1 Chronicles 12 - David’s Army
“Every word of this chapter carries the mind on to great David’s greater Son, and the men He gathers about Him.” (G. Campbell Morgan)
A. The devotion of David’s army.
1. (1-2) Even the Benjaminites, the tribal relatives of Saul, come to David.
Now these were the men who came to David at Ziklag while he was still a fugitive from Saul the son of Kish; and they were among the mighty men, helpers in the war, armed with bows, using both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows with the bow. They were of Benjamin, Saul’s brethren.
a. Now these were the men who came to David at Ziklag: David’s time in Ziklag is described in 1 Samuel 27 and 30. This was a time when David lived in the territory of the Philistines to escape the murderous pursuit of King Saul.
b. They were among the mighty men, helpers in the war, armed with bows, using both the right hand and the left: During David’s time in Ziklag, certain mighty warriors came and expressed their allegiance to David and his cause. This was especially remarkable because they were of Benjamin, Saul’s brethren and therefore had much to gain from Saul’s continued reign. They chose David over Saul because they knew that God was with David.
i. Judges 3:15 and 20:16 make special notice of left handed warriors; how much more if the soldiers can use both the right hand and the left!
2. (3-15) David’s diverse army.
The chief was Ahiezer, then Joash, the sons of Shemaah the Gibeathite; Jeziel and Pelet the sons of Azmaveth; Berachah, and Jehu the Anathothite; Ishmaiah the Gibeonite, a mighty man among the thirty, and over the thirty; Jeremiah, Jahaziel, Johanan, and Jozabad the Gederathite; Eluzai, Jerimoth, Bealiah, Shemariah, and Shephatiah the Haruphite; Elkanah, Jisshiah, Azarel, Joezer, and Jashobeam, the Korahites; and Joelah and Zebadiah the sons of Jeroham of Gedor. Some Gadites joined David at the stronghold in the wilderness, mighty men of valor, men trained for battle, who could handle shield and spear, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as gazelles on the mountains: Ezer the first, Obadiah the second, Eliab the third, Mishmannah the fourth, Jeremiah the fifth, Attai the sixth, Eliel the seventh, Johanan the eighth, Elzabad the ninth, Jeremiah the tenth, and Machbanai the eleventh. These were from the sons of Gad, captains of the army; the least was over a hundred, and the greatest was over a thousand. These are the ones who crossed the Jordan in the first month, when it had overflowed all its banks; and they put to flight all those in the valleys, to the east and to the west.
a. A mighty man among the thirty, and over the thirty: As mentioned in the previous chapter, David’s army seemed to be organized in groups of thirty or the leaders of thirty. In the same way, a Roman centurion was supposedly a leader of one hundred soldiers.
i. “Certainly ‘Thirty’ is not to be understood in precise numerical terms, as the lists demonstrate, and either is a rather elastic number, or refers to a special kind of military leader. The word ‘Thirty’ may in fact mean an officer of some kind, either an ‘officer of the third rank’ or a member of a special three-man squad directly answerable to the king.” (Selman)
b. Mighty men of valor, men trained for battle, who could handle shield and spear, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as gazelles on the mountains: These Gadites were impressive soldiers.
· Mighty men of valor: They were men of courage and of a warrior spirit.
· Men trained for battle: They were men who paitently received the training they needed to be mighty warriors.
· Who could handle shield and spear: They were men who were skilled in the use of their essential weapons (both defensive and offensive), with skill gained from their training.
· Whose faces were like the faces of lions: They had the calm demeanor of men who were confident in God; they had the countenance of fierce and calm warriors. “Undaunted, fierce, and terrible to their enemies. They durst look death itself in the face upon great adventures in the field.” (Trapp)
· And were as swift as gazelles on the mountains: They were mobile, active men, ready to fight wherever they were needed.
i. “The grace God can make us like them. The grace of God can make us brave as lions, so that, wherever we are, we can hold our own, or rather can hold our Lord’s truth, and never blush nor be ashamed to speak a good word for him at all times. He can make us quick and active too, so that we shall be like the roes upon the mountains.” (Spurgeon)
c. These are the ones who crossed the Jordan in the first month, when it had overflowed all its banks: As an example of the might of these men, the Chronicler records an instance when these brave warriors crossed the Jordan at a dangerous time (Joshua 3:15 and 4:18).
i. Adam Clarke on the first month: “Perhaps this was the month Nisan, which answers to a part of our March and April. This was probably before the snows on the mountains were melted, just as Jordan began to overflow its banks, it made their attempt more hazardous, and afforded additional proof of their heroism.”
ii. “These Gadites likewise furnish us with a noble example of strong devotion. When the eleven men determined to join David, they were living the other side of a deep river, which at that season of the year had overflowed its banks, so that it was extremely deep and broad. But they were not to be kept from joining David, when he wanted them, by the river. They swam through the river that they might come to David.” (Spurgeon)
3. (16-22) David receives loyal soldiers at Ziklag.
Then some of the sons of Benjamin and Judah came to David at the stronghold. And David went out to meet them, and answered and said to them, “If you have come peaceably to me to help me, my heart will be united with you; but if to betray me to my enemies, since there is no wrong in my hands, may the God of our fathers look and bring judgment.” Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, chief of the captains, and he said: “We are yours, O David; we are on your side, O son of Jesse! Peace, peace to you, and peace to your helpers! For your God helps you.” So David received them, and made them captains of the troop. And some from Manasseh defected to David when he was going with the Philistines to battle against Saul; but they did not help them, for the lords of the Philistines sent him away by agreement, saying, “He may defect to his master Saul and endanger our heads.” When he went to Ziklag, those of Manasseh who defected to him were Adnah, Jozabad, Jediael, Michael, Jozabad, Elihu, and Zillethai, captains of the thousands who were from Manasseh. And they helped David against the bands of raiders, for they were all mighty men of valor, and they were captains in the army. For at that time they came to David day by day to help him, until it was a great army, like the army of God.
a. And David went out to meet them: This shows both David’s large heart and his trust in God. He received these soldiers whom he had some reason to suspect. In his words to the sons of Benjamin, he appealed to God for wisdom and righteousness.
