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1 Chronicles Chapter Twenty-three                            


1 Chronicles 23

Chapter Contents

David declares Solomon his successor. (1-23) The office of the Levites. (24-32)

Commentary on 1 Chronicles 23:1-23

(Read 1 Chronicles 23:1-23)

David, having given charge concerning the building of the temple, settles the method of the temple service, and orders the officers of it. When those of the same family were employed together, it would engage them to love and assist one another.

Commentary on 1 Chronicles 23:24-32

(Read 1 Chronicles 23:24-32)

Now the people of Israel were so many, there should be more employed in the temple service, that every Israelite who brought an offering might find a Levite ready to help him. When more work is to be done, it is pity but there should be more workmen. A new heart, a spiritual mind, which delights greatly in God's commandments, and can find a refreshing feast in his ordinances, forms the great distinction between the true Christian and all other men in the world. To the spiritual man every service will yield satisfaction. He will be ever abounding in the work of the Lord; being never so happy as when employed for such a good Master, in so pleasant a service. He will not regard whether he is called to take the lead, or to keep the charge of others who are placed over him. May we seek and serve the Lord uprightly, and leave all the rest to his disposal, by faith in his word.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on 1 Chronicles


1 Chronicles 23

Verse 2

[2] And he gathered together all the princes of Israel, with the priests and the Levites.

Gathered, … — To declare God's mind and his own will, that Solomon should be his successor: and to acquaint them with those directions which he had received from God by the spirit.

Verse 3

[3] Now the Levites were numbered from the age of thirty years and upward: and their number by their polls, man by man, was thirty and eight thousand.

Upwards — Not only 'till fifty, as it was appointed, Numbers 4:2,3, but even 'till their death: for that was but a temporary law grounded upon a special reason, because the Levites were employed in carrying the tabernacle and sacred vessels from place to place; and therefore God would have them freed from those burdens when they came to feel the infirmities of age: which reason wholly ceasing upon the building of the temple, their work being far easier than it had been, and their service being more a privilege than a burden, their time of service is justly prolonged.

Verse 4

[4] Of which, twenty and four thousand were to set forward the work of the house of the LORD; and six thousand were officers and judges:

Officers — To take care that all the work of the temple about sacrifices should be punctually performed, either by themselves or others: which they were not to do all at once, but by courses, a thousand at a time.

Judges — Not in the affairs of the temple; there the priests presided; but in several parts of the kingdom, where they assisted the princes and elders of every tribe, in the administration of justice.

Verse 13

[13] The sons of Amram; Aaron and Moses: and Aaron was separated, that he should sanctify the most holy things, he and his sons for ever, to burn incense before the LORD, to minister unto him, and to bless in his name for ever.

Sanctify — That he might keep them from pollution: for these most holy things were polluted when they were touched by any other person.

He and his — Not only his eldest sons the high-priests successively, but all his posterity or all the priests; for the works here following were not peculiar to the high-priest, but common to all the priests.

Verse 14

[14] Now concerning Moses the man of God, his sons were named of the tribe of Levi.

Levi — They were accounted only as common Levites, and were not priests: which is mentioned for the honour of Moses, and the demonstration of his eminent piety and self-denial, who willingly left the government to Joshua, and the priesthood to Aaron, and was content to have his posterity reduced to a private and mean condition.

Verse 24

[24] These were the sons of Levi after the house of their fathers; even the chief of the fathers, as they were counted by number of names by their polls, that did the work for the service of the house of the LORD, from the age of twenty years and upward.

Twenty years — As the Levites were anciently numbered from two several times, from the twenty fifth year of their age, and from the thirtieth, Numbers 4:3; 8:24. In like manner they are here numbered both from their twentieth year, when they were solemnly prepared for, and instructed, and by degrees exercised in some parts of their work; and from their thirtieth year, when they were admitted to the full exercise of their office. And the reason why they were now sooner admitted to service than they had been formerly, is given in the next verses because now their work was more easy, being wholly discharged from that burdensome work of carrying the tabernacle. Besides the people of Israel were multiplied: therefore more hands were necessary, that every Israelite who brought an offering, might find a Levite ready to assist him.

Verse 28

[28] Because their office was to wait on the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of the LORD, in the courts, and in the chambers, and in the purifying of all holy things, and the work of the service of the house of God;

Holy things — Holy places, and garments, and vessels, and sacrifices, which were to be washed and cleansed from any filthiness that might cleave to them.

Verse 29

[29] Both for the shewbread, and for the fine flour for meat offering, and for the unleavened cakes, and for that which is baked in the pan, and for that which is fried, and for all manner of measure and size;

All measure — All measures used either in sacred or civil things, the publick standards whereof were kept in the temple; and therefore the care of keeping them inviolable and producing them upon occasion, musts needs belong to the priests, and under them to the Levites, who were to examine other measures and all things by them, as occasion required; that so the priests might be at leisure for their higher and greater employments.

Verse 30

[30] And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at even;

Morning and even — The two solemn times of offering sacrifices: which work was attended with publick prayer and thanksgiving.

Verse 32

[32] And that they should keep the charge of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the holy place, and the charge of the sons of Aaron their brethren, in the service of the house of the LORD.

