1 Chronicles 20

A couple of military victories.

David sits out the first battle, which is an oblique reference to David’s biggest sin, when he murdered out of lust for Bathsheba. This narrative is very focused on nation building and the temple, it’s not a complete history.

They also kill Giants, mirroring the story of when David was a boy and slew Goliath. Three different giant slayers are identified, but at the end the credit is given to ‘David and his men’.

There is no editorialising here, but the choices of details have narrative significance.

It’s primarily setting up the most secure and prosperous era of the Israelites, which was quite short lived.

Ok, methodically reading a randomly divided chapter of scriptures every day in sequence doesn’t deliver a neat message you can take with you every time. It’s a discipline as well as an inspiration.

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1 Chronicles 19

Another battle story. There is not much of God’s in this.

David is depicted as a sensitive king who didn’t pick the fights.

His commanders are some of the great men described in earlier chapters. They make the only mention of God in the chapter when they call on his will to be done as they go into battle.

The tactics show their faithfulness and God’s hand, arguably. The attacking army got a big mercenary army to bolster their forces and surrounded them on both sides.

It ought to be a military disaster but David’s army is supremely confident and simply splits into two fronts, attacking backwards and forwards. It never seems to occur to them that they might lose, and the enemy are so spooked that both sides run away.

That is a tell tale signal of God’s hand, his favourite way of ensuring an outcome in a war is to scare one side into running away. But it’s not explicitly attributed to God.

I feel, cautiously like I might be moving in the direction of victory over my own struggles with my procrastination over things that scare me. Pray for strength and a sense of responsibility.

1 Chronicles 18

David’s victories. I turned to the commentaries because there is a lot of casual cruelty in this chapter, quite confronting.

They emphasised that the wars were an existential requirement for Israel, like Europe defeating Hitler. They bought more peace than they sacrificed.

The writer is leaving out lots of detail from the earlier accounts in Samuel and Kings to emphasise the temple. Last chapter God told David he couldn’t build it.

But this chapter scans a lifetime of his victories in fast forward to show how his reign laid the ground work for it, by bringing tremendous peace and prosperity.

Chronicles, as I mentioned earlier, is written to accompany the rebuilding of the temple hundreds of years later, after Israel’s been defeated and Jerusalem sacked.

It doesn’t tell us that much about God. David is godly, but like a godly general in world war Two, he organises killing people. His victories are strategic and security oriented, he’s not needlessly greedy for Empire. But he does it.

God does have better plans, but they are slow. It’s slow not because he is weak, but because he loves the baddies.

The direction of the Bible is to use David’s line to bless all nations, and promise a new heaven and a new earth where there is no more war, crying or pain.

And so we have this pep talk about the glory days, to encourage the defeated remnant of them to keep the thread going long enough until the birth of Jesus.

The temples gone again now he’s come. When he died, the curtain around the place where God was, ripped.

And we still aren’t there, at the new earth, yet. It’s complicated.

1 Chronicles 17

Enough.

Rupert Murdoch, apparently, when asked how much would be enough money for him said “a little bit more”.

King David, after establishing Jerusalem as the capital of a unified Israel, putting the worship tent, the tabernacle, there and fetching the ark of the covenant for it, the spiritual heart of the holy city, suggests a little bit more… A grand temple instead of the old tent.

I love how generously God says ‘no’. He uses the history of his blessing of David to promise the lavish future of Davids reign, prosperity and power; and his house, the line of the Messiah, the means of the world’s salvation.

But, no.

And I admire how readily David accepts it. Sure he has a prophet to tell him God’s word, but where else if the Bible does anyone listen to the prophets? Even Jesus was widely ignored or actively undermined.

He has enough, he’s content, he doesn’t attempt to do more of God’s ‘will’ than God’s wants. He feels 100% blessed.  He abandons the part of him that felt it would be cool to have a massive stone and Cedar temple as a legacy to the earthly power and wealth with which he was able to worship God.

Instead he’d leave a bunch of songs “the Lord is my shepherd therefore will I lack nothing”.

1 Chronicles 16

The second half of the celebration of the ark of the covenant coming to Jerusalem, this box they’ve carried through the wilderness with the 10 commandments written by God the food God provided, and Moses’ staff, which turned into a snake before Pharaoh.

They appoint priests to run worship at the place it is and make music. Singing and music are key to uniting the people under Jehovah.

Then we get a big bold song about God being over all and his love being eternal. And they feed everyone, roast meat, bread and raisins.

It is a sensational day, the making of a people, a godly people, their destiny, a golden freeze frame moment.

The last verse says then they all went home, and David spent time with his family.

1 Chronicles 15

Ark done right. Listening to God, David had learned his lesson and consulted God about how to carry the ark, after the attempt in chapter 13 resulted in death from God’s anger.

It’s carried on the shoulders of Levite priests on poles. Pretty nervous priests I’m guessing, but it doesn’t go wrong again

But the message is clear, consult God, follow his word.

I wondered if we’d get the detail that Saul’s daughter disapproved of Davids joyous dancing. We did.

Palace disloyalty, and his lusts will prove his weakness.

But this day is one of his best, a day of huge significance, joy and celebration.

