What a great ending to this book of the Bible. Just to add to the last chapter remember David has called a national assembly so the heads of all the households are gathered and they are hearing what David has to say. What David says is that not only will Solomon build the temple, but that Solomon will also succeed him. This succession actually takes place in this chapter and in this place. It almost seems like after David was finished speaking he hands the reigns over to Solomon and from there Solomon takes the throne. Well, we know that David has to die first and then Solomon takes over, which this chapter condenses in order for us to arrive at the place where Solomon is now in charge.
Notice that David in the beginning of this chapter does two things. First, he tells those gathered, the leaders of the houses of Israel, that Solomon is young and will need the support from everyone who is gathered there. As a sign of their support David asks a second thing. He gives an inventory of all the valuables that the temple already possesses. He then says, and on top of that I am going to contribute of my own free will the following, and a long laundry list of treasures are listed on top of that.
From there he asks if anyone else wants to give a free will offering, and each tribe agrees to it. David is ecstatic that they are willing to give without him forcing them, or taxing them. It was their own free will. But notice that David goes first in order to show an example of what should be done.
As a result of this generosity on behalf of the people David addresses God and blesses the Lord and reminds himself and the people gathered of the truth in what just happened. The truth, David states, is that all that David had, all that any of those gathered had, was actually a gift from God. Nothing that we possess is actually our possession, but rather a possession gifted from God to us.
At a time when David is handing over the throne, is looking at the inventory of all that he has at the end of his life, it is good to remark and to remind ourselves that all that we have comes from the Lord.
David wants to make public now the message that he received from the Lord privately which was that Solomon is the one who will build the temple of the Lord. As David says in this chapter the reason why he was not chosen is because: "You are a warrior and have shed blood." Instead Solomon was chosen to not only build the courts but God is going to make Solomon his son and he will be a father to him. From this time forward we find God wanting and desiring a personal relationship with His people and also wanting His people to desire a personal relationship with Him. This closeness is unmatched in any other religion. We serve a God who loves us and wants us to love Him.
I also find it interesting that David already has all the details worked out and the blueprints are ready to go. Solomon really isn't able to put his own creative spin on what the house of the Lord ought to look like because David and God have already worked it out the way that it ought to be. David also addresses his son Solomon and tells him to be strong and to act. Don't be a withering violet. I think that's a thing, I don't think I just made that up.
I love vs.9 where David states: "The Lord searches every mind, and understands every plan and thought." That ought to provide comfort and consolation for each of us as we look to do God's will and be sure that we are not just doing our own will.
We continue to see how the society of Israel was directed and administered. Here we read at the beginning of the chapter about those who had charge over the military. Notice that David just did a nominal number of counting and did not count those under 20. Remember when God promised Abram that the nation would be more numerous than the sand and could not be counted? As a result God would consistently frown upon an attempt at a census for the people of Israel because it could be interpreted as if the people were trying to check on God to see if God fulfilled the promise. Remember, this was for the nation of Israel, not for us as Americans. God did not give us those promises either as Christians nor as Americans. There is nothing wrong, in fact it is quite helpful, to do a census.
From the military people he moves into describing a multifaceted political state including those who oversaw the agricultural estates. There were storehouses that were run by members of families and that was their specific responsibility. You found those who were responsible for the work of the field, vineyards, olive and sycamore trees, oil, herds, camels, and flocks. It was quite extensive and so every detail mattered and if a detail was left out then inevitably that detail would suffer.
Each function had a different family that would oversee that task and now we find ourselves in the work of the gatekeepers. Remember this is King David who assigned these positions. The gatekeepers were basically sanctuary guards whose tasks included opening the doors of the temple in the morning, taking charge of the flour, wine, spices and oil for sacrifice, as well as other administrative duties that the king might require.
This clear separation of duties allowed there to be treasurers, regional officials and judges. There was a vast empire that had to be controlled and that empire needed a vast number of people who were involved in the duties to which they were assigned. We are getting a peek into the organizational structure of Israel as it took an army of people, both militarily and civilly in order to run the nation. The same is true of a church. We cannot function just as a few individuals offering a few programs and services. The whole body has to pull together.
It is interesting how we have an entire chapter devoted to the musicians of the temple. It is not a new thing to have musicians highly esteemed and valued in the life of the church. The music of the church during worship can and should absolutely move you to a place where you feel as if you are in direct communion with God. It is not a place filler, but it is an opportunity to experience God even more fully. We also need to be aware that the presence of musicians and instruments in the life of the church is not a contemporary phenomenon, but rather a recurring and desired event within the life of the church.
How these musicians were to be incorporated and used in the life of the church was to be decided by the casting of lot, which to me is a bit curious. Since I'm the person who schedules the media folks and other people for the life of the church and normally I do it in a way that is convenient for them and matching their gifts and their skills with our needs. That would seem like a more human way of doing things.
