May 6 Reading: I Chronicles 20-22 Commentary
“Now, my son, may the Lord be with you; and may you prosper, and build the house of the Lord your God, as He has said to you. Only may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, and give you charge concerning Israel, that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed.“ (I Chronicles 22:11-13)
I Chronicles 20 – David’s Continued Military Engagements
David’s military battles continue to be discussed in I Chronicles 20. In the first account, Joab led David’s forces against the Ammonites at Rabbah. Joab was victorious and brought all the spoils of the battle to David, including their king’s crown which weighed one talent of gold (about 75 pounds) (vv. 1-2).
This particular campaign occurred in the spring of the year. Additionally, David was not present as a king typically would be. He stayed at Jerusalem (v. 1).
If that sounds familiar, that’s because there is a MASSIVE story arch from II Sam. 11 that is omitted by the chronicler between verses one and two. It’s the story of what happened because David stayed behind in Jerusalem – his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of her husband Uriah. That murder was a setup David orchestrated with Joab to make it look like Uriah died in battle.
This incident was well-known and didn’t need coverage again by the chronicler.
Philistine Giants Go Down
David went to war again against the Philistines at Gezer. Here he met some of the “sons of the giant” who were a race of giants indigenous to the region.
Of these giants was Lahmi, the brother of Goliath the Gittite (v. 5). And there was another unnamed giant six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot (v. 6).
I Chronicles 21 – David’s Ill-Advised Census
What makes David a person we can all relate to? He wasn’t perfect. Despite his close relationship with God – being described as a man after God’s own heart – he still had failings. We have a repeat of the story here from II Sam. 24 when David insisted on taking a census of the nation.
This wouldn’t have been evil in itself. But it seems David’s pride got in the way on this one. So his intentions – or his heart attitude about doing it – was not right.
And clearly here, we see he was being tempted by Satan (v. 1). He was even warned by his commander Joab that there was no need to do this and bring potential evil on the nation (v. 3).
Nevertheless, David’s word prevailed. When the final tally came in from Joab, “All Israel had one million one hundred thousand men who drew the sword, and Judah had four hundred and seventy thousand men who drew the sword” (v. 5). And Joab so detested this task that he did not even count the tribes of Levi or Benjamin (v. 6).
God was displeased with David’s decision. David received word of his sin through the prophet Gad and had a choice to make from three options for God’s judgment. Either God would bring 3 years of famine, 3 months of being defeated by their enemies or 3 days of plague in the land (vv. 11-12).
David’s choice? He decided to fall into the merciful hands of God by choosing the 3 days of plague option.
Sadly, the plague killed 70,000 men throughout the nation. To us that sounds harsh because those men had done nothing wrong. They themselves were innocent of any sin.
But it was the consequence of David’s sin. God mercifully stopped the plague just as his angel was about to stretch out his hand over Jerusalem to destroy it (v. 15). It appears David (and even some elders) even saw this – “the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, having in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem” (v. 16). When David saw the angel, he prayed saying:
“Was it not I who commanded the people to be numbered? I am the one who has sinned and done evil indeed; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, O Lord my God, be against me and my father’s house, but not against Your people that they should be plagued” (v. 17).
At the place where he saw the angel, David made sacrifices to the Lord (vv. 18-26) and the plague stopped (v. 27).
Through it all, David never lost his faith in or ability to trust in God’s plan for his life. That’s great encouragement for us today when we sin. Yes, there may be consequences. But that does not have to alter our relationship with the Lord.
I Chronicles 22 – Preparations for the Temple
David knew that God had prohibited him from building the temple. That task would fall to the nexts king, his son Solomon. But that did not mean David could not make preparations for it.
So he hired masons from the foreigners in the land and made them “cut hewn stones to build the house of God” (v. 2). He also “prepared iron in abundance for the nails of the doors of the gates and for the joints, and bronze in abundance beyond measure, and cedar trees in abundance” (vv. 3-4). All of this and more preparations were done so that Solomon would be ready to move on the build when the time came.
Verse 14 gives us a picture of how far David went with his preparations. He told Solomon he had collected “one hundred thousand talents of gold and one million talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond measure, for it is so abundant.” That is a mind-boggling amount of precious metal when you consider that one talent in the Old Testament equaled about 75 pounds.
David wanted this structure to be something that would bring glory to God among the nations. He said, “the house to be built for the Lord must be exceedingly magnificent, famous and glorious throughout all countries” (v. 5). In his mind, anything worth doing for the kingdom of God should have excellence stamped all over it.
David’s Charge to Solomon
Despite his troubles with one son (Absalom – see II Sam. 13-19), David had clear and direct communication with his son Solomon. He did not want there to be any misunderstanding or confusion about what God wanted when Solomon came to the throne. So he clearly communicated with Solomon what God had told him about the temple and his enduring dynasty (aka the Davidic Covenant (II Sam. 7:8-16).
But more than that information, David encouraged his son. He gave him a charge saying,
“Now, my son, may the Lord be with you; and may you prosper, and build the house of the Lord your God, as He has said to you. Only may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, and give you charge concerning Israel, that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed” (vv. 11-13).
But David’s challenge did not rest with just his son. He implored the leaders of Israel to act themselves and help his son with this task. To them he said:
“Is not the Lord your God with you? And has He not given you rest on every side?…Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God. Therefore arise and build the sanctuary of the Lord God…” (vv. 18-19).
David set the vision for this task. Now it would be up to Solomon and the other leaders to see it through.
Questions to Consider:
Do you find it hard to connect with God when there is sin in your life? Do you experience feelings of guilt and shame when you sin? How do you manage to let go of those powerful feelings and pull yourself back to trusting in the Lord?
There is a cost for everything done in life. The questions to ask about the cost are, “Is it worth it?” and “Are you willing to pay it?”
King David sinned by numbering his army in I Chron. 21. The cost was God’s judgment on the people. The cost to fix his mistake was buying a piece of land where he built an altar to God. All our decisions involve a cost. How do you weigh the good or bad outcome of a decision?
What other points would you want to know about in our I Chronicles 20-22 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.