Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 141

1 Chronicles 21–25, Psalm 127

Bible text(s)

David Takes a Census

(2 Sam 24.1–25)

1Satan wanted to bring trouble on the people of Israel, so he made David decide to take a census. 2David gave orders to Joab and the other officers, “Go through Israel, from one end of the country to the other, and count the people. I want to know how many there are.”

3Joab answered, “May the LORD make the people of Israel a hundred times more numerous than they are now! Your Majesty, they are all your servants. Why do you want to do this and make the whole nation guilty?” 4But the king made Joab obey the order. Joab went out, travelled through the whole country of Israel, and then returned to Jerusalem. 5He reported to King David the total number of men capable of military service: 1,100,000 in Israel, and 470,000 in Judah. 6Because Joab disapproved of the king's command, he did not take any census of the tribes of Levi and Benjamin.

7God was displeased with what had been done, so he punished Israel. 8David said to God, “I have committed a terrible sin in doing this! Please forgive me. I have acted foolishly.”

9Then the LORD said to Gad, David's prophet, 10“Go and tell David that I am giving him three choices. I will do whichever he chooses.”

11Gad went to David, told him what the LORD had said, and asked, “Which is it to be? 12Three years of famine? Or three months of running away from the armies of your enemies? Or three days during which the LORD attacks you with his sword and sends an epidemic on your land, using his angel to bring death throughout Israel? What answer shall I give the LORD?”

13David replied to Gad, “I am in a desperate situation! But I don't want to be punished by people. Let the LORD himself be the one to punish me, because he is merciful.”

14So the LORD sent an epidemic on the people of Israel, and 70,000 of them died. 15Then he sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem, but he changed his mind and said to the angel, “Stop! That's enough!” The angel was standing by the threshing place of Araunah, a Jebusite.

16David saw the angel standing in mid air, holding his sword in his hand, ready to destroy Jerusalem. Then David and the leaders of the people — all of whom were wearing sackcloth — bowed low, with their faces touching the ground. 17David prayed, “O God, I am the one who did wrong. I am the one who ordered the census. What have these poor people done? LORD, my God, punish me and my family, and spare your people.”

18The angel of the LORD told Gad to command David to go and build an altar to the LORD at Araunah's threshing place. 19David obeyed the LORD's command and went, as Gad had told him to. 20There at the threshing place Araunah and his four sons were threshing wheat, and when they saw the angel, the sons ran and hid. 21As soon as Araunah saw King David approaching, he left the threshing place and bowed low, with his face touching the ground. 22David said to him, “Sell me your threshing place, so that I can build an altar to the LORD, to stop the epidemic. I'll give you the full price.”

23“Take it, Your Majesty,” Araunah said, “and do whatever you wish. Here are these oxen to burn as an offering on the altar, and here are the threshing boards to use as fuel, and wheat to give as an offering. I give it all to you.”

24But the king answered, “No, I will pay you the full price. I will not give as an offering to the LORD something that belongs to you, something that costs me nothing.” 25And he paid Araunah 600 gold coins for the threshing place. 26He built an altar to the LORD there and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. He prayed, and the LORD answered him by sending fire from heaven to burn the sacrifices on the altar.

27The LORD told the angel to put his sword away, and the angel obeyed. 28David saw by this that the LORD had answered his prayer, so he offered sacrifices on the altar at Araunah's threshing place. 29The Tent of the LORD's presence which Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar on which sacrifices were burnt were still at the place of worship at Gibeon at this time; 30but David was not able to go there to worship God, because he was afraid of the sword of the LORD's angel.

1 Chronicles 21GNBOpen in Bible reader

1So David said, “This is where the Temple of the LORD God will be. Here is the altar where the people of Israel are to offer burnt offerings.”

Preparations for Building the Temple

2King David gave orders for all the foreigners living in the land of Israel to assemble, and he put them to work. Some of them prepared stone blocks for building the Temple. 3He supplied a large amount of iron for making nails and clamps for the wooden gates, and so much bronze that no one could weigh it. 4He arranged for the people of Tyre and Sidon to bring him a large number of cedar logs. 5David thought, “The Temple that my son Solomon is to build must be splendid and world-famous. But he is young and inexperienced, so I must make preparations for it.” So David got large amounts of the materials ready before he died.

