1 Chronicles 16
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it: and they offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings before God.

(1) So they brought the ark of God.1Chronicles 16:1-3 are wrongly separated from the concluding verses of 1 Chronicles 15. The narrative is still parallel to 2 Sam. (2 Samuel 17-19 a). The differences are unimportant.

God.—Samuel, Jehovah.

And set it.—Samuel adds, “in its place.”

And they offered burnt sacrifices.—Samuel, and David offered [a different word] burnt sacrifices before Jehovah.” Our narrative takes care to make it clear that the priests and Levites ministered in the sacrifices.

And when David had made an end of offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD.
(2) The burnt offerings.—Heb., the burnt offering, as if one great holocaust were meant. This verse is identical with 2Samuel 6:18, only omitting Sabaoth at the end, a Divine title which was perhaps obsolete in the chronicler’s day.

He blessed the people in the name of the Lord.—Comp. Numbers 6:22-27; 1Kings 8:14; 1Kings 8:55; Deuteronomy 33:1.

And he dealt to every one of Israel, both man and woman, to every one a loaf of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine.
(3) To every one . . .—Literally, to every man of Israel from man unto woman. Samuel has, “to all the people, to all the multitude of Israel, from man,” &c.

A loaf (kikkar).A round cake (1Samuel 2:36). The parallel in Samuel has a less common word (hallath), meaning a sacrificial cake punctured all over. (Comp. Exodus 29:23.)

A good piece of flesh.—A single Hebrew term, found only here and in Samuel (’eshpār). It seems to mean “a portion,” i.e., of the victims slain for the “peace offerings.” (The “burnt offerings” were wholly consumed on the altar.) Syriac, “a portion.” Arabic, “a slice of flesh.” Others interpret, “a measure of wine.”

A flagon of wine.—Rather, a raisin-cakei.e., a mass of dried grapes (Hosea 3:1); Isaiah 16:7, “raisin-cakes of Kir-hareseth.”

And he appointed certain of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, and to record, and to thank and praise the LORD God of Israel:

This entire section is peculiar to the Chronicle. 1Chronicles 16:43 is almost identical with 2Samuel 6:19-20. Compared, then, with the older text, this relation of the chronicler’s looks like a parenthesis interpolated from another source into the history, as narrated in 2Samuel 6:12-20.

(4) And he appointed certain of the Levites.—Literally, put, placed (Genesis 3:12).

To minister.—Literally, ministeringi.e., as ministers. The object of the appointment is defined by the words which follow: “both to remind, and to thank, and to praise Jehovah, the God of Israel.” Each verb expresses a distinct kind of duty in the service of song.

To record is the technical term for chanting the psalms which accompanied the sacrificial burning of the Azkārāh, that is, the part of the meat offering that was presented on the altar (Leviticus 2:2). (Comp. the use of the cognate verb in the titles of Psalms 38, 70)

To thank was to perform psalms of invocation, and confession of benefits received.

To praise was to sing and play hymns of hallelujah such as Psalms 146-150.

These Levites were to minister thus before the Ark in the sacred tent of Mount Zion.

Asaph the chief, and next to him Zechariah, Jeiel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehiel, and Mattithiah, and Eliab, and Benaiah, and Obededom: and Jeiel with psalteries and with harps; but Asaph made a sound with cymbals;
(5, 6) The names of the persons appointed—ten Levites and two priests—all of whom but one, Jahaziel, were in the procession described in 1Chronicles 15:19-21.

Asaph the chief, and next to him (his second) Zechariah.—See 1Chronicles 15:18.

Jeiel.—A scribe’s error for “Jaaziel” (1Chronicles 15:18).

With psalteries and with harps.With instruments of harps and lutes (appositive or defining genitive).

But Asaph made a sound with cymbals.—Literally, and Asaph with cymbals clanging.

Benaiah also and Jahaziel the priests with trumpets continually before the ark of the covenant of God.
(6) Jahaziel.—Not mentioned in 1 Chronicles 15, unless he be the Eliezer of 1Chronicles 16:24. The number of these musicians is twelve, suggesting the twelve tribes of Israel.

With trumpets.—Clarions, or straight trumpets.

Continually.—The Hebrew term is a special one, denoting at fixed and regularly recurring services.

Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the LORD into the hand of Asaph and his brethren.
(7-36) An ode of thanksgiving appropriate to the occasion.