b. Then the Spirit came upon Amasai: Literally, this “The Spirit clothed Amasai.” This Old Testament phrase is only used Judges 6:34 and 2 Chronicles 34:20, but it may have been in the mind of Jesus when He promised that His followers would be clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49).
i. “Amasai might be identified with Amasa, Absalom’s army commander who was later reinstated by David (2 Samuel 19:13).” (Selman)
c. For your God helps you: Whatever the sons of Benjamin knew about David, they knew that God helped David. This made them want to follow him.
i. “We have observed God’s singular and gracious care of thee, and kindness to thee, and if we should oppose thee, we should be fighters against God and his word and providence.” (Poole)
d. The lords of the Philistines sent him away by agreement: During his time in Ziklag, David attempted to fight with the Philistines against Saul and the army of Israel. The Philistine lords, fearing that David planned to defect to his master Saul, refused to allow David and his mighty men to fight in the battle (1 Samuel 27).
e. Until it was a great army, like the army of God: Under the hand of God and His servant David, these mighty men – who began as disaffected people with no where else to go (1 Samuel 22:1-2) – developed into an amazing force. David and his mighty men needed each other and were each nothing without the other.
B. The royal army at Hebron.
1. (23-37) The army of the tribes of Israel.
Now these were the numbers of the divisions that were equipped for war, and came to David at Hebron to turn over the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the LORD: of the sons of Judah bearing shield and spear, six thousand eight hundred armed for war; of the sons of Simeon, mighty men of valor fit for war, seven thousand one hundred; of the sons of Levi four thousand six hundred; Jehoiada, the leader of the Aaronites, and with him three thousand seven hundred; Zadok, a young man, a valiant warrior, and from his father’s house twenty-two captains; of the sons of Benjamin, relatives of Saul, three thousand (until then the greatest part of them had remained loyal to the house of Saul); of the sons of Ephraim twenty thousand eight hundred, mighty men of valor, famous men throughout their father’s house; of the half-tribe of Manasseh eighteen thousand, who were designated by name to come and make David king; of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command; of Zebulun there were fifty thousand who went out to battle, expert in war with all weapons of war, stouthearted men who could keep ranks; of Naphtali one thousand captains, and with them thirty-seven thousand with shield and spear; of the Danites who could keep battle formation, twenty-eight thousand six hundred; of Asher, those who could go out to war, able to keep battle formation, forty thousand; of the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, from the other side of the Jordan, one hundred and twenty thousand armed for battle with every kind of weapon of war.
a. Of the sons of Levi four thousand six hundred: Some think that the Levites were prohibited from going to war, but this is not specifically stated. Numbers 1:47-53 says that in that census they were not to be counted among the other tribes when the men ready for war were numbered, but it does not say that they could never fight for Israel.
i. “The Levites were never prohibited from engaging in the military activity, despite their religious duties.” (Selman)
b. The sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do: Some ancient traditions attribute this understanding of the times to skill in astrology, yet there is no foundation for this speculation. Instead, we should simply see that these sons of Issachar were men who supported King Saul up until the right time, and at the right time gave their support to David.
i. “And particularly they showed this point of their wisdom at this time; for as they had adhered to Saul whilst he lived, as knowing the time was not yet come for David to take possession of the kingdom.” (Poole)
ii. “Such as well knew what was to be done, and when to do it, by a singular sagacity, gotten by long experience, rather than by skill astrology.” (Trapp)
c. Stouthearted men who could keep ranks: The idea behind the word stouthearted is that these were men of a single or whole heart in their devotion to King David. This is reflected in several other translations:
· They were not of double heart (KJV)
· To help David with undivided loyalty (NIV)
· Helped David with an undivided heart (NASB)
· Completely loyal to David (NLT)
i. “We read in verse 33 of Zebulon, whose warriors were not of a double heart; the margin says that they were ‘without a heart and a heart.’ The double-minded man is unstable in all his ways; he is not to be relied upon in his loyalty or service to his king.” (Meyer)
ii. Because they were completely committed to their king, they could also keep ranks – that is, they stayed tight in their formations even under the heat of battle. Their single devotion to their king made them able to stay together as a single unit.
iii. “Too many like to break the ranks, and do God’s work independently. Fifty men who act together will do greater execution than five hundred acting apart. . . . Unity is strength; and in their efforts to overthrow the kingdom of Satan it is most essential that the soldiers of Christ move in rank and keep step.” (Meyer)
2. (38-40) Their great support of Israel’s great king
All these men of war, who could keep ranks, came to Hebron with a loyal heart, to make David king over all Israel; and all the rest of Israel were of one mind to make David king. And they were there with David three days, eating and drinking, for their brethren had prepared for them. Moreover those who were near to them, from as far away as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, were bringing food on donkeys and camels, on mules and oxen; provisions of flour and cakes of figs and cakes of raisins, wine and oil and oxen and sheep abundantly, for there was joy in Israel.
a. To make David king over Israel: This celebration came late (some seven years after the death of Saul), but it did come. The people of God together recognized David as their king. Significantly, David would not force his reign upon the people; he waited until they were willing to make David king over Israel.
i. “From the whole it appears most evident that the great majority of the tribes of Israel wished to see the kingdom confirmed in the hands of David; nor was there ever in any country a man more worthy of the public choice.” (Clarke)
b. For there was joy in Israel: Receiving their rightful and anointed king brought joy to Israel.
i. “The paragraph as a whole, however, shows that the people of God are the real heroes of the chapter. Those Israelites exemplify the principle that when God’s people become committed to one another in obedience service to God’s chosen king, they find both unity and joy.” (Selman)
ii. “The enthroning of David was the uniting of the kingdom. Herein is the secret of the unity of the Church. We shall never secure it by endeavouring to bring about an unity in thought, or act, or organization. It is as each individual heart enthrones the Saviour that each will become one with all kindred souls in the everlasting kingdom.” (Meyer)
1 Chronicles 13 – King David Brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem
A. The attempt to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem.
1. (1-4) The plan to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem.
