Lectures on 1 Chronicles 16-19

 •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 9
1 Chronicles 16-19
I said but little of the Psalm that was sung on that day, delivered by David to Asaph and his brethren. In point of fact, it consists of portions of several Psalms put together in what might seem a singular manner, but surely with divine wisdom. They are taken from the fourth and fifth Books of Psalms—for I suppose most here are aware that The Psalms consist of five books with definite characters. The fourth of them consists of those Psalms that anticipate the establishment of the kingdom of Jehovah, and the fifth book the results of that kingdom. However, there is this particularly to be noted—that the ark of God was now pitched in a tent provisionally in Jerusalem. It was no longer with the tabernacle. This was a most striking change, and it belongs to the peculiarity of David's position. The authority of the king was the center of Israel now—the type of the Lord—Jesus; for God has reserved the place of chief honor for His Son, and David represents this. Hence we see that the priests retired into a secondary place: the king comes forward prominently. So it is said “He left there, before the ark of the covenant of Jehovah, Asaph and his brethren to minister before the ark continually.” The ark, which was the throne of Jehovah in Israel was now in this close connection with the king, more than with the priests. By and by all was ranged round this center, but it was only a provisional state of things.
David's heart is occupied with the glory of the future for Israel (chap. 17,), and he tells the prophet Nathan of the exercise of his spirit. He felt it an egregious thing that he should dwell in a house of cedars while the ark of the covenant of Jehovah was only under curtains. Nathan bids him do all that was in his heart, for God was with him. But Nathan here had not the mind of God. The purpose of David's heart was right, but not the time or way. God had another plan, and this only is good and wise. So Nathan the same night is told by God to go and tell His servant, David, “Thus saith Jehovah, thou shalt not build me a house to dwell in.” It was reserved for Solomon. Nothing, however, can be more touching than Jehovah's message to His servant. He had gone with Israel from tent to tent after He brought them up out of Egypt: He had walked with them, but never had told any of the judges to build Him a house. He had taken David from the lowest position to be ruler over His people Israel. He had been with him everywhere—cut off his enemies, made him a name, ordained a place for His people that there they should dwell and be moved no more; “neither shall the children of wickedness waste them any more as at the beginning, and since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel.” He would subdue all his enemies, but instead of David building the Lord a house, Jehovah was going to build David a house, and till that was done he could not have a house built for Himself. How blessed are the ways of God! He must do all things for us before we can act for Him. David must have a house built for him. That is, the kingdom of Israel must be established firmly and immovably in the house of David, and not till then would Jehovah accept a house to be built by David's son. In fact, Jehovah was looking onward to Christ, and the whole meaning and value of the choice of David's house, and especially Of David's son, was in view of the Messiah.
There is a remarkable omission in this chapter as compared with what we have already seen in Kings, strikingly illustrating the difference between Kings and Chronicles. In Kings Jehovah tells David through the prophet that if his sons should be disobedient He would chastise them, but He would not remove His mercy from them forever. It was not to be exterminating judgment, but chastening mercy. This disappears here. He simply says, “He shall build me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee: but I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom forever: and his throne shall be established for evermore.”
Kings is the book of responsibility, Chronicles of God's providence. This explains, therefore, the omission here of that which is so important in the book of Kings. That book everywhere presents the responsibility of the kings—not so much of the people, but of the kings, and hence, therefore, of David's sons or successors among the race. But inasmuch as the great point of Chronicles is no longer to show the moral government of God, and how truly kings as well as people reap according to their sowing, but rather to show this—that God's plan, God's intention, God's mind alone stands, so all the contingent circumstances of the house of David are left out of Chronicles: only the ultimate thought of God is given.
