This section recounts the consolidation of monarchy, priesthood and worship, with David working closely with various categories of Levites and priests to encourage and consolidate the worship of YHWH in Jerusalem. Such partnership was beautiful while it happened, a picture of the unity of worship, shepherding and governance under God that Jesus incarnates. On the second attempt, the Ark of the Covenant is brought to Jerusalem, but only with the proper people (priests and Levites) bringing it the proper way, in keeping with the ways it had been carried through the desert during the Exodus. Such additional features of note to the priesthood, not recounted in the parallel account in II Samuel, is one reason I & II Chronicles stands alongside the earlier books of Samuel and Kings. An important emerging figure in the priesthood is Zadok (15:11; 16:39, et. al), from whom tradition says the Saducees, a priestly class with a spirituality focused only on the Pentateuch, were named, in Jesus’ time. The continuity between David’s and Zadok’s worship and that of Jesus’ First Century contemporaries (and beyond), in spite of the terrible devastation of the Babylonian Captivity, should cause us to marvel. The Chronicler had something to do with that.
The Psalm relayed in Chapter 16 has parts also prayed and recorded in Psalms 96, 105 and 106, giving us a view into the historical development of worship and faith in ancient Israel.
Recorded and repeated are the words of God and David to each other in regards to David’s eternal lineage of kings. Yet, of the three institutions that I and II Chronicles relates—priesthood, kingship and prophesy, kingship is the one that didn’t resume after the Exile (until Jesus).
That David’s adversaries, the Ammonites, would hire mercenaries (Chapter 19) from places east (Aram Naharaim Aram Maakah and Zobah, …as well as …Maakah ), foreshadows the threatening power and presence that would eventually break upon Israel and Judah from Assyria and, later, Babylon.
Chapter 21 introduces a new section, focused on the Temple, how the site was chosen, or specified, and how the people who ministered in it were supported and engaged. Throughout I and II Chronicles, some occasional differences in numbers and name spellings from the books of Samuel and Kings will give us a glimpse into the difficulty of transcribing all the letters of ancient scrolls, through so many generations, and into how careful and accurate the scribes most generally were. In most instances, scholars can see the simple error of transmission, or omission, in one parallel account, and easily resolve the differences. A harder one is the difference between the figures in the census of I Chronicles 21 and 2 Samuel 24. For a more thorough treatment of David’s census and the differences in the accounts between, see this site’s previous reflections on the 2nd Samuel 24 at http://www.emmanuelmennonitechurch.com/category/bible-reading-program/page/2/
A Hymn of Praise for the word and the character of God, it fits with the time period of I Chronicles recounted above, and is one that could have been sung by the priests and the people of David’s and Zadok’s time. At that brief moment, near the height of Israel’s glory and prominence, one could have looked at Israel and said, “ Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance (v. 12).”
Yet the Psalm also looks beyond the kingdom of Israel to the spread of God’s kingdom throughout the world, making some bold statements about the relationship of Israel’s God to all nations of the earth.
And it carries an implicit warning:
“No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save (vv. 16-17).”
Now that “the nation whose God is the Lord” is becoming a global nation of “every tribe, tongue and nation,” but without chariots or war horses (or their modern counterparts), we still confess and pray:
But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine (vv. 18-19).” And thus we pray with David and Zadok, as “a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”