PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING COMMEMMORATE THE INSTALLATION OF THE ARK IN JERUSALEM AND ANTICIPATE THE COVENANT PROMISE OF FUTURE POSSESSION OF THE LAND
Andrew Hill: The Psalm of Thanksgiving commemorating the installation of the ark in Jerusalem, in one sense, is the theological center of the Chronicler’s retelling of Israel’s history. The installation of the ark marks Israel’s return to God under David’s leadership and a renewal of the nation’s covenant loyalty to the God of their ancestors. The ark itself symbolizes the covenant agreement established by Yahweh with Israel at Mount Sinai. The Sinai treaty was mediated by the prophet Moses, and the written record of that binding pact was archived for Hebrew posterity in the sacred ark. The Chronicler’s song of praise celebrates God as both covenant maker and covenant keeper, the lynchpin in his theology of hope for postexilic Judah.
King David’s appointment of certain members of the Levites to attend the ark indicates a division of labor among the Levitical corps. One group of Levites and the priests are stationed at the shrine in Gibeon housing the Mosaic tabernacle (16:39; 21:29). The other group of Levites are stationed in Jerusalem to minister before the ark of the Lord (16:4).
August Konkel: The transfer of the ark to Jerusalem required that worship be established in two locations, since the tabernacle remained at Gibeon. The various locations of the tabernacle are somewhat obscure in the biblical narrative (Friedman: 293–94). Following the conquest, the tabernacle was located at Shiloh (Josh 18:1; 19:51), which was the designated place of sacrifice (22:19, 29). Jeremiah tells us that Shiloh was destroyed (7:12, 14; 26:6, 9); there is no information on the fate of the tabernacle.
Frederick Mabie: The Chronicler’s placement of this psalm of thanksgiving underscores the spiritually significant event of the return of the ark. The ark was a tangible reminder of God’s ongoing presence in the midst of the Israelite community and also housed the covenantal texts outlining the relationship of blessing between God and Israel (cf. Ex 25:17–22; Dt 10:1–5). As such, the content of this psalm spans broadly across a number of themes significant to the life of the covenantal community.
The concept of covenant is central to this psalm as well as to the Chronicler’s message as a whole. For example, note the repeated references to “covenant” and the covenantal name of God (“LORD” [Yahweh]), references to the patriarchs (vv.13, 16–17), mention of the land promised in the Abrahamic covenant (v.18), and reminder of God’s protection of his people (vv.21–22). In short, the poet’s declaration that Yahweh “remembers his covenant forever” (v.15) provides the theological foundation for the community’s songs of joy, declarations of praise, and expressions of faith. Lastly, the psalmist makes clear that doxological truths are to be shared by God’s people with all humankind.
Thomas Constable: This hymn (vv. 8-36) was probably one of many that the people sang on this occasion. It expressed the hopes and thoughts of the Israelites assembled that the returned exiles needed to emulate. This thanksgiving song is a medley of several psalms (96:1-13; 105:1-15; 106:1, 47-48). It stresses that the intended result of Israel’s worship was the salvation of the nations so that they, too, might come and worship Yahweh (cf. Exod. 19:5-6; Isa. 42:6; Zech. 2:10-11).
The hymn began with a call to worship that embraced the nations (vv. 8- 13; cf. Isa. 12:4). The people next extolled God’s greatness and glory (vv. 14-22). They stressed God’s unmerited favor toward Israel’s patriarchs in this section. Another call to worship (vv. 23-24) led to another section of praise that emphasizes Yahweh’s superiority over the nations’ gods (vv. 25-26) and His creative power (vv. 27-30). The final part of the hymn called on all people to turn to Yahweh in trust and obedience in view of His coming to judge and save (vv. 31-36). Throughout this hymn the emphasis rests on God’s deeds, God’s words, God’s greatness, and God’s worth.
J.A. Thompson: The Levites’ main responsibilities were the musical aspects of worship:
– to make petitions through psalms of lament,
– to give thanks in thanksgiving psalms, and
– to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, in song.
