Sunday, March 27, 2011

Scripture Sunday: The First Book of Chronicles

The two books of Chronicles are re-treading some of the same ground as the books of kings and even the two books of Samuel, but they are focusing on the kingdom of Judah specifically, with not as much reference to Israel. 1st Chronicles starts off in tough reading territory, following a geneology from Adam on down the line for a few dozen generations. The lengthy geneologies of the tribes of Israel take up the first nine chapters, then chapter 10 starts back in recounting David's time in history.

Chapter 10 covers Saul and Johnathan being killed by Philistines on Mount Gilboa, and ends by describing exactly why God's favor turned from Saul to David and why David inherited the kingship. David does some amazing things during his reign, and Chapter 11 discusses all of David's "mighty men," the chief warriors in the kingdom. The best warriors are just referred to as "The Three" and they are known for their martial exploits: Jashobeam killed 300 enemies with a spear in just one day, Benaiah killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day, and so on. Maintaining this kind of military force and these types of stunning individuals is a major change for Israel, because when Saul took the kingship they were pretty much still ruled over by the Philistines who wouldn't let the Israelites have blacksmiths, so that they couldn't make weapons. The nation that had no swords just a few years back is now ruling the roost with their undeniable might.

In the upcoming chapters, David sees massive forces of warriors joining him at Hebron to make him king over all the land, he witnesses a severe mishap while bringing the ark of the covenant up to Jerusalem, he has a whole flock of kids, he gathers endless supplies for the future temple, he goes back and gets the ark of the covenant and does it the right way this time, he praises and worships God, and he smacks down all of his enemies in battle. Everything David does is epic, and aside from the first ark incident (Chronicles doesn't mention his sin with Bashsheba), the first wrong thing David does comes in chapter 21, when he numbers Israel in a census when God told him never to do such a thing. David's disobedience through the census results in a plague and 70,000 people die. The place where the angel of the Lord stops the slaughter is the place David picks as the site for the future temple.

Chapter 23 onward mentions the divisions of the priests and Levites the services they will perform for the kingdom and in the temple, and lists the captains of the tribes of Israel and the high-ranking officials. The book ends with David addressing the congregation of Israel and praising God as he passes on the throne to his son Solomon. 1st Chronicles, despite all the potentially tedious lists and geneologies, is a shockingly upbeat book of the Bible and it emphasizes God's mercy and love, along with all the things David did right instead of the places where he faltered. 

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