1 Chronicles 16 Bible Commentary

John Darby’s Synopsis

(Read all of 1 Chronicles 16)
Blessing and praise

Let us now consider the import of this establishment of the ark and of the throne in Zion, as set before us in the psalm which David wrote on this occasion.

It is true that, so far as it was entrusted to man [1], the kingly power failed; but it is not, therefore, the less true that it has been placed in the house of David, according to the counsels, the gift, and the calling of God, and that all the promises connected with it—the sure mercies of David—will be fulfilled in Christ.

In that which we read here (chap. 16) the throne is considered in the light of God's thoughts, and of the blessing which, according to those thoughts, is linked with it. David, having offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, and having blessed the people, deals to every one, both to man and woman, a loaf of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine; for God will "abundantly bless her provision, and satisfy her poor with bread." Then David gives the Levites a psalm to sing praises unto Jehovah.

David's psalm: its connection with Psalm 105

This Psalm is composed of a part of Psalm 105, of Psalm 96 with some alterations, of the beginning of Psalms 106, 107, 118, and 136, which is an important form of words; and of Psalm 106: 47, 48.

The following are its subjects in the order which the psalm follows. First, Psalm 105 in which the deeds of Jehovah are celebrated, as well as His marvellous works, and the judgments of His mouth. Israel, as His people and the assembly of His chosen ones, are commanded to remember these things, for He is Jehovah their God, and His judgments are in all the earth. Israel is called to remember, not Moses and the conditional promises given to the people through him, but the covenant made with Abraham unconditionally—an everlasting covenant to give the land to his seed. Israel is reminded of the way in which God preserved those heirs of promise, when they went from nation to nation. The remainder of the psalm is omitted; it speaks historically of the ways of God, with respect to the preservation of His people in Egypt, and of their deliverance thence, to be established in Canaan, that they might observe the statutes of Jehovah; and this part of the psalm would have been unsuitable here, where grace is celebrated in the establishment of the people in power after those statutes had been broken. The beginning of the psalm celebrates grace towards Israel according to the promises made to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, when the judgments of God are in all the earth. This is the first thing founded upon the presence of the ark, and the establishment of the throne in Zion.

Correspondence with Psalm 96

The verses 23-33 are almost the words of Psalm 96. It is a call to the heathen to acknowledge Jehovah, whose glory should be declared among all nations. This psalm belongs to a series of psalms, which, from the first cry of the people until the universal joy of the nations, relate in order all that refers to the bringing again the Firstborn into the world. Only in Psalm 96 the words, "Say among the heathen that Jehovah reigneth," have a place which gives them a more prophetic character. Here the joy of the heavens and the earth precedes this message to the heathen, and, instead of saying "his courts," it is said "before him." The words, "He shall judge the peoples with righteousness," [2] are also omitted, as well as the second half of the last verse, which applies this judgment to the world. Apart from these alterations, which appear to me to give this psalm more of the character of a present joy, these verses correspond with Psalm 96.

The omission of the judgment of the peoples in righteousness is remarkable. It is because the subject here is joy, and the grace of deliverance in the establishment of power, with the subsequent government of the earth, and that the nations are called up to Jerusalem to present themselves there before Jehovah. This is the leading thought.

Jehovah's mercy continually celebrated

We have then in these two parts the fulfilment, in Israel's joy before Jehovah, of the covenant made with the fathers, following after His mighty works; and the call addressed to the nations to come up to the place of His glory [3]. We have next this form of words, "His mercy endureth for ever," declaring that in spite of all the faults, all the sins, and all the unfaithfulness of Israel, Jehovah's mercy has stood firm. It will be when the Lamb, the true ark of the covenant and the real David, shall be upon Mount Zion, even before He assumes the character of Solomon, that this will be fully demonstrated. Accordingly, since David, this has been sung (compare ver. 41; 2 Chron. 5: 13; Ezra 3: 11; Jer. 33: 11).

Correspondence with Psalm 106

Psalm 106, which concludes the fourth book of Psalms, opens at length the proofs of this precious declaration, while the psalm we are considering, after giving the promises made to Abraham, passes over the whole history to the end (omitting the latter part of Psalm 105, from verse 16, which speaks of it, and places Israel under responsibility in Canaan), and goes on with the first verse of Psalm 106, which declares that the mercy of God has continued in spite of everything.

