Study Guide

1 Chronicles Loyalty

Loyalty

[Reuben] was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father's bed his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel, so that he is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright; though Judah became prominent among his brothers and a ruler came from him, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph. (1 Chronicles 5:1-2, NRSV) 

[Reuben] was the firstborn; but forasmuch as he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright. For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's. (1 Chronicles 5:1-2, KJV)

Those who stay true to God's rules get nice rewards. Those who don't (like Reuben here) lose all kinds of perks, firstborn or not. The story of God's action in the history of Israel is based on that formula—don't worship other gods or break my commandments or you're on your own. Stick with me and I'll protect you.

The God of Israel stirred up the spirit of King Pul of Assyria, the spirit of King Tilgath-pilneser of Assyria, and he carried them away, namely, the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and brought them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river Gozan, to this day. (1 Chronicles 5:26, NRSV)

The God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day. (1 Chronicles 5:26, KJV)

The exile of the entire Northern Kingdom wasn't caused by the Assyrian Empire. Nope. God did it. The people in that region weren't loyal to them so he shipped them off to become the Ten Lost Tribes. They're still lost. God does not mess around.

Saul died for his unfaithfulness; he was unfaithful to the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord; moreover, he had consulted a medium, seeking guidance, and did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse. (1 Chronicles 10:13-14, NRSV)

So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it; And enquired not of the Lord: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse. (1 Chronicles 10:13-14, KJV)

Harsh. King Saul was disloyal one too many times and God got rid of him. The Chronicler doesn't seem to have much respect or pity for Saul here. The guy's just died in battle—killed himself, in fact—defending Israel from the Philistines. Consulting oracles and spirits is one of God's pet peeves because it's a direct rebuke to his authority.

The following are those who came to David at Ziklag, while he could not move about freely because of Saul son of Kish; they were among the mighty warriors who helped him in war. They were archers, and could shoot arrows and sling stones with either the right hand or the left; they were Benjaminites, Saul's kindred. (1 Chronicles 12:1-2, NRSV)

Now these are they that came to David to Ziklag, while he yet kept himself close because of Saul the son of Kish: and they were among the mighty men, helpers of the war. They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow, even of Saul's brethren of Benjamin. (1 Chronicles 12:1-2, KJV)

Unless David's able to convince some of the folks who are loyal to Saul to come over to his side, he doesn't have much chance of ruling. In this passage, even Saul's own family is jumping ship to swear their allegiance to David. In a nation surrounded by hostile neighbors, it's important to have the loyal backing of all your subjects.

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 […] Then let us bring again the ark of our God to us; for we did not turn to it in the days of Saul." (1 Chronicles 13:2-3, NRSV)

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 bring again the ark of our God to us: for we enquired not at it in the days of Saul. (1 Chronicles 13:2-3, KJV)

A not-so-subtle dig at the late king. Saul left God's house—the Ark of the Covenant—stored away in someone's back room. The comparison is crystal clear. And David says all this in front of the entire nation, insuring that they'll want to be loyal to God as well. They know what happened to Saul.

Now the Philistines had come and made a raid in the valley of Rephaim. David inquired of God, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?" The Lord said to him, "Go up, and I will give them into your hand." So he went up to Baal-perazim, and David defeated them there. David said, "God has burst out against my enemies by my hand, like a bursting flood." Therefore that place is called Baal-perazim. They abandoned their gods there, and at David's command they were burned. Once again the Philistines made a raid in the valley. When David again inquired of God, God said to him, "You shall not go up after them; go around and come on them opposite the balsam trees. When you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then go out to battle; for God has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines." David did as God had commanded him, and they struck down the Philistine army from Gibeon to Gezer. (1 Chronicles 14:9-16, NRSV)

The Philistines came and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim. And David enquired of God, saying, Shall I go up against the Philistines? And wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the Lord said unto him, Go up; for I will deliver them into thine hand. So they came up to Baalperazim; and David smote them there. Then David said, God hath broken in upon mine enemies by mine hand like the breaking forth of waters: therefore they called the name of that place Baalperazim. And when they had left their gods there, David gave a commandment, and they were burned with fire. And the Philistines yet again spread themselves abroad in the valley. Therefore David enquired again of God; and God said unto him, Go not up after them; turn away from them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when thou shalt hear a sound of going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt go out to battle: for God is gone forth before thee to smite the host of the Philistines. David therefore did as God commanded him: and they smote the host of the Philistines from Gibeon even to Gazer. (1 Chronicles 14:9-16, KJV)

David is God's most ardent follower in this book. Even though he's proved himself a killed warrior, he asks God's tactical advice for attacking the Philistines. They're an unbeatable team. This is one of the themes that pervades the story—God and David working in tandem.

Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies before you; and I will make for you a name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall wear them down no more, as they did formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will subdue all your enemies. Moreover I declare to you that the Lord will build you a house. When your days are fulfilled to go to be with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever. (1 Chronicles 17:7-14, NRSV)

Now therefore thus shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, even from following the sheep, that thou shouldest be ruler over my people Israel: And I have been with thee whithersoever thou hast walked, and have cut off all thine enemies from before thee, and have made thee a name like the name of the great men that are in the earth. Also I will ordain a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, and they shall dwell in their place, and shall 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. Moreover I will subdue all thine enemies. Furthermore I tell thee that the Lord will build thee an house. And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me a house, and I will establish his throne for ever. 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 for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore. (1 Chronicles 17:7-14, KJV)

Notice the language: "steadfast" "forever," "evermore." This is a profound promise that David's family is going to rule over Israel eternally as God's faithful people. Since Jesus counted himself as a descendant of King David, Christians take this to mean that God was finally following through with the "eternity" part of his promise through Jesus.

Some time afterward, King Nahash of the Ammonites died, and his son succeeded him. David said, "I will deal loyally with Hanun son of Nahash, for his father dealt loyally with me." So David sent messengers to console him concerning his father. When David's servants came to Hanun in the land of the Ammonites, to console him, the officials of the Ammonites said to Hanun, "Do you think, because David has sent consolers to you, that he is honoring your father? Have not his servants come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land?" So Hanun seized David's servants, shaved them, cut off their garments in the middle at their hips, and sent them away. (1 Chronicles 19:1-4, NRSV)

Now it came to pass after this, that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon died, and his son reigned in his stead. And David said, I will shew kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash, because his father shewed kindness to me. And David sent messengers to comfort him concerning his father. So the servants of David came into the land of the children of Ammon to Hanun, to comfort him. But the princes of the children of Ammon said to Hanun, Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? are not his servants come unto thee for to search, and to overthrow, and to spy out the land? Wherefore Hanun took David's servants, and shaved them, and cut off their garments in the midst hard by their buttocks, and sent them away. (1 Chronicles 19:1-4, KJV)

David's so rock-solid. He's prepared to give the Ammonites a square deal because their late father was kind to him. But the new kid in charge gets some pretty bad advice and humiliates David's team of consolers. The Ammonites learn the penalty for disloyalty pretty quick when Israel crushes them to a pulp.

Satan stood up against Israel, and incited David to count the people of Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, "Go, number Israel, from Beer-sheba to Dan, and bring me a report, so that I may know their number." But Joab said, "May the Lord increase the number of his people a hundredfold! Are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord's servants? Why then should my lord require this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?" But the king's word prevailed against Joab. So Joab departed and went throughout all Israel, and came back to Jerusalem […] But God was displeased with this thing, and he struck Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1-4, 7, NRSV)

Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it. And Joab answered, The Lord make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: But my lord the king, are they not all my lord's servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel? Nevertheless the king's word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem […] And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1-4, 7, KJV)

The one mistake David makes in this book is calling for a census. No one is really sure why God is so wrathful about this, but it could have something to do with the fact that God hadn't requested it. In major matters like a nationwide census, you should consult with the boss first.

And you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve him with single mind and willing heart; for the Lord searches every mind, and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will abandon you forever. Take heed now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary; be strong, and act. (1 Chronicles 28:9-10, NRSV)

And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever. Take heed now; for the Lord hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it. (1 Chronicles 28:9-10, KJV)

David warns his son to stay loyal to God. David has seen in his time that loyalty to God is rewarded. Spoiler alert: that's not exactly how things end up working out.

Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord, succeeding his father David as king; he prospered, and all Israel obeyed him. All the leaders and the mighty warriors, and also all the sons of King David, pledged their allegiance to King Solomon. The Lord highly exalted Solomon in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel. (1 Chronicles 29:23-25, NRSV)

Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord 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 the Lord 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. (1 Chronicles 29:23-25, KJV)

For now, all is well in Israel. The people have sworn their loyalty to Solomon and God is on his side. Fingers crossed that he can keep these good times going.

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