Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com. In this week’s Sunday School Lesson The Chronicler writes to show us David’s gratitude and how we can have a heart filled with gratitude. The Chronicler writes an encouragement for the children of Israel to keep hope alive. It’s important for the Chronicler to help this nation understand that even though they have been defeated and taken captive in the past, that the future is still bright with God on their side. The Chronicler wants the Hebrew nation to know that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the God of King David and King Solomon is their God and they are God’s people. He wants them to know that even though their forbears fell into sin and were punished; God has not forsaken them. They have been through great pain and distress and now they want to know their place in the universe. Now that they are back in Jerusalem they want to know if the same God that brought King David to power and King Solomon to great splendor is still their God. The Chronicler gives them a history lesson that shows the greatness of God and the great blessings of God when God’s people live in obedience. Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms:
As I noted last week most scholars agree that First and Second Chronicles were originally one book. Last week I explained how this book was originally named “The Events of the Days” was later named “The Things Omitted” and then finally named First and Second Chronicles by the translator of the fourth century Latin Vulgate. What I did not mention last week are the theological themes that continually reappear in this text. The New Interpreter’s Study Bible notes these three themes as
“The concern for continuity with the past.”
“A concern for “all Israel.””
“The chronicler retains from Samuel and Kings the concept of retributive justice.”
The concern for continuity is perhaps the most important of these three themes. Chronicles is written after the children of Israel have been defeated, exiled, and then returned to Jerusalem. Chronicles is written to the post-exilic community (those who remain or have come back after the exile to Babylon). The NISB notes “following the Persian defeat of the Babylonians under Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE, [the Israelites have] returned from Babylon to live under Persian rule in Jerusalem and worship in the rebuilt Temple.” Dr. Renita J. Weems writes in The Africana Bible Reading Israel’s Scriptures From Africa and the African Diaspora “the writer [creates] a narrative that instilled a sense of mission, national pride, and divine purpose in a people that had once been displaced from their homeland and robed of their cultural memories.” Dr. Weems continues “the Chronicler was eager to inspire the inhabitants of Judah to hope again and to throw themselves behind a national effort to rebuild and to restore order to their homeland.” So it’s important for the Chronicler to help this nation understand that even though they have been defeated and taken captive in the past, that the future is still bright with God on their side.
I think the one verse that captures that image more than any other in this text 2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” The Chronicler wants the Hebrew nation to know that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the God of King David and King Solomon is their God and they are God’s people. The Chronicler wants them to know that even though their forbears fell into sin and were punished; God is still their God.
The NISB explains “instead of asking “Why did this happen to us?” they want to know about their relationship with the past: “Who are we?” “Are we still the people of God?” “What do God’s promises to David and Solomon mean for us today?”” So, these are a people who have suffered and endured great pain and distress. They no longer rule themselves; they have been ruled by the Babylonians and now they are ruled by Persians. They need answers about their place in the universe and the Chronicler writes to help them understand their relationship with their painful past and their present God. This sixteenth chapter of First Chronicles deals with the Ark of the Covenant of God placed in the tent David prepared for it and David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving. This chapter is the “conclusion to the Chronicler’s Ark narrative and it institutes public worship (NISB).” Additionally, the NISB notes that David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving quotes portions of Psalm 105 and Psalm 106.
Some important words to consider from this text include:
Review of Last Week and How it Connects to This Week:
In Last week’s Lesson King David worshiped God in Jerusalem in ways that had never been done before. David’s worship was heartfelt and sincere. He had built luxurious houses for himself and the city of Jerusalem. And he wanted the Ark of God in Jerusalem also. David wanted to honor God. He was determined to get the ark of God in Jerusalem so all Israel could worship God with the symbolic presence of God in their midst them. David gave the Levites specific instructions; he told them to bring singers, musicians, trumpets, harps, lyres, and cymbals. David was going to have a grand celebration, he was going to honor God and he was going to worship God with all Israel joining him in a great and grand celebration of thanksgiving and praise.
Last week I also quoted Townsend commentary and Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms noting that “the city of David was originally known as Zion or Jerusalem” and that Zion is “used in the Old Testament for all or part of Jerusalem.
I noted how carrying the ark of God was the responsibility of the Levites and David had already learned from his first attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem that the rules had not changed. God had not changed God’s mind about who was to minister to God.
Verse sixteen gave us an idea of the kinds of instruments that would be used along with singers all from the Levites. There would be singers playing on musical instruments, there would be harps, lyres, and cymbals to raise loud sounds of joy. This was going to be a grand celebration worthy of the occasion. The lesson then skipped to verse twenty-five.
In verse twenty-five David and the elders of Israel, and the commanders of thousands, went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the house of Obed-Edom with rejoicing. I noted how David included the elders of Israel. He was king and he had absolute authority, but he did not neglect the elders nor did he neglect the leaders of his military. This was a celebration for all of Israel.
This week’s lesson continues last week’s with the Ark of the Covenant of God now placed in the tent David had prepared.