Then David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. And David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you, and if it is of the LORD our God, let us send out to our brethren everywhere who are left in all the land of Israel, and with them to the priests and Levites who are in their cities and their common-lands, that they may gather together to us; and let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we have not inquired at it since the days of Saul.” Then all the assembly said that they would do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.
a. David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader: Notably, the text does not say that David consulted with the LORD. A group of godly men with good intention would soon make a significant mistake because they took counsel with each other, but not with the LORD.
i. Payne on to our brethren everywhere who are left: “Literally ‘our brothers that are left.’ This may reflect something of the seriousness of the third major Philistine oppression against Israel, 1010-1003 B.C., which David had just broken (2 Samuel 5:20, 25).”
b. Let us bring the ark of our God back to us: This was the ark of the covenant, which God commanded Moses to make more than 400 years before David’s time. It was a wood box (the word ark means “box” or “chest”) completely covered with gold and with an ornate gold lid or top known as the mercy seat.
i. The ark of our God was 3 feet 9 inches long, 2 feet 3 inches wide and 2 feet 3 inches high. In it were the tablets of the law that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai, a jar of manna, and the Aaron’s rod that miraculously budded as a confirmation of his leadership.
ii. The ark of our God had come back from the land of the Philistines some 70 years before this (1 Samuel 7:1). In those years tt sat at the house of Abinadab, but now David and the people wanted to bring it back to the center of the national consciousness.
c. For the thing was right in the eyes of all the people: The idea of bringing the ark of the covenant back to the center of Israel’s consciousness was good; their method of bringing it would soon be exposed as faulty.
i. It was good for both David and for the Israelites to have the ark in Jerusalem. “He knew that not he, but Jehovah, was their true King. His own rule must depend upon the will and counsel of God. This it was not only necessary for him to know, the fact must be recognized by the people.” (Morgan)
2. (5-8) The procession of the ark from Kirath Jearim.
So David gathered all Israel together, from Shihor in Egypt to as far as the entrance of Hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kirjath Jearim. And David and all Israel went up to Baalah, to Kirjath Jearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God the LORD, who dwells between the cherubim, where His name is proclaimed. So they carried the ark of God on a new cart from the house of Abinadab, and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart. Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets.
a. To bring up from there the ark of God the LORD, who dwells between the cherubim, where His name is proclaimed: The ark of God represented the immediate presence and glory of God in Israel. David considered it a high priority to bring the ark out of obscurity and back into prominence. David wanted Israel to be alive with a sense of the near presence and glory of God.
b. So they carried the ark of God on a new cart: Transporting the ark on a cart was against God’s specific command. The ark was designed to be carried (Exodus 25:12-15) and was only to be carried by Levites of the family of Koath (Numbers 4:15).
i. “There it was expressly ordained that the Ark should be carried on the shoulders of the priests, because the cause of God must proceed through the world by the means of consecrated men, rather than by mechanical instrumentality.” (Meyer)
ii. We can imagine what these men thought. “Look - we have a new cart for the ark of God. God will be very pleased at our fancy new cart.” They thought that a new technology or luxury could cover over their ignorant disobedience.
iii. “The long neglect of the Ark may have rendered these men unfamiliar with the very explicit commands concerning the method of its removal. Or they may have grown careless at to the importance of attending to such details.” (Morgan)
iv. The Philistines transported the ark on a cart in 1 Samuel 6:10-11. They got away with it because they were Philistines, but God expected more from His people. Israel was to take their example from God’s Word, not from the innovations of the Philistines. “Israel got into difficulties because they failed to recognize that worship of the true God meant they could no longer simply follow contemporary pagan practices.” (Selman)
c. Uzza and Ahio drove the new cart: The meaning of the names of these sons of Abinadab paint a meaningful picture. Uzza means “strength” and Ahio means “friendly.”
i. Much service for the LORD is like this - a new cart, a big production, with strength leading and friendly out front - yet all done without inquiring of God or looking to His will. Surely David prayed for God’s blessing on this big production, but he didn’t inquire of God regarding the production itself. This was a good thing done the wrong way.
d. Then David and all Israel played music before God: Judging from the importance of the occasion and all the instruments mentioned, this was quite a production. The atmosphere was joyful, exciting, and engaging. The problem was that none of it pleased God because it was all in disobedience to His word.
i. We are often tempted to judge a worship experience by how it makes us feel. But when we realize that worship is about pleasing God, we are driven to His word so we can know how He wants to be worshipped.
ii. “If you read the story through, you will see that it appears to be an affair of singing, and harps, and psalteries, and timbrels, and cymbals, and trumpets, and of a new cart and cattle; that is about all there is in it. There is not even a mention of humiliation of heart, or of solemn awe in the presence of that God of whom the ark was but the outward symbol. I am afraid that this first attempt was too much after the will of the Flesh, and the energy of nature.” (Spurgeon)
B. The death of Uzza and its aftermath.
1. (9-11) Uzza touches the ark and is killed in judgment.
And when they came to Chidon’s threshing floor, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzza, and He struck him because he put his hand to the ark; and he died there before God. And David became angry because of the Lord’s outbreak against Uzza; therefore that place is called Perez Uzza to this day.
a. When they came to Chidon’s threshing floor: At a threshing floor the whole stalks of wheat are gathered and the chaff is separated from the wheat. There was a lot of chaff in this production, and God would blow away the chaff at Chidon’s threshing floor.
b. Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark: This was strictly forbidden. Regarding the transporting of the ark Numbers 4:15 says, they shall not touch any holy thing lest they die. He did it because the oxen stumbled (perhaps seeing the grain on the threshing floor) and he feared that perhaps the ark might fall of the new cart and crash to the ground. He believed that his hand on the ark was better than the ark on the ground.
i. Uzza made a decision in a moment to disregard God’s command and do what seemed right to him. This shows us that even our decisions made in a moment matter before God.
c. He struck him because he put his hand to the ark: God fulfilled the ominous promise of Numbers 4:15 and struck Uzza. David wanted Israel to know the presence of the LORD and God showed up at Chidon’s threshing floor - but not in the way anyone wanted.
i. The sin of Uzza was more than just a reflex action or instinct. God struck Uzza because his action was based upon critical errors in his thinking.
· Uzza erred in thinking it didn’t matter who transported the ark.