(7) Then on that day David delivered first this psalm.—Rather, On that day then (viz., after the Ark had been placed in its tent, and the minstrels appointed) David originally committed the giving of thanks to Jehovah into the hands of Asaph and his brethren. Thus understood, the verse merely asserts that this was the occasion when “Asaph and his brethren” were first charged with the duties described in 1Chronicles 16:4-6. But the words seem really intended to introduce the long ode which follows, and therefore we should perhaps render, “On that day, then David gave for the first time into the hands of Asaph and his brethren, for giving thanks to Jehovah, Give thanks unto the Lord,’” &c., the whole psalm being regarded as the object of the verb. It may be that this composite hymn was sung in the time of the compiler, on the anniversary of the removal of the Ark, which may in after-times have been commemorated by a special service. Hence it was easy to infer that it was the ode sung at the original service under David. The words “then” (’âz) and “on that day” certainly seem to introduce the psalm. (Comp, their use, Exodus 15:1, and Judges 5:1. Comp. also 2Chronicles 7:6.)

But the ambiguity of 1Chronicles 16:7 may be taken along with other considerations to indicate that this ode does not constitute an original part of the Chronicles, but has been inserted by a later hand. For (1) the Psalm is clearly a cento consisting of portions of three others extant in the Psalter, and so loosely patched together that the seams are quite visible; (2) the Psalter itself does not refer the three psalms in question to David; if, however, the editors of the Psalter had read in the Chronicles a clear assertion of Davidic authorship, they would hardly have left them anonymous; (3) all critics agree that it is not here expressly said that David composed this ode, and, in fact, its ideas and language betray a later origin than the Davidic age; and (4) it contains no specific allusion to the occasion for which it purports to have been written. If no record was preserved of the psalms actually sung at the festival, it was natural that some editor should attempt to supply the apparent lacuna from the Psalter.

Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.
(8-22) The first four strophes of Psalms 105 (1Chronicles 16:1-15.)

(8) Give thanks.—The same Hebrew verb as in 1Chronicles 16:4, “to thank.” Psalms 105 is a tôdāh, or thanksgiving, hence its use here.

Call upon his name.—Invoke His help, appealing to Him by His revealed name of Jehovah. (Comp. Psalm 3:1-7; Psalm 5:1; Psalm 7:6, and many others.)

Make known.—Israel’s mission.

Deeds.Feats, exploits, deeds of wonder; a poetic word.


Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.
(9) Sing psalms.—The word implies a musical accompaniment.

Talk ye.—A third term for singing. Chant ye.

His wondrous works.His wonders, or miracles. The word means things separate, distinct, and so out of the common (Exodus 3:20).

Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
(10) That seek the Lord.—Comp. 1Chronicles 13:3; 1Chronicles 15:13, where a synonymous term is used. Both occur in 1Chronicles 16:11.

Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.
(11) And his strength.—Comp. Exodus 15:2, Isaiah 26:4 : “Jah, Jehovah is a rock of ages” (Heb.).

His face.—His presence, especially in the sanctuary. True devotion is the secret of moral strength.

Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;
(12) The second strophe of Psalms 105

Marvellous works.Wonders, as in 1Chronicles 16:9.

His wonders.His portents; τέρατα of the New Testament.

The judgments of his mouth.—His judicial utterances, which execute themselves. (Comp. Genesis 1:3; Exodus 12:12.)

Of his mouth.Psalm 105:5 has a different form of the pronoun.

O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones.
(13) Seed of Israel.Psalm 105:6 reads, “Abraham.” “Israel” improves the parallelism, and is probably a correction. Syriac and Arabic have “Abraham.”

His servant.—LXX., “his servants.” (Comp. “servant of Jehovah” as a title of Israel in Isaiah.)

He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.
(14) The grand thought of Israel that, though Jehovah is their God, He is not theirs exclusively: He governs the wide world.

Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations;
(15) Be ye mindful.Psalm 105:8, third strophe, begins, “He hath remembered,” that is, “He will certainly remember” His ancient covenant; and the exile and oppression of His people can only be transitory (Comp. Psalm 111:5.) The expression is modified here, to suit different circumstances, and perhaps in view of 1Chronicles 16:12.

The word which he commanded to . . . Rather, the promise which he established for . . .

Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac;
(16) Even of the covenant.—These words should be cancelled. The object is still the word of promise.