Elements of each of these three are to be found in the composite psalm of Asaph and his associates in vv. 8–36.
(:4-6) PROLOGUE – MUSICAL APPOINTMENTS FOR WORSHIP
A. (:4) General Function for the Levites Ministering Before the Ark
“And he appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the LORD, even to celebrate and to thank and praise the LORD God of Israel:”
B. (:5-6) Specific Appointments of Levites to Musical Roles
“Asaph the chief, and second to him Zechariah, then Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-edom, and Jeiel, with musical instruments, harps, lyres; also Asaph played loud-sounding cymbals, 6 and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests blew trumpets continually before the ark of the covenant of God.”
Frederick Mabie: These verses (also see vv.37–38) briefly summarize the Levitical musicians who had particular responsibility in the realm of worship in music and song in the presence of the newly arrived ark (cf. 1Ch 15:17–21; on the musical responsibilities of the Levites.
Tyndale Commentary: Another interesting detail is that Asaph, who was appointed to be the conductor of the orchestra, was given the task to sound the cymbals. It could be that he would thus determine the beat and rhythm of the music. As we have seen earlier, Asaph would be the greatest contributor to the book of Psalms, after David himself. As a matter of fact, it was David who wrote the text for the hymn to be played in the thanksgiving service.
II. (:7-36) PSALM OF PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING
Andrew Hill: The psalm of thanksgiving (16:8–36) is a composite of selections from three psalms:
1 Chronicles 16:8–22 = Psalm 105:1–15
1 Chronicles 16:23–33 = Psalm 96:1–13
1 Chronicles 16:34–37 = Psalm 106:1, 47–48
The theological themes of the three divisions of the composite psalm rehearse the key emphases of 1–2 Chronicles as a “biography” of God.
(1) The first unit (16:7–22) highlights God as a covenant maker and keeper and Israel’s unique place among the nations as his elect (16:15–17). Without question, the emphasis in this extract from Psalm 105 on the “land of Canaan” as the inheritance of Israel is important to the Chronicler and his audience in the light of the recent Babylonian exile (1 Chron. 16:18).
(2) The second unit (16:23–33) from Psalm 96 extols God as Creator and Sovereign over all the nations and over all their gods (1 Chron. 16:26, 30).
(3) The third unit (16:34–36) from Psalm 106 praises the goodness and mercy of the God of salvation.
Last, and not to be overlooked, the entire composite psalm repeats the covenant name Yahweh (NIV “LORD”) some sixteen times.
“Then on that day David first assigned Asaph and his relatives
to give thanks to the LORD.”
A. (:8-22) Express Praise and Thanksgiving by Remembering God’s Deeds and Covenant
1. (:8-13) Remember God’s Wonderful Deeds
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples. 9 Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders. 10 Glory in His holy name; Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad. 11 Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually. 12 Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth, 13 O seed of Israel His servant, Sons of Jacob, His chosen ones!”
2. (:14-22) Remember God’s Everlasting Covenant of the Land of Canaan
“He is the LORD our God; His judgments are in all the earth. 15 Remember His covenant forever, The word which He commanded to a thousand generations, 16 The covenant which He made with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac. 17 He also confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To Israel as an everlasting covenant, 18 Saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan, As the portion of your inheritance.’ 19 When they were only a few in number, Very few, and strangers in it, 20 And they wandered about from nation to nation, And from one kingdom to another people, 21 He permitted no man to oppress them, And He reproved kings for their sakes, saying, 22 ‘Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm.’”
J.A. Thompson: Verse 19 reads (in Hebrew) “when you were but few,” rather than Ps 105:12 “when they were but few.” The second person “you” would encourage a sense of unity with the patriarchs and their experience with God. When Israel was few and strangers, wandering from nation to nation and from one kingdom to another, the Lord allowed no one to oppress them and rebuked any who tried to do them harm. This would have been an encouragement to the relatively small community of Jews in the Chronicler’s age who found themselves not only few but under foreign domination.