Now, nothing more certainly will be fulfilled, for God will never give up Israel until He shall have established the throne in the person of the true Son of David, the Lord Jesus. David bows to God, and, as it is said, comes and sits before Jehovah, saying, “Who am I, O Jehovah God, and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? And yet this was a small thing in thine eyes, O God; for thou hast also spoken of thy servant's house for a great while to come.” Indeed He has—as long as the earth shall endure. “And hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree? No wonder, seeing he was the forerunner of Him who will rule the whole earth in a way that has never yet been true of mortal man! “What can David speak more to thee for the honor of thy servant? for thou knowest thy servant.” Those who apply all this to the gospel greatly miss the profit of the passage. It is not but that we are entitled as Christians to take the comfort of the grace of God, or that we are not to rejoice in the glory of our Lord Jesus; but then there is a double mischief done by applying this to the kingdom as we know it under the gospel. First, it hinders us from seeing the deeper glory of the Lord, and our own higher relationship—because we are not mere subjects in a kingdom as the Jews will be even in this time of blessing that is predicted. No doubt we are in the kingdom of God's dear Son, but how? We are kings: we are kings with Christ even now. We are not yet reigning, but we are kings—kings before the reigning takes place. We shall reign with Christ, but meanwhile we are made not more surely priests than kings. “To Him that loveth us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us kings and priests.”
There is the great mistake which is made by those who apply the prediction to the present time, and to the present exaltation of Christ who is sitting as the rejected king in a new glory of which He is the head; and He is the head in order to bring in the grand counsel of God that we shall be His body—not merely subjects over whom He rules. But then there is another mischief that is wrought by the misapplication I have spoken of, and that is that people blot out the future for Israel. They do not see that God maintains that people in His secret providence, although He cannot any longer own them publicly as His people. But He will by and by convert them, restore them, exalt them, as no people ever have been—not even Israel in the times of David and Solomon. Hence we see how what might appear to be a trivial error may be fraught with the worst consequences both as to the present and as to the future.
David then enters into the grandeur of the plans of God, and delights to think not only of His grace towards himself, but also “what one nation in the earth is like thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem to be his own people, to make thee a name of greatness and terribleness, by driving out nations from before thy people, whom thou hast redeemed out of Israel?” Now, it is one quality of what is divine that it does not wear out. What is human does. All the works of men's hands grow old, but not so with what is of God according to new creation—according to Christ. Hence, therefore, the end will be brighter than the beginning; and man's notion of a mere wistful retrospect at a lost paradise is poor comparatively, for what God shows us is a paradise of God that will be the end, and not merely the restoration, of the paradise of man. So with Israel. They will have the kingdom incomparably more blessedly under Christ than under David or Solomon. “Therefore now, Jehovah, let the thing that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant and concerning his house be established forever, and do as thou hast, said. Let it even be established, that thy name may be magnified forever, saying, Jehovah of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel: and let the house of David thy servant be established before thee.”
In the next chapter (18) the Spirit of God shows us the power that was conferred upon David. He smote the Philistines who were the tyrannous enemies of Israel in Saul's day, by whom Saul himself was slain and his family. David smote them and subdued them. He smote Moab, the old enemy, the envious and spiteful against the people. “And the Moabites became David's servants and brought gifts. And David smote Hadarezer king of Zobah unto Hamath.” This power extended beyond those who immediately surrounded. “And when the Syrians of Damascus came to help Hadarezer king of Zobah, David slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men. Then David put garrisons in Syria-damascus; and the Syrians became. David's servants, and brought gifts. Thus Jehovah preserved David whithersoever he went.” Accordingly we find that David dedicates the spoils, the silver and the gold, “from Edom and from Moab, and from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines, and from Amalek.” Nor was it only David, but his servants, on whom God put honor. “So David reigned over all Israel, and executed judgment and justice among all his people,” and had his kingdom duly set out with servants adequate to the work.
In chapter 19, however, we see that there were those who distrusted David's generosity. The children of Ammon could not understand that David should show kindness unto Hanun, the son of Nahash because his father showed kindness to him; and therefore the princes of Ammon, thinking that it was merely a political device, in order to overthrow the land by spying it out, suggest an act of the greatest contempt for David's servants; but this only brought the most grievous retribution upon themselves. No doubt they hired chariots, but it was in vain I and, further, the Syrians were called in, but they were no help. They were put to the worse. Then they tried the Syrians beyond the river. Perhaps they would do better. The Syrians fled before Israel, so much so as to complete the slaughter. “And when the servants of Hadarezer saw that they were put to the worse before Israel, they made peace with David, and became his servants: neither would the Syrians help the children of Ammon any more.”