1 Chronicles — A Deeper Look at David’s Reign

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With its genealogies that name the generations after Zerubabel, this book was very obviously penned after the return of the exiles from Babylon—probably around 500 BC. Tradition names Ezra the scribe as its most likely author. One would definitely tend to agree the book had a priestly compiler, considering the constant spiritual editorialization that takes place throughout the book and its companion piece, 2 Chronicles.

The book begins with a genealogy from Adam to Abraham to David to the exile. Then it gives brief genealogies of the other tribes and tells who returned after the exile from each of these groups. Saul’s genealogy and an account of the end of his reign are given. The rest of the book focuses on the establishment of David’s kingship in Israel.

1 Chronicles Chapter 1
This first chapter of 1 Chronicles starts with Adam and works its way through the line of his third son, Seth, to Noah (1 Chron. 1:1-4; compare with Genesis 5). It briefly lists Japheth’s main descendants (1 Chr. 1:5-7; c.f.—Gen. 10:1-5). The next passage focuses a little more in-depth on Ham’s genealogy to establish the history of Canaan (1 Chr. 1:8-16; Gen. 10:6-20). Notably, it mentions Nimrod again as “a mighty one on the earth” (1 Chr. 1:10).

Verses 17-27 work their way through the descendants of Shem, leading to Abraham, following the genealogy of Genesis 11:10-32. Then we read about the family of Abraham through Ishmael (1 Chr. 1:29-30)—an abridged version of Genesis 25:12-18. Abraham’s children through his second wife, Keturah, are mentioned in 1 Chronicles 1:32-33 (c.f.—Gen. 25:1-6).

The next portion of 1 Chronicles 1 focuses on Isaac’s descendants through Esau and the merging of his people with the inhabitants of Seir (vv. 34-42). The rest of the chapter lists the kings of Edom descended from Esau (43-54). All of this section correlates with Genesis 36.

1 Chronicles Chapter 2
The opening verses of this chapter list the sons of Jacob/Israel in an unusual order:

  • Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun—the sons of Jacob’s “unloved” wife, Leah—are named first.
  • Next we find Dan, Joseph, Benjamin and Naphtali—the sons of Rachel and her maid, Bilhah—with the two older boys at each end and the younger in the middle.
  • Finally, Ezra listed Gad and Asher, the sons of Leah’s maid, Zilpah. (1 Chron. 2:1-2)

Normally these descendants are listed according to age or importance, their location in the Promised Land, their order in the arrangement of the Israeli camps, or groupings with their mothers. One has to wonder why Ezra the scribe chose this organization of the tribes, but did not follow it in the rest of the genealogies.

Because the primary focus of this book is the ascendancy of David to the throne of Israel, Ezra highlights the history of David’s tribe, Judah, first. In verses 3-4, he briefly referenced the sordid history of Judah’s sons and his daughter-in-law, Tamar, from Genesis 38. He then listed descendants of David’s ancestor, Perez—including the infamous Achar, son of Carmi [called Achan in Joshua 7], who took some of the articles forbidden by God from Jericho, which brought so much trouble on Israel (1 Chron. 2:5-8).

We find David’s family line traced through Hezron’s second son, Ram, in verses 9-12. In the 11th verse, Ezra spelled the name of David’s great-great-grandfather, “Salma,” instead of “Salmon,” as it is spelled in Ruth 4:21. In 1 Chronicles 2:13-15 we find the complete list of David’s brothers in order:

  1. Eliab
  2. Abinadab
  3. Shimea [called Shammah in 1 Samuel 16:9 and elsewhere]
  4. Nethanel
  5. Raddai
  6. Ozem
  7. David.

In verses 16-17, we also find his two sisters listed with their sons, who were each part of David’s military leadership at one point in time:

  • Zeruiah—Abishai, Joab & Asahel
  • Abigail—Amasa [whose father, according to 1 Chronicles 2:17, was an Ishmaelite named Jether; while 2 Samuel 17:25 says he was an Israelite named Jithra]

Ezra then backed up and gave us another branch of Hezron’s family through his third son, Caleb [called Chelubai in 1 Chron. 2:9] (vv. 18-24). This is not to be confused with Caleb, son of Jephunneh, who came out of Egypt and settled Hebron. In verse 20 we read that, “Hur begot Uri, and Uri begot Bezalel,” who was designated by God as the chief craftsman for building the tabernacle and its furnishings in Exodus 31:2.

1 Chronicles 2:21-23 give us the back-story of Jair, “who had twenty-three cities in the land of Gilead,” until Geshur the Syrian seized the 60 towns of Jair and Kenath, which had all belonged to the descendants of Jair’s great-grand-father, Machir. According to verse 24, another bride of Hezron “bore him Ashhur the father of Tekoa,” following his death.

The genealogy of Jerahmeel, Hezron’s oldest son, is given in verses 25-41, listing quite a few names—none of which seems to have an outstanding place in the rest of Israel’s history.

Switching back to the family of “Caleb the brother of Jarahmeel” in verses 42-55, we learn about the namesakes of several principal cities in the territory of Judah—including Ziph, Mareshah, Hebron, Tapua and Shema, which are listed in Joshua chapter 15. We also learn about the founder of Bethlehem, descended through Ephrathah (1 Chron. 2:50-54)—used together to refer to the place where Rachel died (Gen. 35:19) and where the Messiah would be born (Mic. 5:2). Finally, in 1 Chronicles 2:55, we read of the ancestors of “the house of Rechab” referred to in 1 Kings 10:15 and Jeremiah 35.

1 Chronicles Chapter 3
This chapter focuses on the royal family of King David. 1 Chronicles 3:1-3 lists his first six heirs in order of birth, naming the mothers and their cities of origin:

  1. Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess
  2. Daniel, by Abigail the Carmelitess
  3. Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur
  4. Adonijah the son of Haggith
  5. Shephatiah, by Abital
  6. Ithream, by his wife Eglah

The parallel passage in 2 Samuel 3:2-5 designates “Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite” as David’s second-born. 1 Chronicles 3:4 tells us these boys were born to David during the 7½ years he reigned in Hebron.

During the 33 years David reigned in Jerusalem, the king sired 13 more sons—including Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon by Bathshua the daughter of Ammiel [whom we know as Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite (See 2 Sam. 11 & Matt. 1:6)], and Ibhar, Elishama, Eliphelet, Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet (5-8). The children of his concubines are not listed among David’s heirs; however, a daughter by the name of Tamar [Absalom’s sister (c.f.—2 Sam. 13:1)] is named (1 Chron. 3:9).

Verses 10-14 focus on the kings descended through the royal line of King Solomon:

  1. Rehoboam
  2. Abijah
  3. Asa
  4. Jehoshaphat
  5. Joram
  6. Ahaziah
  7. Joash
  8. Amaziah
  9. Azariah
  10. Jotham
  11. Ahaz
  12. Hezekiah
  13. Manasseh
  14. Amon
  15. Josiah

Verse 15 lists the sons of Josiah—the last three of which ruled after him: “Johanan the firstborn, the second Jehoiakim, the third Zedekiah, and the fourth Shallum” [better known as Jehoahaz (c.f.—Jer. 22:11-12)]. Jehoiakim had two sons, Jeconiah and Zedekiah (1 Chron. 3:16).