Which he made.—Literally, he cut. Same phrase as in Haggai 2:5.

With Abraham.Genesis 22:16.

Unto Isaac.—Heb., Yiçhâq. Psalm 105:9 has the weaker form, Yishāq (Amos 7:9).

And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant,
(17) And hath confirmed.—In Psalms 105 the sense is future.

The same.Iti.e., the word (1Chronicles 16:15).

For a law=as a fixed decree.

Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance;
(18) The land of Canaan.—In the Hebrew the rhythm is marred here by omission of a particle (eth), found in Psalm 105:11.

The lot.—Literally, as the measuring line (comp. Psalm 16:5), i.e., as your measured or apportioned domain.

When ye were but few, even a few, and strangers in it.
(19) The fourth strophe of Psalms 105 begins here.

When ye were but few.—The psalm has “when they [that is, your fathers] were but few; “and so LXX. here.

Few.—Literally, men of number = easily counted. (Comp. Genesis 34:30.)

Strangers in it.Sojourners, μέτοικοι (Genesis 23:4).

And when they went from nation to nation, and from one kingdom to another people;
(20) And when they went from nation to nation.And they went. This shows that the third plural (“when they were”) is original in the last verse. The reference is to the wanderings of the patriarchs.

And from one kingdom.—The conjunction is prosaic, and is not read in Psalm 105:13.

He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes,
(21) This verse was originally the apodosis to 1Chronicles 16:19. as in Psalms 105 : “When they were but few . . . and went from nation to nation . . . he suffered no man,” &c.

He suffered no man.—Heb., he permitted to no man, as in 2Samuel 16:11. Psalms 105 has the mere accusative, and a different word for “man” (’ādām).

Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.
(22) Saying.—Omitted in the Hebrew, as in Psalm 2:6, and perhaps at the end of 1Chronicles 16:7, supra.

Mine anointed (ones).—Plural of Messiah. Abraham and Sarah were to be progenitors of kings (Genesis 17:16). (Comp. Genesis 23:6.)

My prophets.—Literally, do no harm against my prophets—a construction unparalleled elsewhere. Psalms 105 has the usual expression, “to my prophets.” (See Genesis 12, 20, 26 for the passages of patriarchal history to which allusion is here made.)

We have now reached the first “seam” in this composite ode. Psalms 105 naturally continues its historic proof of Jehovah’s faithfulness, by reference to the sojourn in Egypt, the Exodus, the wanderings, and the occupation of Canaan. Here, however, this train of thought is abruptly broken off, and a fresh start made in 1Chronicles 16:23 with Psalms 96. The author, or authors, who compiled this hymn of praise “strung together familiar psalms as a sort of mosaic, to give approximate expression to the festive strains and feelings of the day (Delitzsch).

Sing unto the LORD, all the earth; shew forth from day to day his salvation.
(23-33) See Psalms 96. This psalm, in the Psalter, consists of five strophes or stanzas of six lines each—an artistic arrangement which has been violated here. The subject is the extension of Jehovah’s kingdom over all the world, a thought familiar to the readers of the Book of Isaiah, where most of the ideas and phrases of the psalm may be found.

(23) Sing unto the Lord, all the earth.—The second line of the psalm. The spirited opening of the psalm is purposely weakened, by omission of the first and third lines, in order to make it fit in here. Strophe I. is thus compressed into four lines (1Chronicles 16:23-24).

All the earth.All the land (of Israel).

Shew forth.—Heb., tell the (good) news of.

His salvation.Deliverance (from exile).

(24) Heathen.Nations (1Chronicles 16:31).

(25-27) Strophe II. of the psalm. Jehovah is the Creator; other gods are nonentities.

(25) He also.And he. The conjunction is not in Psalms 96, and is a prosaic addition of the compiler. (Comp. 1Chronicles 16:20.)

(26) People.Peoples.

Idols (’ĕlîlîm).—A favourite expression in Isaiah.

(27) Strength and gladness are in his place.Psalm 96:6 : “Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.” The psalmist’s idea of the heavenly temple seems to have been understood of the earthly; and then his phrase was altered as unsuitable.

Gladness (hedwāh).—A late word, occurring again in Nehemiah 8:10 only. “Beauty” (tiph’èreth) is ancient.

