Study Guide

1 Chronicles Community

Community

Adam, Seth, Enosh; Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared; Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech; Noah, Shem[…] Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah; Eber, Peleg, Reu; Serug, Nahor, Terah; Abram, that is, Abraham[…] Abraham became the father of Isaac. The sons of Isaac: Esau and Israel […] These are the sons of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. (1 Chronicles 1:1-4, 24-27, 34, 2:1-2, NRSV)

Adam, Sheth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalaleel, Jered, Henoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth[…] Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, Abram; the same is Abraham[…] And Abraham begat Isaac. The sons of Isaac; Esau and Israel […] These are the sons of Israel; Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, and Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. (1 Chronicles 1:1-4, 24-27, 34, 2:1-2, KJV)

Okay, that's a lot of names, but it makes a point: every single person in the community came from the same place—Adam and, by extension, God. This sets the tone for a story of a unified community with a common heritage. Whenever people today want to encourage global peace and cooperation, they often refer to our common ancestry as justification for why we should care about humanity in general.

Then all Israel gathered together to David at Hebron and said, "See, we are your bone and flesh. For some time now, even while Saul was king, it was you who commanded the army of Israel. The Lord your God said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over my people Israel." So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord. And they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord by Samuel […] All these, warriors arrayed in battle order, came to Hebron with full intent to make David king over all Israel; likewise all the rest of Israel were of a single mind to make David king. (1 Chronicles 11:1-3, 12:38, NRSV)

Then all Israel gathered themselves to David unto Hebron, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh. And moreover in time past, even when Saul was king, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the Lord thy God said unto thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be ruler over my people Israel. Therefore came all the elders of Israel to the king to Hebron; and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the Lord; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord by Samuel […] All these men of war, that could keep rank, came with a perfect heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel: and all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king. (1 Chronicles 11:1-3, 12:38, KJV)

Everyone seems to love the new king. (Of course, if you read 2 Samuel that's not exactly how it all went down.) The point here is that the whole community is united behind David on the force of his leadership skills. They recognized that even when Saul was king, David was the more effective leader. They were just waiting for him to step into the role. Terms like "all Israel" appear frequently in this account.

David consulted with the commanders of the thousands and of the hundreds, with every leader. David said to the whole assembly of Israel, "If it seems good to you, and if it is the will of the Lord our God, let us send abroad to our kindred who remain in all the land of Israel, including the priests and Levites in the cities that have pasture lands, that they may come together to us. Then let us bring again the ark of our God to us; for we did not turn to it in the days of Saul." The whole assembly agreed to do so for the thing pleased all the people. (1 Chronicles 13:1-4, NRSV)

David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. And David said unto all the congregation of Israel, If it seem good unto you, and that it be of the Lord our God, let us send abroad unto our brethren every where, that are left in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites which are in their cities and suburbs, that they may gather themselves unto us: And let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we enquired not at it in the days of Saul. And all the congregation said that they would do so: for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people. (1 Chronicles 13:1-4, KJV)

David may be king, but he still asks for input from the whole community. It's a smart move for any leader to figure out the will of the people and David is a master at this technique. The ark project proves to be hugely popular—the description of the people carrying the ark with David singing and dancing at the head of the assembly is really vivid. You can almost hear the music.

They brought in the ark of God, and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and they offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before God. When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord; and he distributed to every person in Israel—man and woman alike—to each a loaf of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. (1 Chronicles 16:1-3, NRSV)

So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it: and they offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings before God. And when David had made an end of offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord. And he dealt to every one of Israel, both man and woman, to every one a loaf of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine. (1 Chronicles 16:1-3, KJV)

David, always a man of the people, gives out free food to celebrate the ark's arrival at the tent of God. Wine, meat, bread and raisin cake for everyone—a genius PR move. Food is always a great motivator as the folks at Google figured out a long time ago.

O offspring of his servant Israel, children of Jacob, his chosen ones. He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth. Remember his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, "To you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance." When they were few in number, of little account, and strangers in the land, wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people, he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, saying, "Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm." (1 Chronicles 16:13-22, NRSV)

O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones. He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth. Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations; Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac; And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant, Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance; When ye were but few, even a few, and strangers in it. And when they went from nation to nation, and from one kingdom to another people; He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes, Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm. (1 Chronicles 16:13-22, KJV)

This section of David's psalm is all about reminding the people who they are. They're a community that's anchored in God. He's given them his protection throughout the years and now they owe him their devotion. This is a powerful community-building exercise as it looks at their shared past and makes everyone grateful to be part of this group.

