Good morning! Today in 1 Chronicles 27-29 we glimpse the military and commercial concerns of the king, return to David’s vision for building the temple, and then witness David hand the reins to his son Solomon. Everything here is done with the confident clarity and ceremony we’ve come to expect from the Chronicler.
Chapter 27 opens with a list of the military divisions which took turns protecting Israel. The Hebrew calendar divides up the year into 12 (lunar) months, and each month one of the divisions of Israel’s army is on watch. Curiously, the list of the heads of tribes includes Aaron as a tribe to itself (with Zadok as head), and neither Gad or Asher are included in the tribes. I found it fascinating in the second half of the chapter to see in the roles of civic leaders the breadth of concerns that a king managed: treasuries (rural and urban), agriculture, viticulture, arboriculture, wine and oil processing, plus herders for sheep, camels and donkeys. It’s a remarkable list of interests, demonstrating that kings like David cared about much more than battles, building and succession. The prosperity of the whole realm required the stewards of each area to act according to David’s commands and their own instincts about the best ways forward.
David’s final exhortation to his people and his son Solomon begins in chapter 28. David hands over to Solomon what are essentially final-draft architectural drawings, staffing charts, and detailed equipment orders for the temple. David leaves no detail unconsidered. This is such a different depiction of who truly built the temple, because in the version of Samuel and Kings we read that once David got word that he would not build the temple, he let the idea pass and didn’t pursue further, leaving it to Solomon to conceive of and provision the Temple. I’m not sure that it matters which monarch was ultimately considered the creator of the Temple, but it’s possible that the Chronicler (a priest or Levite writing in a time—scholars think—when a second Temple was being created) has a vested interest in the idea of a Temple as the product of Israel’s greatest leader.
David’s speech continues in 1 Chronicles 29 with an unflattering characterization of Solomon as “young and inexperienced”. Doing his part for funding as well as planning, David solicits freewill offerings to the building project, in addition to his own extravagant generosity to the cause. Many military leaders or other prominent members of society make their own contributions to the temple’s construction. (No word if any of them got plaques with names inscribed, as is so common with funds for church buildings today.) David’s prayer in the middle of the chapter reveals a mature theology of stewardship: every gift comes from God, and sharing it freely recognizes that we are stewards and not owners of the world’s bounty. The chapter ends by describing the royal succession from David to Solomon with the people’s glad acclamation, then David’s peaceful passing. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is 2 Chronicles 1-5. Thanks for reading!