6He sent for his son Solomon and commanded him to build a temple for the LORD, the God of Israel. 7David said to him, “My son, I wanted to build a temple to honour the LORD my God. 8But the LORD told me that I had killed too many people and fought too many wars. And so, because of all the bloodshed I have caused, he would not let me build a temple for him. 9He did, however, make me a promise. He said, ‘You will have a son who will rule in peace, because I will give him peace from all his enemies. His name will be Solomon, because during his reign I will give Israel peace and security. 10He will build a temple for me. He will be my son, and I will be his father. His dynasty will rule Israel for ever.’ ”

11David continued, “Now, my son, may the LORD your God be with you, and may he keep his promise to make you successful in building a temple for him. 12And may the LORD your God give you insight and wisdom so that you may govern Israel according to his Law. 13If you obey all the laws which the LORD gave to Moses for Israel, you will be successful. Be determined and confident, and don't let anything make you afraid. 14As for the Temple, by my efforts I have accumulated more than 3,400 tonnes of gold and over 34,000 tonnes of silver to be used in building it. Besides that, there is an unlimited supply of bronze and iron. I also have wood and stone ready, but you must get more. 15You have many workmen. There are men to work in the stone quarries, and there are masons and carpenters, as well as a large number of craftsmen of every sort who can work 16with gold, silver, bronze, and iron. Now begin the work, and may the LORD be with you.”

17David commanded all the leaders of Israel to help Solomon. 18He said, “The LORD your God has been with you and given you peace on all sides. He let me conquer all the people who used to live in this land, and they are now subject to you and to the LORD. 19Now serve the LORD your God with all your heart and soul. Start building the Temple, so that you can place in it the Covenant Box of the LORD and all the other sacred objects used in worshipping him.”

1 Chronicles 22GNBOpen in Bible reader

1When David was very old, he made his son Solomon king of Israel.

The Work of the Levites

2King David brought together all the Israelite leaders and all the priests and Levites. 3He took a census of all the male Levites aged thirty or older. The total was 38,000. 4The king assigned 24,000 to administer the work of the Temple, 6,000 to keep records and decide disputes, 54,000 to do guard duty, and 4,000 to praise the LORD, using the musical instruments provided by the king for this purpose.

6David divided the Levites into three groups, according to their clans: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

7Gershon had two sons: Ladan and Shimei. 8Ladan had three sons: Jehiel, Zetham, and Joel, 9who were the heads of the clans descended from Ladan. (Shimei had three sons: Shelomoth, Haziel, and Haran.) 10-11Shimei had four sons: Jahath, Zina, Jeush, and Beriah, in order of age. Jeush and Beriah did not have many descendants, so they were counted as one clan.

12Kohath had four sons: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. 13His eldest son, Amram, was the father of Aaron and Moses. (Aaron and his descendants were set apart to be in charge of the sacred objects for ever, to burn incense in the worship of the LORD, to serve him, and to bless the people in his name. 14But the sons of Moses, the man of God, were included among the Levites.) 15Moses had two sons, Gershom and Eliezer. 16The leader among Gershom's sons was Shebuel. 17Eliezer had only one son, Rehabiah, but Rehabiah had many descendants.

18Kohath's second son, Izhar, had a son, Shelomith, the head of the clan. 19Kohath's third son, Hebron, had four sons: Jeriah, Amariah, Jahaziel, and Jekameam. 20Kohath's fourth son, Uzziel, had two sons, Micah and Isshiah.

21Merari had two sons, Mahli and Mushi. Mahli also had two sons, Eleazar and Kish, 22but Eleazar died without having any sons, only daughters. His daughters married their cousins, the sons of Kish. 23Merari's second son, Mushi, had three sons: Mahli, Eder, and Jeremoth.

24These were the descendants of Levi, by clans and families, every one of them registered by name. Each of his descendants, twenty years of age or older, had a share in the work of the LORD's Temple.

25David said, “The LORD God of Israel has given peace to his people, and he himself will live in Jerusalem for ever. 26So there is no longer any need for the Levites to carry the Tent of the LORD's presence and all the equipment used in worship.” 27On the basis of David's final instructions all Levites were registered for service when they reached the age of twenty, 28and were assigned the following duties: to help the priests descended from Aaron with the temple worship, to take care of its courtyards and its rooms, and to keep undefiled everything that is sacred; 29to be responsible for the bread offered to God, the flour used in offerings, the wafers made without yeast, the baked offerings, and the flour mixed with olive oil; to weigh and measure the temple offerings; 30and to praise and glorify the LORD every morning and every evening 31and whenever offerings to the LORD are burnt on the Sabbath, the New Moon Festival, and other festivals. Rules were made specifying the number of Levites assigned to do this work each time. The Levites were assigned the duty of worshipping the LORD for all time. 32They were given the responsibility of taking care of the Tent of the LORD's presence and the Temple, and of assisting their relatives, the priests descended from Aaron, in the temple worship.

