death, which covered “forty-two years” (1 Sam 13:1) and stretched for twenty-four chapters (1 Sam 8-31) take the chronicler only fourteen verses to sum up. Why did Saul deserve so little attention here from God’s viewpoint? Saul died for his unfaithfulness to the Lord because he did not keep the Lord’s word. He even consulted a medium for guidance, but he did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David (10:13-14).

Saul’s failures include the time he became impatient waiting for Samuel and took it upon himself to make a burnt offering, which was a violation of God’s law (see 1 Sam 13:9-14). Another time, he made a rash vow that almost cost his son Jonathan his life (see 1 Sam 14:24-45). And, even though Saul was the biggest and best warrior Israel had (see 1 Sam 9:1-2), he was content to let the Philistine Goliath blaspheme God for forty days without attempting to stop him (see 1 Sam 17). Then, after David killed Goliath and vindicated God’s name, Saul hated David for the praise he received (see 1 Sam 18:7-9). All of this was in addition to the fact that his partial obedience in the matter of the Amalekites cost him the kingdom (see commentary on 4:24-43).

The sad, pitiful end of Israel’s first king (10:3-9) provides a strong lesson for us and illustrates the difference between living for a kingdom agenda and living for a selfish, personal agenda. Saul’s life followed the path of convenience, regardless of God’s Word or priorities.

11:1-3 After the fall of Saul’s house, All Israel came together and acknowledged that David was God’s chosen one to shepherd [his] people Israel . . . and be ruler over them (11:1-2). So, they anointed David king over Israel, in keeping with the Lord’s word through Samuel (11:3).

That “all Israel” came to Hebron for the anointing (11:1) was a significant statement of national unity for the readers of 1 Chronicles who had returned from the Babylonian exile. Israel had been divided, tribe against tribe, from the time of Solomon’s death until the exile—a period of several hundred years. Now that the people were back in the land, unity was more important than the divisions that had led to years of conflict and suffering.

11:4-9 David needed a centrally located capital for his kingdom and chose Jerusalem, which, at that time, was the stronghold of the Jebusites (11:4). Though the Jebusites tried to put up a fight, David captured the stronghold of Zion, which came to be known as the city of David (11:5, 7). In time, the city would house the temple. Thus, Jerusalem would be home to the throne of King David and, more important, to the throne of the King of kings.

What was the source of David’s growth in power? The Lord of Armies was with him (11:9).

That an Israelite soldier named Joab answered David’s call to breach the walls of Jerusalem and so became David’s commander-in-chief shows the man’s ability (11:6). But, Joab is a good example of a person who has strong qualities such as leadership, bravery, and loyalty, yet can’t control his impulses or his temper. In the end, Joab’s violent and deceptive side did him in (see 1 Kgs 2:5-6).

B. David’s Mighty Warriors (11:10–12:40)

11:10-47 David was a warrior through and through (22:8), so it’s not surprising that he attracted to himself other brave fighters who swore loyalty to him. The exploits of these men sound like something out of a superhero movie, telling us that David had an incredible office staff! The fighting skills and loyalty of the Three (11:18) were on display when they broke through the Philistines’ lines to get David the drink he wanted from the well at Bethlehem (11:15-19). David was grieved when he realized that three of his best men could have been killed just to satisfy a whim he happened to mention, so he poured out the water as an offering to the Lord. Abishai and Benaiah (11:20, 22) are two names that figure prominently in David’s reign and military campaigns. Abishai was Joab’s brother and the leader of the Three (11:20). Benaiah was so fearless he went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion (11:22).

The chronicler makes it clear that David and his warriors were not victorious merely because of their brute strength and military cunning. Though they possessed these qualities, the Lord gave them . . . great victory (11:14). So, don’t pat yourself on the back and forget the true source of your victory, either.

