Thursday, July 7, 2016

Bible Commentary - 1 Chronicles 22

In this chapter, David prepares the gold, silver and other materials for Solomon to build the future temple of the LORD.

In my opinion, I think the crux of this whole chapter is verse 5: David thinks that Solomon is young and incapable of building the temple by himself to be as great as David wants it to be, so David is going to “help” Solomon out as much as he can.  The accomplishment is nominally Solomon’s, but David intends pitch in whatever way is possible.  I can’t help but observe a parallel to overly ambitious parents of our own generation, so desperately eager for their children’s success that they help write school essays, hire tutors and do whatever it takes to get their children into some kind of elite university or prestigious law school or something.  The children perhaps resent that parental influence, but such parents are perhaps seeking to fulfill their own dream in their child’s life and disregard their child’s desires or intentions.

I wonder how much of this dynamic is in play here, and how Solomon feels about David’s influence and reputation preceding him.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that while Solomon is the one building the temple, David is more famous in history.  I wonder if Solomon ever felt that David was an overbearing father.  The other side of this story is that David has undeniably prepared Solomon for success.  Because David wanted the temple to be amazing and fantastic, it had to be a multi-generational project.  It was too big for one generation to build it.

Beyond all the preparations for the temple, David has also crushed their neighboring enemies and ensured that Solomon will indeed have peace in his generation.  The only question is, once Solomon is unconstrained by his father’s guiding influence, where will his desire lead him?  Will he become the great king and temple builder that David desires, or will he be like king Joash who started to sin and disregard the LORD when Jedoiada the priest died (2 Kings 12)?  This is the ultimate test of a man’s heart: what you do when there is nobody left to control you or force you to behave some certain way.  We know from the book of Kings that when Solomon reaches his old age, he marries foreign women who lead him to worship idols, and I really wonder if David’s behavior is a factor.  While David loves the LORD, he may be alienating his son by treating him as a pawn to fulfill his own desires.  Chronicles does not analyze these issues directly, but it’s something to keep in mind when observing the interaction between David and Solomon.

In keeping with the above, what we can learn most directly from this chapter is David’s zeal for the temple.  We know that it was “in David’s heart” to build the temple, but he was not permitted to do so by the LORD, similar to how it was in Moses’s heart to enter with Israel into the promised land, but he was not permitted to do so either.  Moses spent the end of his life preparing Israel to enter the promised land by giving them the Law of God (basically all of Deuteronomy), and now David is spending the end of his life preparing Solomon to build the temple.  I can feel David’s enthusiasm pouring through this chapter as he wants to do everything he possibly can to ensure that the temple is “of great magnificence and fame and splendor”.  I think David really wanted to build the temple and when that was denied to him, he now wants to get as close to building the temple as he possibly can without overstepping the boundary that God laid down.

Meanwhile, we can also see this chapter as part of the transition between David and Solomon’s kingships.  David is both handing over the temple project to Solomon as well as commanding his royal administration to obey Solomon.  Passing down the command to build the temple definitely establishes a continuity between father and son, the same way that the covenantal promise bound together Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Another theme in this chapter is the contrast between David as a man of bloodshed and Solomon as a man of peace (v. 8-9).  This is in keeping with the previous several chapters that detailed some of David’s military campaigns.  Israel needed to have peace with their neighbors in order to build the temple, but for some vague moral reason, conducting these campaigns disqualified David from building the temple.  There is no indication that David sinned in fighting these wars; the wars were morally approved by God, victories came from God as a sign of favor for Israel, and the LORD is not actually rebuking David in this passage.  Perhaps in some broad sense David was somehow rendered ceremonially unclean because of his time fighting in these wars.  He is not unclean in a formal sense (he can still partipate in the Passover, make offerings, enter the temple grounds, etc), but he is denied the more specific privilege of building the temple, even though David acting within God’s will.

In the next chapter, David continues the preparations by organizing the Levites and assigning them tasks for the temple administration.

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