Thursday, August 29, 2013

CLXX - II Chronicles 10-12 - A Divided Nation

Chapter 10  -  Be Careful Who You Listen To

We have studied this in a bit more detail in I Kings, but this is an interesting twist of events.  After forty years as king of Israel, Solomon died.  He named his son Rehoboam as his successor.  {Before I continue with this first verse, allow me to give some pretext as found in I Kings.  There was an "man of good standing" named Jeroboam.  He was from the tribe of Ephraim.  Solomon had recognized the talents of this young man and appointed him as overseer of the king's labor forces from Ephraim and Manasseh.  Then one day as Jeroboam was leaving Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah approached him.  Ahijah tore his garment into twelve pieces in front of Jeroboam, and instructed him to take ten of them.  This was the prophecy of the divided nation.  (This story can be read in I Kings 11.)  The twelve pieces represented the twelve tribes of Israel and the ten represented the ten tribes over which Jeroboam would be king.  The remaining two would be Judah and Benjamin, over which Rehoboam would be king, maintaining the royal line of David on the throne in Jerusalem.  Solomon had heard about Jeroboam's meeting with Ahijah and sought to kill Jeroboam.  Therefore Jeroboam ran off to Egypt.  Solomon took any prophecy seriously and considered this a threat to his son's kingdom.  When Jeroboam heard that Solomon had died, he returned to Israel from Egypt.  Somehow, all of Israel was aware of his return.}

In verse 1 we begin to see that Rehoboam showed some promise.  His first order of business was to unify his kingdom, therefore he sought to get the blessings from leaders of all the tribes.  This is a wise first step.  He traveled to Shechem, which was a central location for all of the tribes of Israel, where he was to meet with the leaders.  He chose to go them, rather than use an official summons to bring them to him.  This was wise also.  As you will read in this opening passage, the elders, using Jeroboam as their spokesman, wanted their workload reduced.  {As I read into this closely, Rehoboam is not the only one at fault in this meeting.  His father had sought to kill Jeroboam, and it was Jeroboam who was speaking in behalf of all the tribal leaders.  Therefore, I believe this to have given the appearance of antagonism from the beginning of the meeting.}  After hearing their demands, Rehoboam did another wise thing.  He said he wanted three days to consider it.  It is always good to seek wise council, which always takes time.  In the verses following he consulted with his father's councilors, who advised him to consent to their demands in order to gain their support.  But then Rehoboam also consulted his younger friends who gave him the opposite advice which was to increase the workload, establishing his authority as king and as one who would not negotiate terms.  {There was nothing wrong with Rehoboam consulting with the younger councilors.  We should seek wise
council everywhere, but he just made a terrible choice between the two recommendations.}  When the three days were up, Rehoboam announced his decision to increase their workload, and he did it with antagonizing words.  The leaders of the ten northern tribes rejected him and his kingship immediately.  The kingdom was officially divided.  Israel as God had intended it did not exist any more.

Chapter 11

.Verses 1-4  -  When the ten tribes declared their independence from Jerusalem, Rehoboam sought to reunite the nation by military force.  {Think about how difficult this would be.  Just looking at the map would convince one that it would be almost impossible.  Rehoboam should have re-approached them from a diplomacy standpoint.  But that would have taken humility, a characteristics rarely found in kings of nations.  Even in modern times, hearing a national leader admitting he/she is wrong is rare indeed.}  But God stopped Rehoboam from taking military action by speaking to him through a man of God named Shemaiah.  At least Rehoboam had sense enough not to disobey the direct word of God, and called off the military assault.

In verses 5-17 we see how Rehoboam concedes that he is king only of Judah and Benjamin.  He proceeds to build his military and his government with that fact in mind.  And it appears he did it very well.  Also noteworthy is the fact that the Levites collectively decided to align themselves with Rehoboam (perhaps because the Temple was in Jerusalem).  I believe this decision by the Levites was to prove the most influencial event for the future of both kingdoms, as the presence of the Levite priests was always to be with the kings of Judah, rather than with the kings of Israel.  This was certain to keep Judah and its leaders aware of the commands and statutes of the Lord.

The remaining verses in this chapter speak of Rehoboam's family.  There are some familiar names mentioned, most notably Absalom, the rebellious son of David.  Rehoboam married Absalom's daughter Maakah. Although Rehoboam had many wives and concubines, he loved Maakah more than the others.  His love for her was probably the chief influence of him naming her son Abijah as the successor to the throne.  This last passage in this chapter also tells how Rehoboam wisely disperses his sons throughout the kingdom for representation and training.

Chapter 12

This chapter wraps up Rehoboam's reign in Judah, and tells of Pharaoh Shishak's attack on Jerusalem.  The Scripture is very clear in stating that Rehoboam had become strong, but had abandoned the Law of God.  God then allowed Egypt's king Shishak to invade Judah and bring it under Egypt's rule.  Shishak's victory was decisive, indicated by the fact that he took everything of value in Jersusalem, even the gold shields David had made for the Temple guards.  (Rehobaom eventually replaced them with bronze shields.)  Because Rehoboam had humbled himself, confessing of his own wrong-doing, God then showed mercy on Judah and gave them peace from the Egyptians.  Rehoboam reigned in Jerusalem a total of seventeen years.  It states in verse 15 that there was constant war between Israel and Judah.  {It seems to me that if Israel would have tried to help Judah against foreign invaders, Egypt would never have been able to do as they did in Jerusalem.  These Israelite cousins should have stood together against outside forces, as all families should, regardless of their differences.}

Nelxt Post  -  Kings of Judah

Sunday, August 25, 2013

CLXIX - II Chronicles 8-11 Solomon's Power and Splendor

We studied in the last post how, after Solomon completed the building of the Temple, he brought the Ark of the Covenant into the Temple, then he led a dedication service which included virtually all of Israel.  Included in this dedication ceremony was his prayer to God.  Then, in the very last part of chapter 7, we saw God answering Solomon's prayer, thirteen years later.  These passages we'll look at today were studied more closely when we were in the middle section of I Kings.


Verse 1 states "At the end of twenty years".  Keeping a perspective on time, it took Solomon seven years to build the Temple and another thirteen years to build the royal palace and the other buildings adjacent to the Temple.  The year is 946 BC.  We've covered about half of Solomon's forty years as king of Israel.  During this first twenty years, the Temple has been the focus of the Scriptures.  {Although I agree that the Temple should indeed be the main focus, I need to remind you that while the Temple and the royal palace was being built, Solomon was busy building the most powerful nation in recorded History, all done in about thirty years.  I believe there are three components of a successful nation:  1) a military too strong for foreign interference, 2) an economy that grows the national treasury every year and shares its wealth with its citizens, and 3) a lifestyle of its citizenry that promotes peace, happiness, and realistic hopes in its lifestyle becoming  increasingly favorable for future generations.  Solomon had accomplished all of this, although his father David had set everything up to make this possible for him.}  This chapter 8 seems to give a brief description of Solomon's power and accomplishments, which attempts to paint for the reader a picture of something that is beyond description.  Verse 2 is a very brief mentioning of what we had studied in I Kings, without which this verse would be confusing.  I explained back in Kings that Solomon gave King Hiram of Tyre certain cities as payment for the materials and labor Hiram provided for the building of the Temple and royal palace.  Hiram was sorely disappointed in this payment.  These cities were inferior in infrastructure, citizenry, economy, and resources.  Hiram gave them back to Solomon.  Although these towns were in Israel, there were no Israelites who lived there.  Only Canaanites.  Solomon determined to improve these towns, starting with sending Israelites to relocate to them and influence the foreign inhabitants to assimilate toward Israel's way of life.

