Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Canonical reading Plan for May 7, 1 Chr 18-21

The readings for today are 1 Chr 18-21.

The Chronicle volumes are notable examples of why it’s good to know when a book of the Bible was written and what the original author intended to say to his audience. The two- volume set was written about one hundred years after the time to David, to a people who had stumbled badly. Because of their disobedience, they were displaced but have, nonetheless, been blessed by God and are now going home.

As such, the chronologies are not always in order. The author wants us to understand the depth of God’s grace and will use anecdotal scenarios to emphasize his point. He wants his readers to be awestruck at God’s goodness, faithfulness, and grace. In so doing, he emphasizes times of blessing rather than detailing the failures and stumbling. The Chronicler is fully aware of the Samuel scrolls and sees no need to repeat the sordid details of Israel’s fall, but wants to be an encouragement to those returning, all of whom are facing the dauntless task of rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple.

1 Chr 18:1-13 looks back on the same period of time as 2 Samuel 8, documenting in greater detail David’s early military victories after assuming the throne.

David establishes his administration in 1 Chr 18:14-17. The key verse here is 1 Chr 18:14, where we see that David “administered justice and equity to all his people.” David’s reign will exhibit a marked contrast to Saul’s. David’s desire for justice and holiness reveals his godly heart and his desire to honor God in all he does. Regardless of David’s flaws and failings, he is a man after God’s own heart.

This should be an encouragement to us. While God will not tolerate ongoing, outright rebellion, He will bless and honor a contrite and repentant heart. Yes, we will stumble and fall from time to time, but God, rather than taking our struggles as an opportunity to punish us, will use them to remind us of His mercy and grace. David’s life, warts and all, stands as testimony to God’s love for His children.

1 Chr 19:1-19 depicts the events in 2 Sam 10:1-19. Vs 10-19 not only display the incredible unity within the tribes under David but also show us that God puts the enemies of His people under their feet. The message is clear - there is victory for those who belong to God.

However, in the details, we hear another message, one that says that David and Israel act in a godly fashion but are rebutted and abused. This lesson is clear as well. God’s people will not always have it easy in the world. We, as believers, will be maligned and persecuted. Our victory will come, but it may not be immediate. Whether it is instantaneous or not, it is assured just as David’s was.

1 Chr 20 recounts the military victories depicted in 1 Sam 11-12 but omits the event surrounding David’s sin with Bathsheba. They are common knowledge and have no place in the retelling of God's deliverance of His people back to Canaan. God's deliverance is the good news, not the failures of His children. This is a good reminder of what our testimonies should sound like. They are not sordid tales of what we were immersed in before salvation. They are tales of God's redemption and love. Our testimonies, like the Bible, are about God and His unfathomable grace, not us.

1 Chr 21 gives us, in greater detail, the setting of the census taken in 2 Sam 24There are different numbers in 1 Chr 21 than in 2 Sam 24. The differences seem to be attributed to how the count was taken and who was included in it. The Chronicler did not include Levi but also mentioned that Joab did not count Benjamin either. The author of Samuel may have included them but not necessarily all the tribes of the Southern Kingdom. Whatever combinations of those numbers the author of Samuel used may be different from the combination the Chronicler used.

We see the harsh result of David numbering Israel out of pride. Joab, resenting the order and taking things into his own hands makes things worse by doing less than he was told. The emphasis in both passages is not on the accuracy of the numbers, but the pride and disobedience of the participants and the confusion and consequences that ensue when God is not in the proceedings.

The lesson for us as believers is to be careful of numbering our accomplishments for our own satisfaction and edification. David struggles with the issue of pride. Joab struggles with being judgmental and self-righteousness. Notice how David stumbles, and Joab makes things worse. Sin in response to sin never edifies or heals.

But there's another lesson as well, one we see repeatedly. The response to sin is repentance - heartfelt, contrite repentance. We are neither to ignore it nor are we to incessantly revisit it. We repent, God restores.

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