· Uzza erred in thinking it didn’t matter how the ark was transported.
· Uzza erred in thinking he knew all about the ark because it was in his father’s house for so long (2 Samuel 6:3)
· Uzza erred in thinking that God couldn’t take care of the ark of Himself.
· Uzza erred in thinking that the ground of Chidon’s threshing floor was less holy than his own hand.
ii. “He saw no difference between the ark and any other valuable article. His intention to help was right enough; but there was a profound insensibility to the awful sacredness of the ark, on which even its Levitical bearers were forbidden to lay hands.” (Maclaren)
d. David became angry because of the Lord’s outbreak: David’s anger was based in confusion. He couldn’t understand why his good intentions weren’t enough. God is concerned with both our intentions and our actions.
3. (12-14) David’s fear and God’s blessing on Obed-Edom’s house.
David was afraid of God that day, saying, “How can I bring the ark of God to me?” So David would not move the ark with him into the City of David, but took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house three months. And the LORD blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that he had.
a. David was afraid of God that day: He did not need to be afraid of God, but afraid of his own sin. There was no problem with God or with the ark itself (as the blessing on the hose of Obed-Edom demonstrated). The problem was with the lack of knowledge and obedience on the part of David and those who helped him plan the entrance of the ark into Jerusalem.
i. “If Chronicles’ readers wanted Israel’s former glories restored, they too must reckon with a God whose dynamic holiness could not be contained within human limitations.” (Selman)
b. How can I bring the ark of God to me? David knew it was important to bring the ark of God into the center of Israel’s life. He wanted all Israel to be excited about the presence and glory of God. Because of what happened to Uzza, David felt he couldn’t do what God wanted him to do.
i. David’s response in the following chapter shows that he found the answer to his question. He answered the question with the thought later expressed in Isaiah 8:20: To the law and to the testimony! David found the answer in God’s word.
ii. The whole account reinforces the principle that God is interested in the process as well as in the outcome. It would never do for David or Israel to have the attitude, “As long as we get the ark to Jerusalem, it doesn’t matter how we do it.” How they did it really did matter, and how we do things today (especially in serving God) also matters.
c. Took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom: David did this in fulfillment of God’s word. Obed-Edom was a Levite of the family of Koath (1 Chronicles 26:4). This was the family within the tribe of Levi that God commanded to transport and take care of the ark (Numbers 4:15).
d. And the LORD blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that he had: When God’s Word was obeyed and His holiness was respected blessing followed. God wanted the ark to be a blessing for Israel, not a curse. We might say that the curse didn’t come from God’s heart but from man’s disobedience.
i. Selman believes that the name Obed-Edom the Gittite means that he was from Gath, and the blessing on his house is therefore an example of the undeserved blessing of God, with the Lord displaying His grace to both Obed-Edom and to David. However, it seems better to take the observation of Adam Clarke: “That this man was only a sojourner at Gath, whence he was termed a Gittite, and that he was originally a Levite, is evident from 1 Chronicles 15:17-18.”
1 Chronicles 14 - David’s Throne Is Secured At Jerusalem
A. David’s home in Jerusalem.
1. (1-2) The royal palace of David.
Now Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, with masons and carpenters, to build him a house. So David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel, for his kingdom was highly exalted for the sake of His people Israel.
a. To build him a house: This shows David’s influence and importance. Neighboring kings honor him with the finest craftsmen and wood to build him a palace. This relationship with Hiram king of Tyre also shows that David was more than a man of war. He knew how to build important political alliances.
b. So David knew: David knew two things that made his reign great. Every godly leader should know these two things well.
· David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel: David knew that God called him and established him over Israel.
· His kingdom was highly exalted for the sake of His people Israel: David knew God wanted to use him as a channel to bless His people. It was not for David’s sake that he was lifted up, but for the sake of His people Israel.
2. (3-7) The sons born to David in Jerusalem.
Then David took more wives in Jerusalem, and David begot more sons and daughters. And these are the names of his children whom he had in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua, Elpelet, Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Beeliada, and Eliphelet.
a. David took more wives: This was in direct disobedience to Deuteronomy 17:17: Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away. 2 Samuel 5:13 tells us that David also took more concubines when he lived in Jerusalem.
i. Chronicles makes no mention of David’s sin with Bathsheba, but after the murder of her husband she was one of the more wives that David added to his household in Jerusalem.
ii. “That David took ‘more wives’ was a historical fact but a moral failure, directly contrary to the law . . . This sin led to a whole series of disasters later on.” (Payne)
b. David begot more sons and daughters: Certainly David (and everyone else) saw these many children as God’s sign of blessing upon David and his many wives. Yet most of the trouble to come in David’s life comes from his relationship with women and from his children.
i. It is often true that the seeds to our future trouble are sown in times of great success and prosperity. In some ways, David handled trials better than success.
B. Victory over the Philistines.
1. (8-10) David seeks God in battle against the Philistines at the Valley of Rephaim.
Now when the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over all Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. And David heard of it and went out against them. Then the Philistines went and made a raid on the Valley of Rephaim. And David inquired of God, saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?” And the LORD said to him, “Go up, for I will deliver them into your hand.”
a. All the Philistines went up to search for David: David’s success brought new challenges from the outside. As God worked mightily in David’s life, the devil also got to work and brought opposition against David.
i. “The Valley of Rephaim lay southwest of Jerusalem and formed part of the boundary between Judah and Benjamin (Joshua 15:8). It may correspond to the ‘Valley of Baca’ (Psalm 84:6), due to the balsam trees that were there (1 Chronicles 14:14-15). These are named, literally, ‘weepers’ because of their drops of milky sap.” (Payne)
b. David inquired of God: As David sought God and looked to Him for guidance he was blessed. God honored David’s dependence on Him and gave him the promise of victory.
2. (11-12) David defeats the Philistines at Baal Perazim.