Verses 3-6 takes a quick look into Solomon's military.  The only real battle that its military engaged in was mentioned in this short passage.  It says in verse 3 that Solomon attacked Hamath Zobah and captured it.  {Just a short piece of information about these two:  Solomon's father, King David was friends with Hamath, who had asked him to protect them against the aggressive Sobah, which David did.  But it seems that now, about thirty years later, Hamath and Zobah had allied themselves against Israel.  I cannot find in my research any indications as to why this happened.}  This passage continues to describe how Solomon rebuilt cities, and other built cities that didn't exist, fortifying each with walls.  He even built cities for the sole purpose of housing his chariots and war horses, which makes me think they were merely strategically placed forts.

Verses 7-10 gives an update on the people who for twenty years built the Temple and royal palace.  (David actually organized the labor.)  It mentions specifically the Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, all Canaanites who served as slave labor to Israel.  Solomon had dispersed these foreign servants throughout Israel to serve the government and its people.  The Israelites who served as builders were placed in military service, but not in combat.

In verse 11 - Before Solomon became king he married a daughter of the king of Egypt. One of the last buildings he built in the Temple area was a palace for his wives and concubines.  When she was moved into this palace she brought her own maids and servants with her who had been with her since lived in Egypt, in the Pharaoh's palace.   She and her servants probably did not worship the Lord.  The Egyptians had their own gods.  This would cause problems for Solomon and Israel in the near future.

The remainder of this chapter continues with how Solomon maintained the proper habits of worship, actually exceeding that which was required of him.  It also tells of the navy and the merchant shipping fleet he built and from which he gained immeasurable wealth.

Chaper 9  -  The Queen of Sheba

Verses 1-4 Sheba was a wealthy country near Israel.  It bordered the Red Sea on both sides where the sea joins the Gulf of Arabia. It was famous because of its trade in gold and spices, plus a distribution center for many goods going in all four directions.  There could be many reasons the queen of Sheba visited Solomon.  Perhaps for additional trade agreements; perhaps for military treaties; perhaps as a gesture of good will.  But the Scripture is clear about her number one priority.  It was to visit Solomon to see for herself if his wisdom and splendor could possibly live up to its reputation.  In verses 5-8 she tells Solomon that he and his wisdom had exceeded her expectations and heaped praise upon him and his God, also commenting on how happy the people of Israel must be.  She then (verse 9) presented to him extravagant gifts before she departed to her home.  Algumwood is mentioned in this passage.  I couldn't find out exactly what algumwood is, but evidently it was the premier wood from which musical instruments were made plus other very special objects such as the steps leading up to the Temple.  The only thing I can say for certain about algumwood was that the trees grew far away from Israel, as the wood was brought in by ships.

The remaining verses in this chapter describe Solomon's wealth in not only stating his annual income from outside sources, but also describes the extravagance of some of the objects such as his throne, made of ivory and gold.  Check out verses 16-19.  His fleet of trading ships were not only made in Tarsus (considered the best shipbuilders, but were manned by Phoenician sailors (considered the best).  As you read these verses, try to imagine what this man's wealth looked like.  It says he made silver in Jerusalem as plentiful as stones.

At the very end of this chapter, the Scripture unceremoneously announces the death of Solomon and says that Rehoboam his son succeeds him as king.

Next Post - Two Big BOOMS:  RehoBOOM and JeroBOOM  -  The Kingdom is Divided

Friday, August 23, 2013

CLXVIII - II Chronicles 5-7

Chapter 5 - The Temple is Dedicated

The Temple has been built and all of the furnishing have been crafted.  It took Solomon seven years to complete it.  Solomon finished the work in the 8th month of his 11th year as king. That was in September or October 960 BC. The dedication of the temple was in the autumn of the next year. That was in the 7th month of the year 959 BC.  {It's certain that Solomon was anxious to dedicate the Temple as a finished work ready to present to God.  But there was a year's worth of preparation for such an event.  We must bear in mind that communication alone took time.  It was more that just a matter of picking up the phone to contact someone.  Also, he wanted to again assemble (verse 2) all elders, tribal leaders, and clan chiefs from the entire nation.  Such an ingathering would have required much preparation for housing, sacrificial animals, etc.  Also, many of these elders and other leaders were old and traveled slowly.}  At that time of the year, there was a special week set aside when the Jews lived in temporary shelters (the Feast of the Tabernacles).  They did this to remember the time when God led them through the desert.  Solomon dedicated the temple to God on the 8th day during this special time.  When all the elders had gotten to Jerusalem and "settled in", it was time for the Levites to bring the Ark of the Covenant into its proper place in the Holy of Holies, the furthest room in the Temple.  The Levites also brought into the Temple all of the newly made furnishings plus all of the furnishings and utensils from the Tabernacle in Gibeon.  It states again here in Chronicles that the poles used to carry the Ark were to remain in the rings attached to the four corners of the Ark.  However, the poles were longer that the Holy of Holies was in depth, forcing the poles to stick out through the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place.  Once the Ark was in Holy of Holies, only the high priest was permitted to enter.  It mentions here in verse 10 that the only items inside the Ark were the two stone tablets on which God had written the Ten Commandments.  {It immediately comes to one's mind that the jar of manna and Aaron's budding rod were also placed inside the Ark (Exodus 16:32-34).  What happened to them?  They are not mentioned again beyond the time which they were placed in there.  I could not venture even a wild guess.  They might have been stolen by the Philistines, but that is doubtful because the Philistines would have considered them as part of the curse.  Also I seriously doubt that God would have allowed these two holy object to fall into enemy hands.  If you have any thoughts on this, please share.}

The remaining verses in this chapter tell of the priests withdrawing from the Holy Place, signifying that the Temple was complete.  This event began the playing of music by the Levite musicians and the singing of praises to the Lord.  The Levites were decked out in their regalia.  It must have been a sight to behold.  The musicians who played the cymbals, harps, and lyres (Guitars) were accompanied by 120 trumpet players, all skilled Levite musicians.  Then all other Levites burst out in a song of praise.  {These words of this song appear often in the Psalms, for example, Psalm 136.}

Chapter 6  -  God Is Pleased

It says in verse 1 of this chapter that the Temple was filled with the cloud.  Many times the glory of the Lord came as a cloud. At Mt. Sinai the Lord said that he would come to the people in a dark cloud. Then the people would hear him when he spoke to Moses (Exodus 19:9; 20:21)  And here in Chronicles, when Solomon put the Ark in the Temple, the glory of God came like a cloud. That cloud filled the Temple (I Chronicles 5:14).  Solomon saw the cloud and he believed that the Lord was in that cloud. The cloud showed to him that the Lord accepted the Temple. Solomon had built a wonderful Temple. He built it as a place for the Lord to live in forever. But for this to happen, the people must not only be loyal to God, but teach their children and grandchildren about God.  But in the end, God’s people did not remain loyal to God, so His glory left the Temple (Ezekiel chapter 10). The army from Babylon destroyed this glorious Temple in 586 BC.

Verses 3-6 Solomon spoke to the congregation, going over God's promise to his father David, and that God was faithful to His promises (vs 10).

Verses 12-42  -  Solomon's Prayer of Dedication

Solomon had planned to the the one who would deliver the prayer of dedication of the Temple to the Lord.  Before hand, he had a bronze platform made that would allow him to lead the entire congregation in prayer.  Take a moment to read this beautiful prayer of dedication in vss 12-21.  Then in vss 22-42, Solomon's prayer turns a bit unusual.  Solomon lists seven possible situations that might occur.  Solomon addresses each of the seven situations, using the same pattern:

1 - He states the situation which causes a problem
2 - The problem or situation is presented to God in the Temple
3 - He prays that God will hear the prayers and requests for mercy
4 - He prays God will forgive Israel and deliver them from the situation

There are seven problems (or situations) that Solomon specifically mentions in his prayer:

1 - A civil action brought by on Israelite against another  (vss 22-23)
2 - Israel is defeated by an enemy (vss 24-25)
3 - A drought  (vss 26-27)
4 - Plague and desease  (vss 28-31)
5 - A foreigner's prayer  (vss 32-33)
6 - God orders Israel to war  (vss 34-35)
7 - Captivity and exile  -  (vss 36-39)

Solomon's prayer would be almost considered prophetic.  All of these things happened.  All of them were recorded in Chronicles, the last of which is when Cyrus of Persia releases them from years of bondage to return to the Promised Land (II Chron 36:23).  It might seem as though Solomon drifts a bit in this dedication, but he didn't.  His words show that he wanted this Temple to be the central location for confession, repentance, supplication, and deliverance.  Actually, it was all very appropriate to the dedication of the Temple.  Note in the very last verse in this chapter, Solomon prays briefly for himself.

