Text:MHC Concise 1 Chronicles
|Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary : 1 Chronicles|
|SERMONS, ESSAYS AND OPINIONS|
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Commentary on the book of 1 Chronicles
The books of Chronicles are, in a great measure, repetitions of what is in the books of Samuel and of the Kings, yet there are some excellent useful things in them which we find not elsewhere. The FIRST BOOK traces the rise of the Jewish people from Adam, and afterward gives an account of the reign of David. In the SECOND BOOK the narrative is continued, and relates the progress and end of the kingdom of Judah; also it notices the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity. Jerome says, that whoever supposes himself to have knowledge of the Scriptures without being acquainted with the books of Chronicles, deceives himself. Historical facts passed over elsewhere, names, and the connexion of passages are to be found here, and many questions concerning the gospel are explained.
The descendants of Abraham.
This Chapter, and many that follow, repeat the genealogies, or lists of fathers and children in the Bible history, and put them together, with many added. When compared with other places, there are some differences found; yet we must not therefore stumble at the word, but bless God that the things necessary to salvation are plain enough. The original of the Jewish nation is here traced from the first man that God created, and is thereby distinguished from the obscure, fabulous, and absurd origins assigned to other nations. But the nations now are all so mingled with one another, that no one nation, nor the greatest part of any, is descended entirely from any of one nation, nor the greatest part of any, is descended entirely from any of these fountains. Only this we are sure of, that God has created of one blood all nations of men; they are all descended from one Adam, one Noah. Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us? Mal 2:10.
The genealogy is from hence confined to the posterity of Abraham. Let us take occasion from reading these lists of names, to think of the multitudes that have gone through this world, have done their parts in it, and then quitted it. As one generation, even of sinful men, passes away, another comes. Ec 1:4; Nu 32:14, and will do so while the earth remains. Short is our passage through time into eternity. May we be distinguished as the Lord's people.
--We are now come to the register of the children of Israel, that distinguished people, who were to dwell alone, and not be reckoned among the nations. But now, in Christ, all are welcome to his salvation who come to him; all have equal privileges according to their faith in him, their love and devotedness to him. All that is truly valuable consists in the favour, peace, and image of God, and a life spent to his glory, in promoting the welfare of our fellow-creatures.
--Of all the families of Israel, none were so illustrious as the family of David: here we have a full account of it. From this family, as concerning the flesh, Jesus Christ came. The attentive observer will perceive that the children of the righteous enjoy many advantages.
--In this Chapter we have a further account of Judah, the most numerous and most famous of all the tribes; also an account of Simeon. The most remarkable person in this Chapter is Jabez. We are not told upon what account Jabez was more honourable than his brethren; but we find that he was a praying man. The way to be truly great, is to seek to do God's will, and to pray earnestly. Here is the prayer he made. Jabez prayed to the living and true God, who alone can hear and answer prayer; and, in prayer he regarded him as a God in covenant with his people. He does not express his promise, but leaves it to be understood; he was afraid to promise in his own strength, and resolved to devote himself entirely to God. Lord, if thou wilt bless me and keep me, do what thou wilt with me; I will be at thy command and disposal for ever. As the text reads it, this was the language of a most ardent and affectionate desire, Oh that thou wouldest bless me! Four things Jabez prayed for. 1. That God would bless him indeed. Spiritual blessings are the best blessings: God's blessings are real things, and produce real effects. 2. That He would enlarge his coast. That God would enlarge our hearts, and so enlarge our portion in himself, and in the heavenly Canaan, ought to be our desire and prayer. 3. That God's hand might be with him. God's hand with us, to lead us, protect us, strengthen us, and to work all our works in us and for us, is a hand all-sufficient for us. 4. That he would keep him from evil, the evil of sin, the evil of trouble, all the evil designs of his enemies, that they might not hurt, nor make him a Jabez indeed, a man of sorrow. God granted that which he requested. God is ever ready to hear prayer: his ear is not now heavy.
--This Chapter gives some account of the two tribes and a half seated on the east side of Jordan. They were made captives by the king of Assyria, because they had forsaken the Lord. Only two things are here recorded concerning these tribes. 1. They all shared in a victory. Happy is that people who live in harmony together, who assist each other against the common enemies of their souls, trusting in the Lord, and calling upon him. 2. They shared in captivity. They would have the best land, not considering that it lay most exposed. The desire of earthly objects draws to a distance from God's ordinances, and prepares men for destruction.