1 Chronicles 23GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Work Assigned to the Priests

1These are the groups to which the descendants of Aaron belong. Aaron had four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 2Nadab and Abihu died before their father did, and left no descendants, so their brothers Eleazar and Ithamar became priests. 3King David organized the descendants of Aaron into groups according to their duties. He was assisted in this by Zadok, a descendant of Eleazar, and by Ahimelech, a descendant of Ithamar. 4The descendants of Eleazar were organized into sixteen groups, while the descendants of Ithamar were organized into eight; this was done because there were more male heads of families among the descendants of Eleazar. 5Since there were temple officials and spiritual leaders among the descendants of both Eleazar and Ithamar, assignments were made by drawing lots. 6The descendants of Eleazar and of Ithamar took turns in drawing lots. Then they were registered by Shemaiah son of Nethanel, a Levite secretary. The king, his officials, the priest Zadok, Ahimelech son of Abiathar, and the heads of the priestly families and of the Levite families, were all witnesses.

7-18This is the order in which the 24 family groups were given their assignments:

1. Jehoiarib
2. Jedaiah
3. Harim
4. Seorim
5. Malchijah
6. Mijamin
7. Hakkoz
8. Abijah
9. Jeshua
10. Shecaniah
11. Eliashib
12. Jakim
13. Huppah
14. Jeshebeab
15. Bilgah
16. Immer
17. Hezir
18. Happizzez
19. Pethahiah
20. Jehezkel
21. Jachin
22. Gamul
23. Delaiah
24. Maaziah

19These men were registered according to their assignments for going to the Temple and performing the duties established by their ancestor Aaron in obedience to the commands of the LORD God of Israel.

The List of the Levites

20These are other heads of families descended from Levi:

Jehdeiah, a descendant of Amram through Shebuel;

21Isshiah, a descendant of Rehabiah;

22Jahath, a descendant of Izhar through Shelomith;

23Jeriah, Amariah, Jehaziel, and Jekameam, sons of Hebron, in order of age;

24Shamir, a descendant of Uzziel through Micah;

25Zechariah, a descendant of Uzziel through Isshiah, Micah's brother;

26Mahli, Mushi, and Jaaziah, descendants of Merari. 27Jaaziah had three sons: Shoham, Zaccur, and Ibri. 28-29Mahli had two sons, Eleazar and Kish. Eleazar had no sons, but Kish had one son, Jerahmeel. 30Mushi had three sons: Mahli, Eder, and Jeremoth.

These are the families of the Levites.

31The head of each family and one of his younger brothers drew lots for their assignments, just as their relatives, the priests descended from Aaron, had done. King David, Zadok, Ahimelech, and the heads of families of the priests and of the Levites were witnesses.

1 Chronicles 24GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Temple Musicians

1King David and the leaders of the Levites chose the following Levite clans to lead the services of worship: Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun. They were to proclaim God's messages, accompanied by the music of harps and cymbals. This is the list of persons chosen to lead the worship, with the type of service that each group performed:

2The four sons of Asaph: Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah, and Asharelah. They were under the direction of Asaph, who proclaimed God's messages whenever the king commanded.

3The six sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah. Under the direction of their father they proclaimed God's message, accompanied by the music of harps, and sang praise and thanks to the LORD.

4The fourteen sons of Heman: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel, Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, Romamti Ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, and Mahazioth. 5God gave to Heman, the king's prophet, these fourteen sons and also three daughters, as he had promised, in order to give power to Heman. 6All his sons played cymbals and harps under their father's direction, to accompany the temple worship. And Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under orders from the king.

7All these 24 men were experts; and their fellow-Levites were trained musicians. There were 288 men in all.

8To determine the assignment of duties they all drew lots, whether they were young or old, experts or beginners.

9-31These 288 men were divided according to families into 24 groups of twelve, with a leader in charge of each group. This is the order in which they were on duty:

1. Joseph of the family of Asaph
2. Gedaliah
3. Zaccur
4. Zeri
5. Nethaniah
6. Bukkiah
7. Asharelah
8. Jeshaiah
9. Mattaniah
10. Shimei
11. Uzziel
12. Hashabiah
13. Shebuel
14. Mattithiah
15. Jerimoth
16. Hananiah
17. Joshbekashah
18. Hanani
19. Mallothi
20. Eliathah
21. Hothir
22. Giddalti
23. Mahazioth
24. Romamti Ezer
1 Chronicles 25GNBOpen in Bible reader

In Praise of God's Goodness

1If the LORD does not build the house,

the work of the builders is useless;

if the LORD does not protect the city,

it is useless for the sentries to stand guard.

2It is useless to work so hard for a living,

getting up early and going to bed late.

For the LORD provides for those he loves,

while they are asleep.

3Children are a gift from the LORD;

they are a real blessing.

4The sons a man has when he is young

are like arrows in a soldier's hand.

5Happy is the man who has many such arrows.

He will never be defeated

when he meets his enemies in the place of judgement.

Psalms 127GNBOpen in Bible reader
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