12:1-40 So clear was it to Amasai, chief of the Thirty, that God was with David that he and his men pledged their loyalty to him (12:18). How did Amasai come by this insight? After all, at the time described in verses 1-22, David was still banned from the presence of Saul (12:1) and was hiding in his desert stronghold (12:8, 16). Why and how would Amasai persuade other warriors to join David? The answer is that the Spirit enveloped Amasai (12:18)—that is, he received a direct revelation from the Lord who said of David, “This is my man.” Small wonder, then, that when all the soldiers gathered to David, it looked like an army of God (12:22).

Most of the mighty men listed in chapter 11 were from David’s own tribe of Judah. But, according to chapter 12, many fighting men from other Israelite tribes also came to serve David. Among these were the Issacharites, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do (12:32). That insight tells us that somebody raised those boys to understand what was happening around them, and they were ready to serve. They’re a faithful example of kingdom living.

Parents, teach your children to be observant about the dangerous times we live in and to follow God’s path of wisdom. May we raise up followers of Christ of whom it is one day said, “They understood the times and knew what the church should do.”

Importantly, all these warriors that are featured by the chronicler, as well as all the rest of Israel, were united in their purpose to make David king (12:38). As a group of football players with diverse roles become a team when united in purpose, so God’s people are truly united when his kingdom purposes become theirs. As the apostle Paul affirms, true unity is a spiritual issue (see Eph 4:3).

C. David Brings the Ark to Jerusalem and Desires to Build a Temple (13:1–17:27)

13:1-4 God himself described David as “a man after his own heart” (1 Sam 13:14), and David understood that victory is from God’s hand. He said, “The Lord saves, for the battle is the Lord’s” (1 Sam 17:47). So, it’s not surprising that David urged the people to bring back the ark of God (13:3)—the symbol of God’s holy presence where he met with his people—to Jerusalem. In the days of Saul, Israel had failed to inquire of God (13:3). When the leadership neglected God, the people did, as well. But, David wasn’t about to follow Saul’s example.

13:5-6 Where had the ark been? The ark had fallen into Philistine hands because God judged Israel’s priests for using the ark like a good luck charm (see 1 Sam 2:12–4:22). When it had proved to be way too hot for the Philistines to handle, they’d sent it back to Israel (see 1 Sam 5–6). For many years, it remained in the city of Kiriath-jearim (13:5).

13:7-14 This was a moving party with the emphasis on party. David and all Israel were dancing with all their might before God (13:8). At the center of worship is the celebration of who God is, what he has done, and what we are trusting him to do. As the author of many of the Psalms, David was a worshipping man, so he led the celebration.

But, the story recorded here reminds us that worship must be more than heartfelt. It must be carried out in the way God prescribes. God had given Israel strict instructions about how to transport the ark. Only the Levites were to carry it and only by using poles inserted through rings in its side (see Exod 25:12-15; 37:3-5; Deut 10:8). Yet, when David transported the ark, it was placed on a new cart pulled by oxen (13:7). That detail is important because this was how the godless Philistines had moved the ark when they sent it back to Israel (see 1 Sam 6:7).

God’s worshipers aren’t free to just make things up as they go along, and the parade didn’t end well. Uzzah, one of those guiding the cart, reached out to hold the ark because the oxen had stumbled (13:9). As a result, the Lord’s anger burned . . . and he struck him dead (13:10). Through this response, God was reminding David and Israel that he is holy—that is, “separate” or “set apart.” He is separate from his creation, unstained by sin, and is the standard of righteousness. We are to approach him as such.

If you were in charge of transporting the President of the United States, you wouldn’t have the freedom to simply show up at the White House on horseback and tell the leader of the free world to climb aboard. So, how much more important was it for Israel to submit to the agenda of their holy and transcendent King “who is enthroned between the cherubim” on the ark when it was time to transport it (13:6)?

As a result of the Lord’s outburst against Uzzah, David was too afraid to take the ark to Jerusalem. He put it in the house of Obed-edom instead (13:11-13). There it remained until David was ready to do things the right way (13:14; see 15:2-15).

