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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

1 Chronicles 17

Verses 1-15

The promises of the Davidic Covenant 17:1-15

The main reason God did not allow David to proceed with his plans to build Him a house (temple) was that God, not David, was sovereign. A secondary reason was that David was a man of war (1 Chronicles 22:8; 1 Chronicles 28:3). God reserved the right to choose who should build such a place, as well as when and where he should build it. It was inappropriate for David to decide these things, though his desire to honor God in this way was certainly commendable. David’s plans were premature and presumptuous (cf. Israel’s desire to have a king like all the other nations), though pardonable because he sought to glorify Yahweh.

"In Near Eastern thought there was a widely recognized relationship between the earthly kingship and the temple of the protecting deity of the city-state. The state was seen as a reflection of the cosmic reality of the divine government, which stood behind the state. The state, with its various hierarchies, culminated in the earthly kingship at its apex. This was thought to be parallel to a cosmic state of affairs with its own gradations in which the major deity headed a pantheon of lesser deities. The ultimate kingship of the protecting deity was thought to be expressed through, and paralleled by, the empirical kingship exercised by the ruler of the city-state on earth. This concept was given concrete expression in the relationship that existed between the temple of the city-state and the palace of the king of the city-state. The temple was the earthly residence of the deity, and the palace was the residence of the earthly representative of the deity, that is, the king." [Note: Thompson, p. 144.]

"Often we may have to accept that the work which we would dearly like to perform in terms of Christian service is not that for which we are best equipped, and not that to which God has in fact called us. It may be, like David’s, a preparatory work, leading to something more obviously grand. Recognition and acceptance of our true measure is the first and necessary step towards seeing the significance of what, in God’s purposes, we really can achieve and have achieved." [Note: McConville, pp. 55-56.]

God’s plan was that David’s son would build Him a house, and He revealed this to David (1 Chronicles 17:11-15). However, these words look beyond Solomon to One who would not fail to fulfill all God’s purposes as David’s descendant.

"This verse [13] along with Psalms 2:7; Psalms 2:12, is one of the major OT revelations on the deity of the Messiah. It foretells Jesus’ being uniquely God’s son (Hebrews 1:5; cf. Acts 13:33; Hebrews 5:5), for it is not really applicable to Solomon (cf. comment on 1 Chronicles 22:10) or to any other of David’s more immediate successors . . ." [Note: Payne, "1, 2 Chronicles," p. 396. Cf. 1 Chronicles 17:14.]

In 2 Samuel 7, the warnings of discipline if David’s descendants failed God focused attention on Solomon and the kings that followed him through Zedekiah, the last king of Judah. In 1 Chronicles 17 those warnings are absent. This fact probably indicates that the Chronicler was looking beyond the kings of Judah who had failed and died to the King who was yet to come. This king would carry out God’s will perfectly (cf. Isaiah 9:6; John 4:34). This would have given the restoration community renewed hope. [Note: For an examination of the Chronicler’s renditions of prophetic utterances, see Simon J. De Vries, "The Forms of Prophetic Address in Chronicles," Hebrew Annual Review 10 (1986):15-35.]

"Though there can be little argument that the covenant with David was unconditional both in its granting and in its perpetuity, the benefits of that covenant to David and to the nation depended on their obedience to the terms of the Mosaic Covenant within which the monarchy functioned. In this respect and only in this respect was the Davidic Covenant conditional." [Note: Merrill, "A Theology . . .," p. 171.]

Verses 1-30

E. God’s Covenant Promises to David chs. 17-29

The dominating theme in 1 Chronicles is the Davidic Covenant, the receiving of which was the most important event in David’s life. God promised to give him an eternal kingdom, and He formalized that promise by making a covenant with him. The writer repeated three times that David’s descendants would be God’s instruments for bringing salvation to the nations.

The Chronicler referred to the Davidic Covenant seven times in his book (1 Chronicles 17:11-14; 1 Chronicles 22:8-13; 1 Chronicles 28:6-7; 2 Chronicles 6:8-9; 2 Chronicles 6:16; 2 Chronicles 7:17-18; 2 Chronicles 13:5; 2 Chronicles 21:7). Many students of Chronicles have regarded the Davidic Covenant as the heart of these books because it established David’s kingly line with promises that relate to the temple and the priesthood. The temple and the priesthood are two major themes of these books. God brought them under Davidic rule forever, as the Chronicler revealed. Another unifying theme is the steps taken toward the building of the temple.

"These include identification of the builder (ch. 17), the necessary political conditions (18-20), site (21), materials and plans (22, 28-29), and the personnel (the primary layer in 23-27)." [Note: Williamson, p. 132.]

1. The first account of God’s promises to David chs. 17-21

In some particulars, the promises God gave David related to him personally. However, other promises pertained to his descendants and, in particular, to one descendant who would do for Israel much more than David could do. In chapters 17-21 the emphasis is on the promises that related to David personally. The writer evidently wanted to establish God’s faithfulness in fulfilling these to encourage his readers to trust God to fulfill the yet unfulfilled promises concerning David’s great Son.

In 1 Chronicles 17:8, God promised David victory over his enemies. The writer recorded that victory in chapters 18-20. In 1 Chronicles 17:9-12, God promised David that He would establish a place for Israel and a place for Himself within Israel (1 Chronicles 17:12; cf. Deuteronomy 12:1-11). The Chronicler documented the selection of that place in chapter 21. These verses contain promises central to the Chronicler’s emphasis and purpose.

Verses 16-27

David’s response to God’s promises 17:16-27

David manifested attitudes of humility (1 Chronicles 17:16) and trust (1 Chronicles 17:27) in his prayer. Most of what he prayed was thanksgiving for what God had promised (1 Chronicles 17:20-27).

"The erection of the temple was an assertion of the divine control over the political and religious life of the state (1 Chronicles 17:22)." [Note: Thompson, p. 145.]

David’s response was a model for the returned exiles, and it is for us.

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 17". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/1-chronicles-17.html. 2012.