Chapter 7  -  The Lord Appears to Solomon a Second Time

This chapter opens with the continuation of the dedication with yet more sacrifices being burnt to the Lord.  In verse 10, after even an extension of another seven days of worship, Solomon sent all of the people back to their homes.

Between verses 10 and 11, there has been much time elapsed.  This might be difficult to get your arms around, but 13 years after Solomon's prayer of dedication, the Lord appeared to him during the night.  He appeared to him to tell him that He had accepted the Temple.  This was the second time the Lord appeared to Solomon.  {The first time was at the town called Gibeon at the start of his rule as king (2 Chronicles 1:7).}  The important part of God's appearance was that He accepted the Temple, and He reminded Solomon that the people must remain loyal to God and His commands.  Although God promises to hear the prayers and supplications of His people, He is careful to caution once again what He expects in the attitude of His people's prayers.  He describes the proper attitude of His people when praying that:

1 - they be humble
2 - they must trust in the Lord
3 - they must confess their sins
4 - they must repent their evil behavior.

THEN the Lord will hear their prayer. And He will forgive their sins.

Next post:  The Power and Splendor of Solomon

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

CLXVII - II Chronicles

We have just finished I Chronicles.  It ended with the death of the beloved king David.  This post will begin the book of II Chronicles.  For a general recount of the two books of Chronicles, please refer back to post CLX.  II Chronicles contains the story of the kings of Israel, beginning with Solomon.  It discusses the 400 years after King David.  This book parallels both books of Kings, but it includes at least five references found no place else in the Bible:

Abijah's devout address
Asa's neglect of the Lord
Jehoshaphat's foolish alliances
Cause of Uzziah's leprosy
Manasseh's captivity and restoration

This second book contains the History of Israel, starting with the rule of King Solomon. It carefully describes how Solomon built the temple. Israel split into two kingdoms during the rule of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam. Two tribes accepted Rehoboam as their king. They became the kingdom called Judah. The other 10 tribes refused to accept Rehoboam as their king. They became the kingdom called Israel, selecting Jeroboam as their king.  This book records the history of Judah until the time of Ezra.

This book seems to have three main parts:  Solomon's reign, the disastrous precedent set by Rehoboam, and the History of the kings of Judah from Rehoboam to Zedekiah.

One major difference you will find in studying this book as opposed to that of the Kings is that this book, as opposed to the books of Kings, dedicates itself mainly to the kings of Judah, and mentioning the kings of Israel only as it pertains to their direct contact to Judah's kings.

Chapter 1  -  Solomon begins his reign

The first six verses of chapter 1 requires a brief explanation.  It states that in Solomon's second year as king, he gathered all of the leaders in Israel to go with him to Gibeon, as Solomon wanted to meet with God at His tabernacle.  The purpose was to humbly ask God to help him reign over Israel, as Solomon realized he was too young and inexperienced for such an important task.

Gibeon was about seven miles north of Jerusalem, and that was where the tabernacle was located.  It was the same tabernacle that contained the Ark of the Covenant when Moses led Israel through the wilderness several generations earlier.  During the time of Moses, the Ark was always in the tabernacle.  But remember?:  The Israelites removed the Ark from the tabernacle to take it into battle with them against the Philistines.  Israel lost that battle and the Philistines took the Ark with them.  It caused the Philistines so much trouble, they sent it back to Israel to the small town of Kiriath Jearim, where it stayed until king David brought it to Jerusalem.  {Researchers say the Ark stayed at Kiriath Jearim for as long as 100 years.  But some say perhaps only 20 years.}  But the tabernacle was still seven miles away in Gibeon.  {I don't know why David made a different tent for the Ark in Jerusalem instead of bringing the original tabernacle from Gibeon.}  So at that time there were two places for worshiping God:  The Ark in Jerusalem and the tabernacle in Gibeon.

Solomon made this a major worship service.  He himself burnt a thousand sacrifices.  It notes that Zadok was the chief priest in Gibeon at that time.  In verse 7 God appears to Solomon and asked him what he would like God to give him.  In verse 10 Solomon asks God to give him wisdom and understanding so he could accomplish those things commissioned to him by his father David.  God was impressed by this request.  Solomon could have asked for long life, wealth, power, anything imaginable.  But he asked for wisdom.  No wonder God was impressed.  {I believe wisdom can only come from God, and that is one thing we should all ask of Him.}  So God granted Solomon's request, and abundantly.  To this day in the 21st century, Solomon is still famous for his wisdom.  During his lifetime he was world-renowned.  Leaders visited him from all parts of the populated earth just to hear him impart words of wisdom.  {Wisdom is rather difficult to define.  It is not intelligence or knowledge.  But rather the ability to put knowledge into practice for the good of all concerned, plus the ability to make accurate discernment of the words and actions of ones fellow man, leading to the proper assessment of their true meanings.  In today's time, understanding the "hearts of men" would make things much easier for us.  I could comment extensively on the level of deceit that is practiced and sometimes even heralded, but I must not allow myself to get too sidetracked.}  So impressed was God, that He not only gave Solomon wisdom that he asked for, but He gave him all of those things he did NOT ask for.  Verses 14-17 gives us just a hint of the wealth Solomon had accumulated.  Note verse 15 where it says that he "made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones".  {This tells me that Solomon shared the wealth among the citizens.  Any of you readers remember the Shah of Iran?  His failure to share the wealth was his downfall.  But there are many more examples of that.}  This passage mentions that he had 1400 chariots and 12,000 horses.  He purchased horses from Egypt and Kue (generally considered to be in the southern part of present-day Turkey).  These horses bred in Egypt were especially large and strong, custom made to pull chariots in battle situations.  Note that Solomon was cunning in business.  The last verse of this chapter says he purchased from Egypt and resold them to the Hittites and the Arameans.  Solomon's savvy in international trade made his wealth impossible to measure.

Chapter 2  -  Preparations for the Temple

We have earlier studied the preparations and the actual building of the Temple.  No expense or effort was spared in order to achieve the splendor and magnificence suitable for God's house.  Remember, David did a lot of preparation work for Solomon.  There was a total of 153,600 foreigners in Israel assigned to the more difficult labor for the project.  70,000 were to carry the heavy loads, 80,000 were to cut stone, and 3600 were to serve as overseers of the labor force.  Solomon, like his father was very organized.  The Scripture continues on to tell of the deal Solomon made with king Hiram of Tyre.  (Tyre was a city in the larger territory of Phoenicia.  Hiram was an ally of David, and receptive to helping Solomon.)  There were skilled laborers in Israel, but Solomon wanted the best for the Temple, so he hired the craftsmen from Phoenicia, famous for their skill in all disciplines of craft.

Chapter 3  -  The building of the Temple

David is the one who chose the location for the Temple.  Mount Moriah was the location that Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac, as told back in Genesis.  Solomon started the actual building of the Temple on the second day of the second month in the fourth year of his reign.  The remainder of this chapter repeats the dimensions and much of the detail of the building process and the materials used, although not quite the detail used in Kings.  Interesting to note that the Temple was started 408 years after the Exodus from Egypt.  It took Solomon seven years to complete the Temple.

