1 Chronicles 16 – David’s Psalm of Thanks
A. The ark is brought into the prepared tent.
1. (1-3) David gives the assembly a feast.
So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it. Then they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God. And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD. Then he distributed to everyone of Israel, both man and woman, to everyone a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins.
a. They brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tabernacle: After many years – since the ark was lost in battle – the ark is returned to the center of Israel’s national consciousness. The emblem of God’s presence and glory was set in its proper place in Israel.
b. When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and peace offerings: The burnt offerings spoke of consecration. The peace offerings spoke of fellowship. This was a day of great consecration and fellowship with God. It was also a great barbeque and meal for all the people.
i. These sacrifices were an important part of the ceremony, neglected in the first attempt to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. “These pointed them to Christ, freeing them from their sins, both from the crime and from the curse; these taught them thankfulness for Christ, and all benefits in and by him.” (Trapp)
ii. “The second item of food (known only here and in 2 Samuel 6:19) was either a cake of dates or a ‘portion of meat’ (REB, NEB, NRSV; cf. GNB, AV) – if the latter is correct, it was an especially generous act since meat rarely appeared on domestic menus in ancient Israel.” (Selman)
iii. “Most flesh from the peace offerings was eaten by the people themselves, sitting down, as it were, as guests of God’s table, in a meal celebrating the restoration of their peace with him.” (Payne)
2. (4-6) Worship leaders are appointed to lead the congregation.
And he appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to commemorate, to thank, and to praise the LORD God of Israel: Asaph the chief, and next to him Zechariah, then Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, and Obed-Edom: Jeiel with stringed instruments and harps, but Asaph made music with cymbals; Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests regularly blew the trumpets before the ark of the covenant of God.
a. And he appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark: At the end of this spectacular day of celebration, David established an enduring institution of worship and commemoration at the ark of the covenant. It wasn’t to be a one-day high, but an ongoing ministry to God.
i. “David’s appointment then of Levites to minister in music and praise to God marks a significant advance in the history of Israel’s worship. His previous arrangements for music had been devised for just one occasion; but now a continuing service is envisioned.” (Payne)
b. He appointed some of the Levites…to commemorate: In the Levitical appointments for that day and beyond, David selected some Levites to focus on commemorating what great things God had done. Simply remembering God’s great works is an important and often neglected part of the Christian life. Spurgeon (in his sermon The Recorders) noted several ways that we can help ourselves remember the great things of God:
· Make an actual record of what God has done, keeping a written journal.
· Be sure to praise God thoroughly at the time you receive His goodness.
· Set apart time for meditation on the good things God has done.
· Talk about His mercy often to other people.
· Use everything around you as reminders of the goodness of God.
c. Asaph the chief: Previously, the Levites had appointed Heman as the leader of worship (1 Chronicles 15:17). At this time David elevated Asaph to this position.
i. “No reason is given, though Asaph did represent the senior Levitical clan of Gershon (1 Chronicles 6:39-43). Personal ability may also have been a contributing factor, for Asaph and his descendants are listed as composers for twelve of the inspired Old Testament psalms.” (Payne)
B. David’s song of thanksgiving.
1. (7) The psalm written for the special occasion.
On that day David first delivered this psalm into the hand of Asaph and his brethren, to thank the LORD:
a. David first delivered this psalm: David was known as the sweet psalmist of Israel (2 Samuel 23:1), and he especially wrote the following psalm to thank the LORD on the day the ark of the covenant was brought to Jerusalem.
i. “The Psalm is found in the Book of Psalms; its first movement (8-22) in Psalm 105:1-15; its second movement (23-33) in Psalm 96:1b-13a; its third movement (34-36) consisting of a quotation of the opening and closing sentences of Psalm 106:1-47 and 48.” (Morgan)
ii. “All three of the canonical psalms that he quoted are anonymous, ‘orphan psalms’ (without title) in the Old Testament Psalter; but on the basis of the king’s use of them here, they should indeed be classed as his.” (Payne)
2. (8-13) The call to praise.
Oh, give thanks to the LORD!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!
Seek the LORD and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,
O seed of Israel His servant,
You children of Jacob, His chosen ones!
a. Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Like many psalms, this one begins with a call to praise, virtually in the form of a commandment. Yet the psalm breathes with too much excitement for this to be a true command; it is an exhortation to the community of God’s people to join in praise to their God.
i. “All the good that we enjoy comes from God. Recollect that! Alas, most men forget it. Rowland Hill used to say that worldlings were like the hogs under the oak, which eat the acorns, but never think of the oak from which they fell, nor lift up their heads to grunt out a thanksgiving. Yes, so it is. They munch the gift and murmur at the giver.” (Spurgeon)
b. Give thanks.… Call upon…Make known…. Sing…Talk…. Glory…. Seek…. Remember: In a few verses, David lists a remarkable number of ways (at least eight) one can praise and glorify God. Some of them speak directly to God (such as sing psalms to Him), some speak to others about God’s greatness (make known His deeds among the peoples), and some are a conversation with one’s self (remember His marvelous works).