Finally, Ezra, writing after the exile, listed the descendants of Jeconiah born in Babylon (vv. 17-24). Of these, the most notable is Zerubbabel—the leader of the returning exiles named in Ezra 2, Haggai 1 and Zechariah 4.

1 Chronicles Chapter 4
Having focused on the Davidic line specifically, Ezra returns our attention to the rest of the family of Judah, tracing the major family heads and the cities they founded (1 Chron. 4:1-8).

Included is a brief account of a fellow named Jabez, whose simple, but poignant prayer became the subject of several books by Bruce Wilkinson and fostered an entire movement during the early part of the 21st century. Here is the text taken from verses 9-10:

Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.

You wouldn’t know it from most English Bibles, but the name Jabez means “pain.” Imagine your mother calling you that: Every time she hollered for this boy to come home, she was reminding him and everyone else how much pain the kid had caused her in childbirth! Naturally, Jabez was tired of being referred to as the source of someone else’s discomfort, so he asked the Lord to help him and keep him safe, so he would not cause (or be caused) pain any longer. In effect, he wanted God to reverse the curse his mother had placed on him! Amazingly, the Lord granted Jabez’s wish. Although we aren’t told how, it was something significant enough to gain the otherwise unknown fellow an honorable mention in a long list of genealogical details.

In verses 11-23, we find a few other notables:

  • Othniel, son of Kenaz, whom we first met in Joshua 15:16-17 and Judges 1:12-13. He later became the first judge in Israel (Judg. 3:9-11).
  • Othniel’s uncle, Caleb the son of Jephunneh—the only survivor among the adult male Hebrew slaves who came out of Egypt [other than Joshua] to make it into the Promised Land (Num. 13-14 & Josh. 14:6-14).
  • Several families of craftsmen, linen-workers and potters commissioned by the king.

Verses 24-33 highlight some of the leading men and cities belonging to the tribe of Simeon. It’s interesting that verse 27 tells us one man, named Shimei, “had sixteen sons and six daughters; but his brothers did not have many children, nor did any of their families multiply as much as the children of Judah.” One group, whose leading men are named in verses 34-37, multiplied so much that they relocated during Hezekiah’s administration and wiped out the Meunites occupying the pastureland they found (39-41). A group of 500 other Simeonites went to a region near Mount Seir and wiped out the Amalekites that had escaped to that area (42-43).

1 Chronicles Chapter 5
This chapter focuses on the 2½ tribes that lived east of the Jordan River.

Although Reuben was the first son of Jacob, 1 Chronicles 5:1 explains that his genealogy was not listed first, “because he defiled his father’s bed.”  Therefore, the right of the firstborn was given to the sons of Joseph; while the family of Judah became most prominent among the descendants of Israel (v. 2). Verses 3-6 list the leading descendants of Reuben, up until the time they were carried off by Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria. During King Saul’s administration, they defeated the Hagrites that lived in the area and inhabited all the land of Gilead east to the Euphrates, “because their cattle had multiplied” in their own territory (9-10).

Verses 11-15 list the leading men and cities of Gad. We’re told this tribe occupied “dwelt in Gilead, in Bashan and in its villages, and in all the common-lands of Sharon within their borders” (16). Everyone was registered by genealogies during King Jotham’s reign over Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam II king of Israel (17).

The next five verses go into more detail about the campaign against the Hagrites, mentioned in verses 9-10:

  • It was a joint venture of 44,760 skilled warriors from the three trans-Jordan tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh, armed with shields, swords, and bows (18).
  • Not only did they go to war against the Hagrites, but also Jetur, Naphish, and Nodab (19).
  • They were victorious against these armies, because they cried out to God, and He honored their trust in Him (20).
  • The trans-Jordan tribes made off with 50,000 camels, 250,000 sheep, 2,000 donkeys, and 100,000 captives that belonged to the Hagrites and their allies, and then they lived in their land until the Assyrians carried them away (21-22).

Verses 23-24 name the leading men of the half of Manasseh’s tribe that lived east of the Jordan. We are told “Their numbers increased from Bashan to Baal Hermon, that is, to Senir, or Mount Hermon.”

Sadly, these people drifted away from YHWH in the years after the ten tribes broke away from Judah. The final paragraph of this chapter serves as an epitaph for the trans-Jordan tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh:

[T]hey were unfaithful to the God of their fathers, and played the harlot after the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, that is, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria. He carried the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh into captivity. He took them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river of Gozan to this day. (1 Chron. 5:25-26)

1 Chronicles Chapter 6
Being a member of the priesthood, Ezra was interested not only in the royal family of Judah and David, but also in the line of his own ancestor, Levi. Therefore, he dedicated all of chapter 6 to that subject. 1 Chronicles 6:1 lists the sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. In verses 2-3 we learn that the firstborn son of Kohath was Amram, the father of Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. Verses 3-15 trace the high priests that descended from Aaron, all the way to Jehozadak, who went into captivity when YHWH had Nebuchadnezzar deport the inhabitants of Judah to Babylon.

According to verses 16-28, the prophet Samuel was a descendant of Gershom’s family line through Jeroham and Elkanah. His sons were Joel and Abijah. Verses 29-30 highlight a few of the sons of Merari. Verses 31-47 list some of the leading men of these two branches of the Levite family tree who served as musicians at the house of YHWH from the time of David. Among those named are Heman, who was descended from Samuel’s son Joel (33). Verses 34-38 trace his lineage back to Levi. Verses 39-43 trace the psalmist Asaph’s family line through Gershom, as well. Ethan’s family tree is traced through Merari to Levi in verses 44-47.

Verse 49 reminds us that the job of Aaron’s descendants was to make “sacrifices on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense, for all the work of the Most Holy Place, and to make atonement for Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God had commanded.” Verses 50-53 again trace the priestly line.

Verses 54-60 list the thirteen cities allotted to the priests from the territories of Judah and Benjamin. According to verse 61, the rest of the Kohathites got ten cities from the western half of Manasseh. The Gershonites got thirteen cities from the tribes of Issachar, Asher and Naphtali, as well as the eastern half of Manasseh (62). The Merarites got twelve cities from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Zebulun (63).

Verses 66-70 lists the cities given to the descendants of Kohath by name. Verses 71-76 lists the cities given to Gershon. Merari’s cities are listed in verses 77-81

1 Chronicles Chapter 7
Issachar’s family line is traced in the first several verses of this chapter (1 Chron. 7:1-5). Verse 2 tells us there were 22,600 men descended from Tola in King David’s army. Verse 4 tells us Uzzi’s family boasted 36,000 troops ready for war, since “they had many wives and sons.” When all the clans of Issachar were added to these two families, there were a total of 87,000 listed by their genealogy (5).

Benjamin’s genealogy is next. When the warriors from the three main branches of Benjamin’s descendants were added together, there were 22,034 from Bela’s clan; 22,200 from Becher’s family, and 17,200 from the descendants of Jediael (6-12).

The descendants of Naphtali get only one sentence. Verse 13 states: “The sons of Naphtali were Jahziel, Guni, Jezer, and Shallum, the sons of Bilhah.”

The western half of Manasseh’s family is traced in verses 14-18. Verse 14 tells us Manassah had a Syrian concubine who “bore him Machir the father of Gilead.” The next verse informs us that Zelophehad from Numbers 27 & 31 was the grandson of Gilead (1 Chron. 7:15). The balance of this paragraph names individuals concerning whom the rest of Scripture is silent.