So they went up to Baal Perazim, and David defeated them there. Then David said, “God has broken through my enemies by my hand like a breakthrough of water.” Therefore they called the name of that place Baal Perazim. And when they left their gods there, David gave a commandment, and they were burned with fire.
a. God has broken through my enemies: At the battle of Baal Perazim David defeated the Philistines with an overwhelming force, like a breakthrough of water.
i. “God’s ‘breakout’ in judgment (1 Chronicles 13:9-12) now becomes a ‘breakout’ in blessing for Israel as well as for Obed-Edom’s household.” (Selman)
b. They left their gods there: The Philistines brought their idols to the battle, thinking they would help defeat the Israelites. Because David inquired of God and obeyed God, they burned the Philistine idols.
3. (13-17) David defeats the Philistines again.
Then the Philistines once again made a raid on the valley. Therefore David inquired again of God, and God said to him, “You shall not go up after them; circle around them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when you hear a sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall go out to battle, for God has gone out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines.” So David did as God commanded him, and they drove back the army of the Philistines from Gibeon as far as Gezer. Then the fame of David went out into all lands, and the LORD brought the fear of him upon all nations.
a. David inquired again of God: After the first victory over the Philistines, David was wise enough to wait on the LORD before the second battle. It is easy for many in the same situation to say, “I’ve fought this battle before. I know how to win. This will be easy.” David always triumphed when he sought and obeyed God.
b. You shall not go up after them; circle around them: God directed David differently in this battle. Even against the same enemy, not every battle is the same.
i. In his commentary on this account in 2 Samuel 5, Adam Clarke noted the remarkable guidance of God in David’s life and asked a good question. “How is it that such supernatural directions and assistances are not communicated now? Because they are not asked for; and they are not asked for because they are not expected; and they are not expected because men have not faith; and they have not faith because they are under a refined spirit of atheism, and have no spiritual intercourse with their Maker.” (Clarke)
c. God has gone out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines: At the battle of this David waited for the LORD to strike the camp of the enemy first. The sign of God’s work was a sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees.
i. “It was not merely a fitful breeze stealing through the leaves; it was not the going of the wind; but of angel squadrons who were proceeding against the enemies of Israel.” (Meyer)
ii. At the signal that the LORD was at work, David and his troops rushed forward to victory. This principle is true in our every-day walk with God. When we sense that the LORD is at work, we must go out to battle (advance quickly, 2 Samuel 5:24) and we will see a great victory won. “We must also, in the spiritual warfare, observe and obey the motions of the Spirit, when he setteth up his standard; for those are the sounds of God’s goings, the footsteps of his anointed.” (Trapp)
iii. There is something wonderful about the King James Version translation of this account in 2 Samuel 5:24: when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself. When you hear the work of God happening, bestir thyself – go out to battle. Spurgeon liked to point out that it said bestir thyself - often we think we must stir others up. That often just becomes hype and emotionalism. Instead, stir yourself.
iv. When we see the work of God happening around us, it is like the sound in the mulberry trees - the rustling sound should awaken us to prayer and devotion. A time of crisis or tragedy is also like the sound in the mulberry trees - the rustling sound should awaken us to confession and repentance. “Now, what should I do? The first thing I will do is, I will bestir myself. But how shall I do it? Why, I will go home this day, and I will wrestle in prayer more earnestly than I have been wont to do that God will bless the minister, and multiply the church.” (Spurgeon)
v. “Oh, believe in the co-operation of the Holy Spirit. Lonely missionary in some distant station of the foreign field, listen for the moving of the tops of the mulberry trees! God is stirring for thy succor.” (Meyer)
vi. “The precise species of the balsam trees is uncertain. Other possibilities include the pear-tree (LXX), mulberry (AV), or aspen (REB, NEB).” (Selman)
d. So David did as God commanded him: He did this by waiting for evidence of God’s work and then giving himself completely to the battle. The victory that sprang from this obedience made David and Israel respected and feared among neighboring nations.
i. “Because he looked to the Lord for his strength and for his strategy, he was able to beat back to Philistine offenses, to secure the independence of God’s people, and to terminate forever the threat of Philistine conquest and oppression.” (Payne)
1 Chronicles 15 - The Ark Is Brought to Jerusalem
A. The assembly of the priests and the Levites
1. (1-2) David’s directions for bringing in the Ark.
David built houses for himself in the City of David; and he prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched a tent for it. Then David said, “No one may carry the ark of God but the Levites, for the LORD has chosen them to carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever.”
a. David built houses for himself . . . he prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched a tent for it: At this moment of great triumph – bringing the ark into Jerusalem – the Chronicler reminds us that David lived in a house (or several houses) and the ark of the covenant was in a tent.
i. Significantly, this tent David prepared for the ark of God was not the tabernacle itself. The tabernacle of Moses was at Gibeon (1 Chronicles 16:39-40). There were several reasons to explain why David did not bring the tabernacle from Gibeon to Jerusalem:
· He may have believed if the tabernacle was there the people would be satisfied with that and they would lose the passion and vision for the temple God wanted built.
· It may be that the tabernacle was only moved when it was absolutely necessary - as when disaster came upon it at Shiloh or Nob.
· David simply focused on building the temple, not continuing the tabernacle
b. No one may carry the ark of God but the Levites: This shows that David learned from his past mistake when Uzza was struck dead at the first attempt to bring the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem.
2. (3-10) A list of the priests and Levites who supervised the coming of the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem.
And David gathered all Israel together at Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the LORD to its place, which he had prepared for it. Then David assembled the children of Aaron and the Levites: of the sons of Kohath, Uriel the chief, and one hundred and twenty of his brethren; of the sons of Merari, Asaiah the chief, and two hundred and twenty of his brethren; of the sons of Gershom, Joel the chief, and one hundred and thirty of his brethren; of the sons of Elizaphan, Shemaiah the chief, and two hundred of his brethren; of the sons of Hebron, Eliel the chief, and eighty of his brethren; of the sons of Uzziel, Amminadab the chief, and one hundred and twelve of his brethren.
a. “A major problem for many readers is the way that the narrative is interrupted by repetitious lists. For example, just at the moment when the ark is raised on to the Levites’ shoulders, apparently unrelated lists of musicians and gatekeepers occur. . . . the lists actually have an important function in anticipating the next section of narrative. The Levites who sanctified themselves are shown to have had a valid ancestry; this was a live issue in post-exilic Israel.” (Selman)
3. (11-15) The ark is brought to Jerusalem in the right way.