Who is like your people Israel, one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making for yourself a name for great and terrible things, in driving out nations before your people whom you redeemed from Egypt? And you made your people Israel to be your people forever; and you, O Lord, became their God. (1 Chronicles 17:21-22, NRSV)

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 Egypt? For thy people Israel didst thou make thine own people for ever; and thou, Lord, becamest their God. (1 Chronicles 17:21-22, KJV)

David continues reminding everyone of how lucky they should feel to be part of the nation. Hearing this, we'd guess that nobody wanted to move to Syria or Egypt. Real estate prices there were through the roof, anyway.

Then David said to Gad, "I am in great distress; let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is very great; but let me not fall into human hands." So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel; and seventy thousand persons fell in Israel. And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. (1 Chronicles 21:13-15, NRSV)

David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the Lord; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man. So the Lord sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men. And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it. (1 Chronicles 21:13-15, KJV)

The people of Israel share good times together and bad. When David makes a bad choice, everyone has to suffer for it. David doesn't really think that's fair, but this is kind of the way that God has been working since the beginning of time. Individual sin can affect the entire community. But as a good leader, David takes responsibility for the situation and people know it.

David also commanded all the leaders of Israel to help his son Solomon, saying, "Is not the Lord your God with you? Has he not given you peace on every side? For he has delivered the inhabitants of the land into my hand; and the land is subdued before the Lord and his people. Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God. Go and build the sanctuary of the Lord God so that the ark of the covenant of the Lord and the holy vessels of God may be brought into a house built for the name of the Lord." (1 Chronicles 22:17-19, NRSV)

David also commanded all the princes of Israel to help Solomon his son, saying, Is not the Lord your God with you? and hath he not given you rest on every side? for he hath given the inhabitants of the land into mine hand; and the land is subdued before the Lord, and before his people. Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God; arise therefore, and build ye the sanctuary of the Lord God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and the holy vessels of God, into the house that is to be built to the name of the Lord. (1 Chronicles 22:17-19, KJV)

David calls on the people's sense of communal obligation. He knows he won't be around forever and wants to make sure that the nation continues to be united after he's gone. They need to help Solomon because Solomon is the king God picked. God has been good to them and they need to follow through with their end of the bargain. And build a really fabulous temple while they're at it—this will be another shared project.

"Who then will offer willingly, consecrating themselves today to the Lord?" Then the leaders of ancestral houses made their freewill offerings, as did also the leaders of the tribes, the commanders of the thousands and of the hundreds, and the officers over the king's work. They gave for the service of the house of God five thousand talents and ten thousand darics of gold, ten thousand talents of silver, eighteen thousand talents of bronze, and one hundred thousand talents of iron. Whoever had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the house of the Lord, into the care of Jehiel the Gershonite. Then the people rejoiced because these had given willingly, for with single mind they had offered freely to the Lord; King David also rejoiced greatly. (1 Chronicles 29:5-9, NRSV)

Who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord? 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 the Lord, by the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite. Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy. (1 Chronicles 29:5-9, KJV)

But the Temple isn't just David's pet project. He gets all the plans together, but it's the donations from the people that really make it possible. That makes the Temple a communal monument to God, not just one king's vision. You can see that the people feel really great about being able to do this. There's rejoicing all around. You know that feeling that comes with donation to a good cause.

But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to make this freewill offering? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are aliens and transients before you, as were all our ancestors; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope. O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you search the heart, and take pleasure in uprightness; in the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our ancestors, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. (1 Chronicles 29:14-18, NRSV)

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. O Lord our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own. I know also my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee. O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee. (1 Chronicles 29:14-18, KJV)

David prays for the whole community. He's grateful that the people have given generously and he's got God to thank for that. After all, if God hadn't made a covenant with Abraham, led the Israelites out of slavery, and gave them this land, none of them would be here. The community that prays together stays together. And the leader that extols his people to the Almighty gets their loyalty.

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