This post only covers the last two chapters of 1 Chronicles. These chapters finish the transition from David to Solomon narrated from 1 Chronicles 22-29. They serve to combine David and Solomon into a single unit — for they are the one major Messianic figure of the book. Yet they are not about David and Solomon for their own sake, but instead about David and Solomon for the sake of the temple to be built. The theological significance of the temple is so important to the Chronicler that even these idealized kings are servants to its construction. We will continue to make some observations concerning these chapters when we move to discuss Solomon and 2 Chronicles 1-9 in the post for next week. Indeed, these chapters are meant to tie the reigns of David and Solomon together and not to see them torn apart into two books! I encourage you to read the other passages cited like Joshua 1:5-8 and Psalm 132:7-8 as you work through this post.
1 Chronicles 28-29 pick up where the story had left off in 1 Chronicles 22. The speech in 1 Chronicles 28 is introduced this way: ”David assembled at Jerusalem all the officials of Israel, the officials of the tribes, the officers of the divisions that served the king, the commanders of thousands, the commanders of hundreds, the stewards of all the property and livestock of the king and his sons, together with the palace officials, the mighty men and all the seasoned warriors. Then King David rose to his feet and said:” (1 Chron 28:1-2a).
In 1 Chronicles 22 David had made preparations for the building of the Temple and had given his son a charge to build it. Now in 1 Chronicles 28 David makes another speech preparing Israel to support Solomon in building the Temple and then charging Solomon to do it. The speech begins with David talking about how it was in his heart to build ”a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of YHWH and for the footstool of our God” and prepared to do so but God told him that he could not do it since he had shed blood.
The speech continues by talking about the way God had chosen David to be king and now has chosen Solomon his son to follow him on the throne and how God had said that Solomon would build God’s house and courts, the Lord saying, “for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. I will establish his kingdom forever if he continues strong in keeping my commandments and my rules, as he is today” (1 Chron 28:6b-7). So David then charges them to observe and seek out all the commandments of YHWH so that they might possess the land and leave it to their kids.
Next is David’s charge to Solomon.
This chapter has quite a bit in common with 1 Chron 22 both in structure and content. There are some differences. For example, his preparations for the temple in 1 Chron 22 are like a prelude (as Braun calls it) to the charge to Solomon but in 1 Chron 28 they are part of the speech itself. Also the introduction quoted earlier is more formal than the introduction in 1 Chron 22. Remember even by repetition with some differences in 1 Chronicles, this part of the story is much enlarged compared to that found in the book of Samuel.
The basic difference between 1 Chronicles 22 and 28 is the setting – the former was to Solomon in private and the latter was in public. Braun says, ”The convening of such assemblies provides a favorite means by which the Chronicler expresses the involvement of the people in political and religious activities of which he approved” (and then Braun cites several examples later in the book).
He also says that 1 Chron 28 further developed the idea of rest. Thus as the ark finds its rest in the temple to be built whereas before the promise had been that the people would have rest. Note parallels with Psalm 132, which the Chronicler alludes to and quotes in this book. Here we are seeing the Chronicler’s theology, which Braun says comes from the tradition found in Numbers 10:33-36. The prophetic histories did not build on that particular insight, but Chronicles does.
1 Chronicles 28 also relies on the transition from Moses to Joshua at the beginning of the book of Joshua. What David said to Solomon in 1 Chron 28:20 includes a direct quote of Joshua 1:5, ”He will not abandon you and he will not forsake you.” In fact, the text of that verse has much in common with Joshua 1 – ”Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for YHWH God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you,” adding, ”until all the work for the service of the house of YHWH is finished.”
Braun notes that the text alludes to the tabernacle narrative in Exodus and that the picture described here is akin to that of the temple at the end of Ezekiel (ch.40-48). The main point here he explains this way: ”The significance for its original audience of this pericope, with its emphasis upon the centrality of the temple and the Davidic/Solomonic role in its construction, has been pointed to before—the temple stands as the unifying point for all Israel.”
1 Chronicles 29 (1 Chron 29:1, 10, 20) is King David speaking ”to all the assembly.” Braun says that the dependence of the Chronicler on the tabernacle story in Exodus 25-31 and 35-40 continues in the first speech here. Thus aside from iron (which didn’t fit the time) the materials like bronze, wood, onyx stones, stones for setting, antimony, variegated cloth, and linen were all mentioned in the tabernacle story too and both stories mention the people giving gold, silver, bronze, and precious stones. Some of these are rare words in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Braun particularly highlights 1 Chron 29:9 saying that the words ”epitomize the Chronicler’s understanding of the faithful response of God’s people—generosity and joy flowing from a fully committed heart.” The verse reads, ”Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to YHWH. David the king also rejoiced greatly.”
In this way the Chronicler has made David a new Moses, for both in Exodus and now in Chronicles the people respond to the tabernacle/temple building projects by giving generously.
Next is the text of a prayer by David. Braun describes the prayer as a blending of a hymn, thanksgiving, and petition (with some hints of a lament also). These are categories familiar to us from studying the Psalms. Each part of the prayer includes a basis or reason for it – the blessing of v.10 is supported by v.11-12, the thanksgiving of v.13 is supported by v.14-16, and the supplications in v.18-19 by the response that follows. This prayer section also ends with the people giving willingly with a whole heart and rejoicing as they offered sacrifices and ate.
The response we just discussed was at the ascension of Solomon described in the verses that follow. My English Bible unhelpfully divides the text between 1 Chron 29:22a and 29:22b to give the heading ”Solomon Anointed King.” In any case, the text here serves to further unite David and Solomon into a unified Messianic figure and to unite the text narratives of David and Solomon together. This, of course, is not helped by the division of Chronicles into two books in English Bibles.
Knowing from the prophetic history of earlier Scripture that not all of David’s sons supported Solomon’s reign at first and that these words are said here at the beginning of Solomon’s reign, we read in Chronicles: ”And they made Solomon the son of David king the second time, and they anointed him as prince for YHWH, and Zadok as priest. Then Solomon sat on the throne of YHWH as king in place of David his father. And he prospered, and all Israel obeyed him. All the leaders and the mighty men, and also all the sons of King David, pledged their allegiance to King Solomon. And YHWH made Solomon very great in the sight of all Israel and bestowed on him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel.” Thus knowing what actually happened was much more complicated than Chronicles tells it as it also was when David came to the throne, we can see what the Chronicler is trying to do. He is describing David and Solomon as a unified Messianic figure to whom all Israel showed support – for the Chronicler hopes that ”all Israel” will do so when the Messiah would arrive.
Note particularly how the Chronicler describes his view of kingship by saying, ”Solomon sat on the throne of YHWH as king.”
The chapter ends then with a conclusion regarding David that also ties his reign to Solomon’s.
The basic application of this text to today Braun helpfully summarizes this way: ”The God who furthered his plans through David, Solomon, and the temple, and summoned his people to identify themselves with him in those plans, is still mightily at work, and still summons ‘all Israel,’ i.e., all his chosen ones, to accept his lordship and respond with lives of obedient service. In that service, they are assured, they will find perfect freedom and joy.”
And so the major difference between 1 Chronicles 28-29 and 2 Chronicles 1-9 is that in the former David was the primary speaker and actor while Solomon is more passive and in the latter it is Solomon who speaks and acts. All this supports the contention that 1 Chronicles 22-29 is a transition designed to tie the reigns of David and Solomon together.