--We have an account of Levi in this Chapter. The priests and Levites were more concerned than any other Israelites, to preserve their descent clear, and to be able to prove it; because all the honours and privileges of their office depended upon their descent. Now, the Spirit of God calls ministers to their work, without any limit as to the families they came from; and then, as now, though believers and ministers may be very useful to the church, none but our great High Priest can make atonement for sin, nor can any be accepted but through his atonement.
--Here is no account either of Zebulun or Dan. We can assign no reason why they only should be omitted; but it is the disgrace of the tribe of Dan, that idolatry began in that colony which fixed in Laish, and called it Dan, Jud 18 and there one of the golden calves was set up by Jeroboam. Dan is omitted, Re 7. Men become abominable when they forsake the worship of the true God, for any creature object.
--Here is a larger list of Benjamin's tribe. We may suppose that many things in these genealogies, which to us seem difficult, abrupt, and perplexed, were plain and easy at that time, and fully answered the intention for which they were published. Many great and mighty nations then were in being upon earth, and many illustrious men, whose names are now wholly forgotten; while the names of multitudes of the Israel of God are here kept in everlasting remembrance. The memory of the just is blessed.
--This Chapter expresses that one end of recording all these genealogies was, to direct the Jews, when they returned out of captivity, with whom to unite, and where to reside. Here is an account of the good state into which the affairs of religion were put, on the return from Babylon. Every one knew his charge. Work is likely to be done well when every one knows the duty of his place, and makes a business of it. God is the God of order. Thus was the temple a figure of the heavenly one, where they rest not day nor night from praising God, Re 4:8. Blessed be His name, believers there shall, not in turn, but all together, without interruption, praise him night and day: may the Lord make each of us fit for the inheritance of the saints in light.
The death of Saul.
--The design chiefly in view in these books of the Chronicles, appears to be to preserve the records of the house of David. Therefore the writer repeats not the history of Saul's reign, but only of his death, by which a way was made for David to the throne. And from the ruin of Saul, we may learn, 1. That the sin of sinners will certainly find them out, sooner or later; Sauldied for his transgression. 2. That no man's greatness can exempt him from the judgments of God. 3. Disobedience is a killing thing. Sauldied for not keeping the word of the Lord. May be delivered from unbelief, impatience, and despair. By waiting on the Lord we shall obtain a kingdom that cannot be moved.
David raised to the throne.
A list of David's mighty men.
David was brought to possess the throne of Israel after he had reigned seven years in Hebron, over Judah only. God's counsels will be fulfilled at last, whatever difficulties lie in the way. The way to be truly great, is to be really useful, to devote all our talents to the Lord.
An account is given of David's worthies, the great men who served him. Yet David reckoned his success, not as from the mighty men that were with him, but from the mighty God, whose presence is all in all. In strengthening him, they strengthened themselves and their own interest, for his advancement was theirs. We shall gain by what we do in our places for the support of the kingdom of the Son of David; and those that are faithful to Him, shall find their names registered much more to their honour, than these are in the records of fame.
Those who came to David at Ziklag.
Those who came to Hebron.
Here is an account of those who appeared and acted as David's friends, while he was persecuted. No difficulties or dangers should keep the sinner from coming to the Savior, nor drive the believer from the path of duty. Those who break through, and overcome in these attempts, will find abundant recompence. From the words of Amasai we may learn how to testify our affection and allegiance to the Lord Jesus; his we must be throughly; on his side we must be forward to appear and act. If we are under the influence of the Spirit, we shall desire to have our lot among them, and to declare ourselves on their side; if in faith and love we embrace the cause of Christ, he will receive, employ, and advance us.
When the throne of Jesus Christ is set up in a soul, there is, or ought to be, great joy in that soul; and provision is made, not as here, for a few days, but for the whole life, and for eternity. Happy are those who wisely perceive it to be their duty and interest, to submit to the Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of David; who renounce for his sake all that is not consistent; whose earnest endeavours to do good are directed by the wisdom that God giveth, through acquaintance with his word, experience, and observation. If any man lack this wisdom, let him ask it of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.
David consults about the ark.
The removal of the ark.
David said not, What magnificent thing shall I do now? or, What pleasant thing? but, What pious thing? that he might have the comfort and benefit of that sacred oracle. Let us bring the ark to us, that it may be a blessing to us. Those who honour God, profit themselves. It is the wisdom of those setting out in the world, to take God's ark with them. Those are likely to go on in the favour of God, who begin in the fear of God. (1Ch 13:6-14)
Let the sin of Uzza warn all to take heed of presumption, rashness, and irreverence, in dealing with holy things; and let none think that a good design will justify a bad action. Let the punishment of Uzza teach us not to dare to trifle with God in our approaches to him; yet let us, through Christ, come boldly to the throne of grace. If the gospel be to some a savour of death unto death, as the ark was to Uzza, yet let us receive it in the love of it, and it will be to us a savour of life unto life.