His place—i.e., the tent of the Ark on Mount Zion. (Comp. 1Chronicles 15:1; 1Chronicles 15:3.)

(28, 29) Strophe III. of the psalm, mutilated. A call to all nations to come and worship in the Temple of Jehovah.

(28) Kindreds of the people.—Clans (races) of the peoples.

(29) So far each verse of this ode has symmetrically consisted of two clauses. The present verse has three—another mark of awkward compilation.

Come before him.—Psalms 96, “into his courts,” that is, the Temple courts: an expression modified here to suit another application.

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.—Rather, bow ye down to Jehovah, in holy vestments. This line ought to be the first of the next couplet.

(30) Fear (plural).—Literally, Writhe ye.

Before him.—The preposition is a compound form common in the Chronicles; in the psalm it is simple.

The world also shall be stable.—A line, which precedes this in the psalm, is omitted here, to the detriment of the sense. That line—“Say ye among the nations, Jehovah is king”—begins the fourth strophe of the original hymn, but is here strangely transferred to 1Chronicles 16:31.

(31) Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice.—In the Hebrew, the initial letters of these words form an acrostic of the sacred Name of Jehovah; and those of the first half of 1Chronicles 16:32 make up Iahu, another form of the Name.

And let men say.—An adaptation of Psalm 96:10 : “Say ye among the nations.”

(32) Let the fields rejoice.—Here begins the fifth strophe of the original psalm.

Fields.—Heb., the field, or open country. Psalms 96 has an archaic spelling of the word (sādai), which is here modernised (sādèh).

Rejoice.Exult (not the same word as in 1Chronicles 16:31).

(33) At the presence of.—The compound preposition of 1Chronicles 16:30. The climax of the psalm—“He shall judge the world in righteousness, and peoples in his faithfulness”—is here omitted; and this long and heterogeneous composition terminates with verses borrowed from a third source.

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
(34) O give thanks unto the Lord . . .—Several of the later psalms begin with this beautiful liturgic formula. (See Psalms 106; Psalms 107, 118, 136.; and comp. Jeremiah 33:11.) The ode thus concludes with the thought from which it started (1Chronicles 16:8).

And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise.
(35, 36) See Psalm 106:47-48.

(35) And say ye.—Not in Psalm 106:47. The compiler or interpolator has added it here in order to connect 1Chronicles 16:34 (Psalm 106:1) with 1Chronicles 16:35 (Psalm 106:47). It was doubtless suggested by Psalm 96:10 : “Say ye among the nations, The Lord reigneth.”

O God of our salvation.—The psalm has “Jehovah our God.”

Gather us.—The phrase used in Jeremiah 32:37, and many other places, of Israel’s restoration from exile.

And deliver us.—Not in the psalm, where the words “gather us from among the heathen” certainly refer to the dispersion. This reference is eliminated by the compiler’s insertion.

Glory in thy praise.Glory” (hishtabbēah) is a common Aramaic word, found only here (and in Psalms 106) in the Old Testament.

(36) Blessed be the Lord God of Israel.—The Bĕrāchāh or benedictory close of the fourth book of the Psalter. This doxology did not form part of the original psalm, which closed with 1Chronicles 16:35 (Psalm 106:47). After the psalms had been edited in their present arrangement of five books, each concluding with a doxology, these doxologies came in time to be sung in liturgical service as integral parts of the psalms to which they were appended.

And all the people said, Amen.Psalm 106:48 has, “And let all the people say, Amen. Hallelujah.” The chronicler, or rather the interpolator of his work has altered a liturgical direction, or rubric, into a historical statement suitable to the occasion to which his long ode is assigned. Instances of a like free handling of fixed formulas may be seen in 2Chronicles 5:13 and Ezra 3:11.

Those who hold the chronicler himself responsible for this thanksgiving ode, find in it a weighty indication of the fact that the Psalter already existed in its present shape at his epoch. The historian might, of course, have inserted such a composition in his work, as fairly and freely as such writers as Thucydides and Livy have put ideal speeches into the mouths of their leading-characters; but, for reasons already stated, we do not think that the ode should be ascribed to his pen.

So he left there before the ark of the covenant of the LORD Asaph and his brethren, to minister before the ark continually, as every day's work required:
(37-42) Resumption and conclusion of the narrative suspended at 1Chronicles 16:7.

(37) So (and) he left there.—Were the above ode interposed by the chronicler himself, he might better have written, “And David left.”