Chapter 4  -  The Furnishings for the Temple

Again, although not as much detail as provided in the book of I Kings, this chapter gives the description of the Temple's furnishings and the materials used.  You might find it interesting to see the exhaustive list of the many furnishings made for the Temple.  As a reminder, Huram was meticulous, as he hand-made clay molds for most of these objects prior to making the actual furnishings, whether it was made of gold, silver, bronze, or brass.  {There is a rendering of the finished Temple posted at CXXV, back when we were studying I Kings in March of this year.}  The magnificence of this building and its furnishings is too elaborate and extravagant to describe.  There were tons of gold and silver used, and too much bronze to count.

Next post  -  The Ark is brought to the Temple

Monday, August 19, 2013

CLXVI - I Chronicles 27-29 - David's Final Days

We have been studying David's activity after his military campaigns which gave Israel a period of peace and rest.  If you allow your mind to follow those years you will realize the turmoil and fear that gripped all of Israel's citizens, as there was constant death caused by war from Canaanite clans within the Promised Land, plus invasions from foreign countries.  David proceeded to set up a government that could serve as a model for every country from that day forward.  Bear in mind there were no government structures that existed at this time, with the possible exception of Egypt, but David's model is far superior.  As we'll see in this post, he also set up the perfect military draft system:  Super strong, but fair to all able-bodied men in Israel who wanted to raise a family as well as serve his country.

Chapter 27:1-24

David's army consisted of 288,000 men, all age 24 or older.  The very first verse in this chapter explains his military draft and service policy.  There were twelve months of the year and twelve tribes of Israel.  Each tribe had a group of 24,000 active duty soldiers.  A different group of soldiers served the king each month.  To lead the group, there were officers over 1000 men. Then there were officers over 100 men.  (The Roman Empire centuries later had a very similar military hierarchy)   Also, family leaders and the king’s officials had some control over the army.  The king always had 24 000 men ready for war. There was always a group ready to guard the king. If an enemy attacked, the king could call all 12 groups of soldiers to fight. This would be the whole army of 288 000 men.  The men served in the army for one month in the year. During the rest of the year, they lived and worked as normal citizens.  During these eleven month, older soldiers could be replaced by those men having turned 24 years of age.  But each tribe was obligated to have 24,000 trained, ready to serve soldiers at all times.  {To me, this system is flawless.  Much superior to anything that exists today, and I include an all-volunteer military.}

While we are at this point, I want to list the Jewish months as listed in this passage:

1st -  Nisan (often called Abib)
2nd -  Iyar (often called Zif)
3rd -  Sivan
4th -  Tammuz
5th -  Ab
6th -  Elul
7th -  Tishri
8th -  Marcheshvan
9th -  Chisleu
10th - Tebeth
11th - Chebat
12th - Adar

Verses 16-22 contains a list of the leaders of the tribes at the time when David took the census.  The tribes of Gad and Asher are not included in this list, and I'm not certain why.  There are many possibilities, but I don't think it is serious enough for a lot of comment.  Verses 23-24 comment a bit further on the census.  The remainder of this chapter lists some more of David's officials, some of which you might recognize.

Chapter 28 - 29:20

I believe all of this as written in the last eight chapters of I Chronicles, was done in the last year of David's life.  David was old and full of days and he knew his time was getting short.  In the first verse of this chapter, David gathered together what one would consider the entire nation of Israel:  All leaders of tribes; clans; military; all Levites with priestly duties; council members from each tribe; etc.  There was the air of finality to this.  David wanted to have a "last word" as their king.  But notice the main subject:  The Temple.  The subject of the Temple consumed 90% of his entire speech.  This was soooo important to David, and he was sad that he was not permitted to build it, but he understood.  He repeated in verse 2 that he "had it on his heart to build .........".  And he shared what God had told him that "his hands had shed too much blood", therefore his son Solomon was the Lord's choice to build the Temple.  In verse 8 David addressed his son in the presence of Israel.  He continues and gives good advice to his son Solomon.  Solomon needed to hear all of these words David had for him.  Note the following passage in verses 11-19:  God actually gave David the plans for the building of the Temple and beyond.  The detail God gave him was tremendous.  {God's
instructions were always extremely detailed, ie Noah's Ark; the Ark of the Covenant; the Mosaic Law; invasion of Jericho, just to name a few.}   Verse 19 reconfirms that the Lord showed to David the plan of the Temple.  David did not design any part of it. God gave him all the details and David wrote them down.  In vss 11--> David presented the plans God gave him to Solomon.  He starting with the portico, then all of the structures to follow,  All of these plans made up the Temple and all of its support buildings, the royal palace which would include housing for the queen and all of the king's concubines, all government  administration buildings, and all buildings necessary to store supplies and provender for the Temple and the king.  In verses 20-21 were David's final words of advice for Solomon.  He told him to "be strong and of good courage".  {God gave this advice to Joshua a number of times.}  David encouraged Solomon that the  Lord would not fail him, but he must do his part and work hard to complete the project.

Chapter 29:1-9 - Gifts for the Temple

 Verses 1-5 tell us that David was worried because Solomon was young and did not have the experience necessary for the task ahead of him.  David had done all that he could to prepare for the work. Now he was appealing to the people to support Solomon.  He goes on to list some of the many things that he had provided for the project.  David's listing of his gifts to the Temple led the leaders and officers who were present to commit not only to help Solomon, but also contribute gifts for the building of the Temple.  Note in verse nine that the people "rejoiced" in all of the giving toward the Lord's Temple.

Verses 10-20  -  Prayer of Thnaksgiving

This prayer in vss 10-13 is vintage David.  Take a moment to read it.  He cannot thank God enough for bestowing blessings upon blessings on David and Israel.  Then, as is also very David, he expresses his humility, amazed that God chose him to be the recipient of so much.  Then in verse 20 he gives the whole  assembly permission to burst out into praise, as they bowed and lay prostrate before the Lord.

Verses 21-25  -  Solomon Pronounced King of Israel

During this assembly, many sacrifices were made.  The atmosphere was festive to say the least.  Nearing the end of this, while all the elders and leaders were together in Jerusalem, they officially acknowledged Solomon as the king of Israel.  He would not take the throne until his father's death, but now while he was still alive, David would know that his wishes will be honored, and Solomon would succeed him as king.  Very few kings have had such luxury.

Verses 26-30  -  David's Death

David's life was full, from the time he was a small boy up to the time of his death.  David reigned as king for 40 years.  Seven years as the king of Judah, and 33 years as king of all Israel.  The Scripture tells us that all of David's activities were recorded by Samuel, Gad, and Nathan.  We do not yet have the scrolls recorded by Gad and Nathan, but we do have I & II Samuel and I Chronicles that give us generous insight to this wonderful man that holds a special place in the History of civilization.

Next Post  -  The Second Book of Chronicles

Saturday, August 17, 2013

CLXV - I Chronicles 22-26 - Organization of David

David was a great man.  He loved God as we all should.  God loved David and gave him many talents:  Leadership; Military strategy; Courage in battle; Expertise in combat; Administration; Understanding the hearts of men; Humility of spirit; Sense of Fairness; Compassion; Poetry, Music; and, as we will see in this post, Organization Skills.

Israel was at peace now.  David knew that he still had plenty of work to do to set up a government for this young nation Israel.  Jerusalem was now established as the capitol of Israel.  David's residence and administration buildings have been built.  His military was now in the competent hands of Joab with David's hand-picked captains to assist him.  His council of ministers had been established and now operating to his pleasure.  The Ark of the Covenant was in its proper (but temporary) place.  So what would one think would be on David's mind?  The building of the Temple has always been on his mind.  God told him
that he was not to build the Temple, but his son Solomon would build it.  David accepted that as God's will, but David figured it wouldn't hurt to help Solomon by making some preparations for him to make things easier.  In this post we will see how David actually was the one who set up the nation and its government to make it possible for Solomon to rule over the greatest nation in the History of civilization.  I do not attempt to diminish Solomon's ability at all, but rather I choose to give honor and credit to David for his efforts to help his son and have everything set in place for him, long before Solomon was crowned king.