B. (:23-33) Express Praise and Thanksgiving by Boasting in God as Creator and King
1. (:23-29) Boast in God’s Glory as Creator and Savior
“Sing to the LORD, all the earth; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. 24 Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. 25 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; He also is to be feared above all gods. 26 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens. 27 Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and joy are in His place. 28 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 29 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him; Worship the LORD in holy array.”
J.A. Thompson: The theme changes. The kingship of Yahweh comes to the fore. If the Chronicler’s readers could identify themselves with their forebears, the patriarchs, who were a politically insignificant group that grew to a significant people as their story unfolded, the people of Israel of the Chronicler’s day might well take hope and look to a brighter future. Their God was a great God whose salvation was to be proclaimed from day to day. He was great and most worthy of praise, to be revered above all gods. The gods of the nations were but idols, but Israel’s God made the heavens. Before him was splendor and majesty; strength and joy were in his dwelling place.
William Jackson: vv. 23-24 — Declaring God’s glory
I. Declare among the heathen the glory of God’s perfections, that they may acknowledge Him as the true God.
II. Declare the glory of His salvation, that they may accept Him as their only Redeemer.
III. Declare the glory of His providence, that they may confide in Him as their faithful guardian.
IV. Declare the glory of His word, that they may prize it as their chief treasure.
V. Declare the glory of His service, that they may choose it as their chief occupation.
VI. Declare the glory or His residence, that they may seek it m their best home.
Pulpit Commentary: The grandeur and unusual comprehensiveness of the adoration and homage here proclaimed, as to be offered to the omnipotent Ruler of all nations, should be well pondered. Our eye and ear may have become too familiar with it, but when put a little into relief, and referred to its original time of day, it is fit to be ranked among the strongest moral evidences of inspiration in the word and the speaker.
2. (:30-33) Boast in God’s Sovereignty as King and Judge over All the Earth
“Tremble before Him, all the earth; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved. 31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; And let them say among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns.’ 32 Let the sea roar, and all it contains; Let the field exult, and all that is in it. 33 Then the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the LORD; For He is coming to judge the earth.”
J.A. Thompson: These words are a powerful statement asserting that Israel’s God, Yahweh, is the supreme ruler over all. All nature responds with joy (vv. 31–33). The Lord will come to judge the earth.
C. (:34-36) Express Praise and Thanksgiving by Extolling God’s Attributes as Good, Loving, Holy and Faithful
1. (:34) Extolling God’s Goodness and Love
“O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
2. (:35-36) Extolling God’s Holiness and Faithfulness
“Then say, ‘Save us, O God of our salvation, And gather us and deliver us from the nations, To give thanks to Thy holy name, And glory in Thy praise.’ 36 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, From everlasting even to everlasting. Then all the people said, ‘Amen,’ and praised the LORD.”
Frederick Mabie: the final section (vv.34–36), which may reflect the exilic/postexilic reality of dispersion (“Save us, O God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations,” v.35), is especially laden with praise and thanksgiving—a reality no doubt meant to resonate with the Chronicler’s postexilic audience (cf. Php 4:4–7). Even the created realm is exhorted to join in the praise and exaltation of the Creator God (vv.30–33). In addition, note that this worship poetry is preceded and followed by a brief list of Levites (most notably Asaph) appointed by David to serve before the ark in the realm of petition, thanksgiving, worship, and music (vv.4–6, 37–38).
Tyndale Commentary: These wonderful works of God’s past salvation form the basis for making Israel’s present known to God. The request is for two things. First, the Chronicler asks God to save/deliver his people again and to gather them from the nations (v. 35; cf. Deut. 30:3). What exactly the Chronicler has in mind remains unspecified. It is sometimes proposed that frankness was politically inadvisable, but more probably the real thrust of the prayer is that Israel might regain its lost identity. The Chronicler’s readers were very aware of being subject to a pagan imperial power, and they needed above all to be re-identified as the as the people of the God who reigns over the nations (v. 31). Whether this involved a gathering from Babylonia (cf. Ezra 1 – 2, 7-8) or from the scattered villages of Judah (cf. I Chr. 9:2-34; Neh. 7:4-5; 11:1-36) cannot be decided. What matters is that Israel should have a new understanding of its status as God’s covenant people (cf. 14-18).