i. Meyer on talk of all His wondrous works: “We do not talk sufficiently about God. Why it is so may not be easy to explain; but there seems to be too great reticence among Christian people about the best things…. We talk about sermons, details of worship and church organization, or the latest phase of Scripture criticism; we discuss men, methods, and churches; but our talk in the home, and in the gatherings of Christians for social purposes, is too seldom about the wonderful works of God. Better to speak less, and to talk more of Him.”
ii. “If we talked more of God’s wondrous works, we should be free from talking of other people’s works. It is easy to criticise those we could not rival, and carp at those we could not emulate. He who could not carve a statue, or make a single stroke of the chisel correctly, affects to point out where the handicraft of the greatest sculptor might have been improved. It is a poor, pitiful occupation, that of picking holes in other people’s coats, and yet some people seem so pleased when they can perceive a fault, that they roll it under their tongue as a sweet morsel.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “There is no gifted tongue requisite, there are no powers of eloquence invoked; neither laws of rhetoric nor rules of grammar are pronounced indispensable in the simple talk that my text inculcates, ‘Talk ye of all his wondrous works.’ I beg your pardon when you say you cannot do this. You cannot because you will not.” (Spurgeon)
c. O seed of Israel…His chosen ones: This call to praise is directed to the people of God. As will be noted later in the psalm, all creation has a responsibility to praise its Creator; but this is the special responsibility of God’s people.
3. (14-19) Remembering God’s covenant with His people.
He is the LORD our God;
His judgments are in all the earth.
Remember His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations,
The covenant which He made with Abraham,
And His oath to Isaac,
And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute,
To Israel for an everlasting covenant,
Saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
As the allotment of your inheritance,”
When you were few in number,
Indeed very few, and strangers in it.
a. His judgments are in all the earth: David will soon begin to sing about the special relationship between the LORD and His covenant people. Yet he prefaced those ideas with the thought that God is the Lord of all the earth. His authority is not limited to His covenant people.
b. Remember His covenant forever: God wanted His people to never forget the covenant He made with them. God’s dealing with man through history has been based on the idea of covenant.
· God made a covenant with Abraham regarding a land, a nation, and a particular messianic blessing (Genesis 12:1-3).
· God made a covenant with Israel as a nation, regarding a law, sacrifice, and choice of blessing or cursing (Exodus 19:5-8).
· God made a covenant with David regarding the specific lineage of the Messiah (2 Samuel 7).
· God made a covenant with all who would believe on His Son, the New Covenant through Jesus Christ (Luke 22:20).
i. It was entirely appropriate that this psalm focuses on the idea of His covenant because it was written for the arrival of the ark of the covenant into the place David prepared for it in Jerusalem.
ii. “In the restoration of the Ark after a period of neglect, the people found a sure token of that mercy.” (Morgan)
c. To you I will give the land of Canaan: David here highlighted the promise of land that God made to Abraham as part of His covenant with the patriarch (Genesis 12:1 and 13:14-17). The land belonged to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through this covenant.
i. In this, we see that this portion of the psalm is largely meant for teaching. This stanza was not primarily intended as a declaration of praise to God, but as informing the worship of God’s people.
4. (20-22) God’s protection upon His people.
When they went from one nation to another,
And from one kingdom to another people,
He permitted no man to do them wrong;
Yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes,
Saying, “Do not touch My anointed ones,
And do My prophets no harm.”
a. When they went from one nation to another: In the story of the arrival of the ark of the covenant recorded in 2 Samuel, this psalm of David is not included. Here we see why the Chronicler – writing shortly after the Babylonian exile – was anxious to include it. This line of David’s psalm praises God for His providential protection of His people when they were out of the Promised Land.
b. He permitted no man to do them wrong: One might say that this was inaccurate – after all, the oppressive Pharaohs seemed to do much wrong to Israel. Yet, in the longer view of seeing God’s good work even through such painful times, David can truthfully say “He permitted no man to do them wrong.”
c. Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm: This seems to refer to God’s people as a whole instead of particular anointed individuals or individual prophets.
5. (23-30) The command to praise the LORD.
Sing to the LORD, all the earth;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples.
For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised;
He is also to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the LORD made the heavens.
Honor and majesty are before Him;
Strength and gladness are in His place.
Give to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
Give to the LORD glory and strength.
Give to the LORD the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come before Him.
Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!
Tremble before Him, all the earth.