--In this Chapter we have an account of, 1. David's kingdom established. 2. His family built up. 3. His enemies defeated. This is repeated from 2Sa 5. Let the fame of David be looked upon as a type and figure of the exalted honour of the Son of David.
Preparations for the removal of the ark.
The removal of the ark.
Wise and good men may be guilty of oversights, which they will correct, as soon as they are aware of them. David does not try to justify what had been done amiss, nor to lay the blame on others; but he owns himself guilty, with others, of not seeking God in due order
It is good to notice the assistance of Divine Providence, even in things which fall within the compass of our natural powers; if God did not help us, we could not stir a step. If we do our religious duties in any degree aright, we must own it was God that helped us; had we been left to ourselves, we should have been guilty of some fatal errors. And every thing in which we engage, must be done in dependence on the mercy of God through the sacrifice of the Redeemer.
The solemnity with which the ark was fixed.
David's psalm of praise.
Though God's word and ordinances may be clouded and eclipsed for a time, they shall shine out of obscurity. This was but a tent, a humble dwelling, yet this was the tabernacle which David, in his psalms, often speaks of with so much affection. David showed himself generous to his subjects, as he had found God gracious to him. Those whose hearts are enlarged with holy joy, should show it by being open-handed.
Let God be glorified in our praises. Let others be edified and taught, that strangers to him may be led to adore him. Let us ourselves triumph and trust in God. Those that give glory to God's name are allowed to glory in it. Let the everlasting covenant be the great matter of our joy his people of old, be remembered by us with thankfulness to him. Show forth from day to day his salvation, his promised salvation by Christ. We have reason to celebrate that from day to day; for we daily receive the benefit, and it is a subject that can never be exhausted. In the midst of praises, we must not forget to pray for the servants of God in distress.
The worship of God ought to be the work of every day. David put it into order. At Jerusalem, where the ark was, Asaph and his brethren were to minister before the ark continually, with songs of praise. No sacrifices were offered there, nor incense burnt, because the altars were not there; but David's prayers were directed as incense, and the lifting up of his hands as the evening sacrifice. So early did spiritual worship take place of ceremonial. Yet the ceremonial worship, being of Divine institution, must by no means be omitted; therefore at Gibeon, at the altars, the priests attended; for their work was to sacrifice and burn incense; and that they did continually, morning and evening, according to the law of Moses. As the ceremonies were types of the mediation of Christ, the observance of them was of great consequence. The attendance of his appointed ministers is right in itself, and encourages the people.
--This Chapter is the same as 2Sa 7. See what is there said upon it. It is very observable that what in Samuel is said to be, "for thy word's sake," is here said to be, "for thy servant's sake," ver. #(19). Jesus Jesus Christ is both the Word of God, Re 19:13, and the Servant of God, Isa 42:1; and it is for his sake, upon account of his mediation, that the promises are made good to all believers; it is in him, that they are yea and amen. For His sake it is done, for his sake it is made known; to him we owe all this greatness, from him we are to expect all these great things. They are the unsearchable riches of Christ, which, if by faith we see in themselves, and see in the Lord Jesus, we cannot but magnify as the only true greatness, and speak honourably of them. For this blessedness may we look amidst the trials of life, and when we feel the hand of death upon us; and seek it for our children after us.
--This Chapter is the same as 2Sa 8. Our good fight of faith, under the Captain of our salvation, will end in everlasting triumph and peace. The happiness of Israel, through David's victories, and just government, faintly shadowed forth the happiness of the redeemed in the realms above.
--The history is here repeated which we read 2Sa 10. The only safety of sinners consists in submitting to the Lord, seeking peace with him, and becoming his servants. Let us assist each other in a good cause; but let us fear lest, while made instruments of good to others, we should come short of salvation, through unbelief and sin.
--Though the Lord will severely correct the sins of his believing people, he will not leave them in the hands of their enemies. His assistance will overcome all advantages of number and strength of those that defy his Israel. All that trust in Christ, shall be made more than conquerors through him that loveth them.
David's numbering the people.
