April 17th, 2021 - 1 Chronicles 17-21
1 Chronicles speaks of the promise of a dynasty. King David was settled in his new palace and was speaking with the prophet Nathan. As he was speaking David seemed to realize that he was living in a beautiful building, but the Ark of the Lord was still in a tent. He thought it was a good idea to build a temple for the Lord. David’s desire to build a temple for the Lord was typical of royal behavior in the Biblical world. In ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia kings built monuments and constructed great temples as acts of homage to the deities they considered responsible for establishing them on the throne. This may have played a role in David wanting to build a temple for the Lord, but he also had a great love and respect for the Lord. And we see that the Lord has much bigger plans for David. God promised David that his dynasty would last forever. The Chronicler lived at a time when it seemed like that dynasty had come to an end. Although David’s line of descent continued, no descendant of David had been king since the exile of Judah to Babylon, nearly 150 years earlier. As a result, Israel’s hope for the future was in question. The Chronicler wanted to show that God’s promise to David was unconditional and that his throne was secure forever.
Nathan’s prophecy to David provides the key source text regarding God’s promise to continue David’s dynasty of kings. The Chronicler emphasizes the grace of God’s promise to David. And even the possibility of exile does not remove the hope of God’s promise of a dynasty. The promise would continue for a future time because a future descendant of David would inherit the throne. Some believe the promise was directly Messianic and others look forward to the nation once again being led by a king descended from David. We will see that hope expressed in 2 Chronicles 20:20 when Jehoshaphat says, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in His prophets, and you will succeed.” With the birth of Jesus, the Son of David, the Chronicler’s hope for the community of Israel was finally realized. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Chronicler’s expectation for a new king. His kingdom is for all the nations stretching “from sea to sea and from the Euphrates to the ends of the earth.” Zechariah 9:10.
David is humbled and a bit awestruck perhaps at the promise the Lord has made to him and his family. You can hear the wonder in his voice as he asks, “Who am I, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” He is overwhelmed that God had anointed him king. But to then receive the promise that instead of David building a house for the name of the Lord, the Lord will build David a house, with someone from his family line that will be seated on the throne forever, sounds way too good to be true. His prayer here sounds almost like a confession of faith to the Lord.
Chapter 18 brings word of wars being fought, wars that expand David’s territory considerably…all the way to the Euphrates River in fact. The Lord gave David victory everywhere he went. We also see the beginning of David collecting spoils that he will leave for Solomon for the purpose of building the temple. So, a bit about the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. We read in the Book of Genesis, chapter 2, that these two rivers are half of the four that made up the area where the Garden of Eden was located. They are the two principal rivers flowing through ancient Mesopotamia, and that region owes its existence to those rivers. The name Mesopotamia means the land between the rivers. Not only did this area provide the necessary environment for the emergence of humanity’s first civilization it also aided in the later rise and flourishing of both the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. Their sources can be traced to Turkey and Armenia and they are long rivers. The Tigris, which is the more eastern river, runs 1,146 miles before it joins the Euphrates from the west for 68 miles before emptying into the Persian Gulf. Capital cities of the ancient Assyrian Empire such as Nineveh and Asshur once dotted the banks of the Tigris. Modern-day Baghdad stands today on this river. The Euphrates, the largest river in this region is often referred to as simply ‘the river’ in scripture. The Euphrates is some 1,780 miles long. Most of it is navigable by boats and it is ideal for trade and transport. Ancient cities like Carchemish, Babylon, and Ur were on the banks of the Euphrates. Not only does the Euphrates play a role in the cradle of civilization but it also forms the eastern most boundary of the land promised to Abraham. We see this again when Joshua allotted the land to the tribes. For most of Israel’s history this eastern border was not realized. Only for a brief period of time during the reigns of David and Solomon did the Israelites ever control that much territory.
We have read before the battle between David and the Ammonites. David had sent a delegation to the king of the Ammonites to pay his respects when the old king died, and the new king’s advisors were convinced the delegation was there to spy out the land. They treated the delegation badly, cutting off their beards and their garments. These actions made the Ammonites a stench in David’s life and he prepared to attack them at Rabbah. This city was the capital city of the Ammonites and it was situated right along the King’s highway, one of the major north-south trade routes from Egypt and Saudi Arabia all the way to Damascus and beyond. Rabbah had plenty of water which meant they had fertile soil for growing crops, vineyards, and olive trees as well as palm trees. It was a city easy to defend and they maintained a thriving caravan trade business. Rabbah was a prosperous city. David went to war with this city after the mistreatment of his delegation and it was during this siege that he arranged to have Uriah the Hittite killed in battle. David literally took the crown of the Ammonite king, thereby subduing him. The crown was gold, weighing about 75 pounds and encrusted with precious jewels. After the victory David consigned the Ammonites to forced labor.
Chapter 20 tells of the war with Rabbah and the city’s capture. There is nothing about Uriah the Hittite or David’s sin with Bathsheba. We see only a victorious, squeaky clean David, being successful again. This is the cleaning up of David’s story I wrote about earlier. He is not perfect, in fact far from it, just like the rest of us. And we see in chapter 21 that in his pride he ordered Joab to count all of the Israelites. This had no purpose other than to show how big and mighty his fighting force really was. And the Chronicler gives us the number: 1,1000,000 men who could handle a sword, including 470,000 in Judah alone. King Solomon wrote in the Book of Proverbs these words. “Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18. This is exactly where David finds himself. He begs God for forgiveness and God grants it, but there are consequences. The consequences are severe. God gave David three choices for punishment. The only reason this account made it into Chronicles is because the land that David bought from Araunah, the Jebusite was the land on which the Temple of the Lord was built on. And if you look at an ancient map, you will see this spot of land is also called Mount Moriah, the place Abraham was led to sacrifice his son Isaac.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W
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