14:1-7 Here, the chronicler hits pause on the story of the ark to emphasize God’s blessings on David—perhaps to reassure his readers that God’s favor was still on David in spite of his failure. King Hiram of Tyre sent builders and materials to build a palace for David (14:1). Then David knew that the Lord had established him as king (14:2). David’s star was shining brightly. Things were going well for this former shepherd boy whom God had taken from the outhouse to the White House, so to speak.

14:8-17 Right in the middle of all of his incredible blessings, David experienced a problem. When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over all Israel, they all went in search of David (14:8). Similarly, when God blesses you for his purposes, you become the target of the enemy. Yet, when the Philistines threatened David and the people of Israel, God’s man was determined to face them (14:8).

David knew better than to go it alone, so he inquired of God (14:10). To inquire of God—to pray—is to seek heavenly intervention in an earthly situation. It is the established means by which God relates to his people and we relate to him. God has wired the world of his people, in fact, to work through prayer. Thus, David didn’t rely on his military might or past victories. He humbly looked to the one who had made him king in the first place.

Think of God’s power like the electricity in your home. Your home has been wired for power; that’s the way it was built. The electric company will provide your home with all the power you need, but you have to plug in the toaster to get the benefits of that power. You have to flip the switch. Similarly, if you are a Christian, you are wired for divine power. But, unless it is activated through prayer, you’ll never see heavenly power working on earth. You’ve got to flip the switch.

Prayer is calling forth in history what God has determined in eternity. It is a passport to and a point of contact with the heavenly sphere. When David made such contact, the Lord answered with stunning victories over the enemy (14:10-16). As a result, David’s fame spread throughout the lands, and the Lord caused all the nations to be terrified of him (14:17).

15:1-26 The journey of the ark to Jerusalem resumes here. This time, things were done right. No one but the Levites carried the ark (15:2), and they accomplished the task the way Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord (15:15). Note carefully: the Bible—the written Word of God—is no mere book. It’s not simply words on a page. It’s the authoritative voice of God. If you mix a human viewpoint with the divine viewpoint, the result can be deadly (13:9-10). But, David made sure the priests and Levites consecrated themselves for their holy assignment in the way prescribed (15:14), and he offered sacrifices along the way (15:26). He took what God said seriously, and we should, too.

15:27-29 Here, we see a marriage lesson based on the idea that you will live according to God’s priorities or your own. You will either view life from a heavenly perspective or an earthly one.

David had married Michal, a daughter of Saul who was apparently quite a diva. (Saul even chuckled to himself when he gave Michal to David because he hoped she would be a trap to bring him down; see 1 Sam 18:20-21). As the ark of the covenant of the Lord was entering the city, Michal saw David leaping and dancing. But, instead of worshiping and celebrating with him, she despised him in her heart (15:29).

What happened in this passage is why Christians ought not be “partners with” or “unequally yoked” with (as the KJV put it) unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14). A believer’s marriage to someone who refuses to place himself or herself under God’s kingdom rule will result in having two radically different agendas trying to operate under the same roof. Be careful whom you marry before you marry.

16:1-43 Once the ark was in place, David wrote a great hymn to the Lord (16:8-36). It combines portions of three Psalms: 95, 105, and 106. Two aspects of the hymn are worth noting.

First, in it David called God’s people to praise (16:9, 25, 35-36) and worship (16:28-29) him. Why? Because God provides salvation (16:23), made the heavens (16:26), and possesses all glory and strength (16:28). A policeman deserves honor because of his badge and uniform. Without these, though, he’s just another person. God never removes his uniform of divinity. He will always be the glorious Creator and Redeemer; he deserves our praise.

