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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

1 Chronicles 16

Verses 1-43

D. David and the Ark chs. 13-16

"In the Chronicler’s eyes David’s reign consisted of two great religious phases, his movement of the ark to Jerusalem (chs. 13-16) and his preparations for the building of the temple (chs. 17-19 or at least 17-22, 28, 29). The intent of the parallelism seems to be to mark the ends of these two phases with praise and prayer that both glorified Yahweh and spelled out his relationship to his people in theological terms appropriate to the Chronicler and his constituency." [Note: Allen, p. 22.]

"Prayer plays an important role in 1 & 2 Chronicles. We find five major prayers (whose contents are given) included in the books. These prayers are all by good kings-David (2), Solomon, Jehoshaphat, and Hezekiah-and their inclusion performs at least two functions: first, they reinforce the positive picture that the Chronicler wants to paint of these kings; second, their contents provide us with rich insights into God Himself, His desires for His people, and ways of properly relating to God." [Note: Howard, p. 266. This author proceeded to discuss most of the references to prayer in 1 and 2 Chronicles as an important aspect of these books’ biblical theology.]

The ark of the covenant plays a central role in chapters 13-16 (cf. 2 Samuel 6). It was not only a symbol of God’s grace and presence but the actual place where God had chosen to reside among His people (Exodus 25:22). The Chronicler showed great interest in the location of the ark because that was where God was and where He manifested His grace. David’s desire to bring the ark into Jerusalem shows his concern that God would dwell among His people (cf. Exodus 19:3-6; Exodus 25:8). It also reveals his desire that the people would again have ritual access to God. They had not had this during Saul’s reign when the Philistines held the ark captive or when the Israelites kept it in a private residence (1 Chronicles 13:3). God blessed David and his kingdom in many ways for bringing the ark into Jerusalem. David’s desire to honor Yahweh as Israel’s Head served as a model for the postexilic community. The Chronicler probably related the ark’s movement to Jerusalem in stages to heighten anticipation in the reader.

4. The joy produced by God’s presence 15:16-16:6

David provided for a full orchestra and choir to sing God’s praises at his new worship center. He originated musical guilds and services. [Note: See W. F. Albright, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel, pp. 125-26.] God’s presence in Israel’s capital symbolized His leadership over the nation, and it brought great joy to all the godly. This incident (1 Chronicles 15:16) marked the beginning of the Levitical singers’ ministry in Israel (1 Chronicles 16:7).

Michal possessed a different spirit, however (1 Chronicles 15:16). Her concept of kingship in Israel was her father’s, namely, that the human king was the ultimate authority in Israel as in other ancient Near Eastern countries. It was her attitude, rather than David’s actions, that was despicable.

According to the Mosaic Law, individual Israelites were to bring their sacrificial animals to the sanctuary and slay them themselves (Leviticus 1:3-5; Leviticus 3:2; 1 Chronicles 16:1-2). Only the priests were to place the blood and other parts of the animals on the altar (Leviticus 1:5; Leviticus 3:2; Leviticus 3:5). How could David, clothed in a priestly garment (1 Chronicles 15:27), offer sacrifices to God since he was not an Aaronic priest? Evidently he did so as a priest after the order of Melchizedek, fulfilling the provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant, rather than as an Aaronic priest serving under the Mosaic Covenant. [Note: See Thomas L. Constable, "A Theology of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth," in A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament, p. 96.] David realized he was the king promised to the patriarchs (Genesis 17:6; Genesis 49:10; et al.) for whom Israel had been looking (cf. 1 Samuel 2:10). [Note: See Eugene H. Merrill, "The Book of Ruth: Narration and Shared Themes," Bibliotheca Sacra 142:566 (April-June 1985):136; and Aubrey Johnson, Sacral Kingship in Ancient Israel, pp. 27-46.]

"David functioned as the type for the Messiah as a king who is also a priest." [Note: Thompson, p. 138.]

David personalized God’s blessing on Israel by giving each participant bread, meat, and fruit, which were emblems of fruitfulness (1 Chronicles 16:3).

Verses 7-43

5. David’s concern for the universal worship of Yahweh 16:7-43

This hymn (1 Chronicles 16:8-36) was probably one of many that the people sang on this occasion. It expressed the hopes and thoughts of the Israelites assembled that the returned exiles needed to emulate. This thanksgiving song is a medley of several psalms (Psalms 96:1-13; Psalms 105:1-15; Psalms 106:1; Psalms 106:47-48). It stresses that the intended result of Israel’s worship was the salvation of the nations so that they, too, might come and worship Yahweh (cf. Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 42:6; Zechariah 2:10-11).

The hymn began with a call to worship that embraced the nations (1 Chronicles 16:8-13; cf. Isaiah 12:4). Then the people extolled God’s greatness and glory (1 Chronicles 16:14-22). They stressed God’s unmerited favor toward Israel’s patriarchs in this section. Another call to worship (1 Chronicles 16:23-24) led to another section of praise that emphasizes Yahweh’s superiority over the nations’ gods (1 Chronicles 16:25-26) and His creative power (1 Chronicles 16:27-30). The final part of the hymn called on all people to turn to Yahweh in trust and obedience in view of His coming to judge and save (1 Chronicles 16:31-36). Throughout this hymn the emphasis rests on God’s deeds, God’s words, God’s greatness, and God’s worth.

David let the sanctuary remain at Gibeon and provided for worship and sacrifice to continue there (1 Chronicles 16:39-40). He appointed Zadok as the priest in charge of that tabernacle. Throughout Israel’s history, the ark was a symbol of God’s grace and the altar was a symbol of human response to that grace. Normally they were together, but in Saul’s day they were separate. [Note: See Wilcock, p. 73.] The ark was in Philistia, Bethshemesh, or Kiriath-jearim, and the tabernacle was at Shiloh or Gibeon.

Chapters 13-16 help the reader focus on the presence of God as what is essential, rather than on ritual that, though important, is only a means to an end. Worship is appropriate in view of who God is, but for worship to be acceptable, God’s people must worship Him as He has prescribed. Furthermore, worship must be God-centered rather than man-centered.

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 16". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/1-chronicles-16.html. 2012.