Chapter 22  -  Preparations of the Temple

In the very first verse David chooses the location for the Temple Solomon is to build.  In verse 2 David assesses the abilities of all of the non-Israelites residing in the entire nation.  He then proceeds to appoint the laborers for the Temple to be built.  This will have saved Solomon a lot of time.  As we see in vss 14-16 David even gathers the materials for the Temple, including about 3750 tons of gold, 37,500 tons of silver, and bronze and iron "too great to be weighed".  {David did this not only because he wanted to have a part in the building of the Temple, but also, fathers do things to help their sons.}  Going back to vs 6, David charged his son Solomon to build the Temple.  Read these verses to see exactly what David said to Solomon in the presence of the leaders of Israel.  He then, in the presence of Solomon, charged all of Israel to help Solomon when he became king.  Note that in vss 11-13--David prays that Solomon will be wise, and also that Solomon will obey the law of the Lord.  I'm not certain exactly how old Solomon was at this time, but he was under 20 years of age.  In the final verses 17-19 David praises God for all that he has achieved. The Lord has given peace to his people in Israel.  The Lord has defeated all their enemies. The Lord is with his people. The Lord has given to them their own country.

Chapter 23  -  The Levites

At the very beginning of this chapter it says David is "old and full of years".  David was about 70 years of age, which in those days was very old.  David has been tirelessly organizing the kingdom for his son.  And the order in which he did it was perfect.  Now we see how much detail David took in his organizing.  In studying the Law as God had Moses to write it, David knew how important it was to make certain the Levites were in their proper places, performing their duties as originally assigned them back when Moses wrote the Law.  The Scripture tells us that there were 38,000 Levite men that were thirty years of age or older.  David assigned 24,000 to work in the Temple, 6000 to be officials and judges, 4000 to be gatekeepers, and 4000 to be musicians.  This chapter continues with genealogy of the tribe of Levi, starting with the three sons of Levi.  As you read the remaining verses of chapter 23 you will see that David states the duties of the Levites, all of which surrounds the priests.  But remember, only descendants of Aaron were priests.  Most other Levites served the priests.

Chapter 24  -  The Divisions of Priests

This chapter tells how David organized the Levites, even down to which of them would serve and in their respective time periods.  All priest were descendants of Aaron.  Verses 4-5 David divided the priests into 24 groups. 16 of these groups were of men from the descendants of Eleazar. And 8 of these groups were from the descendants of Ithamar. The groups would work in turn so that there would always be priests on duty in the temple.  As generations would pass, the families descending from each of the priests named in vss 7-18 would select priests to occupy the positions in rotation as David set it up.  The selection process was "casting lots".  This process was used throughout the Old and the New Testaments.  All of this that David had done was in accordance to the Law as written by the hand of Moses.

Chapter 25  -  The Musicians

David liked music.  He arranged there to be music at the Temple at all times.  So he organized the Levite musicians accordingly.  Back in chapter 16 when David brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, he assigned three chief musicians to accompany the Ark.  Those three were Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman.  Asaph had 4 sons and Jeduthun had 6 sons. Heman had 14 sons, totaling 24 sons.  These sons made the 24 leaders for the groups.  As stated back in chapter 23, 4000 Levites praised the Lord with instruments (23:5). Of their descendants, there would always be 288 skilled musicians, chosen proportionately from the 24 sons would be assigned the honorable task of playing their instruments at the site of the Temple.  These musicians would take turns according to verses 9-31 This is a list of the groups in the order of their duties.  Their descendants in future generations would maintain those positions, selecting individuals using the same manner of casting lots.

Chapter 26  -  The Gatekeepers

 In verses 1-9 The Israelites had not built the temple yet.  But the David made these arrangements so that the Levites would be ready. There were 4000 temple guards (23:6). They were all from the families of Kohath and Merari. (Korah was from the clan of Kohath.)  The east gate was to be the main gate. So, there were 6 guards at this gate but only 4 at the other gates. There were also 2 guards at the stores building.  There were additional guards placed elsewhere, but no specific locations were named.  Those 4000 temple guards were to rotated accordingly among themselves as named in this chapter.  To be a gatekeeper is a responsibility not to be taken lightly.  A gatekeeper was guard assigned to protect the Temple.  The gatekeepers were Levites also, but their duties were not of the traditional sense.  As we have studied about the Temple thus far, we see that these guards are really put to task and frequently so.  These gatekeepers must be prepared to place their lives on the line at any given moment.

Next post:  The Organization Continues Up to David's Final Days

Thursday, August 15, 2013

CLXIV - I Chronicles 21 - The Census

This passage in I Chronicles parallels II Samuel 24 and following.  As mentioned before, the two books of Chronicles reports a few events in further detail than does II Samuel and Kings, but they do not give full accounts of all events mentioned in the previous three books.  We studied much of David's conquests in the last post.  If we match up events with II Samuel, we see that more than fifteen years of David's reign was omitted as we pick up the account of the census David decided to take.  (Not to be redundant, but that is one of the many reasons Chronicles is difficult to teach.  So please bear with me.)

Unlike the previous account, the first verse of the 21st chapter makes it very clear that the devil influenced David's decision to call for a census of soldiers and able-bodied men who could serve in the military.   {I often wondered why God was so upset about David taking a census.  It has taken much research, and the only comment I could find on it that made any sense to me was the old Hebrew thought that Israel belonged to God, not to David.  The reason anything, including people, were counted was make recompense or a portion of which is to be given or dedicated to the Lord.  According to this traditional wisdom, David had no right and no acceptable purpose to take a census.  God always led David into battle and made certain the number of soldiers was sufficient for the purpose at hand.  In fact, in most instances the number of soldiers was insignificant.}  Note that in verse 3 that none other than Joab (David's military commander) tried to talk David out of this census.  Even Joab knew this was wrong.  {If you do a close character study of Joab, you would never have guessed him to be the one to give David council about the Lord.  Joab was a loyal servant to David, but violent in nature.  Joab's dealings off the battle field were hardly ever Godly, and never does one see Joab as an advocate for God or His Law.}  But David overruled Joab and therefore the census was taken.  Note in verse 6 that Joab could never make peace with it.  {Just this last comment about the census and we'll move on:  The Scripture doesn't tell us exactly why David wanted to take the census in the first place.  By this time David had secured the Promised Land from foreign invaders, and most of the Canaanites had been driven out or placed into bondage for service to Israel.  This question about David's motives brings to mind what Samuel warned Israel about when they insisted on having a king rather than a judge.  He told them a king would tax them and place their sons into military service.  Was this David's motive?  Perhaps.}

To save you the trouble of counting them up, the census results was 1,100,000 able-bodied men.  This included the 300,000 who were already serving in David's army.  But it did not include any from the tribes of Levi or Benjamin.

