1 Chronicles 23-29

William Kelly

"So when David was old and full of days, he made Solomon his son king over Israel. And he gathered together all the princes of Israel, with the priests and the Levites." 1 Chr. 23: 1, 2. And a remarkable act of David's appears here, quite in consistency with what we have seen before. He first numbers the Levites; and he numbers them according to Moses, from thirty years old and upward. But even Moses himself gives us a modification of this; namely, from twenty-five years. David goes further. He is the king, and all now depends upon the king. Hence (v. 24), "These were the sons of Levi after the house of their fathers; even the chief of the fathers, as they were counted by number of names by their polls, that did the work for the service of the house of Jehovah, from the age of twenty years and upward."

Thus David showed sovereign right to act for Jehovah. He only did so because he is the type of Christ. There was One greater than Moses that was in the view of the Spirit of God, and David typifies Him. It is said, "For, by the last words of David, the Levites were numbered from twenty years old and above: because their office was to wait on the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of Jehovah." No doubt their duties were greatly enlarged; and, great as their numbers might be new, the magnificence of the temple would call for every man from twenty years. And, besides, David would give them all a place in it. It was an honour as well as a duty, and so one can conceive grace acting in calling in the younger men.

In 1 Chronicles 24 we have the divisions of the sons of Aaron, and they are now divided into twenty-four courses. Zadok takes his place as the high priest, and this we know will be the line when the Lord Jesus comes to reign by-and-by. It is not only that the house of David will enjoy its right and glory according to the word of Jehovah, but the family of Zadok will be actually in the administration of the priesthood in that future day of blessedness on the earth. This we know from the book of Ezekiel, who expressly lets us see that so it will be (Ezekiel 44: 15). "But the priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of My sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from Me, they shall come near to Me to minister unto Me, and they shall stand before Me to offer unto Me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord Jehovah." We can see the reason of this. They were faithful. But there is another reason, too, that does not appear in the prophecy. They were the proper descendants. They were the lineal descendants of Phinehas; and God had sworn in the wilderness (so far did it go back beyond David) that there should be an everlasting covenant with the priesthood and the family of Phinehas. If God remembers His promises, so does He not forget His covenant with man. It is not, therefore, the promise to the fathers only; but even what may come in because of the fidelity of His people in any great time of trouble is never forgotten of the Lord.

In 1 Chronicles 25 we have the service of song. "Moreover, David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals." It is called "prophesying" because it so directly brought in God, which is the emphatic meaning of prophesying. "And the number of the workmen according to their service was" - so and so. There were twenty-four courses of the singers. Now, this was another remarkable change. In the tabernacle, song was not the characteristic feature, but sacrifice; but in the temple in the day of glory, the song of triumph is the new and suitable feature. It is not but what the sacrifices abide, as we find; and so they will be on the earth - no longer, as they were, mere legal offerings, but commemorations - commemorations of the great sacrifice, no doubt. God will condescend to use for an earthly people an earthly sign. The heavenly people need none. That is the reason why we have no sacrifices new - because we see what the sacrifice of Christ is in the mind of heaven. We enjoy heaven's estimate of Christ. Hence, as there is no sacrifice in heaven, we have none; but, when the earth comes in, the earthly people will have earthly sacrifices.

In 1 Chronicles 26 we have the porters, for it is a part of majesty to think of what is least. The Spirit of God condescends to arrange by David for the porters, just as truly as He did for the high priest, or for the different courses of priesthood. All has its place, and whatever has to do with the service of God is great in God's eyes. Indeed, it is only we who make so much of the differences between great and small. To God, the smallest thing has a value.

In 1 Chronicles 27 we have more the kingdom in its outward regulations. "Now the children of Israel, after their number, to wit, the chief fathers and captains of thousands and hundreds, and their officers that served the king in any matter of the courses, which came in and went out month by month through out all the months of the year, of every course were twenty and four thousand." We find the number twenty-four whether it be actual, or in its thousands, very prominent here. Twelve is the number devoted to perfection in human government - in government by man. In the Church, seven, because it is spiritual administration. In Israel, twelve - twelve tribes, not seven. So here in the kingdom by-and-by; only there is a double witness of it. It is twenty-four. Nothing was established when it was only twelve. "In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established." The Millennium will be the great establishment of the kingdom. And so we have not perfection. Perfection will be in eternity, but still there will be establishment.

The end of the chapter shows us the various ministers of the king - the rulers of his substance - those that were over the king's treasures - those that were over the work of the field, his agriculture, his vineyards, his domains as we would call them, the sycamore trees, and so on, the olive yards, the herds, the camels, flocks, asses, and the other chief ministers of the king.

In 1 Chronicles 28 we have the assembly of the princes, where David stands and addresses them, although he was now drawing near the close. "As for me," he says, "I had in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of Jehovah, and for the footstool of our God." This was a great word which it is well to dwell upon for a moment. "A house of rest for the ark." It was not so in the wilderness. It was either "Rise up, O Jehovah," or "Return." It was always motion - motion actually, or motion in prospect. But the blessed feature of the day that is coming will be rest - rest after toil - rest after sorrow. And this will be the fruit of the suffering of the true Son of David. We see it beautifully in Psalm 132, where David, who has been afflicted, prays for Solomon. And Solomon will bring in the rest, but only as a sign. True rest is yet to come. "There remaineth a rest for the people of God." This is not yet accomplished; it will be in due time.