Correspondence with Psalms 107, 118, 136

Psalm 107 treats the same subject, but in connection with the deliverance and the return of Israel at the end of the age.

Psalm 118 brings out this truth in connection with the Person of the Messiah, suffering with His people, but at last known and accepted in the day which Jehovah has made.

Finally, in Psalm 136, the same doxology is sung in connection with the full blessing of Israel and of all creation; beginning with the creation itself, and celebrating the proofs of this mercy throughout all things, until the blessing of the earth, resulting in the redemption of Israel.

Here we may remark, that from Psalm 132, which we have already noticed as celebrating the establishment of the ark on Mount Zion, the psalms are consecutive until Psalm 136. Only they go beyond our present subject and introduce us to the restored temple, although still speaking of Zion as the place of blessing (compare Psalms 133, 134, 135, and finally 136, of which we are speaking, and which, as a chorus, concludes the series).

The contents of the psalm: its concluding verses of prayer and praise

Finally we have the two concluding verses of Psalm 106, the first of which prays that God would gather Israel [4] from among the heathen, which will be the result of the throne of Jesus being set up in Zion [5], and the second of which concludes the psalm (as we find at the close of each book of Psalms) by blessing for ever Jehovah the God of Israel. This song of praise contains then every subject which the presence of Christ in Zion will give occasion to celebrate, when He shall already have appeared to establish there His power in grace, but before the effects of His presence have been felt all around.

The place of power and mercy

At the close of chapter 16 we see that the king regulates everything that was to be done before the ark, and before the altar which was in the high place at Gibeon (that is to say, for the service of every day before the ark, and for the sacrifices upon the altar); and that he also appointed Levites to praise Jehovah, and to sing that "His mercy endureth for ever."

It is touching to see, that the testimony to this precious faithfulness on God's part is not only found in the place where power had set the ark, but there also where the heart of the people needed it meantime, namely, at the altar, which, although the place where the people drew nigh to God, had become after all a testimony to the fallen condition of the people, a tabernacle without the ark.

The sure mercies of David seen in the ark and the altar

Faith, apprehending the counsels and the work of God, could see in the establishment of the ark in Zion (an act which, according to the old order, was thorough disorder), the progress of God's power and intervention towards the peaceful and glorious reign of the Son of David. The sure mercies of David were as bright to the eye of faith as the dawn of day, in that the ark of the covenant had been set up by David the king in the mountain which God had chosen for His everlasting rest.

But all did not apprehend this intervention and these ways of God, so precious to those who understood them; and the condescending mercy of God stooped at Gibeon to the low estate of the people whom He loved, and He still spoke to them after His own heart there, at the altar where this people could draw near to God in an ignorance perhaps which saw no farther; but where, as far as this ignorance allowed, they were faithful to Him who had brought them out of Egypt: there God spoke to them, telling them that His mercy endured for ever. This was in fact a touching proof of it. David returns to bless his house; always a distinct thing, for David as for Solomon, from the people, and from the glory connected with them.

[1] Compare Psalm 132: 11, 12, the two principles already pointed out in the thoughts on the Books of Kings.

[2] "Peoples" (Ps. 96: 10) is Ammim; habitually used in the Psalms I think for "peoples" ("people" A.V.), associated with "the people;" that is, Israel, 1 Chron. 16: 36. See however 1 Chron. 16: 26; at any rate, they are not treated as heathen. In "Judge the peoples" (Ps. 96: 10) "judge" is deen (as in Ps. 7: 8), referring to controversies and litigation. Shaphat "judge" (Ps. 96: 13, twice) is more general judicial authority. "Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth" comes before the heavens and earth rejoicing in Ps. 96, but after in 1 Chron. 16.

[3] Psalm 100 could not have been used here, because before that Psalm Jehovah had already been celebrated as sitting between the cherubim (99: 1); while the act of placing the ark in Zion was only an anticipation. It is Psalm 96, therefore, which is quoted. It is the presence of Christ on Mount Zion to fulfil the promises in power, before reigning in peace, which explains all these allusions, as well as some Psalms, which seem to speak of a return from captivity, and a rebuilding of Jerusalem, while praying at the same time for the accomplishment of this return. In some the celebration of the blessing is in spirit, and the cry for blessing the fact preceding the accomplishment of it.

[4] This petition proves the prophetic character of the psalm, and shews that it reaches onward to the latter times of Israel.

[5] See Matthew 24: 31 (although it is there in connection with His coming from heaven), and Psalm 126.