--No mention is made in this book of David's sin in the matter of Uriah, neither of the troubles that followed it: they had no needful connexion with the subjects here noted. But David's sin, in numbering the people, is related: in the atonement made for that sin, there was notice of the place on which the temple should be built. The command to David to build an altar, was a blessed token of reconciliation. God testified his acceptance of David's offerings on this altar. Thus Jesus Christ was made sin, and a curse for us; it pleased the Lord to bruise him, that through him, God might be to us, not a consuming Fire, but a reconciled God. It is good to continue attendance on those ordinances in which we have experienced the tokens of God's presence, and have found that he is with us of a truth. Here God graciously met me, therefore I will still expect to meet him.
David's preparations for the temple.
The prices commanded to assist.
On occasion of the terrible judgment inflicted on Israel for the sin of David, God pointed out the place where he would have the temple built; upon which, David was excited to make preparations for the great work. David must not build, but he would do all he could; he prepared abundantly before his death. What our hands find to do for God, and our souls, and those round us, let us do it with all our might, before our death; for after death there is no device nor working. And when the Lord refuses to employ us in those services which we desired, we must not be discouraged or idle, but do what we can, though in a humbler sphere.
David gives Solomon the reason why he should build the temple. Because God named him. Nothing is more powerful to engage us in any service for God, than to know that we are appointed thereto. Because he would have leisure and opportunity to do it. He should have peace and quietness. Where God gives rest, he expects work. Because God had promised to establish his kingdom. God's gracious promises should quicken and strengthen our religious service. David delivered to Solomon an account of the vast preparations he had made for this building; not from pride and vain-glory, but to encourage Solomon to engage cheerfully in the great work. He must not think, by building the temple, to purchase a dispensation to sin; on the contrary, his doing that would not be accepted, if he did not take heed to fulfil the statutes of the Lord. In our spiritual work, as well as in our spiritual warfare, we have need of courage and resolution. (1Ch 22:17-19)
Whatever is done towards rendering the word of God generally known and attended to, is like bringing a stone, or an ingot of gold, towards erecting the temple. This should encourage us when we grieve that we do not see more fruit of our labours; much good may appear after our death, which we never thought of. Let us not then be weary of well doing. The work is in the hands of the Prince of peace. As he, the Author and Finisher of the work, is pleased to employ us as his instruments, let us arise and be doing, encouraging and helping one another; working by his rule, after his example, in dependence on his grace, assured that he will be with us, and that our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.
The office of the Levites.
David, having given charge concerning the building of the temple, settles the method of the temple service, and orders the officers of it. When those of the same family were employed together, it would engage them to love and assist one another.
Now the people of Israel were so many, there should be more employed in the temple service, that every Israelite who brought an offering might find a Levite ready to help him. When more work is to be done, it is pity but there should be more workmen. A new heart, a spiritual mind, which delights greatly in God's commandments, and can find a refreshing feast in his ordinances, forms the great distinction between the true Christian and all other men in the world. To the spiritual man every service will yield satisfaction. He will be ever abounding in the work of the Lord; being never so happy as when employed for such a good Master, in so pleasant a service. He will not regard whether he is called to take the lead, or to keep the charge of others who are placed over him. May we seek and serve the Lord uprightly, and leave all the rest to his disposal, by faith in his word.
The divisions of the priests and Levites.
--When every one has, knows, and keeps his place and work, the more there are the better. In the mystical body of Christ, every member has its use, for the good of the whole. Jesus Christ is High Priest over the house of God, to whom all believers, being made priests, are to be in subjection. In Christ, no difference is made between bond and free, elder and younger. The younger brethren, if faithful and sincere, shall be no less acceptable to Jesus Christ than the fathers. May we all be children of the Lord, fitted to sing his praises for ever in his temple above.
The singers and musicians.
--David put those in order who were appointed to be singers and musicians in the temple. To prophesy, in this place, means praising God with great earnestness and devout affections, under the influences of the Holy Spirit. In raising these affections, poetry and music were employed. If the Spirit of God do not put life and fervour into our devotions, they will, however ordered, be a lifeless, worthless form.
The offices of the Levites.
--The porters and treasurers of the temple, had occasion for strength and valour to oppose those who wrongly attempted to enter the sanctuary, and to guard the sacred treasures. Much was expended daily upon the altar; flour, wine, oil, salt, fuel, beside the lamps; quantities of these were kept beforehand, besides the sacred vestments and utensils. These were the treasures of the house of God. These treasures typified the plenty there is in our heavenly Father's house, enough and to spare. From those sacred treasuries, the unsearchable riches of Christ, all our wants are supplied; and receiving from his fulness, we must give him the glory, and endeavour to dispose of our abilities and substance according to his will. We have an account of those employed as officers and judges. The magistracy is an ordinance of God for the good of the church, as truly as the ministry, and must not be neglected. None of the Levites who were employed in the service of the sanctuary, none of the singers or porters, were concerned in this outward business; one duty was enough to engage the whole man. Wisdom, courage, strength of faith, holy affections, and constancy of mind in doing our duty, are requisite or useful for every station.