Charge — What the priests should commit to their charge, or command them to do.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on 1 Chronicles


23 Chapter 23


Verse 1

1 Chronicles 23:1

So when David was old and full of days.

I. An instructive view of life.

II. A touching picture of old age.

III. A solemn warning to all. (J. Wolfendale.)

How to employ old age

The pathos of David’s action will be more clearly recognised if we remember that the literal translation is, “Now David had become satisfied with days.” Satisfied with days, but not satisfied with labour. David had seen all the contents of time, in poverty, persecution, honour, end majesty, and yet he was anxious for the consolidation of his empire and the construction of the temple. When the heathen poet described the death of a philosopher it was under the image of a guest who had to the full enjoyed the feast. David as a guest of the Lord had himself sat long enough at the table of time, and now he was desirous that his son should take up the service and enjoyment of the empire, whilst he himself went forth to the mysteries of another state. Old age can do for the future what mere youth is not permitted to attempt. (J. Parker, D. D.)

Verse 5

1 Chronicles 23:5

And four thousand praised the Lord with the instruments which I made.

Music and religion

I. The object of music. “To praise therewith” well expresses the attitude of the Bible towards music. Plutarch says: “The chiefest and sublimest end of music is the graceful return of our thanks to the gods.” In these words the wisdom of the Bible representation is vindicated. A worthy conception of God is the only thing which can give the true inspiration of music, and keep it pure and noble through all its strains. Thus music and religion ought never to be divorced.

II. Some of the features of the revelation of God which the Bible gives, and see how they agree with the best features of musical life and growth.

1. The Bible reveals God to man, and man to himself; it opens up depths of meaning which ordinary life cannot sound; it calls man the son of God; it bases itself upon the love of God, which passeth knowledge; it speaks of things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive. If we allow music any rights of its own, they must be based upon its claim to give expression which is beyond the power of words, and to utter conceptions which thought cannot formulate. It has the power to take them out of the surroundings even of the deepest thoughts, to lift their aspirations where nothing else can go, to carry them into the presence of a power of harmony and order more fundamental than the skill of the hand or the logic of the mind can represent.

2. Then there is the universality of religion. It is meant for all men: there are all grades and kinds of reception of it. The gospel of Christ is for all men; it has truths for the simple, and doctrines for the wise; it meets all nations of men, each according to its nature and its needs. So music in one way or another affects the simplest and the most cultured, appeals to the joyful and to the sorrowing, defies lines of nationality and of language, and is appropriated by all according to the needs of each.

3. The object of religion is harmony--harmony between heaven and earth, between man and man, harmony in the life of the individual, with its varying experiences. The power of man to appreciate harmony finds a response in the growing resources of the musical art; and the yearnings of man for a better existence, where life shall not clash with death, joy with sorrow, and love with hate, finds an answer in a revelation which destroys death, comforts sorrow, and makes love seen everywhere. There could be no better expression for heaven, aa the place where such a revelation finds its completion, than as the place of music. (Arthur Brooks, D. D.)

Verse 14

1 Chronicles 23:14

Moses the man of God.

The man of God

1. A beautiful description of any man.

2. A possible description of every man.

3. A needful description of each man if he is to abide in his Father’s house for ever.

Some men have attained eminence in godliness. No renown is to be compared with this, no influence is ,equal to that which arises from such recognition. (J. Parker, D. D.)

When is man a “man of God”?

1. When he believes in God’s existence.

2. When he is assured of God’s providence.

3. When he has sunk his will in the Divine purpose.

4. When he lives and moves and has his being in God. (J. Parker, D. D.)

Verse 25

1 Chronicles 23:25

For David said, The Lord God of Israel hath given rest unto His people.

The rest of the people of God

I. In the mysterious polity of the people of Israel spiritual and temporal blessings were so closely allied that the same language might naturally be employed to signify either.

II. It is not unwarrantable for us to conjecture that in the joyous utterance contained in the text David insinuated profounder truths than lie on the surface of his words.

III. If “there remaineth a rest to the people of God,” it becomes us to secure this great blessing as the sole or chief object of existence.

IV. Rest and peace must fall upon a Christian spirit.

1. From its devotion to Christ Himself, and its devoted imitation of His pure and perfect example.

2. By the elevating tendency of the singleness of the object of his hope. Those who have many debts often feel it a relief to exchange them all for a single creditor; he whose whole heart is bent on reaching a single point leaves all around him on his way in equal and complete indifference. God is one; let our affections but partake of the unity of that object, and we shall have reached the pathway of real and imperishable rest.

3. From the very nature of the Christian affections.

4. From its hope being anchored in a future world. To support, still more to exalt us, heaven must mingle with earth. To direct a vessel upon the ocean there must be two elements at work, the air must modify the agency of the water; to set a vessel at rest there must be more elements than one employed, and the earth must afford the means of resisting the breezes and the sea. Such is the position in the voyage of this life. The earthly and the heavenly elements must combine, or we are powerless. Confined to the single element of our corrupted nature, we are the sport of every accident, we have no rules for our navigation. But they who join to the human nature the higher element, they have a power that guides them to the everlasting haven. To have the great object of our thoughts placed beyond the chances of human life is to place ourselves beyond them. (W. A. Butler.)

──The Biblical Illustrator