According to verses 20-22, Ephraim had a rough beginning. Several of his descendants were killed by the men of Gath, when they raided the family’s cattle. “Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brethren came to comfort him” (22). To commemorate the tragedy, Ephraim named his next son Beriah, which sounds similar to the Hebrew word for misfortune (23). Interestingly, we are told that a daughter of Ephraim, named Sheerah, built two settlements in Canaan (24). The family line of Joshua is given in verses 25-27. Verses 28-29 provide the boundaries of these two families descended from Joseph.

Verses 30-39 list the descendants of Asher. Then the final verse of this chapter tells us there were 26,000 men “fit for battle” listed in the genealogies of this tribe (40).

1 Chronicles Chapter 8
Briefly touching on the history of the first king of Israel, this chapter focuses on the family tree of King Saul. 1 Chronicles 8:6 mentions Ehud, the son of Gera, the left-handed Benjaminite who assassinated the Moabite king in Judges 3:12-30. The five sons of Benjamin and their descendants were quite prolific. According to verses 1-40, they lived in such places as Geba, Ono, Lod, Aijalon, Jerusalem and Gibeon.

Verses 29-33 indicate that Saul’s father, Kish, was one of nine children of a man named Ner. Saul had four sons of his own: Jonathan, Malchishua, Abinadab [called Ishvi in 1 Sam. 14:9], and Esh-Baal [referred to as Ish-Bosheth in 1 Sam. 14:49 & 2 Sam. 2:8]. Verse 34 says, “The son of Jonathan was Merib-Baal [2 Sam. 4:4 calls him Mephibosheth], and Merib-Baal begot Micah.” Verses 25-40 trace the descendants of King Saul through the only surviving member of his family, Micah, informing us there were 150 descendants of one man by the name of Ulam alone.

1 Chronicles Chapter 9
The first verse of this chapter refers to the genealogical records kept by the kings of Israel. “But,” it says, “Judah was carried away captive to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness” (1 Chron. 9:1). Verses 2-9 list some of the leading men of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim and Manasseh that returned to settle in Jerusalem after the exile in Babylon, and tells us there were a total of 956.

Verses 10-13 are concerned with the family heads of the priests, informing us there were 1,760 to work at the restored house of God. There were also Levites residing in Jerusalem. These served as gatekeepers; stewards of the serving utensils, furnishings and food; some made ointments and spices; others were worship leaders (14-34). In verse 20, Phinehas the son of Eleazar is mentioned, with the comment that “the LORD was with him.” Verse 27 tells us the gatekeeper’s job was to open the temple complex to the public each morning.

The last ten verses of the chapter return to the genealogy of King Saul. Verses 35-36 inform us that Jeiel and his wife Maacah lived at Gibeon and had nine sons—the fifth of which was Ner. According to verse 39, Ner begot Saul’s father, Kish. The rest of verses 39-44 repeat the information given in the last paragraph of the preceding chapter.

1 Chronicles Chapter 10
This passage recounts the tragic end of King Saul’s reign in Israel. When the Philistines and Israelites engaged in battle, the Hebrews were so badly beaten, their dead lay strewn all over Mount Gilboa (1 Chr. 10:1). Saul’s three oldest sons, Jonathan, Abinadab and Malchishua, were all cut down by the Philistines, while the king himself was severely wounded by their archers (vv. 2-3). Fearful of being abused by his enemies, Saul commanded his armor-bearer to kill him before they got there. When the young man refused, Saul fell on a sword and took his own life (4). Seeing his master was dead, the armor-bearer followed suit (5). Realizing their king, his sons and his army were defeated, the people in the nearby cities of Judah fled, leaving them for the Philistines to occupy (6-7).

The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his sons, cut off Saul’s head and stripped his armor, parading it throughout their towns. While 1 Samuel tells us they put the armor in the temple of their goddess, this account says it was placed in the temple of their gods, while his head was hung on the wall of Dagon’s shrine in particular (8-10). When the men of Jabesh Gilead heard of it, they took the bodies away and buried them in Jabesh and fasted seven days (11-12).

This account is very similar to the last chapter of 1 Samuel, with the exception of the author’s final comment in verses 13-14:

So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the LORD, because he did not keep the word of the LORD, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. But he did not inquire of the LORD; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.

1 Chronicles Chapter 11
The first part of this chapter, which parallels 2 Samuel 5, tells us all the tribes of Israel came and met with David in Hebron, identifying themselves as family and expressing their desire for him to be their king (1 Chr. 11:1). They acknowledged he had the experience, having led their troops into battle while Saul was in charge, and that the Lord had designated him as His chosen ruler, saying, “You shall shepherd My people Israel…” (v. 2). So David made a covenant with the elders of the people, and they anointed him king over the entire nation, thus fulfilling Samuel’s prophecy (3).

David and all his army went and besieged Jerusalem, which at that time was called Jebus, and was occupied by the Jebusites, one of the people groups YHWH had commanded His people to dispossess (4). These folks were so confident that their fortress was impenetrable, they said to David, “You shall not come in here” (5). David told his men, “Whoever attacks the Jebusites first  shall be chief and captain” (6). So Joab rose to the challenge and led the assault on the city, winning the coveted position of general of Israel’s army.

David occupied the stronghold, calling it the City of David (7). He reinforced the walls all around the city near the structure called the Millo, while Joab repaired the rest (8). “So David went on and became great, and the LORD of hosts was with him” (9).

The latter part of this chapter is a roster of David’s most prominent warriors. It begins by telling the names and exploits of two top men:

  • The top dog was Jashobeam the son of a Hachmonite, chief among the captains, notorious for killing 300 men at once, armed with nothing but a spear (11). 2 Samuel 23:8 calls this hero “Josheb-Basshebeth the Tachmonite,” and says it was 800 men he killed.
  • Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, was with David at Pasdammim, when they defended a barley field from the Philistines after the rest of the Israelites had retreated (12-14).

Three of the top thirty men were with David, when he was holed up the cave of Adullam. The Philistines were camped in the Valley of Rephaim, with a garrison as far as Bethlehem. David happened to mention that he was longing for a drink from the well in his home town. “So the three broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem…and brought it to David.” After all their trouble getting it for their leader, David “poured it out to the LORD” as a drink offering, saying, “Far be it from me, O my God, that I should do this! Shall I drink the blood of the men who have put their lives in jeopardy?” (15-19).

Two other prominent warriors, who ended up in high positions, but were not as famous as the first three, were:

  • Abishai the brother of Joab, one of the three sons of Zeruiah, was a leader of the thirty top men of Israel. He won this position when he fought single-handedly against 300 men with nothing but a spear. (20-21)
  • Benaiah the son of Jehoiada the priest, distinguished himself by single-handedly killing “two lion-like heroes of Moab,” “a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day,” and a 7½ foot tall Egyptian. The Egyptian was armed with a spear as massive as a weaver’s beam, while Benaiah had nothing but a staff. The stout-hearted Hebrew used his staff to knock the Egyptian’s spear out of his hand and kill him with his own weapon! David ended up appointing him captain of his bodyguard. (22-25)

Other notable heroes were: Asahel the brother of Joab, Shammoth the Harorite [listed as one of the top three in 2 Samuel 23:11-12], and Uriah the Hittite (2 Chr. 11:26-27 & 41). This passage lists a total of over 50 mighty men in all—most of them roughly correlating with the list in 2 Samuel 23:8-39, but with about 16 unique to this passage. For a chart comparing the two lists, see “King David’s Mighty Men.”