But one could also say the same thing for the calling of pastors. In the Presbyterian system the call process is one where the pastor discerns and decides as well as the church discerning and deciding through interviews and prayers. But there are still churches who discern their pastor through the casting of lots. If the lot falls on the person then they are the one selected to lead the church as the pastor. This is the system that has been used in Biblical times and even in modern times. The more things change the more they stay the same.
We once again are focusing on what it took to run the temple and the people who were put in charge of running the temple. All of these names and responsibilities that were carried out by people within that family were seen back in the day of Aaron. You can see that in vs.19 where we read that this was all "according to the procedure established for them by their ancestor Aaron."
Today, it is actually April 7 today and I am doing a little catch up, I spent a few hours with our clerk of session going over a formulation of by-laws for the church. We don't really have any for our congregation and so we were putting together some so that we can have something in paper that will guide and direct procedure and process. Many times throughout this time we used the phrase: institutional memory to recall that certain things have been done in a certain way in this church even if it is not written down that this is the way that it ought to be done. But it is so important to write it down and to ensure that they are done in a way that is decent and in order.
Our denomination is known for doing things in a way that is supposed to create order and continuity, even if the process isn't completely clear at all times, it ought to be. Here the temple was run in a certain way all the way back to the times of Aaron. There is a certain comfort in knowing that we are involved in the life of the church in a way that is consistent through many generations, even all the way back to 1832.
The temple, even before it was built, needed a group, really a class, of people who would have certain responsibilities over the running of the temple. David chose those who would be ensuring the smooth running of the temple from the family of Levi. It took thousands of them so that they would be officers and judges, others gatekeepers, some were musicians and singers. Think of the logistical energy that went into putting this together.
As we have transitioned to ensuring that we will always have an opportunity to worship online the team of people that we need on Sunday mornings has grown quite a bit. While in the past we could get away with one in the back, now we need at least 3 people for each service, and actually having 4 would be the ideal. If there were one family who would constantly supply us with the people that we needed in order to run the logistics on Sunday morning that would eliminate a lot of anxiety and scheduling. David was able to tap into the family of Levi who: "were to do the work for the service of the house of the Lord."
David really wanted to build the temple to God but God said because he was involved in so many wars, because he had killed so many people, that he was not the right person to build the temple, the house of the Lord. Instead, God promises David that he would have a son and that son would reign over Israel and his reign would be marked by peace. In Hebrew the word for peace is Shalom, and the son's name was Solomon, which is Hebrew is Shelomon. Solomon would provide peace throughout the kingdom.
An offshoot of this peace that has come about because David has consolidated the kingdom and his reign is as far as anyone could have ever imagined, is that Solomon does not have to go into battle and can focus and concentrate on building the house of the Lord, which is the temple. David did a lot of the background work and provides vessels and other things, craftsmen etc. in order to equip the temple exactly as it ought to be. It gets better as we move forward.
The flawed character of David reveals itself again, but this time in a way that is a bit puzzling. David conducts a census, and this was not something that God wanted him to do, at all! Did you notice how God chose to punish David? He gave him a choice, almost like you get to pick between three really bad punishments. 1 - Famine for three years, 2 - three months of devastation from your foes, 3 - three days of pestilence by the hand of the sword of the Lord.
David's answer was one where he did not want to be subject to other people so he chooses the three days of pestilence at the hand of the Lord. The angel of the Lord arrives at Jerusalem and is about to destroy the city when David intervenes and requests that he be given a chance to speak on behalf of his people. God requires him to go to the same place where the ark of the covenant had one time been stored, the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, and give an offering there. David does and God relents and repents from the destruction of Jerusalem.
God answers this prayer and David is left with a fear of approaching the Lord because he knows how flawed he is. You see, we have a very different perspective, and that is that we actually approach the Lord because we are flawed. We don't stay away because we are flawed but we approach due to that sin specifically.
This might seem a bit random. But when we are talking about giants in this chapter, I have to give you a clip of one of my favorite giants, Shrek! There are some familiar names in this account that we should be able to follow. If you want to look at David's defeat of Goliath you can go to I Samuel 17:4. Here we see that Golitah's brother is defeated by one of David's soldiers, Elhanan, vs.5. You probably want an answer to the question about...giants? It really is one of those things that we cannot explain. I know nothing about modern day giants. I don't know how to explain it away. I have no reason to believe that the Bible is wrong so if it says that there were giants living thousands of years ago, okay, I'll believe it. Why would I not? I can't prove it scientifically, nor do I believe that it is important to prove it at all.
Don't you love how this chapter begins? Spring is the time that kings go out to battle. Now I'm pretty sure that this doesn't apply to my brothers and I who are going to be meeting in April to battle it out in the first annual Bronkema Olympics. We aren't kings, and the battle that we are doing really doesn't have anything to do with what David and his generals were doing.
Will you also notice that David did take people and enslave them, adding another layer to his flawed character. You can see that in vs.3, and it says that he did this to all the nations that he conquered, and there were quite a few.