Second, David urges the people to remember God’s wonderful deeds (16:12, 15) and to give him thanks (16:8, 34). You’re going to encounter plenty of sorrow and difficulty in life. There will be times when you’ll want to throw in the towel. And, that’s why you have to regularly remember the Lord’s goodness to you. Recall yesterday’s blessings to help you through today’s hardships. Recalling God’s actions in your life will help you cultivate a grateful heart. When you cease giving thanks to the Lord, it’s because you’ve forgotten what he’s done for you.

17:1-7 Though all was well with Israel, all was not well in David’s heart. He lived in a cedar house while the Lord’s ark was under tent curtains (17:1). He was ashamed and wanted to build a grand temple for God. At first, Nathan the prophet gave David the green light for running with that idea (17:2). But that night, Nathan received a message from the Lord rejecting David’s offer (17:3-4). God had never asked Israel for a house, so David didn’t need to feel sorry for him (17:5-6). He reminded David that he was the gift-giver and David was the recipient. God had taken a shepherd from the pasture and placed him on a throne (17:7).

17:8-15 God also declared that he would make a name for David like that of the greatest on the earth. He would establish Israel and subdue all [David’s] enemies (7:8-10). These big promises are a reminder not to place God in a box. He “is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20).

Even these grand promises weren’t enough, though. David had proposed building a house for God. But God said, I will build a house for you (17:10). The house God had in mind wasn’t composed of bricks and wood. The house he was giving David was actually a royal dynasty. And, not only would David’s son build a temple for the Lord (17:11-12), but God would also be a father to him and would establish his kingdom forever (17:13-14).

The near term referent in these verses is, of course, Solomon; he would build God’s temple (see 2 Chr 2:1–7:11). Ultimately, though, this covenant with David couldn’t be fulfilled by a mere man. It required a God-man. Only Jesus Christ could fulfill the Davidic covenant and rule as an eternal King. “He . . . will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David” (Luke 1:32), and “he will reign forever” (Rev 11:15).

17:16-27 How could David respond to such promises? The only way you can respond to divine grace—with gratitude and praise. Though David’s origins were humble, the Lord regarded him as a man of distinction (17:17). And, in the end, the only opinion of you that matters is God’s.

Don’t miss David’s prayer, Do as you have promised (17:23). If you sometimes wonder what to pray, ask God to fulfill the promises he has made to his children. If he promises it, you know it’s his will. So, pray that he makes that which is settled in heaven a reality in your earthly history.

D. David Wages War against Israel’s Enemies (18:1–20:8)

18:1-17 Chapters 18–20 record a number of David’s military campaigns against Israel’s enemies. The battles listed here are not necessarily in chronological order, but were probably chosen to demonstrate the greatness of David’s rule as he consolidated and expanded his kingdom. According to chapter 18, David defeated the Philistines, Moabites, Arameans, Ammonites, Amalekites, and Edomites. No superpowers stood in his way because the Lord made David victorious wherever he went (8:6, 13). With this repeated phrase, the chronicler wants his readers to remember that God was the power behind David’s sword.

David not only defeated his enemies, he also plundered them. They brought him tribute (18:2, 6), and he seized their gold, silver, and bronze items (18:7-11). But, these things weren’t done so that David could merely accumulate wealth. He dedicated these to the Lord (18:11) so that, one day, Solomon could use them for constructing the temple (18:8). In other words, David’s tribute and plunder served as a good illustration of the principle found in Proverbs 13:22: “the sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.” A kingdom-minded economic agenda recognizes that God often providentially transfers the resources of the wicked to be used and developed for kingdom purposes.

19:1-19 The battle against the Ammonites and their mercenaries demonstrated the need for leaders to have wise counselors. David desired to show kindness to Hanun the Ammonite king (19:1-2). But, the rash Ammonite leaders convinced the king that David’s overtures to console him concerning his father’s death were actually an effort to spy (19:2-3). When Hanun treated David’s emissaries shamefully and prepared for battle (19:4-7), David sent Joab and Abishai to engage them (19:8-11). And, recognizing that victory comes from the Lord, David’s men declared, May the Lord’s will be done (19:13). The Ammonites and their Aramean mercenaries turned tail and ran (19:14-19).