David has established Jerusalem, God’s capital of his promised land, and bought into it the ark that they carried through the wilderness, the artifact of their epic journey from slavery.

I’m not doing it justice. Bit of a chemical sleepiness this morning, took a drowsy headache pill. At least the sadness from earlier in the week has largely passed.

But I need to get onto some things, I motivate myself with how good it will feel. I need to be light. It feels like a step in my journey I need to take. My life has come down to battles of fear vs bravery at the moment.

1 Chronicles 14

Life done right. Descriptions of King David’s early days ooze his godliness.

He doesn’t realise really that God plans him to be king until other Kings send gifts and trade missions. He’s the king described in the law, back in Deuteronomy. Humble.

Philistines attack. He asks God what to do… He doesn’t tell God to give him victory because God is on his side. He prays to know God’s wisdom, his will.

2 decisive victories, and the nations fear them, God has won them some peace and prosperity. No sense of entitlement though, just gratitude.

Classic example of putting God before all. To David the role of king is an outcome of God’s will, not of his own talent or ambition. Because God is his king.

This chapter should be read by every believer starting a new phase of life. You haven’t made it, you aren’t there to use the opportunity to do God’s will. God made you, you are there to discover what God’s will is.

1 Chronicles 13

Presumption.

Usually a presumptuous person gets a verbal dressing down but the person who presumes to catch the ark of the covenant from falling gets death.

It’s shocking, having been trained all my life as an evangelical Christian not to give objects power, to avoid the popish veneration of statues and so forth. Yet this covenant box, as it’s called here, has that power.

We’re also entering the repeat zone. Chronicles and Kings follow each other quite closely at times. I could just copy over my comments from before, maybe, or do the fun game where you mine the slight differences in the texts for deeper meaning.

I suppose we get the life of Jesus 4 times. The story of exodus goes in circles like the trip, over four books. It’s just how it is. The histories of the kings of Israel don’t seem as important now as they must have back then, but as we are to learn, obedience to God’s perspective is. So I’ll go through again, and have many similar thoughts again, with humility.

The issue with the ark is not the object but obedience. They’d been told how to carry it in Numbers, but they consulted each other rather than God’s word and came up with a special cart. Then, in the moment it threatened to fall from the cart, Uzziah thought better of the rule about not touching it, but he was wrong.

As I commented last time, it’s God’s right as creator to appoint the day of our death. This was his day, and if Israel had listened to the message, they may not have been destroyed. If David had listened, he may not have had murder in his biography.

Entering into the period of the kings they get a sharp message about the issue that would end the period of the kings, reverence for God’s word.

We don’t think of Fred hollows life as wasted, but there is still needless blindness caused by poverty in the world. Nor mother Theresa’s, but there are still slums in India, So who’s to say what a valuable life looks like?

I’m very sad today, I’m haunted by my failings, my procrastination, my inability to cope with things. I’m closed off, trying to live a good life, but Paul’s way. Paul’s special cart. I need to share, to offer to God my desire to cope better under my own steam.

Kelly can never understand why I try to solve everything myself, why I don’t read instruction manuals or ask for help. She’s right.

And OK, so maybe reading some of these stories again does make sense.

1 Chronicles 12

King Saul made David an enemy of Israel, and David refused to fight back. This is the story of how he got support to claim the throne.

Many soldiers joined him, even some who went possibly to spy on him ended up joining him. The story is told of the man who became commander of the elite ’30’, having a prophetic utterance, recognising God is on David’s side.

The structure of the narrative makes it clear he is a unifier: it goes through all the tribes, listing his support, starting with Benjamin, Saul’s tribe.

The momentum builds until he has a huge army, the people gather to him, and the is spontaneous feasting and joy, he’s that kind of guy in that kind of moment.

David followed God, and God’s plan unfolded around him.

I have a small sense of that at work, I get panicky if I try to think of the big picture, but I clearly know what would be the right thing to do moment to moment. David surrendered to God the big picture.

1 Chronicles 11

David becomes king after Saul. There is little moment-to-moment spiritual content in this narrative – now it has finally started, though there is a spiritual meta story of God’s people.

And we do get the contrast of the new king with the old. Saul lost God, but David gets stronger and stronger because God is with him.

The guts of the chapter is devoted to bravery and warfare. It lists David’s best soldiers, the ’30’ who helped him fight the Philistines. Also the ‘3’, the creme of the creme. A story is told of them breaking enemy lines to get David a drink of water from a spring he is fond of. Rather than drink it he pours it out as an offering to their bravery.

It tells about the conquest of Jebus aka Jerusalem. It’s christened the City of David.

I was shocked at morning tea yesterday how much I’ve got used to the brutality of the Old testament when our friends, quite fairly, echoed their distaste for it.

Kelly has a great way of describing how she understands it, if you view it at a distance, holding it out so its a bit blurry, you can see the pattern, there is a plan and action of God. But close up, in focus, it’s awful.

I’ve explained it a lot in these entries, but those same rationalisations sounded lame when I tried to say them out loud. The conversation has echoed around in my head and I haven’t processed it yet. No doubt I’ll have time, launching into yet another long and bloody old testament book.

Still very stressed as the uncertainty of work and my own frustrating nature cause me anxiety. I’m being prompted to make things better I think.