1 Chronicles 16:4-36 and Related
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Oh, Give Thanks to the Eternal
The festivities surrounding the ark being brought to Jerusalem continue. In 1 Chronicles 16, David gives certain of the Levites the responsibility of offering to God thanks and praise on a continual basis before the ark of the Lord. The appointments in the previous chapter concerned the immediate task of moving the ark to Jerusalem, but the ones here are more permanent in nature though involving some of the same people (compare 1 Chronicles 15:1-24; 1 Chronicles 16:5-6). This continual offering of praise is reminiscent of the apostle John's vision in the book of Revelation, wherein angelic choirs are seen offering continual praise before the throne of God in heaven.
Appointed chief of this ongoing special music is Asaph, leader of the Gershonite Levites (1 Chronicles 6:39, 43). Asaph and his sons will serve mainly as singers (1 Chronicles 25:1-2; 2 Chronicles 20:14) and composers, as the superscriptions of their psalms attest (see Psalm 50; Psalms 73-83).
Verses 8-36 of 1 Chronicles 16 constitute a song written by David offering thanks and praise to God, which David gives to Asaph to be performed on this occasion. In it we are all admonished to: a) give thanks to God for all that He has done for Israel and for mankind; b) declare these things to all; c) tell of His glory; d) fear Him; and e) give back to Him of the abundance He has given us. These things should be reflected in the lives of those who trust in Him.
The lyrics of the first part of David's psalm (verses 8-22) are repeated in the first part of Psalm 105 (verses 1-15). Again we are admonished to continually seek God. Christ tells us in Matthew 7:7 that if we do, we will find Him. Perhaps the key idea of the psalm is found in the word "remember" (1 Chronicles 16:12; Psalm 105:5). We are to remember God's goodness to His people. Yet even if the people forget, God does not. "He remembers His covenant forever" (Psalm 105:8)—that is, the very basis for His special relationship with His people. We will read the remainder of Psalm 105 tomorrow.
The lyrics of the second part of David's psalm of 1 Chronicles 16 are repeated in Psalm 96. Again, we are to praise God, to sing of Him, to proclaim Him to others, and to worship Him in our lives and with our offerings. In verse 11-12 (or 1 Chronicles 16:31-33), trees and other inanimate elements of creation are pictured as rejoicing at the Lord's coming to judge the earth. This personification is a literary device; it does not mean that trees actually have thinking minds and emotions. The point is that creation will only be restored to its intended condition when humanity in general is brought back in line with the laws of God. This will commence with the return of Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the saints (compare Revelation 11:18; Romans 8:19-22). Psalm 96 adds the additional point that Christ "shall judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with His truth" (verse 13).
The concluding lyrics of David's psalm of thanks in 1 Chronicles 16 (verses 34-36) are repeated in Psalm 106 (verses 1, 47-48). Verse 1 (1 Chronicles 16:34) is another call to give thanks to God for all He has done. On this occasion of unifying Israel under one king and one worship system, David asks God to truly gather the people together and to deliver them from the power of the gentile nations around them (verse 35; compare Psalm 106:47). The spiritual parallel with those in God's Church today should be obvious. The final verse (1 Chronicles 16:36) will later be used as the concluding verse of book 4 of the Psalms (Psalm 106:48). The later verse tells the people of God to say Amen, or "So be it," as they actually do in 1 Chronicles 16:36.