1 Chronicles Chapter 12
Chapter 12 lists the men who joined David while he was on the run from Saul (1 Chr. 12:1). The first group consisted of men of Benajmin, who came to him at Ziklag, who were adept at handling bows and arrows and slings with both their right and left hands (vv. 2-7). Next a bunch of Gadites are named, who joined up with David at the strongholds in the wilderness. These guys were terrific leaders, skilled at handling swords and shields, who were fierce as lions and “swift as gazelles on the mountains” (8- 14). Verse 15 says they crossed the Jordan when it was at flood stage and ran off all their enemies.

When warriors from Benjamin and Judah came to join forces with David while he was at the stronghold in the wilderness, he asked whether they came in peace or to betray him (16-17). Amasai, one of their leaders, answered under the influence of the Holy Spirit,

“We are yours, O David;
We are on your side, O son of Jesse!
Peace, peace to you,
And peace to your helpers!
For your God helps you.”

 So David welcomed them and put them in charge of his troops.

Men from Manasseh joined David, just before he went to fight with the Philistines against Saul. However, God prevented them from warring against their own countrymen, when the leaders of the Philistines sent David and his men back home (19). When David and his other men returned to Ziklag to find it in ruins, these men helped them fight the raiders and recover what was theirs (20-21).

The numbers of men from each tribe who came to join David’s army and make Him king over all Israel were as follows:

  • 6,800 from Judah, armed with shields and spears
  • 7,100 from Simeon
  • 4,600 Levites
  • 3,700 descendants of Aaron, with Jehoiada and Zadok, both priests, as leaders
  • 3,000 men of Benjamin, who had previously been loyal to their relatives from the house of Saul
  • 20,800 men of Ephraim
  • 18,000 envoys from Manasseh
  • 200+ leaders of Issachar, “who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do”
  • 50,000 disciplined soldiers from Zebulun
  • 1,000 captains + 37,000 soldiers from Naphtali
  • 28,600 Danites marching in formation
  • 40,000 men of Asher in formation
  • 120,000 men from the Reubenites, Gadites and Manassites who lived east of the Jordan River

This impressive body of warriors came to Hebron and spent three days feasting on provisions brought from as far as the territories of Issachar, Zebulun and Naphtali, when they came to make David king (23-40)!

1 Chronicles Chapter 13
Shortly thereafter, David’s asked the leaders of all these guys if they thought it was a good idea to go and retrieve the Ark of the Covenant (1 Chr. 13:1-3). For no one had consulted God through that sacred vessel all the years of Saul’s reign. The men agreed, So David gathered all Israel together…to bring the ark of God from Kirjath Jearim” (vv. 4-5).

Unfortunately, no one consulted the owner’s manual about the proper care and transport of the holy vessel, for they loaded it onto a new cart and hauled it off in the direction of the City of David, singing and playing all sorts of musical instruments (7-8). Suddenly, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out to steady the ark (9). Instantly, fire came out of heaven and struck the poor fellow for daring to touch the sacred box (11). Not understanding why God would do such a thing, David was angry and called the place where this happened Perez-Uzzah—or “outburst against Uzzah”—from that day on. Afraid such a fate might fall upon someone else, if he took it into Jerusalem, David and his company left it at the house of Obed-Edom instead (12-13). During the three months it was in his care, the LORD blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that he had” (14).

1 Chronicles Chapter 14
Hiram, king of Tyre sent messengers, supplies and workers to help construct a palace for the new king (1 Chr. 14:1). “So David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel, for his kingdom was highly exalted for the sake of His people Israel” (v. 2).

Meanwhile, David gathered more wives and concubines while he was in Jerusalem, and fathered more sons and daughters (3). Among these were Shammua (called Shimea in 1 Chr. 3:5), Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua (spelled Elishama in 3:8), Elpelet (spelled Eliphelet in 1 Chr. 3:6), Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Beeliada (spelled Eliada in 3:8) and Eliphelet (1 Chr. 14:4-7). This list is somewhat different than its parallel passage in 2 Samuel 5:14-16, in that Nogah and Elpelet are not mentioned in the previous record.

When the Philistines heard David had been made king, they came into the land of Israel to look for him (1 Chr. 14:8). When they raided the Valley of Rephaim, David checked with God, who ordered him into battle, guaranteeing a win (vv. 9-10). When God granted him victory, David named the place Baal Perazim, which means “Master of Breakthroughs,” saying, “God has broken through my enemies by my hand like a breakthrough of water” (11). Then he and his men rounded up all the Philistines’ abandoned idols and burned them, just as YHWH had long ago commanded in Deuteronomy 7:5 & 25 (1 Chr. 14:12).

When the Philistines again raided the Valley of Rephaim, this time the Lord told him not to engage in a frontal attack, but to circle around the rear (vv. 13-14). He instructed David, “when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall go out to battle. For God has gone out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines” (15). Upon carrying out these orders, David won yet another decisive battle against his enemies, and “Then the fame of David went out into all lands, and the LORD brought the fear of him upon all nations” (16-17).

1 Chronicles Chapter 15
After building houses for himself, David “prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched a tent for it” (1 Chr. 15:1). Then he told his countrymen they were going to bring the ark on into Jerusalem—only this time they were prepared to do it the way God had instructed through Moses in Deuteronomy 10:8. David said, “No one may carry the ark of God but the Levites, for the LORD has chosen them to carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever” (1 Chr. 15:2).

So along with the rest of Israel, the king assembled the Levites—862 total, including:

  • 120 Kohathites
  • 220 men from the family of Merari
  • 130 Gershomites
  • 200 descendants of Elizaphan
  • 80 sons of Hebron
  • 112 sons of Uzziel
  • the priests, Zadok and Abiathar
  • the Levite leaders, Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel and Amminadab (vv. 3-11).

He told these men to sanctify themselves in preparation for transporting the Ark of the Covenant, pointing out that because you did not do it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order” (12-13).

So the priests and Levites did all they were supposed to, and they were able to move the ark without incident (14-15). David appointed Levites to play music and to sing songs in worship—the three most prominent among them being Heman, Asaph and Ethan (16-24). Obed-Edom, the man who had cared for the ark over the three months before this, was made a doorkeeper for the ark.

In gratitude for letting them transport the ark without any trouble, the people offered seven bulls and seven rams (25-26). David was so excited, he put on the garb of a Levite and danced with all his might before the Lord, while everyone else shouted and blew their trumpets (27-28). David’s first wife, Michal, happened to look out her window and see her husband dancing in the streets in his underwear, and “she despised him in her heart” (29).

1 Chronicles Chapter 16
The ark was then placed in the tent David had erected for it, where the people made all kinds of sacrifices (1 Chr. 16:1). David blessed the people and distributed treats to everyone (vv. 2-3). He made assignments for certain Levites to stick around to make music to YHWH at the worship site at all times (4-6). Then he delivered a psalm of thanksgiving for Asaph and the others to share with the congregation (7). This was perhaps the first public performance of that priestly choir.