The second request is that Israel may have a new understanding of God: that we may glory in your praise (v. 35). Deliverance could happen only by God’s intervention. Again, details are not given, but the Chronicler pleads with God to show himself unmistakably as the supreme Deliverer/Savior, and to act in such a way that praise and glory could be given only to him.
The whole psalm, therefore, is much more than an illustration of the post-exile liturgical cultus … or an establishing of the identity of Jerusalem’s cultus. It is an impassioned plea for God to restore his own and his people’s identity in the Chronicler’s own generation by performing fresh acts of salvation.
III. (:37-42) MINISTRY BEFORE THE ARK
J.A. Thompson: These verses provide a concluding observation or summarizing remark on the way David ordered the Levites. Asaph and his associates were left before the ark to minister there regularly as each day required. Obed-Edom and his sixty-eight associates ministered with them although Obed-Edom and Hosah were gatekeepers. Zadok and his fellow priests were at the tabernacle at Gibeon to attend to the morning and evening burnt offerings in accordance with the law of the Lord.
A. (:37-38) Levites Ministering in Jerusalem
“So he left Asaph and his relatives there before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to minister before the ark continually, as every day’s work required; 38 and Obed-edom with his 68 relatives; Obed-edom, also the son of Jeduthun, and Hosah as gatekeepers.”
Frederick Mabie: These names complement the list of Levites given in verses 4–7 above and specify those who will serve on an ongoing basis in Jerusalem (City of David) in conjunction with the newly installed ark. The focus of these Levites appointed to serve in the presence of the ark is that of music, in contrast to the priests who serve in sacrificial ministry at Gibeon (vv.39–42; cf. Hill, 238).
B. (:39-42) Levites Ministering in Gibeon
“And he left Zadok the priest and his relatives the priests before the tabernacle of the LORD in the high place which was at Gibeon, 40 to offer burnt offerings to the LORD on the altar of burnt offering continually morning and evening, even according to all that is written in the law of the LORD, which He commanded Israel. 41 And with them were Heman and Jeduthun, and the rest who were chosen, who were designated by name, to give thanks to the LORD, because His lovingkindness is everlasting. 42 And with them were Heman and Jeduthun with trumpets and cymbals for those who should sound aloud, and with instruments for the songs of God, and the sons of Jeduthun for the gate.”
Frederick Mabie: In contrast to the emphasis on the musical ministry of those assigned to serve “before the ark” (vv.37–38), David appoints priests to serve at Gibeon in their covenantal responsibilities of sacrifices and offerings “in accordance with everything written in the Law of the LORD” (v.40). The city of Gibeon was located on the western side of the Benjamite plateau, about five and a half miles northwest of Jerusalem. Since the tabernacle (tent of meeting constructed during the time of Moses) and the bronze altar constructed by Bezalel (also from the time of Moses) were located at Gibeon, this location became a significant worship center prior to the construction of the Solomonic temple (cf. 1Ch 21:29; 2Ch 1:2–6).
As well as noting the priests who will discharge their sacrificial duties, the Chronicler specifies that the Levitical families of Heman and Jeduthun were appointed to oversee music and worship at Gibeon. As noted in the earlier poetry (v.34), these Levites remind God’s people of God’s steadfast covenantal love (“his love endures forever,” v.41).
Thomas Constable: David let the sanctuary (the Mosaic tabernacle) remain at Gibeon and provided for worship and sacrifice to continue there (vv. 37-42). He appointed Zadok as the priest in charge of that tabernacle. Throughout Israel’s history, the ark was a symbol of God’s grace and the altar was a symbol of human response to that grace. Normally they were together, but in Saul’s day they were separate. The ark was in Philistia, Bethshemesh, or Kiriath-jearim, and the tabernacle was at Shiloh or Gibeon.
“Then all the people departed each to his house,
and David returned to bless his household.”