20:1-8 The beginning of chapter 20 may sound familiar. It hints of the infamous occasion when David stayed in Jerusalem (while his army went to battle) and committed adultery with Bathsheba, which led to the murder of her husband, Uriah (see 2 Sam 11:1-27). Recording those events in detail didn’t fit with the chronicler’s purpose of showing God’s favor to his people through his blessing of David; besides, it was likely well-known. In any event, the Ammonites were, once again, crushed by David’s army (20:3). No one stood in the king’s way—not even the massive Philistine giants (20:4-8).

E. David Orders a Sinful Census (21:1–22:1)

21:1 Lest you think that because the chronicler omitted the account of David’s sin with Bathsheba in chapter 20, he’s somehow whitewashing David’s history, chapter 21 presents David warts and all. The only perfect hero in Chronicles is God. In this chapter, the chronicler recounts the devastation that resulted from David’s pride when he commanded a military census. He isn’t covering up David’s sins; he’s writing with a purpose. There’s a significant reason this story is included, as we’ll see.

After filling pages and pages with accounts of blessing (the ark brought to Jerusalem, God’s covenant with David, David’s military victories), the chronicler hits us with this: Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to count the people of Israel (21:1). Now, in 2 Samuel 24:1 it says, “The Lord’s anger burned against Israel again, and he stirred up David against them to say: ‘Go, count the people of Israel and Judah.’” So, what happened? Did God stir David to take a census of the people, or did Satan? The answer is both.

To execute his own judgment on some sin the people of Israel had committed, God allowed Satan to lay a snare for David by tempting him to take pride in the size of his kingdom and in the number of his troops rather than trusting in God. So, God put Satan on a short leash that allowed him permission to work on David. (This is similar to the scene in Job 1–2, in which God permits Satan to do a number on Job for his purposes.)

We can learn about Satan’s methods of deception from this incident. Satan likes to mess with our minds, our thoughts. The apostle James, in fact, explains the process by which Satan deceives people. It begins with our desires, which, in David’s case, was the desire to know his army’s strength. James says, “Each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire” (Jas 1:14). Now, it isn’t necessarily sinful for a king and military commander to take stock of his troops so he knows whether he has sufficient strength to meet an enemy or defend the land. But, God wanted David to rely completely on him instead of numbers. After all, God had already demonstrated that he could give Israel victory even over much larger armies. The bottom line is that it did not matter how many fighting men David had.

So, stage one in Satan’s deception plan is the arousal of a desire. And, even legitimate desires become a problem when the devil tempts us to meet a legitimate desire in an illegitimate way. That’s what the process of temptation is often about, in fact: trying to get us to meet a good need in a bad way. Our legitimate desires are God-given. But, the enemy wants to influence how we decide to satisfy them. Satan wants our desires to master us. And, while he can’t make us do anything, he can build castles of desire in our minds that lure us to do wrongful things.

21:2-4 David bought into the temptation presented to him, so he gave this order to Joab: Go and count Israel from Beer-sheba to Dan and bring a report to me so I can know their number (21:2). But, Joab was thinking more clearly than his king and replied to David, May the Lord multiply the number of his people a hundred times over! My lord the king, aren’t they all my lord’s servants? . . . Why should he bring guilt on Israel? (21:3). In other words, Joab tried to help David see the sinfulness of his actions, but he was overruled. He had to carry out the census against his own wishes and better judgment (21:4).

21:5-8 Verse 6 informs us that Joab didn’t actually complete the census because the king’s command was detestable to him. More important, it was also evil in God’s sight, so he afflicted Israel (21:7).

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.

F. David Makes Temple Preparations and Appoints Leaders (22:2–27:34)

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.

G. David Delivers His Farewell Message and Dies (28:1–29:30)

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.