It appears that portions of this song were incorporated later into the Hebrew hymnal. Verses 8-22 are very similar to Psalm 105:1-5; verses 23-33 resemble Psalm 96:1-13. Verse 34 is word-for-word the same as Psalm 106:1, and verses 35-36 are like Psalm 106:47-48.

The song started out:

Oh, give thanks to the LORD!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!

This was an invitation to publicly praise the Lord, not only in front of their countrymen, but so all the nations could hear about Him. In verse 9, they were encouraged to sing to God and to tell about all He has done. Verses 10-11 say to praise/celebrate/boast in His holy name, since those who seek His strength and favor have reason to rejoice.

The Israelites, especially, were encouraged to remember the miracles God had performed for them and the judgments performed against their enemies (12-13). He is the LORD our God; His judgments are in all the earth” (14). David reminded them of the covenant established between YHWH and their ancestors “for a thousand generations” to give them the land of Canaan as an inheritance (15-18). Even when they were few in number and wandering the nations like nomads, God “permitted no man to do them wrong;…He rebuked kings for their sakes, saying, ‘Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.’” (21-22).

David invited all the earth to join in praise of YHWH, to proclaim the good news of His salvation and declare His glory and wonder to all the nations (23-24).

For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised;
He is also to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the LORD made the heavens.

God is described as a king reigning in honor, majesty, strength and gladness (27). People of all nationalities were encouraged to give Him the honor due His name and to bring offerings to worship Him (28-29). Because He has firmly established the earth, everyone should fear Him (30). All of creation was invoked to praise God—the heavens and earth, the peoples, the sea, fields and forests—“For He is coming to judge the earth” (31-33).

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!” says the King of Israel concerning the King of Heaven and Earth, “For His mercy endures forever” (34). He urged the people to pray for God to continue to save them from unbelieving nations, so that they could continue to thank and praise Him (35). He concluded by saying, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting!” to which the congregation responded with a loud “Amen!” and offered their own praise (36).

Asaph and his relatives were entrusted with the daily worship before the ark; while Obed-Edom and his 68 relatives kept watch over the holy vessel (37-38). Meanwhile, Zadok and the other priests remained with the tabernacle and tended the altar at the high place in Gibeon (39-40). Some of the musicians were appointed to sound trumpets and play other instruments there, as well (41-42). So there were two designated worship centers in Israel.

“Then all the people departed, every man to his house; and David returned to bless his house”(43). For whatever reason, Ezra (or whoever edited this history) chose to leave out the part about Michal’s confrontation of David, described in 2 Samuel

1 Chronicles Chapter 17
After enjoying his new home for a while, David talked to his friend, Nathan the prophet, about building a temple. He said, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant of the LORD is under tent curtains” (1 Chr. 17:1). Nathan, confident that David was on the right track, encouraged the king, “Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you” (v. 2).

However, that night, YHWH spoke to the prophet, giving him a different message to carry to His servant (3-4). God pointed out that He had never asked to have a house of cedar, but had been fine moving about in a tent, just like the Israelites (5-6). The Lord reminded David how He had taken him from herding sheep to being a ruler of His people, helping him cut off all of Israel’s enemies and giving him a great reputation among the nations (7-8). Furthermore, God intended to give the Israelites a permanent home and remove those wicked people that oppressed them (9).

Although David was not going to be allowed to build God a house; because he was willing to do so, the Lord promised He would build David a house (4 & 10). After David’s decease, the Lord said,

“I will set up your seed after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. And I will establish him in My house and in My kingdom forever; and his throne shall be established forever” (11-14).

While on the surface this would seem to refer to Solomon, who built the temple of YHWH in Jerusalem, at a deeper level it refers to Jesus. He was truly God’s Son and built a temple made of believers—called “living stones” in 1 Peter 2:5.

When Nathan passed along this prophecy to David, the king went in and sat in God’s presence, marveling that He would do such a thing for a man of relative unimportance (15-17). You can sense the awe in David’s words: “O LORD, for Your servant’s sake, and according to Your own heart, You have done all this greatness, in making known all these great things…there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You…” (19-20). Moreover, he said there was no nation like Israel, for whom God had gone to such great lengths to make them His own, redeeming them from Egypt (21-22). Emboldened by this promise, David asked God to be true to His word, blessing his family, so that YHWH’s name would be magnified forever (23-27). 

1 Chronicles Chapter 18
Next, David turned back to defending his country and expanding his borders. Verse 1 of this chapter says he attacked and subdued the Philistines, taking Gath and its surrounding villages. I am quite certain David’s year and four months in service of Achish prepared him for this victory, since it made him aware of the Philistine holdings, their vulnerabilities, etc. David also defeated Moab, bringing them under tribute to his kingdom (v. 2).

Another victory was won over Hadadezer the king of Zobah. According to verses 3-4, this army included 1,000 chariots, 7,000 horsemen and 20,000 foot soldiers! David disabled all but the number of horses required to draw 100 chariots, which he kept for himself. The addition of Hadadezer’s territory expanded the kingdom of David all the way to the Euphates River.

When Syrians came from Damascus to help Hadadezer, David’s army killed 20,000 of them, and then stationed garrisons in their capital city, bringing that nation under his power (5-6). David took the golden shields from Hadadezer’s men and brought them to adorn his palace in Jerusalem (7). He also collected a good deal of bronze from other Syrian cities, which his son Solomon later used to make the bronze pillars and other articles at the temple (8).

When Tou king of Hamath heard that David had defeated the entire army of Hadadezer king of Zobah, he sent his son Hadoram to King David to greet him and congratulate him on his victory in battle over Hadadezer, who had been at war with Tou. Hadoram brought all kinds of articles of gold and silver and bronze. (1 Chron 18:9-10, NIV)

[NOTE: In 2 Samuel 8:9-10, the king’s name was Toi, while his son’s name was Joram. As we have already seen in other passages, the historian of 1 Chronicles has used variant spellings in his account.] David dedicated these gifts to God, along with the spoils from his other conquests against Edom, Moab, Ammon, Philistia and Amelek (v. 11).

Verse 12 says Abishai the son of Zeruiah killed 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. David wrote a song about this victory—Psalm 60—in which he credits Joab with killing 12,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. The parallel passage in 2 Samuel 8:13 says David made a name for himself through this victory—only the enemy were Syrian. While these may seem like gross discrepancies, my guess is that Abishai actually led the assault on what was likely an Edomite/Syrian alliance in the Valley of Salt. Because Joab was the general over David’s army, the king credited him; while David’s historian gave the accolades to the king. As a result, David erected outposts in Edom and fulfilled prophecy by bringing them under Israel’s control, “And the LORD preserved David wherever he went” (1 Chr. 18:13). For a more complete discussion of all this, read my blog, “Seeming Discrepancies,” posted April 20, 2012.

“David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people” (1 Chr. 18:14, NIV). As already mentioned, Joab the son of Zeruiah was in charge of David’s army; Jehoshaphat was the historian; Zadok and Ahimelech were priests; Shavsha [2 Sam. 8:17 says Seraiah] was the scribe; Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was in charge of the Philistine warriors who served David, and David’s sons were his chief administrators (1 Chr. 18:15-17).