21:7-17  -  God Punishes David and Israel

In vss 7-8 God reveals his displeasure and David repents.  Then God did something He very rarely has done:  He gives David a choice as to the punishment that will be exacted on Israel.  The three choices are:

1.  Three years of famine
2.  Three months of fleeing from enemies
3.  Three days of plague

David chose the third, and the Lord then punished Israel with a plague which killed 70,000 men from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south.  The angel of death that God had sent was just getting started when God repented and told him to withdraw his hand, thus ending the plagues of death on Israel.  {Bear in mind this is only ONE angel who slayed these 70,000 men in Israel.  God has MILLIONS.  We do not want these holy creatures to be our enemies.  I will continue to comment on angels throughout this study.  They are not the beautiful winged feminine creatures that have been depicted in pictures for centuries.  Most of these angels in the Bible are frightening creatures, indescribably powerful, and blood-thirsty when sent on a mission by God Himself to administer punishment.  By the time we finish this Bible study, you will have a whole new appreciation for angels, and hopefully a whole new awareness of their existence all over this universe.}

Vss 18-30  -  The remaining verses of this chapter is a recount of the last passage in the book of II Samuel.  David had repented and understood the error he had made.  He felt desperate to make amends.  So the angel of the Lord spoke to David through the prophet Gad, telling David to build an altar.  He was specific with his instructions, even telling David where to build it.  He wanted him to build the altar on the threshing floor owned and being used by Araunah.  Araunah was still using this threshing floor, but he was to stop the threshing process and give it to David for the altar.  {A threshing floor was the first method of milling and winnowing wheat.  The way they prepared grain was to spread it out on the special floor that was flat and hard.  There was a man who was driving a pair of oxen.  These oxen pulled wooden boards on which the driver sat.  The oxen went back and forth over the wheat, dragging the boards.  The boards had three large wooden tubes with sharp points all over them. These tubes turned as the boards moved.  Another person drew back the straw to separate it from the grain. They discarded the straw and threw what remained up in the air (winnowing). The bits of chaff that were not grain blew away. This left only the grain on the floor. So the grain was now clean from the chaff, ready to be stored.}

When Araunah saw David he and his sons stopped the work process.  When David told him of his intentions to build the altar on the threshing floor, Araunah wanted to give it to David, but David insisted on purchasing it for "full price"  He ended up paying Araunah gold valued today at about $400,000.  So David proceeded to build the altar at that location and offered sacrifices (vs 26-29)

{You might be wondering why this particular location was specified.  The property that Araunah owned
was on Mount Moriah. Mount Moriah is the place where Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:2).  Solomon would later build the temple there, which was prophesied by David in the first verse of chapter 22.}

Next post  -  The Levites

Sunday, August 11, 2013

CLXIII - I Chronicles 17-20

These chapters we will look at today deal with events we have studied earlier in II Samuel.  As stated earlier, we will go through Chronicles at a much faster pace that we did the previous three books.

In the last post we finished with the 16th chapter of I Chronicles.  David had successfully brought the Ark of the Covenant to its new home in Jerusalem, and will reside in a tent David had prepared for it, which resembles the original tabernacle in which the Ark resided when Israel wandered in the wilderness with Moses.  The Ark will remain in this tent until David's son Solomon builds the holy temple.  In the 16th chapter, David led all of the nation Israel in a worship service to commemorate the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant.  It was elaborate and even more festive that David had hoped.

Chapter 17:1-15  -  David is not to build a house for God

David was now settled comfortably in his new home in Jerusalem, free from war, at least for the time being.  In the second part of the first verse we see Nathan mentioned.  As a reminder, Nathan was a prophet during David's reign.  You might remember Nathan as the prophet who confronted and scolded David when he sinned with Bathsheba.  Nathan was the Levite priest who helped David organize the Levites for the organization and the transportation of the Ark of the Covenant.  Nathan was the prophet (back in II Samuel) that was instrumental in making certain Solomon was crowned king of Israel after David's death.  So Nathan was not only respected by David as a man of God, but also as a close confidant.

Here in this passage we see that David was bothered by the fact that the Ark was in a tent while David lived in the comfort of a "house of cedar".  At first (verse 2) Nathan was in favor of whatever David had in mind.  {Nathan was not a "yes man".  But he knew that David had a pure heart and whatever David wanted was probably very good and wholesome.  But in verse 3 we see that God intercedes His own will by speaking with Nathan.  God tells Nathan that David is not to build a house for God.  God promises David (through Nathan) that He will continue to bless David with military victory and success in whatever he endeavors.  But (Verse 12) it will be Solomon who builds God's house.  {God has plans for each of His children, including you and me.  He is perfect in His selections of people for the tasks He has assigned them.  David was not finished doing that which he was assigned to accomplish, which was mostly military, and the organization of this fledgling nation.}

Verses 17:16  -  David is always thankful

Upon hearing the words that God gave Nathan, David was awestruck.  Awestruck with gratitude for what God promised him.  Remember, he was turned down in his desire to build a house for God.  But instead he was promised success in whatever he decided to do, mostly military.  So instead of sulking about not building the temple, David went right to God in a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.  Note in verse 16 where it says he "went in and sat before the Lord".  That tells me he went to the tent where the Ark was to pray to God.  And the first words out to David's mouth were "Who am I, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far"?  David's prayers so often began with his own humility.  He honestly did not feel good  enough to have audience with God Almighty.  He didn't feel like he deserved it.  {And he was correct.  He didn't deserve it any more that we do.}

Chapter 18  -  More military victories for David

Chapter 18 starts out with the phrase "In the course of time".  This is the writer's way of saying that what he is about to write is not necessarily in chronological order, but the events mentioned are of a particular subject or theme.  This one is military victories.  The Philistines have always been a threat to Israel, but in this instance, David and his army are the aggressors, not because they want to fight, but rather to get back what the Philistines had taken from them earlier.  In this case, Gath:  A city to the southwest that is within the promised land, but had been captured by the Philistines before David had become king.  In the second verse we see that David also defeated the Moabites, and made them subject to Israel, requiring them to pay taxes annually. {This was not an uncommon practice in those days.}  David also defeated Zobah on the Euphrates River.  It goes on to detail the size of Zobah's military.

Verse 5-6 might be confusing, especially just having finished our study in II Kings.  The mighty Assyrians were headquartered in Damascus at time of II Kings.  They were the ones who destroyed Israel and took all of its citizens captive into slavery.  But  that would be 280 years forward in time from this writing in I Chronicles.  During David's reign, Damascus was the headquarters of the Arameans.  {The Arameans would later become victims of the aggressive Assyrians.}  This chapter continues on about military victories for David, making special note of his defeat of the Edomites, placing them into subjection, as he did the Moabites.

Chapter 19  -  The Ammonites

We've studied this story before and it's a good one.  Ammon was a country on the east side of the Jordan River.  Not a particularly powerful country, but one friendly to Israel.  Ammon was not occupying a part of the promised land and David was on good terms with their leaders.  This chapter opens with king Nahash of the Ammonites being ill and died, leaving his son Hanun to succeed him as king.  When David heard of the death of Nahash, he sent an envoy to pay their respects.  But the new king Hanun considered the Israelite
envoy as a play of aggression.  Hanun wanted to send David a message he would not soon forget.  He captured all of the members of the envoy, cut off their hair and beards, and cut their robes so short that their bare buttocks would show.  This was the ultimate in humiliation.  {Hanun was not wise like his father Nahash.  Surely he had no idea who he was dealing with.}  Evidently Hanun's advisors were able to make him understand that David's army was far superior to that of the Ammonites.  They also made Hanun understand that Israel would not allow the act of humiliation to go unpunished.  So Hanun hired the Arameans to assist him.  The remainder of this chapter tells of David's great victory over the Ammonites and
the Arameans.  Noteworthy is the fact that David did not lead his army in his attack of the Ammonites.  He entrusted the battle to his commander Joab.

Chapter 20  -  More problems with the Philistines

Chater 20 finishes the account of the punishment for the Ammonites, then in verse 4 tells in more detail the problems with the Philistines when David took back the city of Gath.  The Philistines always had fierce and huge soldiers that Israel had to contend with.  Remember David's first encounter with the Philistines was with Goliath when David was just a young boy.  In verse 5 it speaks of Goliath's brother Lahmi.  But in verse 6 it moves to the battle for Gath.  It speaks of a particular Philistine who was extremely large.  He had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot.  This Philistine giant taunted Israel, much like Goliath did decades earlier.  This time it was David's nephew Jonathan who revenged the name of Israel and killed him.  All of these giant Philistines were descendants of the Philistine Rapha.  Verse 8 tells us that  the army of Israel killed all of these descendants.

