Unit: History of Israel (1 Samuel & 1 Chronicles)
Theme: A New King
Lesson Text: 1 Chronicles 11:4-7; 15:28–16:9; 2 Chronicles 6:2-6
Supplemental Texts: 2 Samuel 6:12-15; 1 Chronicles 16:10-36; Zechariah 8:1-8; Acts 7:45-49
Aim: Give thanks to the Lord, for his presence is with us.
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By Mark Scott
On the uphill drive from Jericho to Jerusalem, the tour guide will have the song “The Holy City” played on the bus speakers. It’s very emotional to round a turn, see the temple, and hear, “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Lift up your gates and sing; Hosanna in the highest, Hosanna to your King!” Jerusalem is the city of stone, the envy of the whole earth, and the highest joy (Psalm 137:6).
How are we to think about sacred space? God is omnipresent (i.e., there is no place he is not), yet not all places are created equal. God had invaded Jacob’s space, but only later did Jacob know it (Genesis 28:16). The Israelites saw God’s glory come into the tabernacle in a special way and yet God routinely guided the people through the wilderness day and night (Exodus 40:35, 38). David’s reign would be centralized in Jerusalem and the presence of God would be located there as in no other city.
1 Chronicles 11:4-7
Before David could operate out of Jerusalem, he would have to conquer it. He marched his soldiers to the ancient site of Jebus and captured it. The Jebusites (descendants of the third son of Canaan) thought they were safe in their fortress (stronghold). After all, the banana-shaped ancient city of David had mountains to the east with a deep ravine between. It was also well protected to the south and west, even if perhaps a bit vulnerable to the north.
Joab (one of David’s most loyal men for most of the king’s reign) led the charge. His reward was becoming commander-in-chief (ruler or prince) of David’s forces. So David took up residence in this place and it became known as his city. It was known as Zion (a term that can refer to a mountain, a city, or a people).
1 Chronicles 15:28–16:9
It was one thing for David to dwell in Jerusalem, but for God’s presence to dwell in Jerusalem would demand special furniture and ceremony. How would David solidify his permanent residence in Jerusalem and secure God’s presence in the city? With the help of his “mighty men” to secure his reign there (1 Chronicles 11–12), David attempted to move the precious “ark box” (a symbol of God’s presence and redemption) to the holy city from Kiriath Jearim, where it had been for some time (1 Chronicles 13). Two things delayed the ceremony. The people did not follow God’s instructions about moving the ark (1 Chronicles 13:5-14) and the Philistines invaded (1 Chronicles 14:8-17).
The celebration of bringing the ark of the covenant (also called the ark of the covenant of the Lord and the ark of God) was grand. It was highly celebrative with volume (shouts), musical instruments (horns, trumpets, cymbals, lyres, and harps), Levitical offerings (burnt offerings and fellowship offerings), food (bread, dates, and raisins), leaders (11 are mentioned by name), and praise that was off the charts. To perpetuate this celebration, David appointed (assigned) Levites and priests to ensure that God’s praise would be made known among the nations. Jerusalem was clearly intended to be a city on a hill that could not be hidden. The last two verses of this text are part of David’s larger “Song of Thanks” (16:8-36).
Only one sour note was sounded in this celebration, and that came from David’s wife, Michal. The daughter of King Saul, Michal had been given to David as a prize for defeating the Philistines (1 Samuel 18:25-29). Something about David’s exuberance embarrassed her. She watched David dancing (skipping) and celebrating (playing or laughing). She despised (held in contempt) David. The result was that the marriage was pretty well over (2 Samuel 6:23).
2 Chronicles 6:2-6
We fast-forward to David’s son Solomon, who built the temple after his father’s death. The resulting celebration outstripped the earlier celebration of bringing the ark into the city. The sacrifices offered were innumerable, and the glory of the Lord filled the house of God (2 Chronicles 5:6, 14).
Solomon told God he had built a magnificent temple (exalted house) for him to dwell in forever. Then he turned to bless the people and praised God. He acknowledged God’s faithfulness, his redemption of his people, his election of Israel, and the choice God made to have his Name dwell in Jerusalem. For God’s name to dwell there meant his presence would be there.
The “Hound of Heaven” finds ways to be with us. While heaven and earth cannot contain him (Acts 7:48-49), he can make Zion come to us (Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 21:2).