1 Chronicles Chapter 19
When Nahash the king of Ammon died, David sent envoys to the new king, Hanun, to offer condolences on the death of the young man’s father, who had been an ally to David (1 Chr. 19:1-2). However, when the new king’s advisors convinced him David’s emissaries were actually spies, the Ammonite ruler shaved the Hebrews, cut off their robes to expose their buttocks and then sent them packing (vv. 3-4)! When he was informed of this disgrace, David sent messengers to tell the men to camp out at Jericho until their beards grew back, and then return to the king’s court (5).

Meanwhile, when they realized what a mistake they’d made, the people of Ammon sent a thousand talents of silver to hire for themselves chariots and horsemen from Mesopotamia, from Syrian Maachah, and from Zobah” (6). In response to this military build-up of over 32,000 chariots, David sent Joab with an army of mighty men (7-8). When Joab found the Ammonites stationed near the entrance of their capital city and their hired guns assembled in the field, he divided his forces between himself and Abishai (9-11). He told his brother,

If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the people of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will help you. Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the LORD do what is good in His sight.” (12-13)

As you can see, Joab was not a very religious man. He trusted more in himself than in God. Nevertheless, he and his brother both put their enemies to flight and returned home safely (14-15).

Disgraced by this defeat, the Syrians called for reinforcements from beyond the Euphrates and assembled again (16). When David got wind of this, he personally led all of Israel to battle, killing 7,000 charioteers [2 Sam. 10:18 says 700] and 40,000 foot soldiers [2 Samuel says they were horsemen], as well as the Syrian general, Shophach [spelled Shobach in 2 Samuel] (1 Chr. 19:17-18). When the Syrian forces saw their leader was dead, they all surrendered and became vassals of Israel, so they were no longer willing to help the Ammonites (v. 19).

1 Chronicles Chapter 20
In a truncated version of the story presented in 2 Samuel 11 and 12, the historian for this account chose to leave out any mention of David’s infidelity. Instead, he merely stated,

in the spring of the year, at the time kings go out to battle, that Joab led out the armed forces and ravaged the country of the people of Ammon, and came and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem. (1 Chr. 20:1)

This version doesn’t mention Joab’s message to David about letting him come and get the credit for overthrowing the city. It just states that Joab defeated Rabbah and then jumps to the part about the king taking the Ammonite ruler’s crown, hauling off the spoils, setting the people to forced labor, and returning to Jerusalem (vv. 2-3).

Some time after this, Israel and Philistia clashed again—this time in Gezer. According to 1 Chronicles 20:4, Sibbechai the Hushathite [one of David’s mighty men listed in 1 Chr. 11:29], killed a giant named Sippai [Spelled Saph, and in Gob, according to the parallel passage in 2 Sam. 21:18]. In another conflict, Elhanan son of Jair [called Jaare-Oregim in 2 Sam. 21:19] killed another giant, “Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam” (1 Chr. 20:5). Jonathan, David’s nephew [whom we first met in 2 Samuel 13:3-5], killed another giant in Gath who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot (1 Chr. 20:6-7). In all, David and his men appear to have wiped out the relatives of Goliath (v. 8).

1 Chronicles Chapter 21
This chapter is introduced with the words, “Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel” (1 Chr. 21:1). The parallel verse in 2 Samuel 24:1 says it was God’s idea, because He was mad at Israel. Whether it was either or both of these scenarios, David instructed Joab to go and count everyone from the south end of Israel to the north, so he’d know how many subjects he had (1 Chr. 21:2).

I’m sure Joab was thinking how much work that was going to be—not to mention that he probably felt he had more important things to do. However, you just don’t say such things to the man in charge when he makes a suggestion. So to David Joab replied, “May the LORD make His people a hundred times more than they are. But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? Why then does my lord require this thing?” (v. 3). This is essentially the same speech we find in 2 Samuel 24:3—only in the record of the Chronicles, Joab added the pious-sounding question he hoped would dissuade David: “Why should he be a cause of guilt in Israel?”

Perhaps the pragmatic general had in the back of his mind some recollection of the requirement in the Law that every man counted in Moses’ censuses had to pay a ransom for himself, so he would not die (See Exodus 30:12). I can think of no other reason he would have had for thinking that David’s desire to count his fighting men would bring evil on them.

“Nevertheless, the king’s word prevailed against Joab,” so he mad a circuit throughout David’s territory to count all the fighting men (1 Chr. 21:4). He returned with a head-count of 1.1 million men of Israel who could handle a sword, and 470,000 from Judah—for a total of 1.57 million (v. 5). This differs from the account of 800,000 from Israel + 500,000 from Judah, or 1.3 million, recorded in 2 Samuel 24:9. Perhaps the discrepancy lies in the explanation of verse 6: The whole assignment was so distasteful to Joab, he left off counting the tribes of Benjamin and Levi. The writer of 1 Chronicles may have used later figures that included the numbers from the missing tribes, while 2 Samuel did not.

Verse seven says, “God was displeased with this thing; therefore He struck Israel.” According to the chronicler, that’s when David realized his sin and asked forgiveness (8). The next morning, the Lord sent the prophet Gad, David’s personal seer, with three choices of consequences for David:

  1. 3 years of famine [2 Samuel 24:13 says 7],
  2. 3 months of fleeing from their enemies, or
  3. 3 days of plague in the land (1 Chr. 21:9-12).

Of course, none of the options sounded much good to David. He told the prophet, “I am in great distress. Please let me fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man” (v. 13). David knew that, in either of the first two cases, he’d be at the mercy of sinful men; whereas in the third case, God would decide the severity of his punishment (and God was generally much nicer).

So option three it was: For three days God apparently sent the same Angel of Death that had plagued Egypt long ago—killing 70,000 of the men Joab had just counted (14). By the time the angel got to Jerusalem, God had had enough, so He stopped the plague, just as the destroyer reached the threshing floor of a Jebusite named Ornan [2 Samuel 24:16 calls him Araunah] (15).

David protested, “Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I am the one who has sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done?” and he asked God to strike his family rather than his innocent countrymen (1 Chr. 21:17, NIV). On the angel’s instruction, Gad told David that he should build an altar on the threshing floor of Ornan to atone for the people, so David set out to do just that (18-19).

Ornan and his four sons had seen the angel when it stopped at their property. The boys hid, but their father kept threshing his grain (20). The angel hadn’t phased him, but when he saw the king coming, Ornan bowed to the ground (21). He may very well have feared for his life, being one of the Canaanites that were supposed to have been wiped out by the Hebrews when they took possession of the land. When David said he wanted to buy the threshing floor to build an altar and stop the plague, Ornan offered to give the king the floor, the oxen and implements, plus the grain to complete his sacrifice (22-23).

David, however, understood what was required for a true sacrifice. He refused the man’s generous offer, explaining, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing” (1 Chr. 21:24, NIV). So, after measuring out 600 shekels of gold [2 Samuel 24:24 says it was thirty shekels of silver] for everything, David constructed his altar and made the required sacrifices (vv. 25-26). Verse 26 says, “He called on the LORD, and the LORD answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering.” Then God commanded the destroying angel to put away his sword, and the plague stopped (27).

From that time onward, David made his sacrifices at that altar, which was closer for him than at the tabernacle in Gibeon (28-29). He was afraid to go to the other location, for fear of the sword of the Angel of YHWH (30).