David, then, here looks forward to the ark of the covenant of Jehovah having a house of rest. "But," says he, "God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for My name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood. Howbeit Jehovah, God of Israel, chose me before all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever: for He hath 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 liked me to make me king over all Israel." He had given him a good work. He was not to build the house; but he, above all, had the preparation of the material and the ordering of it, even when it was built - not Solomon, but David. Solomon carried out the regulations of David. Therefore, whatever may be the future glory of the kingdom, we must remember that the sufferings of Christ morally take an incomparably higher place. David was more important than Solomon. Solomon was only the fruit, so to speak, of David. The glory of the kingdom was only the result of the one who had glorified God as the outcast and rejected one, but the real establisher, of the kingdom. Then he says, "And He said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build My house and My courts: for I have chosen him." David therefore gives to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch and of the houses.

We see how completely David is the source of everything here. "The pattern of all that he had by the Spirit." It was not any question of his own will. "And the pattern of all that he had by the Spirit, of the courts of the house of Jehovah, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things. Also for the courses of the priests and the Levites, and for all the work of the service of the house of Jehovah, and for all the vessels of service in the house of Jehovah." Nay, more than that, he gave by weight of the gold for the various vessels, and the silver for those that were to be made of silver - the tables, for instance; "also pure gold for the flesh-hooks and for the bowls, and the cups." Everything was to a nicety arranged by David. "All this, said David, Jehovah made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern." It was really God arranging all by His servant. On this ground David charges Solomon. "Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for Jehovah God, even my God, will be with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of Jehovah." It was the great prospect of David's declining years. It was not his own house, but Jehovah's house. He had no doubt about his own; he was not troubled about it; he did not think about it. He prays God for it; he could rest upon God's word. God would surely establish the house of David, but David locked for the building of the house of Jehovah. David could not rest without God being glorified, and he desired at any rate to have his own part. And God gave him a good part - not the building, but all things gathered in view of it, and ordered too.

The last chapter (1 Chronicles 29) gives us the final charge of David. In this he fully states how he had prepared with all his might for the house of his God. "Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God, the gold for things to be made of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and the brass for things of brass, the iron for things of iron, and wood for things of wood; onyx stones, and stones to be set, glistering stones, and of divers colours, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance. Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good, of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house" - that is, it was not only what he drew from the kingdom, but what he gave of his own personal property and estate - "even three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, to overlay the walls of the houses withal."

And now, in the face of this, he asks, "Who is willing to consecrate his service this day unto Jehovah?" The noble generosity of the king acts powerfully upon the people. "Then the chief of the fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel, and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king's work, offered willingly, and gave for the service of the house of God, of gold five thousand talents and ten thousand drams, and of silver ten thousand talents, and of brass eighteen thousand talents, and one hundred thousand talents of iron. And they with whom precious stones were found, gave them to the treasure of the house of Jehovah, by the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite." All this is enumerated with the greatest care. "Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to Jehovah: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy."

Thus we see how grace draws out grace, and how much deeper the joy of David was over God's glory than over anything of his own. We never hear of anything like such an expression of joy for what befell himself. "Wherefore David blessed Jehovah before all the congregation." It is the king, not the priest' now, but the king. "And David said, Blessed be Thou, Jehovah God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O Jehovah, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the kingdom, O Jehovah, and Thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of Thee, and Thou reignest over all; and in Thine hand is power and might; and in Thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee and praise Thy glorious name." "But who am I?" says he, for there is nothing that produces so much humility, such true sense of nothingness, as the rich blessing of Jehovah. "But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? For all things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee. For we are strangers before Thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding." So he prays for Solomon. "O Jehovah God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the hearts of Thy people, and prepare their heart unto Thee: and give unto Solomon my son a perfect heart, to keep Thy commandments, Thy testimonies, and Thy statutes."

Then he calls the congregation to bless Jehovah; and so they all do, bowing down their heads in worshipping Jehovah and the king. The king, you see, is now the proper representative of Jehovah. And they sacrifice according to the greatness of the day. "Even a thousand bullocks, a thousand rams, and a thousand lambs, with their drink offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel: and did eat and drink before Jehovah on that day with great gladness. And they made Solomon the son of David king the second time."

"The second time." Not a word is here introduced about Adonijah's attempt to get the kingdom. It was all left out. The troubles and sins of the house of David are left out, unless they are bound up with some purpose of God. That is the key to it; but here is given simply the result; namely, that Solomon is anointed the second time. The first time was after the house was determined upon. Solomon was bound up with the glory of the house. "Then Solomon sat on the throne of Jehovah" - a remarkable expression - "sat on the throne of Jehovah as king, instead of David his father, and prospered; and all Israel obeyed him. And all the princes, and the mighty men, and all the sons likewise of king David, submitted themselves unto Solomon the king. And Jehovah magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel."

"Thus David the son of Jesse reigned over all Israel. And the time that he reigned over Israel was forty years; seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and three years reigned he in Jerusalem. And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead."