We've seen David making preparations for the temple to be built. Last week, we saw him command Solomon to build the temple and the leaders of Israel to help Solomon fulfill this duty. This week, we will finish up the first book of the Chronicles as David completes all of the administrative tasks on his to-do list.
David was old and close to death (1Kings 1:1). Recognizing that his health was failing, and seeing that one of his other sons was positioning himself to take over the throne (1Kings 1:5), David made Solomon king (1Kings 1:39).
As near as we can tell, Solomon is about 14 years old at this point.
Solomon was king, but David still had more to do. After years of experience serving the Lord in many different capacities, David was the best one to set up the ministries which would serve the new temple.
There were at this time 38,000 Levites who were 30 years old and up. David divided them up into various ministries, each with its own responsibilities.
Notice that this census did not bring about God's judgment. It is not sinful to count people. The sin comes from what your motive is for counting people. In chapter 21, David's motivation was pride. Here, David's motivation is simply the administration of the house of the Lord. He had to know how many of them there were in order to divide them up between the ministries of temple work, legal work, worship team, and security.
David divided up the ministers based on their family tree. As you may recall, Levi had three sons, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari (Gen. 46:11). Each of these men became the patriarch of a Levite clan. Verses 7 through 23 list the heads of families in each of these three clans.
In the beginning, the Levites who were allowed to enter the tabernacle and do the work of service were the 30-year olds through the 50-year olds (Num. 4:47). But now David has lowered the minimum age to twenty years old. Why? The reason is given: God had given rest to Israel and was permanently dwelling in one place. Therefore, there was no more need to carry the tabernacle. That meant that the job descriptions which God gave to the Levites in Numbers 4 were going to completely change.
David realized that in the days of the portable tent, there was a limited amount of work. But now, with a permanent, huge building, there would be many more responsibilities and tasks.
The Levites who were priests were in the Kohathite clan, specifically from the lineage of Aaron, Moses' brother, the original high priest. This would mean that the offspring of Aaron's four sons would be the four priestly lines. However, when Nadab and Abihu were destroyed by the Lord for their actions of offering strange fire back in Leviticus 10, that left only two sons: Eleazar and Ithamar.
In David's day, there were two prominent priests (2Sam. 8:17): Zadok from Eleazar's family, and Ahimelech from Ithamar's family. Zadok was the high priest over the tabernacle at Gibeon, and his line would continue to be the high priests (1Chron. 6:1-15). The other line had been disqualified by Eli and his sons by their wickedness (1Sam. 2:27-36).
Zadok's family (Eleazar's descendants) were twice as many as the line of Ithamar, so David divided them proportionally.
In these verses, the Chronicler lists the 24 divisions of priests. Each would serve for half a month in the temple. This rotation of responsibility lasted into the time of the New Testament. It is in Luke that we read of John the Baptist's dad Zacharias being "of the division of Abijah."
Luke 1:8-9 ...he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office...
The chapter finishes with a listing of the divisions of Levites who would be assisting the priests in the temple.
There were three families from which the musicians and singers came: Asaph, Hay-MAWN, and Yed-oo-THOON.
We read that they were to:
- prophesy with their instruments (v.1),
- prophesied under the direction of the king (v.2)
- prophesied in giving thanks and praising the Lord (v.3),
- to lift up the king according to the words of God (v.5),
- to sing in the house of the Lord for the service (v.6).
There is so much confusion in the church today about what prophecy is. It is often confused with telling the future. In reality, it is simply to be a spokesperson for God. A prophet speaks the message of God, as he is inspired by the Spirit of God. Sure, sometimes God wants to give warning or vision of the future, but that is far from the entirety of prophecy.
Our best complete definition of prophecy come from the apostle Paul, when he said to the Corinthians,
1Cor. 14:3 ...one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.
Edification means to build up. Prophecy can edify, build up, people. This is what they were doing when it says that they were to "exalt him." God will be speaking through these songs of prophecy to lift them up.
Exhortation is strongly encouraging someone towards righteousness, doing what is right. Sometimes that is in the form of confrontation with the truth, or a warning about the future.
Lastly, consolation is comfort and reassurance from God during a difficult time of sorrow or testing. There are many worship songs which prophesy to us in the form of consolation.
It also didn't matter how talented someone was. Even the music teachers were not excluded from being selected for menial tasks. There were not going to be any musician prima donna divas in this group.
The rest of the chapter shows us the lots being cast in the same way that the priests did. There were 288 of the skillful leaders, twelve each rotating in for half a month.
As chapter 26 begins, there is another long list of divisions, this time of the gatekeepers. These were the guys who were the ushers and security guards.
Some people might think, "What a bummer. I'd rather be on the Worship Team than guarding the door." But so much of that is pride. What is it about us that makes us want to be doing the exciting and visible stuff. Why is it that we easily have over 30 people in the worship ministry, but less than 5 in the parking lot ministry?
Psa. 84:10(NIV) Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
The next group of guys are the ones who guarded the treasures. They were the accountants who kept everyone accountable! They watched over the money as it was being tithed, and guarded it once it was there.
There were legal responsibilities of the Levites as well. Knowing the Word of God, they were uniquely able to render righteous decisions as officers and judges.
They were divided up into three divisons: outside of Israel, the tribes west of the Jordan, and the 2 1/2 tribes east of the Jordan.
Twelve divisions would serve the king. Each division of 24,000 men was led by one of David's mighty men, and would serve for a month.
There were also chief officers governing each of the tribes of Israel.
David has learned his lesson: stop counting people for reasons of pride. God will make them as many or as few as He desires. David knew that as they walked in God's will, the Israelites would become too many to count anyway.
The rest of chapter 27 shows the men who oversaw the various duties of King David's life. The king's storehouses, fields, forests, livestock, etc. all had to have responsible management. They had quickly gotten far too much for David to handle on his own.
David had started out with one small flock, which he watched himself. But now he's having to delegate out those responsibilities and oversee the men who oversee the various responsibilities.
This is the season of life that I am in now. In the early days, this church was a small flock, and I oversaw everything. I was always the one to pray with you on the phone. I was always the one to visit you in the hospital. I was always the one you'd call to move your refrigerator or counsel you in crisis.
But times have changed. In an average week, there are about 1,000 people coming through the doors. I can't return everyone's call personally. I can't be the one to pray with everyone. I can't be at the beckon call of each person with a crisis and still be able to teach the Word. And so I've delegated the ministry to pastors, elders, deacons, heads of ministries, and home fellowship leaders.
And that's the biblical model. My first responsibility is to be a pastor/teacher, equipping the saints for the work of service (Eph. 4:12).
When the church in the book of Acts grew large, the Apostles summoned the congregation and said, "Look, everyone. This isn't right. We're being distracted from the Word of God because every single person is bringing every single need, problem, and issue to us." And so they delegated, saying, "We're putting these people in charge of this...
Acts 6:4 "But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
The king's sons were homeschooled. Now, I don't have an issue with homeschooling, except when it is portrayed as the only guaranteed way to keep your children from becoming corrupt, rebellious, and worldly.
The simple fact is that Moses and Daniel were schooled in an unrighteous and ungodly school systems, but maintained their stand for God. On the other hand, the majority of David's sons grew up rebellious and ungodly, though they had been schooled and tutored at home.
Two men are listed in this verse. Ahithophel was the king's counselor. It was a bad choice. This guy ended up conspiring against David when Absalom took over the kingdom in 2Samuel 15-17. He was finally replaced.
The other guy, Hushai, was a true friend. He placed himself in personal danger in defense of David. Jesus said,
John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."
David got all of these guys together and reviewed why this temple was being built in this way, at this time, under this leadership. He basically says, "God has directed this, and it will happen as you follow God."
This is so essential. When we undertake a ministry, we need to be able to say, "God is directing this." If not, we should just keep praying and waiting until He does give direction. We must be content to say like Moses,
Num. 9:8 ..."Wait, and I will listen to what the LORD will command..."
Previously, David had privately charged Solomon to follow the Lord, but now he does it publicly, in front of all the leaders.
At this point, David hands Solomon the blueprints of the temple. He gave him the spreadsheets of the duty rosters. He said,
1Chr. 28:19 "All this," said David, "the LORD made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, all the details of this pattern."
These were inspired plans. Just like Moses had been given revelation from God for the tabernacle (Exo. 25:40; Heb. 8:5), so too God gave David revelation.
David challenges the people to set apart themselves for the work of building the temple just as he had. He doesn't ask them to do anything that he himself hadn't already done by example.
The people responded wonderfully. Whoever had, gave, and whoever gave, gave willingly and joyfully. That's the way it should always be.
2Cor. 9:7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
David blesses the Lord worshipfully and with humility.
Then David encouraged everyone else to bless the Lord and worship Him. They gave, they bowed, they prayed, they sacrificed. They feasted with joy, and followed their new king.
David died at about the age of 70, full of days. The Chronicler encourages the reader to go through the book of Samuel as well.
These were good times in Israel. The people's hearts were right, the kingdom had expanded, the project was happening. Oh, if only we would commit ourselves to maintaining these seasons in our lives!