Townsend and Boyd’s Commentaries title this week’s lesson “A Heart Filled With Gratitude”. Standard Lesson Commentary titles this week’s lesson “David’s Gratitude”. The scripture text comes from 1 Chronicles 16:8-12, 19-27.
What Takes Place in This Passage:
The Lesson opens at verse eight with David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving. Westminster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms define psalm as “A hymn, sacred song, or poem. The Book of Psalms (the Psalter) is composed of 150 religious poems of prayer and praise of ancient Israel, arranged in five books.”
Verse eight begins by exhorting these recently returned people to give thanks, to call on God’s name, and to make known God’s deeds among the peoples. After going through what they have gone through the Chronicler reminds them of how King David gave thanks and called on God. The point for us to know is that when God has been good to you, you ought to tell somebody. These people had been hurt and defeated but now they are brought back to Jerusalem and somebody ought to praise God for it.
Verse nine continues with “sing, sing psalms unto God, talk of all God’s wondrous works. These are action words. Praising God is active whether singing loud voice or a quite praise. But more so when we begin to talk about the wondrous works that God has done for us, praise just happens.
Verses ten and eleven tell us to glory in God’s name, to rejoice, and to seek the LORD. In these first four verses I see a lot of glory, a lot or rejoicing, a lot of seeking God. This is a clear example of a grateful heart. David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving flows from a grateful heart.
Verse twelve tells us to remember God’s marvelous works, God’s wonders and the judgements of God’s mouth. It’s good to remember. It’s good to remember what God has done for you. It’s good to remember how God brought you through. It’s good to remember when and where God delivered you. Remembering the mighty and marvelous works of God in our own lives leads us to a grateful heart and a thankful praise.
In verses nineteen, twenty and twenty-one, David’s psalm reminds the people that the children of Israel didn’t start out as a mighty and strong nation. They came from humble beginnings. From those humble beginnings with the help of God they grew into the mighty nation that King David once ruled. In verse twelve the psalm told them to remember. Now, in these verses the psalm tells them what to remember.
Verse twenty-two just like verses nineteen through twenty-one is a word for word quote from Psalm 105: 12-15. Twenty-one is a verse I’ve often heard quoted referring to preachers and other ministers of God. Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm does not mean every preacher or minister is above criticism or even condemnation whey they are outside God’s will. In other words, it’s not a get out jail free card for preachers or ministers who are in the wrong.
Verse twenty-three elevates the praise from personal to all the earth. Psalm 24:1 reminds us “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” It tells us to proclaim God’s salvation day after day. In other words, never forget how God delivered you.
Verses twenty-four and twenty-five declare that God is great and greatly to be praised. In other words, a great God deserves a great praise. And a great praise will tell the saints and the sinners what God has done. Everybody ought to know that God has been good, that God has delivered and that God is great above all other gods.
Verses twenty-six and twenty-seven close the lesson with David’s psalm reminding the people that idol gods are essentially useless. Idol worshipers can talk, but God worshipers can point to the heavens and the earth to declare that their God is the one true God. It is their God who has made the heavens and the earth and this God deserves all the glory and all the honor.
Townsend commentary defines the Hebrew word for rejoice as “being glad; associated with dancing, singing, clapping, playing, and external movement consistent with festival celebrations. In other words, rejoice is party language.” At first glance I found the description of party language a bit amusing. But I had to ask myself why? Parties aren’t inherently bad and it’s great that God’s people know how to party in the Lord. A heart filled with gratitude and should lead us to want to party for the LORD.
Key Characters in the text:
King David – The central figure as he conquers the City of Jerusalem and builds a place to keep the Ark of the Covenant (Townsend).
Key Words (not necessarily in the text, but good for discussion):
Gratitude – The response to God and God’s blessings that is an expression of praise and devotion. In the Christian context, believers respond in gratitude for the “indescribable gift” (2 Cor. 9:19) of Jesus Christ, who is the supreme expression of God’s grace.
Psalm – A hymn, sacred song, or poem. The book of Psalms is composed of 150 religious poems of prayer and praise of ancient Israel, arranged in five books.
Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas:
1. A great God deserves a great praise.
1. Remembering what God has done for you is important. Do you remember a time when mother or father couldn’t do it? But God did.
The Chronicler writes to encourage the children of Israel to keep hope alive. They have been through great pain and distress and now they want to know if God is still on their side. Now that they are back in Jerusalem they want to know if the same God that brought King David to power and King Solomon to great splendor is still their God. The Chronicler gives them a history lesson that shows the greatness of God and the great blessings of God when God’s people live in obedience. The same God who reassured the broken and defeated people of Israel back then is here to reassure us today.
Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:
The lesson for December 15th continues just as last week’s lesson by going to the very next chapter in Chronicles. Next week in chapter 17 and chapter 21 I will consider the Chronicler’s description of the roles of The Prophet Nathan and King David as David desires to build a Temple for God. Public worship has been instituted and now David believes the people need a Temple to worship God that’s worthy of God’s greatness. The lesson is titled “Building God’s House” and “David’s House”. The text is taken from 1 Chronicles 17:1, 3-4, 11-14; 21:18, 21-27.
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