Next Post  -  The Census

Friday, August 9, 2013

CLXII - I Chronicles 13-16

The chapters we will look at today were studied in more detail in II Samuel.  As stated earlier, Chronicles will serve as a good review plus offer a few additional details.  However, II Samuel is considerable more detailed in these events in the life of David.

Chapter 13 - David Attempts to Bring the Ark to Jerusalem

David has now consolidated his kingdom to include all of the tribes of Israel on both sides of the Jordan River.  An excellent "next step" for David would be to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, which David has established as the religious and administrative center for this new united nation of Israel.  However, David, his advisors, and the priests all failed to do their homework concerning the moving of the Ark.  God, through Moses, gave very clear instructions as given in the book of Exodus.  {Human hands were not to touch the Ark of the Covenant.  The Ark was never to be carried on an oxen-driven cart, but rather always carried by Levites using the poles inserted through the gold rings attached to the corners of the Ark.}

This 13th chapter tells of the awful consequenses of mishandling the Ark.  Uzzah, a humble servant lost his life in seemingly innocent attempts to respect the Ark.  As you read this chapter you will see that David first became frustratingly angry about this tragedy, but then became soberingly fearful of God and His Law as passed down through His servant Moses.

Chapter 14  -  More Philistine Problems

This chapter starts out with Hiram king of Tyre wanting to help David build a palace in his new capitol Jerusalem.  However, in our previous studies we learned that God did not allow David to build the Temple or the king's palace.  That honor would be reserved for Solomon.  However, David was permitted to use the materials from Hiram to build a home for his family in Jerusalem.

The subject in this chapter abruptly changes in verse 8 as it tells of yet another battle against the Philistines.  {It is my thought that the Philistines had seen David growing in power.  The Philistines knew that their best
chance to defeat David would be immediately before his army became stronger and more organized.}  But as the Philistines marched against Israel, David inquired of the Lord, who instructed him to attack the Philistines, which he did and defeated them soundly.  {This is worthy of mention because common sense would have told David to amass his army in Jerusalem (a fortified city by its terrain) and defend it from a favorable position.  But God told him to do the opposite:  Attack the approaching Philistines.}

Chapter 15  -  Let's Do It Right This Time

Back in chapter 13 we saw the failure to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  David had placed the Ark outside the city for a short time, knowing it was still important for the Ark to be placed in its proper setting in Jerusalem.  This chapter 15 tells how David started by preparing a place for the Ark.  He then gathered the priests and Levites to make certain everything was done properly, even assigning responsibilities for the parade to take place upon the entering of the city.  He was even careful to assign the order of the marching of the Levites, the musicians by name, and even the particular instrument they would play.  Names are actually recorded in the official annons of Israel.  This event was important to David, and well it should have been.

 He did this right.  Additionally, he was careful to make certain that all Israel was not only given the opportunity, but encouraged to participate in this glorious occasion.

In the very last verse in this chapter it is mentioned about Michal, David's wife (daughter of Saul) and how she was embarrassed by David's behavior as he celebrated the Ark's arrival.  {Chronicles does not give further detail, but Michal actually scolded David for "making a fool of himself in front of the entire nation".  David at that time was given insight into the heart of Michal, which will be evidenced in the near future.}

Chapter 16  -  The Whole Nation Worships

The Ark has been brought into Jerusalem in glorious manner.  It was placed in the tent-like structure that was prepared for it.  Although David made the entering of the Ark filled with pomp and celebration, he knew that it was even more important to call for a day of proper worship to commemorate the Ark which is now in its newly assigned place in Jerusalem.  So David, carefully consulting with the Levite priests and scribes, directed the worship service .  He did it in a very organized fashion.  This was necessary, as there was a multitude of people in Jerusalem for this occasion.  As you read this account you will note that David made certain that every person had food and the necessary sacrifices to allow all to participate.  This man was an EXCELLENT leader.

Vss 7-36  -  You've heard me mention before that God really loved David.  And I've always added that one reason for this was that David really loved God.  David got it.  He understood the Heart of God and therefore knew how to please Him.  In verse 7 David continued directing the day of worship by not only appointing Levites by name to sing in thanksgiving to God, but actually wrote the song himself.  Note in verse 7 "....give praise to the Lord in this manner".  {We know that among David's multitude of talents, he was a gifted song writer and poet.}  As you read this song David wrote yo can see that David cannot thank and praise God enough for all He has done for His people.  David wants the entire world to celebrate the magnificence of God.

In the final verses of this chapter, the celebration is winding down.  In the very last verse it says that all the people went back to their homes and David went home to his own family.  {David's hopes in this festive occasion is that all of the tribal leaders present in Jerusalem would take the celebration back to their tribal home lands and the whole nation Israel would experience spiritual revival, which David properly discerned as a desperate need.}

In the next post we will continue our study of David's reign as king of the whole nation of Israel.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

CLXI - Saul and David - I Chronicles 10-12

As mentioned earlier, we have covered much of material in Chronicles.  The chapters we will study in this post will be a review of parts of II Samuel.

I Chronicles chapter 10  -  Saul's Demise

This entire chapter deals with the final event in Saul's life.  Saul and his Israelite army were in a fierce battle with the dreaded Philistines.  The Philistines had been bitter enemies of God's people since Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land, and would continue to be thorn in Israel's side for centuries to come.  The  Philistine people lived southwest of Israel along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.  The battle we see in this chapter of I Chronicles is one of many, but it is one that has gone decisively in favor of the Philistines.  Saul knew his army was being defeated and he also knew that he and his sons who were with him in the battle were in danger of losing their lives.  In verse 4 when Saul saw that the Philistines had killed his sons (including Jonathan), he told his personal armor-bearer to kill him.  {Saul would rather have died than be captured and tortured by the Philistines.}  The armor-bearer was too afraid to kill Saul, so Saul committed suicide by  falling on his own sword.  {This was not uncommon for a king to do during a battle his army was clearly losing.  There were few humiliations more severe than a king being captured by his enemies.  This is evidenced in vss 8-10 describing how much the Philistines tried to humiliate even Saul's dead body.}

Verses 11-12 tells of some very brave Israelites from Jabesh Gilead who went and took the bodies of Saul and his sons from hanging as a spectacle of disgrace in the Philistines' pagan temples.  Chronicles is very brief in its comments on Saul's life and death.  In the last two verses of this chapter 10, it tells that Saul was unfaithful to God.  He was disobedient to God's commands.  When Saul should have sought the word of God, he chose to consult mediums and spirits for advice.  This author suggests that Saul got what he deserved.

Chapter 11  -  King David

To put things into perspective from the standpoint of time:  About twenty years prior to these events told in this chapter is when God had Samuel anoint David as king of Israel.  At this current time, David had ruled as king of the tribe of Judah for about seven years.  II Samuel told us in much detail the trials and tribulations David suffered at the hands of king Saul for the last twenty years.  It was known to all of the men of God throughout Israel that David had been anointed king, thus David had been accumulating a following during all this time.  This is where I Chronicles picks up in chapter 11.

At the death of Saul, all those loyal to David declared themselves openly and joined with his army.  In verse 3 David made a covenant with them "before the Lord".  David's first order of business as the king of all tribes of Israel was to take back what was to be his capitol city.  {Some more pretext:  Many years earlier, right after the death of Joshua, the tribe of Judah (David's tribe) took the city called Jerusalem and inhabited that city.  But shortly thereafter the city was taken back by the Jebusites, a Caananite tribe that had previously held that city.  They named the city "Jebus".  For years the Israelites of Judah had tried to recapture that city but all attempts had failed.  Because of the terrain surrounding the city, it was almost impossible to penetrate without an overwhelmingly superior military.}  David decided to take his new large consolidated army and establish his authority right away.  And he chose to do that by taking the city of Jebus back.  He overtook the fortress of Zion, captured the city, and named it Jerusalem, to be known as the "City of David".  David declared this city as his capitol and he moved his headquarters there from Hebron, which had been his headquarters for seven years.

