Jehovah’s Word Is Alive
Highlights From the Book of First Chronicles
SOME 77 years have passed since the Jews returned to their homeland from Babylonian exile. The temple that was rebuilt by Governor Zerubbabel has now stood for 55 years. The prime reason for the Jews’ return was the restoration of true worship in Jerusalem. However, the people lack zeal for Jehovah’s worship. There is an urgent need for encouragement, and that is exactly what the Bible book of First Chronicles provides.
Aside from the genealogical records, First Chronicles covers a period of some 40 years, from the death of King Saul to the death of King David. The priest Ezra is credited with the writing of this book in the year 460 B.C.E. First Chronicles is of interest to us because it gives insight into worship at the temple and provides details about the lineage of the Messiah. As a part of the inspired Word of God, its message strengthens our faith and enhances our understanding of the Bible.
A MEANINGFUL RECORD OF NAMES
The detailed genealogical listing that Ezra compiles is necessary for at least three reasons: to ensure that only authorized men serve in the priesthood, to help determine tribal inheritance, and to preserve the record of the lineage leading up to the Messiah. The record links the Jews with their past all the way back to the first man. Ten generations take us from Adam to Noah, and another ten take us to Abraham. After listing the sons of Ishmael, the sons of Abraham’s concubine Keturah, and the sons of Esau, the account focuses on the line of descent of the 12 sons of Israel.
The descendants of Judah are given extensive coverage because they provide the royal line of King David. There are 14 generations from Abraham to David and another 14 to the deportation to Babylon. (1 Chronicles 1:27, 34; 2:1-15; 3:1-17; Matthew 1:17) Ezra then lists descendants of the tribes on the east side of the Jordan, followed by the genealogy of the sons of Levi. (1 Chronicles 5:1-24; 6:1) Then comes a summary of some of the other tribes to the west of the Jordan River and of the line of Benjamin in detail. (1 Chronicles 8:1) The names of the first inhabitants of Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity are also listed.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
Lessons for Us:
1:1–9:44. The genealogies of real people prove that the entire arrangement of true worship is based, not on myth, but on fact.
4:9, 10. Jehovah answered the fervent prayer of Jabez for a peaceful enlargement of his territory so that it might accommodate more God-fearing people. We too need to offer heartfelt prayers for an increase as we zealously share in the disciple-making work.
5:10, 18-22. In the days of King Saul, the tribes east of the Jordan defeated the Hagrites even though these tribes were outnumbered more than 2 to 1. This was because the valiant men of these tribes trusted in Jehovah and looked to him for help. Let us have complete confidence in Jehovah as we carry on our spiritual warfare against formidable odds.
9:26, 27. The Levite gatekeepers occupied an office of great trust. They were given the key to the entrance to the holy areas of the temple. They proved to be reliable in opening the gates each day. We have been entrusted with the responsibility of reaching out to the people in our territory and helping them to come to worship Jehovah. Should we not prove to be just as dependable and trustworthy as the Levite gatekeepers?
DAVID RULES AS KING
The narrative opens with the account of King Saul and his three sons dying in battle against the Philistines at Mount Gilboa. David, the son of Jesse, is made king over the tribe of Judah. Men from all tribes come to Hebron and make him king over all Israel. (1 Chronicles 11:1-3) Soon thereafter, he captures Jerusalem. Later, the Israelites bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem “with joyful shouting and with the sounding of the horn and with . . . playing aloud on stringed instruments and harps.”
David expresses a desire to build a house for the true God. Reserving that privilege for Solomon, Jehovah makes a covenant with David for a Kingdom. As David carries on his campaign against Israel’s enemies, Jehovah gives him one victory after another. An illegal census results in 70,000 deaths. After receiving angelic direction to erect an altar to Jehovah, David purchases a place from Ornan the Jebusite. David begins making “preparation in great quantities” for building a “surpassingly magnificent” house to Jehovah at that site. (1 Chronicles 22:5) David organizes Levitical services, described here in greater detail than anywhere else in the Scriptures. The king and the people make generous contributions for the temple. After a 40-year reign, David dies “satisfied with days, riches and glory; and Solomon his son [begins] to reign in place of him.”
Scriptural Questions Answered:
16:1, 37-40; 21:29, 30; 22:19
Lessons for Us:
13:11. Rather than becoming angry and blaming Jehovah when our efforts fail, we must analyze the situation and try to see what caused the failure. Undoubtedly, David did that. He learned from his mistake and later successfully brought the Ark to Jerusalem, using the proper method.*
16:23-29. Jehovah’s worship should be our first concern in life.
18:3. Jehovah is the Fulfiller of his promises. Through David, he carried out his promise to give Abraham’s seed the entire land of Canaan, extending “from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.”
22:5, 9; 29:3-5, 14-16. Although he was not commissioned to build Jehovah’s temple, David exhibited a generous spirit. Why? Because he appreciated that all he had acquired was due to Jehovah’s goodness. Similar feelings of gratitude should move us to have a spirit of generosity.
24:7-18. The arrangement of 24 priestly divisions that David instituted was in effect when Jehovah’s angel appeared to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptizer, and announced the coming birth of John. As a member of “the division of Abijah,” Zechariah was then serving his turn at the temple. (Luke 1:5, 8, 9) True worship revolves around historical
Serve Jehovah “With a Delightful Soul”
First Chronicles is not all about genealogies. It is also a narrative of David’s bringing the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, of his great victories, of the preparation for building the temple, and of the setting up of the Levitical priestly divisions of service. All that Ezra relates in First Chronicles must surely have benefited the Israelites, helping them to renew their zeal for Jehovah’s worship at the temple.
What an example David set in keeping Jehovah’s worship foremost in his life! Instead of seeking special privileges for himself, David sought to do God’s will. We are encouraged to apply his advice to serve Jehovah “with a complete heart and with a delightful soul.”
For other lessons from David’s attempt to transport the Ark to Jerusalem, see The Watchtower, May 15, 2005, pages 16-19.
For other lessons related to David’s illegal census, see The Watchtower, May 15, 2005, pages 16-19.
[Chart/Pictures on page 8-11]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
The generations from Adam to Noah (1,056 years)
4026 B.C.E. Adam
130 years ⇩
2970 B.C.E. NOAH born
The generations from Noah to Abraham (952 years)
2970 B.C.E. Noah
502 years ⇩
THE FLOOD 2370 B.C.E.
2018 B.C.E. ABRAHAM born
From Abraham to David: 14 generations (911 years)
2018 B.C.E. Abraham
1107 B.C.E. DAVID born