David's military force.
Princes and officers.
In the kingdoms of this world readiness for war forms a security for peace; in like manner, nothing so much encourages Satan's assaults as to be unwatchful. So long as we stand armed with the whole armour of God, in the exercise of faith, and preparation of heart for the conflict, we shall certainly be safe, and probably enjoy inward peace.
The officers of the court, or the rulers of the king's substance, had the oversight and charge of the king's tillage, his vineyards, his herds, his flocks, which formed the wealth of eastern kings. Much of the wisdom of princes is seen in the choice of their ministry, and common persons show it in the choice of their advisers. David, though he had all these about him, preferred the word of God before them all. Thy testimonies are my delight and my counsellors.
He gives instructions for the temple.
During David's last sickness, many chief priests and Levites were at Jerusalem. Finding himself able, David spoke of his purpose to build a temple for God, and of God's disallowing that purpose. He opened to them God's gracious purposes concerning Solomon. David charged them to cleave stedfastly to God and their duty. We cannot do our work as we should, unless we put on resolution, and fetch in strength from Divine grace. Religion or piety has two distinct parts. The first is knowledge of God, the second is worship of God. David says, Know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and a willing mind. God is made known by his works and word. Revelation alone shows the whole character of God, in his providence, his holy law, his condemnation of sinners, his blessed gospel, and the ministration of the Spirit to all true believers. The natural man cannot receive this knowledge of God. But thus we learn the value of the Saviour's atonement, and of the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, and are influenced to walk in all his commandments. It brings a sinner to his proper place at the foot of the cross, as a poor, guilty, helpless worm, deserving wrath, yet expecting every thing needful from the free mercy and grace of God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Having been forgiven much, the pardon ed sinner learns to love much.
The temple must be a sacred thing, and a type of Christ; it must be framed by Divine teaching. Jesus Christ is the true temple, the church is the gospel temple, and heaven the everlasting temple; all are framed according to the Divine counsels, and the plan laid in the Divine wisdom, ordained before the world, for God's glory and our good. David gave this pattern to Solomon, that he might go by rule. Materials were provided for the most costly utensils of the temple. Directions were given which way to look for help in this great undertaking. Be not dismayed; God will help thee, and thou must look up to him in the first place. We may be sure that God, who owned our fathers, and carried them through the services of their day, will, in like manner, never leave us, while he has any work to do in us, or by us. Good work is likely to go on, when all concerned are hearty in furthering it. Let us hope in God's mercy; if we seek him, he will be found of us.
David induces the princes and people to offer willingly.
His thanksgiving and prayer.
David's reign and death.
What is done in works of piety and charity, should be done willingly, not by constraint; for God loves a cheerful giver. David set a good example. This David offered, not from constraint, or for show; but because he had set his affection to the house of God, and thought he could never do enough towards promoting that good work. Those who would draw others to good, must lead the way themselves.
We cannot form a right idea of the magnificence of the temple, and the buildings around it, about which such quantities of gold and silver were employed. But the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ exceed the splendour of the temple, infinitely more than that surpassed the meanest cottage on earth. Instead of boasting of these large oblations, David gave solemn thanks to the Lord. All they gave for the Lord's temple was his own; if they attempted to keep it, death would soon have removed them from it. The only use they could make of it to their real advantage, was, to consecrate it to the service of Him who gave it.
This great assembly joined with David in adoring God. Whoever is the mouth of the congregation, those only have the benefit who join him, not by bowing down the head, so much as by lifting up the soul. Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord. Solomon's kingdom typified the kingdom of the Messiah, whose throne is the throne of the Lord.
When we read the second book of Samuel, we could scarcely have expected to behold David appear so illustrious in his closing scene. But his repentance had been as remarkable as his sin; and his conduct during his afflictions, and towards the end of his life, appears to have had a good effect on his subjects. Blessed be God, even the chief of sinners may hope for a glorious departure, when brought to repent and flee for refuge to the Saviour's atoning blood. Let us mark the difference between the spirit and character of the man after God's own heart, living and dying, and those of worthless professors, who resemble him in nothing but their sins, and who wickedly try to excuse their crimes by his sins. Let us watch and pray, lest we be overcome by temptation, and overtaken by sin, to the dishonour of God, and the wounding of our own consciences. When we feel that we have offended, let us follow David's example of repentance and patience, looking for a glorious resurrection, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
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