Our reading today continues the story of David bringing the Ark to Jerusalem. The Ark is placed inside the tent that David has assembled for it (16:1). Notice that David is still acting as priest (v. 2). The Chronicler then points again to David’s return to the Levitical laws for worship (v. 4) and the music ministry he established (vv. 5-6). David then sings a song of thanks to God (vv. 8-36). Note at the end that all the people said “Amen” (v. 36). There is that unity that Israel had while under David’s kingship. The chapter ends with the assignments David gave to the Levites, including Obed-edom (v. 38) who housed the Ark for three months (13:14). In verse 39, we see that the Tabernacle was indeed elsewhere, and that David ensured the daily sacrifices were happening on the altar as God required (vv. 39-40).
The song of thanks that David offers here consists of parts of three Psalms. These Psalms may have been written for this occasion, written later based on David’s song here, or they were written beforehand and this is David using the Psalms in public worship. Verses 8-22 are the same as Psalm 105:1-15, with one exception. Whereas 1 Chronicles 16:13 reads “offspring of Israel”, Psalm 105:6 reads “offspring of Abraham.” With this being the only exception, and with Psalm 105 continuing beyond what the Chronicler records, let’s turn our attention to Psalm 105.
The Psalm begins with a call to offer God thanksgiving and to call upon Him, but it is one of the few places in the Old Testament where we see a call for Israel to evangelize other peoples (105:1). Verse 2 calls for this extolling of His deeds to be done through song. Based on all of these works of God, the Psalmist calls three times for His people to seek Him (v. 3 twice, v. 4 once). In verse 6, “offspring of Abraham,” “children of Jacob,” and “His chosen ones” are all parallel. They are all the same people. On this side of the cross, we know that those of faith are the offspring of Abraham (see Gal 3:7). This Psalm is not about national Israel, but the elect of all time!
This is confirmed in the next stanza, where we see the Psalmist speak of the covenant being eternal and for “a thousand generations” (v. 8), and then see him trace those generations through the line of promise (vv. 9-10). It is amazing that with the Scriptures’ emphasis on the inheritance passing to generations not according to physical right but according to God’s sovereign choice, Israel is believed to be (by Jews and some Christians) the chosen people of God because of physical descent. With this in mind, even verse 11 points us to a spiritual truth beyond the physical land (see Heb 11:8-10, 12:12, 13:14).
Verses 12-15 speak of God’s provision of Abraham and his family, including a reference to their protection when both Abraham and Isaac lied to Abimelech about their wives (v. 15 – see Gen 20:6-7, 26:11). God did call Abraham a prophet (Gen 20:7), but the addition of “anointed” here points to their chosen-ness. The prophetic anointed point to the prophetic Messiah. Then the Psalm continues the history beyond what is recorded in 1 Chronicles 16.* Verses 16-22 recount the story of Joseph who was sold into slavery, but for the good purposes of God. In verses 23-25, we read of the enslavement of Israel, but this was for the good purposes of God, as well.
Verses 26-36 tell of the plagues in Egypt, though the order of plagues is changed and some are omitted (death of livestock and boils). The culmination is verse 36 that speaks of the Passover. This is how they were freed (vv. 37-38). Verse 39 speaks of God’s presence with them in the pillar of cloud/fire. He provided food (v. 40) and water (v. 41). In verse 42, the Psalmist ties all of these acts of salvation in with the promise to Abraham. The Psalm ends with Israel’s inheritance of the land (v. 44), and the fact that all of this that happened should result in obedience (v. 45).
1 Chronicles 16:23-34 is the same as Psalm 96, though with some variation. Let us consider Psalm 96. After the call for Israel to tell all the earth of God’s mighty deeds in Psalm 105, here, the Psalmist calls for the nations to respond to this news of Who God is. All the earth is to sing praises to God (96:1). But then, they are to join in and tell of God’s gracious salvation (v. 2). The telling of God’s deeds continues (v. 3). As Creator, God alone is worthy of praise (vv. 4-6).
The call for the whole earth to praise God is renewed in verses 7-9. In verse 8, the whole world is called to bring God an offering and enter into His courts, that is, His presence. David says this as “bring an offering and come before Him” (1 Chronicles 16:29). Think about what David is saying! He has brought the Ark (the presence of God) to Jerusalem, and calls for all the earth to come into His presence through an offering. It is a prophetic word of the priest and king. It is the call of the ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King for the whole world to enter God’s presence through a perfect offering for sin! In verse 10, the Psalmist declares that God is the God of all the earth, and will judge all people justly. The whole creation praises God for Who He is (vv. 11-12), the just judge (v. 13).
1 Chronicles 16:35-36 is a loose refrain of Psalm 106:47-48. In the context of David’s song here, he acknowledges that God saves the offspring of Abraham (vv. 8-22, Psalm 105), includes all the world in that salvation (vv. 23-34, Psalm 96), and here prays for salvation and deliverance “from among the nations” (v. 35). In context, this is a prayer for all the elect to be saved from among the whole world. Applying David’s usage of these verses (or the selectivity of the Chronicler) and applying it to all of Psalm 106, we see that God’s salvation of His elect Old Testament saints happened within physical Israel, but that the elect are not the whole of physical Israel.
We can see this in the progression of Psalm 106 itself. It begins with that call for praise to God (106:1). In particular, the Psalmist calls for praise unto God because of God’s enduring steadfast love. This is our word hesed (חֶ֫סֶד). As we have seen, this is used of God’s saving love, and is another way to talk about the salvation He provides. In verse 3, we see that this love results in blessing for those who are just and who “do righteousness at all times.” As we have seen in many of David’s Palms, someone who does only righteousness is one who is judged only according to the righteousness of Christ. It is these elect that the Psalmist prays to be a part of. These are the saved (v. 4). The chosen, God’s holy nation, His inheritance (v. 5). And they are covered in Christ’s righteousness, because no one is free from sin (v. 6).
The Psalmist then recounts the fickle hearts of God’s people. They rebelled even after they were saved from Egypt (v. 7), yet God saved them again (vv. 10-11), and so they believed (v 12). But then they didn’t (v. 13). So God judged them (vv 14-18) because they turned to idols (v. 19). They exchanged the glory of God for images (v. 20), which the fallen heart tends to do (see Rom 1:23). But God relented from judgment through the work of an intercessor (v. 23). And yet, they rebelled again (vv. 24-25), which made God judge the entire generation (vv. 26-27), and judge them with plagues (v. 29). But God relented from judgment through the work of an intercessor (vv. 30-31).
Yet, Israel rebelled again, even inciting Moses to sin (vv. 32-33). And they turned to idols again (v. 36). So God judged them (vv. 40-41). Then He would deliver them, they would sin, and He would judge them, over and over again (v. 43). Ultimately, because of His covenant and His enduring hesed love, God still relented and provided for them (vv. 44-46). Such is the pattern of fallen man – not just in the wilderness, not just during the time of the Judges, and not just the nation of Israel. This is what sinful man does. And apart from God’s salvation, and the removal of judgment through our Intercessor, we would perish like the rest of the world.
And this is why we pray for God’s salvation. We pray for God to save His elect from among the nations (even Israel) that we may praise Him (v. 47). He is the God of Israel, blessed from everlasting and forever, as all of His people shout “Amen!” and sing His praises. Like all Israel did when David finished his song (1 Chr 16:36).
*Perhaps the Chronicler recorded of this Psalm only what he found necessary for his purposes, and wanted to tie in the returning remnant with Abraham directly.