After describing Solomon’s rise to power, the Chronicler went on to give an extensive view of the spiritual ministers of the temple. In 1 Chronicles 22, the author described David’s proclamation that the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite would be the location of the temple and in 1 Chronicles 28 noted David’s commission to Solomon to build. Between these chapters, the Chronicler described the work of the Levites. The author was not just interested in the temple itself, but its function, its life. The detailed lists of Levites and temple servants were crafted to motivate the spiritual servants of the chronicler’s day; he was saying, “Be faithful like your ancestors.” The lists in these chapters also display the level of David’s devotion to the cultic life of Israel.
Each chapter in 1 Chronicles 23-27 focuses on a specific classification of those who maintained Israel’s cult. According to the Chronicler, the work of Levites in the temple resulted from David’s military success (1 Chronicles 23). “The LORD God of Israel has given rest to His people,” he said, “and He has come to stay in Jerusalem forever” (1 Chron 23:25).” During the latter part of David’s reign, Israel indeed enjoyed rest from their enemies and the cultic life of Israel prospered—just as God had promised (Deut 4:1-8; Josh 21:43-45). The Chronicler’s record of priestly divisions (1 Chronicles 24) would serve as a schematic for the priests serving in the temple. David arranged for the Levitical musicians to provide spiritual guidance through their instruments and songs, and they began their work at the temple dedication ceremony in 2 Chron 5:11-13 and 2 Chron 7:6. The Levitical gatekeepers (1 Chronicles 26) were to monitor activity and promoted orderliness among the throngs coming to worship. The Chronicler’s list of David’s secular officials (1 Chronicles 27) underscores the notion that the security of Jerusalem and the freedom of worship were closely associated.
The flow of 1 Chronicles 23-27 provides the opportunity to consider the dynamic character of the storyline of Scripture and its climax in Christ. The Chronicler was using pen, ink, and history to motivate his audience to faithfulness in the temple of their day. Since God had done so much during Israel’s Golden Age, could not the returned exiles look to Him for the same? In the New Testament, the author of Hebrews was likewise using pen, ink, and history to provide his audience with a theological vision, but one based upon God’s work in Christ. He wrote,
We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle do not have a right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy of holies by the high priest as a sin offering are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the gate, so that He might sanctify the people by His own blood. Let us then go to Him outside the camp, bearing His disgrace. For here we do not have an enduring city; instead, we seek the one to come. Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is the fruit of our lips that confess His name (Heb 13:10-15).