Vss 10-47  -  These verses give well-deserved attention to the mighty men of David's army.  These men were loyal, brave, and skillful warriors.  The Scripture mentions thirty of these men by name.  In vss 15--> it tells the short story of three additional men of valor.  These three extra special men were Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah.  Their names may not be familiar to you, but the story probably is.  This is the time when David was extremely thirsty and was unable to get water to drink.  When David finally received water, he poured it out as a gift to God, showing all of his soldiers how important God was to him.  He also said that he could not drink water if his soldiers had none.  That story has been told many times and has been the subject of many sermons preached from pulpits for a number of centuries.  But the prequel to the story is that the Philistines had David's army trapped and were starving them out, knowing there was no food or water at the place where David and his men were.  It was at this time when Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah broke through enemy lines, drew water from a well in the midst of the enemy, and carried it back to David.  These three were commissioned with positions of responsibility far beyond that of the famous Thirty.  The remaining verses in chapter 11 give the names of the other soldiers who were to become leaders in the army of Israel.

Chapter 12  -  David's Kingdom Fortified

This chapter gives an accounting of the army by tribe.  Chronicles is an interesting book in that it gives insight for understanding throughout, such as the comment about the Gadites being such able military commanders in vss 14-->.  In verse 16 it mentions the Benjamites.  This is important because Saul was from the tribe of
Benjamin, but they held no grudge against David and became an important part of his army.  It is here in I Chronicles 12:18 where there is one of the rare instances where the Holy Spirit is mentioned in an action.  "The Spirit came on Amasai, chief of the Thirty" and he spoke a declaration of support and loyalty to David.

The accounting in terms of numbers is given in vss 23 through the end of the chapter.  I can only approximate it to be about 400,000 soldiers, as Issachar's total representation is not clear.  It was important that the numbers were recorded by tribe, just as Moses had commanded centuries earlier.

Next post  -  David Establishes His Capitol

Sunday, August 4, 2013

CLX - I Chronicles

The Book of First Chronicles

Author  -  Unknown  (Traditionally believed to be Ezra)
Date  -  Believed to have begun shortly after the captivity of Judah.  Finished no later than 500BC

{It is important to note that the two books of Chronicles are of the more difficult books to teach, as almost all was written in previously studied books.  When I was in Kings, I was tempted to do Kings and Chronicles as a parrelel study.  I chose not to do that because I wanted to maintain the strict order of the Bible itself.  Also a parrelel study can be so confusing.  Therefore, I will proceed with Chronicles as I went through the previous books, but of course without disregard to the fact that we have gone over most of the truths and events in recent months.  However, due to the fact that most of it will be a review, our study of Chronicles will go much more quickly than the first twelve books of the Bible.}

Both books of Chronicles were a single book until about 280 BC, at which time it was translated into Greek.  Determined to be too large for one book it was split into two books and placed in their order in the "Septuagint".  The Hebrews still consider it to be one book, which in the Hebrew language is named "The Book of Diaries".  The two books (scrolls) in the Greek language were referred to as "things that the other books left out".  The other books referred to here are the four books of Samuel and Kings.

Over 600 years later in 4th century AD, a man named Jerome translated these books into Latin.  Jerome considered these books to be a "list of events", which in Latin would be called "Chronicles".  And that name became official, still using two books rather than one.

I mentioned the Septuagint.  This translation is important to Bible students world-wide.  The Septuagint (also known as the LXX) is a translation of the Hebrew Bible into the Greek language. The name “Septuagint” comes from the Latin word for seventy. The tradition is that 70 (or 72) Jewish scholars were the translators behind the Septuagint. The Septuagint was translated in the third and second centuries B.C. in Alexandria, Egypt.  As Israel was under the authority of Greece for several centuries, the Greek language became more and more common.  By the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C., most people in Israel spoke Greek as their primary language. That is why the effort was made to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek – so that those who did not understand Hebrew could have the Scriptures in a language they could understand. The Septuagint represents the first major effort at translating a significant religious text from one language into another.

It is interesting to note that many of the New Testament quotes from the Hebrew Bible are taken from the Septuagint. As faithfully as the Septuagint translators strived to be accurate in their rendering, some translational differences arose.  In comparing the New Testament quotations of the Hebrew Bible, it is clear that the Septuagint was often used.  This is the result of the fact that by the late 1st century B.C., and especially the 1st century A.D. – the Septuagint had “replaced” the Hebrew Bible as the Scriptures most people used. Since most people spoke and read Greek as their primary language, and the Greek authorities strongly encouraged the use of Greek, the Septuagint became much more common than the Hebrew Old Testament. The fact that the Apostles and New Testament authors felt comfortable, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, in using the Septuagint.  This should give us assurance that a translation of the original languages of the Bible is still the authoritative Word of God.

As for a more modern reference, many recent translations and paraphrasings are taken principaly from the King James Version.  This book is called a "version" because it was written using three sets of texts:  The Masoric (Hebrew), the Septuagint (Greek), and the Vulgate (Latin).  A book can be called a translation only if it was taken from a single source, using strict translation characters from one language to another.

{I truly believe that all three (Masoric, Septuagint, and Vulgate) were Holy Spirit inspired.  These, along with the King James have passed the test of time and the test of trials through fire, and were used to teach and inspire centuries of God's precious people.  And I believe they will continue to do this until the return of our Lord.}

The book of I Chronicles is not to be considered a sequel or an extension of the previous books of Samuel and Kings, but rather a book written in addition to, with no collaboration taking place.  I'm not totally convinced that Ezra wrote Chronicles, but I am convinced that Chronicles was written by a Levite, not so much because of its style, but rather by the detailed references to the priestly duties and responsibilities during the centuries from Saul to the captivity.

The first nine chapters deal with genealogy.  Details of genealogy would have been recorded by several officials just to make certain these documents were all-inclusive and that if one or more were lost, there would be others which could serve the generations to come.

I Chronicles 1-8  -  Genealogy

The very first verse of the first chapter begins with the name Adam, and immediately takes us to Noah, the second beginning of civilization.  {Note that Cain and Abel were not mentioned.}  It then takes us to Abraham in verse 28, making sure to mention Ishmael as well as Isaac.  The remainder of the first chapter gives well deserved attention to Esau and his descendants.  Chapter 2 through chapter 7 gives the early genealogy of the twelve sons of Jacob (which will represent the twelve tribes of Israel).  Note that the writer begins not with Reuben the eldest, but with Judah.  He goes on to tell small tidbits of information about each tribe, spending the most time on Judah and Levi.  {I believe this was due to the fact that Judah contained the royal lineage and the Levites were the priestly tribe, of which the author was one.}

In chapter 7 the writer stops short of his genealogy listing for the tribe of Benjamin, which confused me at first reading, but then he picks back up on Benjamin in chapter 8 when he expounds on Benjamin being the tribe out of which Israel's first king (Saul) was born.  The writer mentions locations of some of the tribes, but not all of them.  As you read these chapters, note the various comments by the writer.

Chapter 9  -  Geneology of the resettlement of Jerusalem

In the opening verse of chapter 9 mentions one of the saddest events of Israel's History:  The captivity.  This is when the nation was destroyed and all Israel's and Judah's citizens were take captive as slaves to the Assyrians and the Babylonians.  He is careful to mention in this verse at the very end of it "because of their unfaithfulness".  But then, in verse 2, he begins the genealogy that starts with the resettlement.  I will later get into the reason they were allowed by their captors to return to their homeland (the Promised Land).  I think it is important that you read this chapter 9, as it concentrates on priests and Levites with their assigned duties and responsibilities in re-establishing Israel as a nation again.  The chapter ends with the genealogy of Saul, Israel's first king.

Next post  -  Saul and David