The world also is firmly established,
It shall not be moved.
a. Sing to the LORD, all the earth: God’s covenant people have a special responsibility to praise Him, but all the earth should also proclaim the good news of His salvation day to day.
i. It is only good news when it is His salvation. My salvation isn’t enough to save me. I need His salvation to save me. This is something worth proclaiming.
ii. “There is not one of us but has cause for song, and certainly not one saint but ought specially to praise the name of the Lord.” (Spurgeon)
b. Declare His glory among the nations: David is back to a particular address to the people of God, imploring them to tell everyone of the greatness of God, and His superiority above all gods.
i. The reason for His superiority is simple: all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. The covenant God of Israel is real and is the Creator of all things, in contrast to the mere statues of the nations.
c. Give to the LORD glory and strength: This is not in the sense of giving something to God that He does not already have. It is in the sense of crediting to God what He actually does possess, but what man is often blind to.
d. Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! God’s holiness – His “set-apart-ness” – has a wonderful and distinct beauty about it. It is beautiful that God is God and not man; that He is more than the greatest man or a super-man. His holy love, grace, justice, and majesty are beautiful.
6. (31-33) Creation praises God.
Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
And let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.”
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
Let the field rejoice, and all that is in it.
Then the trees of the woods shall rejoice before the LORD,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
a. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad: David knew that creation itself praised God. He knew that the beauty and power and skill and majesty of creation was itself a testimony of praise to its Creator.
b. Let them say among the nations: Israel had the word of God to tell them of God’s reign and His coming judgment. The nations have the testimony of creation to tell them what they should know about God (Romans 1:19-23).
c. The LORD reigns: The creation itself tells us of a God of infinite wisdom, power, and order; it logically deduces that this God reigns and will judge the earth, understanding that His order and power and wisdom are expressed morally as well as materially.
i. Payne on for He is coming to judge the earth: “While earlier messianic prophecies had foretold our Lord’s universal, millennial reign (Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:17; 1 Samuel 2:10), these words – ‘he comes’ – may be the first in all of written Scripture (Job 19:25 may well have been spoken earlier) to set forth the doctrine of the glorious second coming of Jesus Christ.”
7. (34-36) Conclusion: Celebrating God’s faithfulness to His people.
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
And say, “Save us, O God of our salvation;
Gather us together, and deliver us from the Gentiles,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
To triumph in Your praise.”
Blessed be the LORD God of Israel
From everlasting to everlasting!
And all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the LORD.
a. Gather us together, and deliver us from the Gentiles: This is yet another demonstration of why the Chronicler chose to include this psalm of David in the account of the ark’s coming into Jerusalem. These ancient words of David would have special relevance to the returned exiles. They would not only have confidence in God’s ability to gather and deliver, but they would also be motivated to give thanks and to triumph in Your praise.
i. “The words…do not presuppose that the people had been previously led away into the Chaldean exile, but only the dispersion of prisoners of war, led away captive into an enemy’s land after a defeat…. It was just such cases Solomon had in view in his prayer, 1 Kings 8:46-50.” (Payne citing Keil)
b. And all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the LORD: This reminds us that David’s psalm was not sung as a solo. The hearts – and perhaps the voices – of the people were in complete agreement with him through the psalm.
8. (37-43) Postscript: Maintaining the worship of God.
So he left Asaph and his brothers there before the ark of the covenant of the LORD to minister before the ark regularly, as every day’s work required; and Obed-Edom with his sixty-eight brethren, including Obed-Edom the son of Jeduthun, and Hosah, to be gatekeepers; and Zadok the priest and his brethren the priests, before the tabernacle of the LORD at the high place that was at Gibeon, to offer burnt offerings to the LORD on the altar of burnt offering regularly morning and evening, and to do according to all that is written in the Law of the LORD which He commanded Israel; and with them Heman and Jeduthun and the rest who were chosen, who were designated by name, to give thanks to the LORD, because His mercy endures forever; and with them Heman and Jeduthun, to sound aloud with trumpets and cymbals and the musical instruments of God. Now the sons of Jeduthun were gatekeepers. Then all the people departed, every man to his house; and David returned to bless his house.
a. So he left Asaph and his brothers there before the ark of the covenant: This emphasizes the point made previously in 1 Chronicles 16:4-6, that David deliberately planned for this to be more than a one day spectacular. He instituted ongoing service and worship before the ark of the covenant at its new resting place in Jerusalem.
b. Before the tabernacle of the LORD at the high place that was at Gibeon, to offer burnt offerings to the LORD: This reminds us that the center of sacrifice was still at the tabernacle’s altar at Gibeon.
i. “For the time being, Israel’s worship activities and personnel were to be divided between the ark at Jerusalem and the tended altar at Gibeon.” (Selman)
ii. “How long the service at Gibeon was continued we cannot tell; the principal functions were no doubt performed at Jerusalem.” (Clarke)