And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. He said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. For because you did not do it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.” So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel. And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD.
a. Sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it: This demonstrates David’s commitment to bringing the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem in the right way. He had learned the lesson that the process also matters to God, not only the result.
i. It also demonstrates that David understood that it was not only a matter of doing the right things in the process, but in having sanctified men to carry the ark. Ministry that pleases God is done the right way, by sanctified men, for the right end result.
ii. “Sanctification required separation from every form of ‘uncleanness’ (Leviticus 16:19; 2 Samuel 11:4), and in the Old Testament might include temporary abstinence from sexual intercourse (Exodus 19:15), dirty clothing (Exodus 19:14), or contact with corpses (Leviticus 21:1-4), or more permanently for the priests, not marrying a divorcee, prostitute, or even a widow (Leviticus 21:13-15).” (Selman)
b. For because you did not do it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order: 1 Chronicles 13:1-4 makes it clear that David consulted with his leaders and with the people in a highly democratic way. What he did not do was consult Him [God] about the proper order.
B. The celebration at the bringing in of the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem.
1. (16-24) Names of the musicians at the ceremony.
Then David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers accompanied by instruments of music, stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joy. So the Levites appointed Heman the son of Joel; and of his brethren, Asaph the son of Berechiah; and of their brethren, the sons of Merari, Ethan the son of Kushaiah; and with them their brethren of the second rank: Zechariah, Ben, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattithiah, Elipheleh, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom, and Jeiel, the gatekeepers; the singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were to sound the cymbals of bronze; Zechariah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah, and Benaiah, with strings according to Alamoth; Mattithiah, Elipheleh, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom, Jeiel, and Azaziah, to direct with harps on the Sheminith; Chenaniah, leader of the Levites, was instructor in charge of the music, because he was skillful; Berechiah and Elkanah were doorkeepers for the ark; Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah, and Eliezer, the priests, were to blow the trumpets before the ark of God; and Obed-Edom and Jehiah, doorkeepers for the ark.
a. David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers: King David knew a lot about music and singing, but he did not over-manage this ceremony. He delegated responsibility and allowed the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers.
i. Chenaniah: “This appears to have been the master singer; he gave the key and the time, for he presided in the elevation, probably meaning what is called pitching the tune, for he was skilful in music, and powerful in his voice, and well qualified to lead the band: he might have been precentor.” (Clarke)
b. By raising the voice with resounding joy: The several musical instruments mentioned were important, but not more important than these joyful voices. The singing was loud and joyful.
i. “The phrase ‘according to alamoth’ occurs also in the title to Psalm 46. Since the noun means ‘maidens, virgins,’ such as are mentioned as beating tambourines in ceremonial processions of singers and other musicians (Psalm 68:25), it may indicate music produced in a soprano register.” (Payne)
ii. “The phrase ‘according to sheminith’ occurs also in the titles to Psalms 6 and 12. The word is derived from the root for ‘eight’ and is usually thought to indicate music in a lower octave, in contrast to the preceding verse, though it might indicate an instrument that had eight strings.” (Payne)
iii. Berechia and Elkanah were doorkeepers for the ark: “They were appointed to keep the door of the tent, in which the ark was to be put and kept, that no unallowed person might press in and touch it; and in like manner they were to attend upon the ark in the way, and to guard it from the press and touch of profane hands.” (Poole)
2. (25-28) The ark comes into Jerusalem.
So David, the elders of Israel, and the captains over thousands went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the house of Obed-Edom with joy. And so it was, when God helped the Levites who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that they offered seven bulls and seven rams. David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who bore the ark, the singers, and Chenaniah the music master with the singers. David also wore a linen ephod. Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the horn, with trumpets and with cymbals, making music with stringed instruments and harps.
a. To bring up the ark of the covenant from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with joy: David was glad to know that the presence and glory of God could bring blessing instead of a curse. He was also glad to see that when they obeyed God they were blessed.
i. When the worship was in the proper order it was still filled with joy and gladness. It is a mistake to feel that “real” worship must be subdued or solemn or only in a minor key.
b. God helped the Levites who bore the ark: It wasn’t so much that the ark of the covenant was so heavy that they needed God’s help to carry it. Rather, there was considerable pressure and stress in bearing a burden that had recently resulted in a sudden death. They needed God’s help to deal with the spiritual pressure of this ministry.
c. The offered seven bulls and seven rams: David was careful to not neglect the institution of sacrifice in this second attempt to bring the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem.
i. 2 Samuel 6:13 says that they sacrificed every six steps in the procession, “Because Uzzah perished when he had gone but six paces, say some. Every man that seeth another stricken, and himself spared, is to offer sacrifices, yea, to keep a passover for himself.” (Trapp)
d. David also wore a linen ephod: It is a mistake to think that David was immodest. As were all the Levites indicates that David was dressed just like all the other priests and Levites in this procession.
e. Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting: This shows that David brought the ark to Jerusalem with a big production - bigger than the first attempt. David was wise enough to know that the problem with the first attempt wasn’t that it was a big production, but that it was a big production that came from man and not from God.
i. This is essentially the same account recorded in 2 Samuel 6, except in 2 Samuel the leadership of David is emphasized, and in 1 Chronicles 15 the participation and support of all Israel is emphasized. Both accounts are correct; David was the leader, but it wasn’t a one-man show; all Israel brought up the ark.
ii. “The primary change is that the homecoming of the ark . . . has become a corporate act of all Israel rather than an expression of David’s personal faith.” (Selman)
3. (29) David’s wife Michal despises David.