1 Chronicles Chapter 22
After this incident, David decided Araunah’s threshing floor was the place to build a permanent worship center for YHWH (1 Chr. 22:1). So he rounded up all the foreigners in the land to work as masons and stone-cutters to build the house of God (v. 2). He also gathered iron for nails, bronze, cedar wood, and other building supplies in abundance (3-4). His reasoning? Remembering God had designated his heir as the one to build His temple, David said, “Solomon my son is young and inexperienced, and the house to be built for the LORD must be exceedingly magnificent, famous and glorious throughout all countries” (5). He knew it was going to be a big job, and he wanted to do as much as possible to make sure the temple would be constructed properly.

David recounted to Solomon the covenant God made with him in Chapter 17 (1 Chr. 22:6-10). But the king also told his son something we haven’t read yet: In contrast to David, who as a warrior had “shed much blood” in his lifetime, God told the king, “you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon [which means “peaceful”], and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign” (1 Chr. 22:8-9, NIV).

Having supplied gold, silver, bronze, iron, timber, stone and workers, David commissioned his son to begin the work of building a magnificent temple (vv. 14-16). He blessed the young man with words remarkably like what Moses said to Joshua before his death:

“Now, my son, may the LORD be with you; and may you prosper, and build the house of the LORD your God, as He has said to you. Only may the LORD give you wisdom and understanding, and give you charge concerning Israel, that you may keep the law of the LORD your God. Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the LORD charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed.” (11-13)

To the leaders of Israel, David said:

“Is not the LORD your God with you? And has He not given you rest on every side? For He has given the inhabitants of the land into my hand, and the land is subdued before the LORD and before His people. Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God. Therefore arise and build the sanctuary of the LORD God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the holy articles of God into the house that is to be built for the name of the LORD.” (18-19).

God had enabled David to clear out all the riff-raff and gain the perfect political climate in which to build. David had gotten everything ready. All that was left was for the next generation to begin the project.

1 Chronicles Chapter 23
This chapter starts out by stating, “So when David was old and full of days, he made his son Solomon king over Israel” (1 Chr. 23:1). Then he got all the leaders of Israel together, along with the priests and Levites (v. 2). A census was taken of all the Levites 30 years of age and older (3). According to verses 3-5, of the 38,000 men counted…

  • 24,000 were assigned to help out at the temple.
  • 6,000 were appointed as judges throughout Israel.
  • 4,000 were made security guards of the temple and its storehouses.
  • 4,000 were given the job of leading worship at the temple, using instruments David had made.

David separated the Levites into divisions according to their family heads—Gershon, Kohath and Merari (6). Verses 7-24 go into some detail concerning the subdivisions of these three families—something which was surely of great importance to Ezra, the priest credited with the compilation of this historical record.

David felt it necessary to make these new assignments, since YHWH had given rest to His people, and the Levites no longer had to carry the tabernacle around from place to place (25-26). Every Levite aged 20 and above was given some duty assisting the sons of Aaron at the new worship center that was to be established in Jerusalem. According to verses 27-32, these jobs included:

  • Taking care of the temple, its courts and chambers
  • Purifying the holy articles used for worship
  • Preparing the bread and flour to be set out and offered by the priests
  • Declaring praise and thanksgiving to God at every morning and evening offering, as well as weekly, monthly and annual events
  • Anything else required to assist the priests in carrying out their duties.

1 Chronicles Chapter 24
The priests, too, were separated into divisions according to their family heads, Eleazar and Ithamar, the surviving sons of Aaron the original priest (1 Chr. 24:1-3). There were sixteen leading men of the family of Eleazar, and only half that many leaders among the descendants of Ithamar (v. 4). Using lots, David and the priests consulted God about the order of each group’s service, and then the scribe Shemaiah wrote down the resulting 24-week schedule recorded for us in verses 5-19.

For modern readers, who are so far removed from the Jewish temple worship system, this record may seem insignificant. But it is actually possible to discover the approximate time of Jesus’ conception and birth, using the New Testament reference to this schedule in Luke’s Gospel. More genealogical details are recorded in verses 20-31.

1 Chronicles Chapter 25
This chapter describes in detail the division of the musicians, who were also placed in a 24-week rotation. Three gifted men—Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun—were put under direct authority of the king in charge of all these Levite musicians (1 Chr. 25:1 & 6). Asaph oversaw his four sons and their worship teams; Jeduthan directed his six sons (2-3). Heman had the greatest responsibility, having been blessed with fourteen sons and three daughters (4-5)! Using cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, a total of 288 skilled musicians “were instructed in the songs of the LORD” (6-7). “And they cast lots for their duty, the small as well as the great, the teacher with the student,” until there were 24 ensembles, of twelve related musicians each, to serve on a rotating basis at the temple (8-31).

1 Chronicles Chapter 26
In this chapter, we see that other Levites were placed in rotation as gatekeepers, or security guards, at the temple. Meshelemiah of the family of Korah is mentioned first with his seven sons and a total of eighteen able men in leadership (1 Chr. 26:1-3 & 9). Another is Hosah, a Merarite with his four sons and a total of thirteen family heads (vv. 10-11).

The eight sons of Obed-Edom [whose family had watched over the Ark of the Covenant after the debacle in David’s first attempt to bring it to Jerusalem] were also among those assigned to this duty (See 2 Sam. 6:11-12 & 1 Chr. 26:4-5). His grandsons through Shemaiah, Obed-Edom’s oldest son, were especially noted for their leadership ability (v. 6). In all, there were 62 descendants of Obed-Edom assigned to guard the temple gates (8).

When the lots were cast for these men, they were divided to serve as guards at the four gates in each of the cardinal directions, at a place called the Shellecheth Gate, at a colonnade called the Parbar and at the storehouse. Generally two to six men were stationed at each location at any given time. (12-19).

Still other Levites were put in charge of the treasuries of the house of God and the things dedicated to Him—including the spoils of war donated by David, his military leaders, Saul and his general, the prophet Samuel, and the elders of Israel (20-28). 1,700 men of Hebron were appointed as officials and judges to govern the affairs of the kingdom west of the Jordan River (29-30). Another 2,700 men from that family were put in charge of the same duties east of the Jordan (31-32).

1 Chronicles Chapter 27
During his lifetime, David apparently arranged the fighting men, so they would serve in shifts of a month each (1 Chr. 27:1)—sort of a precursor to America’s National Guard. No doubt, the census that brought so much trouble on Israel helped to facilitate this effort. The first part of Chapter 27 lists by name the captains over each of these twelve divisions of 24,000 men apiece—for a total of 288,000 men. Each of these leaders is also listed as one of the king’s mightiest warriors:

  1. The first captain was Jashobeam the son of Zabdiel, from the family of Perez in Judah, listed in both 2 Samuel 23:8 and 1 Chronicles 11:11 as the highest ranking of David’s Mighty Men (1 Chr. 27:2-3).
  2. For the second month of each year, Dodai an Ahohite, the second most outstanding among David’s Mighty Men (2 Sam. 23:9-10), and another man named Mikloth were in charge (1 Chr. 27:4).
  3. Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada the priest commanded the men who fought in the third month (v. 5).
  4. Asahel, Joab’s brother was in charge of the fourth division (6).
  5. Shamhuth the Izrahite—quite possibly the same as Shammah the Harodite in 2 Samuel 23:25 and Shammoth the Harorite in 1 Chronicles 11:27—was in charge of the fifth division (1 Chr. 27:7).
  6. Ira son of Ikkesh the Tekoite, also mentioned in 1 Chronicles 11:28, was over the men assigned to serve in the sixth month (1 Chr. 27:8).
  7. Helez the Pelonite from 1 Chronicles 11:27 [called a Paltite in 2 Sam. 23:26] commanded the seventh division (1 Chr. 27:9).
  8. Sibbechai the Hushathite was listed as a “Mighty Man” in 1 Chronicles 11:29, but not in 2 Samuel 23. However, 2 Samuel 21:18 tells how he slew a giant, so it sounds like this descendant of Zerah in the tribe of Judah was quite the warrior, well-deserving to command the men who served in the eighth month (1 Chr. 27:10).
  9. Abiezer from Ananthoth in Benjamin was over the ninth division (v. 11). His name is found in both 2 Samuel 23:27 and 1 Chronicles 11:28.
  10. The tenth captain, Meharai the Netophathite, was another man of Judah, whose name is found in both 2 Samuel 23:28 and 1 Chronicles 11:30 (1 Chr. 27:13).
  11. A different Benaiah, a Pirathonite from the territory of Ephraim, commanded the eleventh division (See 2 Sam. 23:30, 1 Chr. 11:31 & 27:14).
  12. Heldai, a descendant of Othniel [called Heled in 1 Chr. 11:30, and Heleb in 2 Sam. 23:29] was commander over the twelfth month (1 Chr. 27:15).

Verses 16-22 tell us the names of the go-to people representing each of the tribes in Israel. It’s also interesting that verse twenty-three mentions that David didn’t have those younger than twenty years of age counted in his census, “because the LORD had said He would multiply Israel like the stars of the heavens.” The following verse says the count was interrupted because “wrath came upon Israel” and an accurate total was never recorded in the chronicles of King David (24). So perhaps it was a combination of the plague and Joab’s distaste for the assignment that broke off the count.

According to verses 25-31, there were other state officers to manage the royal property, including:

  • a treasurer
  • an official over the storehouses in the fields, villages, cities and fortresses
  • a foreman over the farmers
  • another over vineyards, with a separate manager of the produce and wine that came from them
  • one fellow to tend the olive groves and sycamore fig trees; another to keep track of the oil
  • one to supervise the flocks of goats and sheep; another to look after the herds of cattle
  • an Ishmaelite to supervise the camels; another fellow to keep track of the donkeys.

An uncle of David, named Jehonathan, was the king’s counselor, a wise man and scribe (v. 32). Jahiel the son of Hachmoni was something of a supervisor, tutor or guardian of the king’s children. Verse 33 must’ve been true before Absalom’s take-over: “Ahithophel was the king’s counselor, and Hushai the Archite was the king’s companion.” Other advisers were Jehoiada and Abiathar, the priests. Joab, of course, was general over David’s army (34).

1 Chronicles Chapter 28
All of the aforementioned leaders [except Ahithophel, who was dead] David assembled in Jerusalem before he died (1 Chr. 28:1). He reviewed for them the story of his desire to build a temple and the Lord’s redirection (vv. 2-3). Perhaps with a bit of “I showed them” attitude, David said,

“the LORD God of Israel chose me above all the house of my father to be king over Israel forever, for He has chosen Judah to be the ruler; and of the house of Judah, the house of my father, and among the sons of my father, He was pleased with me to make me king over all Israel. And of all my sons (for the LORD has given me many sons) He has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel.” (4-5)

 He informed his officials of God’s intention not only to use Solomon to build His house, but also to adopt him as His son and establish his kingdom (6-7). But he reminded them that they needed to be sure to seek and follow God’s commandments, so they could be a part of all this (8).

To Solomon, David said:

“know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever” (9).

Again, he urged his son to be strong and complete his important assignment (10).

Apparently, during the years from the time David decided to build a house for God until then, the king had not only been gathering supplies, but he had also been drawing up blueprints for the temple and all its associated structures. He gave these Spiritually inspired plans to Solomon, along with instructions for organizing the priests and Levites for service (11-13). He had detailed designs—right down to the weight in metals required—for making the fixtures inside and in front of the temple (14-18). “All this,” he said, “the LORD made me understand in writing, by His hand upon me, all the works of these plans” (19).

He again encouraged Solomon:

“Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God—my God—will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD” (20).

Not only would God be with him, but David promised all the nation’s leading and best men would be at his disposal (21).

1 Chronicles Chapter 29
To all those assembled, King David said, “My son Solomon, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced; and the work is great, because the temple is not for man but for the LORD God” (1 Chr. 29:1). He informed them all how he had thus far provided what he could to build the temple—including several tons of precious metals from his own personal possessions, having “set my affection on the house of my God” (vv. 2-5). After setting such an outstanding example, David challenged his audience, “Who then is willing to consecrate himself this day to the LORD?”

In response, the other leaders offered willingly “almost 188 tons of gold, 10,000 gold coins, about 375 tons of silver, about 675 tons of bronze and about 3,750 tons of iron. They also contributed numerous precious stones, which were deposited in the treasury of the house of the LORD under the care of Jehiel” (1 Chr. 29:7-8, NLT). That’s a lot of loot! The cool thing was that everyone gave willingly “with a loyal heart” to God, so David and everyone present was excited about the project that was to come (v. 9).

Ever the psalmist, David broke out in praise, saying:

“Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever.
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O LORD,
And You are exalted as head over all.
Both riches and honor come from You,
And You reign over all.
In Your hand is power and might;
In Your hand it is to make great
And to give strength to all.”

He thanked God for the privilege of giving, recognizing all they had donated had come from Him in the first place (13-14 & 16). They were wanderers on the earth before the Lord, just as surely as their ancestors had been, and without YHWH they had no hope (15).

He continued, “I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things; and now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here to offer willingly to You” (17). He prayed that the Lord would keep the people as committed to God in the future as they all were now and for God to help Solomon keep the Lord’s commandments and build the temple for which his father and his countrymen had made provision (18-19). He concluded by inviting the people to bless the Lord in their own way, which they did by bowing before the Lord and their king (20).

The next day they slaughtered thousands of bulls, rams and lambs with their accompanying offerings and sacrifices and enjoyed a great feast (21-22). David formally anointed and coronated Solomon as king a second time, so Solomon took his father’s place on the throne of Israel; “and all Israel obeyed him”—including his brothers and everyone else who had served his father David (23-24). Interestingly enough, it was after the people gave so generously that they enjoyed an unprecedented time of prosperity. And “the LORD exalted Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed on him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel” (25).

Having reigned seven years in Hebron, followed by thirty-three years in Jerusalem, David ended his forty-year administration not long after Solomon took the throne (26-27). He died at a ripe old age of 70, full of riches and honor (28). All of his mighty acts and the events that occurred to him and his people were recorded by Samuel, Nathan and Gad—the three prophets who had ministered during David’s lifetime (29-30).

Compiled generations after David’s dynasty ended, the book of 1 Chronicles seems most concerned about contrasting the way this righteous king responded in faith and humility to God’s prompting and correction, compared to his predecessor’s pride and self-reliance. How many of us listen to the voice of the Lord and do what He says, like David? How many of us would have to admit we more often do what we think is most expedient—and suffer the consequences. May we be more quick to hear and obey the One who elevates the humble and humbles the proud!

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible—© 1982, by Thomas Nelson, Inc.