Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tuesday - 1st Chronicles 11 - The King, His Castle and His Knights

After the passing of Saul, David was exalted to ruler over the region of Judah and eventually over all of Israel.  In the people's view, he had already been the regent over the land anyway.  And, they knew that Samuel had anointed him to be the next king (1st Chronicles 11:2). So, he was inaugurated in Hebron, then proved and exalted in Jerusalem. He took the "castle of Zion" and made it his own (1st Chronicles 11:5). It was an event with eternal ramifications. The new king and his new castle were more significant than anyone at that time could possibly have realized.

Now, the existence of a royal court rightly requires a force of mighty men who legitimize and enforce the will of the king. David had a ring of "knights" who were unmatched in their might and feats. Joab conquered and rebuilt Jerusalem. Jashobeam and Abishai both took on 300 men, each one by himself. And, each one... won. Additionally, Eleazar, Benaiah and Uriah were all 3 men of exceptional value as military men. Add to these the almost 50 other super-soldiers listed in this chapter and what you have is a royal roundtable that could accomplish almost any military mission that was presented to them... by God's grace, of course.

There is one particular feat that seems to exemplify both the ability and the commitment of David's best men. 1st Chronicles 11:15-19 tells of a time when 3 of David's captains went behind enemy lines to get water from a particular well in Bethlehem (for David to drink)... just because they knew that he wanted water from that specific source. Of course, David was a man of greater character than to drink that water. He poured it out on the ground as a sacrifice and offering to God... since his men had risked their very lives for it. He knew that he wasn't worthy of such devotion and loyalty.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Monday - 1st Chronicles 10 - Cursory Mention

Whereas in the former account a great deal of attention was devoted to the rise and fall of King Saul, in this book we only see the last 2 days of his life. Saul fought against the Philistines and was injured in battle. Upon realizing that he was in danger of being captured by his enemies, he fell on his own sword and died. According to this description, not only did Saul lose his throne and his life due to his disobedience early on in his reign (regarding an illegal sacrifice and an incomplete mission against the Amalekites - see 2nd Samuel 13:12, 13, 14 & 15:23), but he also lost everything because he went to a witch... the night before his death (1st Chronicles 10:13).

Notice how Saul's sin affected others.  Specifically, he did not die alone.  He had 3 sons who died with him in battle on the same day of his departure.  Even Jonathan was lost that day.  David's good friend Jonathan died with his father.  Also, many Israelites had to flee from their homes due to the victory which the Philistines enjoyed that day (1st Chronicles 10:7). Perhaps the worst thing that happened was that the false god Dagon was honored at the end of that day rather than the true God of heaven being honored.  So, the conclusion of Saul's kingdom came with hard justice. 1st Chronicles 10:14 gives his epitaph.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday - 1st Chronicles 9 - Loose Ends

It appears that the author of these genealogies was tying up some loose ends in the record of VIP names before he commenced the narrative of the drama of Israel's royal history (beginning in the next chapter). It also seems that the writing, editing, compiling or organizing of these genealogies was in some way connected to the time of the exile of Judah (I Chronicles 9:1). That certainly would be reasonable since the capture and removal of the nation would have brought a fear of a permanent loss of their cohesive identity as a nation… hence genealogical records would have been particularly prized at that time.

These listings were vitally important in the time when Christ was born.  The record of lineages was kept also during the time of the exile, during the return of the remnant to Jerusalem (under Ezra & Nehemiah) as well as during the silent years between the Old & New Testament. In other words, when Jesus was born and when he died, one could have gone to the temple and could have literally traced his ancestry all the way back by either Joseph or Mary through David, Judah, Jacob, Abraham, Shem, Noah, Enoch, Seth and Adam. So, you see, there was a time when this record was of the highest spiritual value imaginable.

Here also is a record of many of the officers and custodians of the temple. The priests, Levites, Nethinims (temple servants), porters (gatekeepers), rulers, workers, guards, treasurers, stewards, pharmacists, cooks, bakers & singers were all originally assigned their duties by David and Samuel in anticipation of the building of the temple by Solomon (1st Chronicles 9:22).  The last 6 verses of this chapter prepare us for the introduction of King Saul in the succeeding chapter (1st Chronicles 10:1).  