And it happened, as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came to the City of David, that Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David whirling and playing music; and she despised him in her heart.
a. Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David whirling and playing music: David didn’t hold back anything in his own expression of worship. He didn’t dance out of obligation but out of heartfelt worship. He was glad to bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD into Jerusalem according to God’s word.
i. This expression of David’s heart showed that he had a genuine emotional link to God. There are two great errors in this area - the error of making emotions the center of our Christian life and the error of an emotionally detached Christian life. In the Christian life emotions must not be manipulated and they must not be repressed.
ii. From our knowledge of ancient and modern culture we can surmise that David’s dance wasn’t a solo performance. The context clearly puts him together with the other priests and Levits, and he probably danced with simple rhythmic steps together with other men in the way one might see Orthodox Jewish men today dance. In this context, David’s linen ephod means he set aside his royal robes and dressed just like everyone else in the procession.
iii. It should also be observed that David’s dancing was appropriate in the context. This was a parade with a marching band, a grand procession. David’s dancing fit right in. If David did this as the nation gathered on the Day of Atonement it would be out of context and wrong.
b. And she despised him in her heart: 2 Samuel 6:20-23 tell us more of Michal’s complaint and of David’s response to her. He sarcastically said to him, How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today. Michal seemed to indicate that she didn’t object to David’s dancing, but to what David wore when he set aside his royal robes and danced as a man just like the other men celebrating in the procession. David acted as if he were just another worshipper in Israel, and this offended Michal.
i. In response, David told Michal that his actions were before the LORD; that is, he simply explained the truth: “I did it for God, not for you.” He went on to explain to her, and will be humble in my own sight. What David did was humbling to him. He didn’t dance to show others how spiritual he was.
ii. “The incident illustrates the perpetual inability of the earthly minded to appreciate the gladness of the spiritual.” (Morgan)
1 Chronicles 16 - David’s Psalm of Thanks
A. The ark is brought into the prepared tent.
1. (1-3) David gives the assembly a feast.
So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it. Then they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God. And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD. Then he distributed to everyone of Israel, both man and woman, to everyone a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins.
a. They brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tabernacle: After many years - since the ark was lost in battle - the ark is returned to the center of Israel’s national consciousness. The emblem of God’s presence and glory was set at its proper place in Israel.
b. When David had finished offering burnt offerings and peace offerings: The burnt offerings spoke of consecration. The peace offerings spoke of fellowship. This was a day of great consecration and fellowship with God. It was also a great barbeque and meal for all the people.
i. These sacrifices were an important part of the ceremony, neglected in the first attempt to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. “These pointed them to Christ, freeing them from their sins, both from the crime and from the curse; these taught them thankfulness for Christ, and all benefits in and by him.” (Trapp)
ii. “The second item of food (known only here and in 2 Samuel 6:19) was either a cake of dates or a ‘portion of meat’ (REB, NEB, NSRV; cf. GNB, AV) – if the latter is correct, it was an especially generous act since meat rarely appeared on domestic menus in ancient Israel.” (Selman)
iii. “Most flesh from the peace offerings was eaten by the people themselves, sitting down, as it were, as guests of God’s table, in a meal celebrating the restoration of their peace with him.” (Payne)
2. (4-6) Worship leaders are appointed to lead the congregation.
And he appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to commemorate, to thank, and to praise the LORD God of Israel: Asaph the chief, and next to him Zechariah, then Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, and Obed-Edom: Jeiel with stringed instruments and harps, but Asaph made music with cymbals; Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests regularly blew the trumpets before the ark of the covenant of God.
a. And he appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark: At the end of this spectacular day of celebration, David established an enduring institution of worship and commemoration at the ark of the covenant. It wasn’t to be a one-day high, but an ongoing ministry unto God.
i. “David’s appointment then of Levites to minister in music and praise to God marks a significant advance in the history of Israel’s worship. His previous arrangements for music had been devised for just one occasion; but now a continuing service is envisioned.” (Payne)
b. He appointed some of the Levites . . . to commemorate: In the Levitical appointments for that day and beyond, David selected some Levites to focus on commemorating what great things God had done. Simply remembering God’s great works is an important and often neglected part of the Christian life. Spurgeon (in his sermon The Recorders) noted several ways that we can help ourselves remember the great things of God:
· Make an actual record of what God has done, keeping a written journal.
· Be sure to praise God thoroughly at the time you receive His goodness.
· Set apart time for meditation on the good things God has done.
· Talk about His mercy often to other people.
· Use everything around you as reminders to the goodness of God.
c. Asaph the chief: This indicates that David though the Levites had appointed Heman as the leader of worship (1 Chronicles 15:17), at this time David elevated Asaph to this position.
i. “No reason is given, though Asaph did represent the senior Levitcal clan of Gershon (1 Chronicles 6:39-43). Personal ability may also have been a contributing factor, for Asaph and his descendants are listed as composers for twelve of the inspired Old Testament psalms.” (Payne)
B. David’s song of thanksgiving.
1. (7) The psalm written for the special occasion.
On that day David first delivered this psalm into the hand of Asaph and his brethren, to thank the LORD:
a. David first delivered this psalm: David was known as sweet psalmist of Israel (2 Samuel 23:1), and he specially wrote the following psalm to thank the LORD on the day the ark of the covenant was brough to Jerusalem.
i. “The Psalm is found in the Book of Psalms; its first movement (8-22) in Psalm 105:1-15; its second movement (23-33) in Psalm 96:1b-13a; its third movement (34-36) consisting of a quotation of the opening and closing sentences of Psalm 106:1-47 and 48.” (Morgan)
ii. “All three of the canonical psalms that he quoted are anonymous, ‘orphan psalms’ (without title) in the Old Testament Psalter; but on the basis of the king’s use of them here, they should indeed be classed as his.” (Payne)
2. (8-13) The call to praise.
Oh, give thanks to the LORD!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!
Seek the LORD and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,
O seed of Israel His servant,
You children of Jacob, His chosen ones!
a. Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Like many psalms, this one begins with a call to praise, viritually in the form of a commandment. Yet the psalm breathes with too much excitement for this to be a true command; it is an exhortation to the community of God’s people to join in praise to their God.
i. “All the good that we enjoy comes from God. Recollect that! Alas, most men forget it. Rowland Hill used to say that worldlings were like the hogs under the oak, which eat the acorns, but never think of the oak from which they fell, nor lift up their heads to grunt out a thanksgiving. Yes, so it is. They munch the gift and murmur at the giver.” (Spurgeon)
b. Give thanks . . . call upon . . . make known . . . sing . . . talk . . . glory . . . seek . . . remember: In a few verses, David lists a remarkable number of ways (at least eight) one can praise and glorify God. Some of them speak directly to God (such as sing psalms to Him), some speak to others about God’s greatness (make know His deeds among the peoples), and some are a conversation with one’s self (remember His marvelous works).
i. Meyer on talk of all His wondrous works: “We do not talk sufficiently about God. Why it is so may not be easy to explain; but there seems to be too great reticence among Christian people about the best things. . . . We talk about sermons, details of worship and church organization, or the latest phase of Scripture criticism; we discuss men, methods, and churches; but our talk in the home, and in the gatherings of Christians for social purposes, is too seldom about the wonderful works of God. Better to speak less, and to talk more of Him.”
ii. “If we talked more of God’s wondrous works, we should be free from talking of other people’s works. It is easy to criticise those we could not rival, and carp at those we could not emulate. He who could not carve a statue, or make a single stroke of the chisel correctly, affects to point out where the handicraft of the greatest sculptor might have been improved. It is a poor, pitiful occupation, that of picking holes in other people’s coats, and yet some people seem so pleased when they can perceive a fault, that they roll it under their tongue as a sweet morsel.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “There is no gifted tongue requisite, there are no powers of eloquence invoked; neither laws of rhetoric nor rules of grammar are pronounced indispensable in the simple talk that my text inculcates, ‘Talk ye of all his wondrous works.’ I beg your pardon when you say you cannot do this. You cannot because you will not.” (Spurgeon)
c. O seed of Israel . . . His chosen ones: This call to praise is directed to the people of God. As will be noted later in the psalm, all creation has a responsibility to praise its Creator; but this is the special responsibility of God’s people.
3. (14-19) Remembering God’s covenant with His people.
He is the LORD our God;
His judgments are in all the earth.
Remember His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations,
The covenant which He made with Abraham,
And His oath to Isaac,
And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute,
To Israel for an everlasting covenant,
Saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
As the allotment of your inheritance,”
When you were few in number,
Indeed very few, and strangers in it.
a. His judgments are in all the earth: David will soon begin to sing about the special relationship between the LORD and His covenant people. Yet he prefaced those ideas with the thought that God is the Lord of all the earth. His authority is not limited to His covenant people.
b. Remember His covenant forever: God wanted His people to never forget the covenant He made with them. God’s dealing with man through history has been based on the idea of covenant.
· God made a covenant with Abraham regarding a land, a nation, and a particular messianic blessing (Genesis 12:1-3).
· God made a covenant with Israel as a nation, regarding a law, sacrifice, and choice of blessing or cursing (Exodus 19:5-8).
· God made a covenant with David regarding the specific lineage of the Messiah (2 Samuel 7).
· God made a covenant with all who would believe on His Son, the New Covenant through Jesus Christ (Luke 22:20).
i. It was entirely appropriate that this psalm focuses on the idea of His covenant, because it was written for the arrival of the ark of the covenant into the place David prepared for it in Jerusalem.
ii. “In the restoration of the Ark after a period of neglect, the people found a sure token of that mercy.” (Morgan)
c. To you I will give the land of Canaan: David here highlighted the promise of land that God made to Abraham as part of His covenant with the patriarch (Genesis 12:1 and 13:14-17). The land belonged to the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through this covenant.
i. In this we see that this portion of the psalm is largely meant for teaching. This stanza was not primarily intended as a declaration of praise to God, but as informing the worship of God’s people.
4. (20-22) God’s protection upon His people.
When they went from one nation to another,
And from one kingdom to another people,
He permitted no man to do them wrong;
Yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes,
Saying, “Do not touch My anointed ones,
And do My prophets no harm.”
a. When they went from one nation to another: In the story of the arrival of the ark of the covenant recorded in 2 Samuel, this psalm of David is not included. Here we see why the Chronicler – writing shortly after the Babylonian exile – was anxious to include it. This line of David’s psalm praises God for His providential protection of His people when they were out of the Promised Land.
b. He permitted no man to do them wrong: One might say that this was inaccurate – after all, the oppressive Pharaohs seemed to do much wrong to Israel. Yet, in the longer view of seeing God’s good work even through such painful times, David can truthfully say “He permitted no man to do them wrong.”
c. Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm: This seems to refer to God’s people as a whole instead of particular anointed individuals or individual prophets.
5. (23-30) The command to praise the LORD.
Sing to the LORD, all the earth;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples.
For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised;
He is also to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the LORD made the heavens.
Honor and majesty are before Him;
Strength and gladness are in His place.
Give to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
Give to the LORD glory and strength.
Give to the LORD the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come before Him.
Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!
Tremble before Him, all the earth.
The world also is firmly established,
It shall not be moved.
a. Sing to the LORD, all the earth: God’s covenant people have a special responsibility to praise Him, but all the earth should also proclaim the good news of His salvation day to day.
i. It is only good news when it is His salvation. My salvation isn’t enough to save me. I need His salvation to save me. This is something worth proclaiming.
ii. “There is not one of us but has cause for song, and certainly not one saint but ought specially to praise the name of the Lord.” (Spurgeon)
b. Declare His glory among the nations: David is back to a particular address to the people of God, imploring them to tell everyone of the greatness of God, and His superiority above all gods.
i. The reason for His superiority is simple: all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. The covenant God of Israel is real and is the Creator of all things, in contrast to the mere statues of the nations.
c. Give to the LORD glory and strength: This is not in the sense of giving something to God that He does not already have. It is in the sense of crediting to God what He actually does possess, but what man is often blind to.
d. Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! God’s holiness – His “set-apart-ness” – has a wonderful and distinct beauty about it. It is beautiful that God is God and not man; that He is more than the greatest man or a super-man. His holy love, grace, justice, and majesty are beautiful.
6. (31-33) Creation praises God.
Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
And let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.”
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
Let the field rejoice, and all that is in it.
Then the trees of the woods shall rejoice before the LORD,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
a. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad: David knew that creation itself praised God. He knew that the beauty and power and skill and majesty of creation was itself a testimony of praise to its Creator.
b. Let them say among the nations: Israel had the word of God to tell them of God’s reign and His coming judgment. The nations have the testimony of creation to tell them
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