Friday, May 26, 2017

Friday – 1st Chronicles 8 - Benjamin

Benjamin was Jacob's baby boy; the second son of Rachel. Benjamin was Jacob's last son to make the trek to Egypt. His only full blooded brother, Joseph, even treated him as special.

When the land of Canaan was divvied up, Benjamin received a portion right up against Judah's. This was significant. Although there was eventually a civil war which featured Benjamin against Judah (primarily); and although Benjamin was almost completely eradicated in that conflict, Judah and Benjamin became very close indeed. Over 30 times in the Old Testament these 2 tribes are mentioned together. Looking at this from a very practical standpoint, the fact that the first 2 kings of Israel came from Benjamin and Judah respectively must have had something to do with their bond, especially since David had such deep connections with Saul and more particularly with prince Jonathan.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thursday - 1st Chronicles 7 - Shuppim & Huppim

According to 1st Chronicles 7:6 & 12, the men Shuppim & Huppim were fathers in the tribe of Benjamin. However, Shuppim is called Muppim in Genesis 46:21. And, what does that have to do with anything? Well, for us, maybe not so much.

The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel and Judah cover a vast amount of time in relatively short order. The books begin with Adam and end with Cyrus King of Persia... covering some 3500 years.  The introduction and foundation to the rest of the book is based upon 2 vital yet brief periods of time around 1700 BC and 1000 BC. Those dates generally demarcate the days of Jacob and the days of David. In this mix is a heap of names of people who were surely important, but we don't know their stories.  Men like Huppim and Shuppim, or Muppim, if you please.

Essentially, in this chapter we find the names of the main men from the tribes of lssachar, Benjamin, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim and Asher. The sum of the numbers of soldiers which are enumerated in this chapter from these tribes during the days of David should come to a sum of 231,034. This can only be a partial numbering though since II Samuel 24:9 gives a total number which was several times larger than that.

The "big boy" tribe in this group (and the hero of that tribe) is discoverable briefly in I Chronicles 7:21- 27. The man was Joshua the son of Nun and his tribe was Ephraim. Joshua, the great general who led Israel into the land of Canaan, was yet another harbinger of Jesus. In fact, the name Joshua (in Hebrew) is the name Jesus (in Greek) and his role was a foreshadowing of one of the roles which Christ filled and fills. Jesus is the captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10). David's story points to Jesus as the last and best king. Aaron's story points to Jesus as our great high priest. Now, Joshua's story points to Jesus as our deliverer. Through following Him, we have entered into the land of victory, rest and peace. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tuesday - 1st Chronicles 6 - The Priestly Line

Just like the chapter about the royal line of King David should lead us up to Jesus (I Chronicle 3), this chapter should direct our mind to Him again as our final high priest. Jesus fully fills 3 official roles from the Old Testament scheme: Prophet, Priest and King. Of course, we shouldn't forget that His priesthood isn't patterned after Aaron's, but after Melchisedec's (Hebrews 7:11).

Jacob's 3rd son, Levi, had 3 sons whose families remained distinct for many generations. In this chapter, some of the main characters from each family are listed for us among many others who (to us) are rather obscure.  Of Levi's many descendants, Aaron, Moses, Miriam, Eleazar, lthamar & Phinehas were all large figures in Israel's religious history. Perhaps you didn't realize that Samuel and Uzza were also part of this same tribe (I Chronicles 6:28 & 29).

There are a couple of men who stand out in this list because of explanations about their significance which are added in. "Azariah, (who executed the priest's office in the temple that Solomon built in Jerusalem) and Jehozadak went into captivity,  when the LORD carried away Judah and Jerusalem by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar "(1st Chronicles 6:10 & 15). These details do a couple of things for us. First, they help us to get our chronological and historical bearings as we wade through these names. But also, in the case of Azariah, we can see which Azariah is being listed. This is helpful because there are a couple dozen different men by that name who are mentioned in the Bible. Like with John or Mary, one has to check to be sure which one is being discussed.