As every day’s work required.—Literally, for a day’s business in its own dayi.e., to perform the services appointed for each day. (Comp. Exodus 5:13.)

(38) And Obed-edom with (and) their brethren.—The pronoun their shows that a word or words have fallen out. It is simplest to supply Hosah,” and render: And (he left there) Obed-edom and Hosah and their brethren, sixty-eight persons. The construction, however, is altered from that of 1Chronicles 16:37 : “Asaph and his brethren.” (Comp. 1Chronicles 16:39.)

Obed-edom also the son of Jeduthun.—This repetition is tautologous, but hardly obscure. 1Chronicles 26:8 assigns sixty-two members to the house of Obed-edom.

Jeduthun.—Not the Merarite minstrel (1Chronicles 6:44, Ethan). Obed-edom was a Korhite, i.e., a Kohathite (1Chronicles 26:1-4).

(39) The narrative now passes from the tent on Zion to the Mosaic tabernacle at Gibeon. The establishment of the Ark in its new abode was the inauguration of a new national sanctuary. But the old one at Gibeon was not therefore abandoned. On the contrary, David either instituted or formally recognised the priesthood of Zadok therein.

And Zadok.—The name is preceded in the Hebrew by the sign of the accusative case, and therefore depends on the verb he left (1Chronicles 16:37).

The priest.Par excellence—i.e., the High Priest (1Samuel 1:9; 1Samuel 2:11; 2Kings 11:9; 2Kings 11:15).

In the high place.—See 1Kings 3:3-4.

(40) Continually morning and evening.—The Tamid, or regular burnt offering of a lamb at dawn and sunset, with its food offering and drink offering, as prescribed in Exodus 29:38, sqq., and Numbers 28:3, sqq.

And to do.—Literally, and for everything that is written, viz., all the other prescribed sacrifices and duties of the priests. Nothing is here said of similar duties of the priests before the Ark on Zion. But it ought not to be argued from this omission that in the chronicler’s opinion only choral services took place there. If, as we have supposed, Abiathar was attached to David’s sacred tent, sacrifice must have been offered there as well as at Gibeon. (Comp. 1Chronicles 18:16. ) The present account says nothing of this, because the writer is mainly interested in the service of song. (See 1Kings 8:1-4.)

(41) The narrative returns to its principal topic—the Levitical minstrels.

And with them (Zadok and his brethren) Heman and Jeduthun.—These two masters of song ministered in the tabernacle at Gibeon, as their colleague Asaph did in the tent on Zion.

Who were expressed (enrolled) by name.1Chronicles 12:31. Their names are not given here, but they may be partially included in the list of 1Chronicles 15:19-24. Asaph’s corps has been individually specified at 1Chronicles 16:5, perhaps as the more important body.

To give thanks to the Lord.—In describing the chief function of the choirs stationed at Gibeon, the chronicler repeats the liturgical formula of 1Chronicles 16:34; probably with an allusion to odes like Psalms 136, in which these words constitute a continual refrain.

(42) And with them Heman and Jeduthun.—The last verse began with the same words, a fact which renders them suspicious here. The LXX., Syriac, and Arabic omit the proper names.

With trumpets . . . with musical instruments.—The prepositions are wanting in the Hebrew text, which might be rendered thus: “And with them [viz., Heman and Jeduthun] were clarions and cymbals for persons playing aloud [comp. 1Chronicles 16:5], and instruments of sacred music.” From 1Chronicles 15:9, compared with 1Chronicles 16:5, it appears that the three conductors (Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun) played cymbals only, to accent the time: and from 1Chronicles 15:24 and 1Chronicles 16:6, we know that the clarions were blown by priests. Omitting as spurious the names of the two leaders, who are not likely to have had the custody of the various instruments of their choirs, the meaning of the verse is simply that the Levitical minstrels were provided with proper instruments to accompany their singing.

Musical instruments of God.—Literally, instruments of song of Godi.e., of sacred music. Harps and lutes are meant.

Sons of Jeduthun.—See 1Chronicles 16:38. Obed-edom, son of Jeduthun, was a warder before the Ark. Thus the warders of both sanctuaries belonged to the same clan.

And all the people departed every man to his house: and David returned to bless his house.
(43) This verse is a duplicate of 2Samuel 6:19-20 a.

Departed.—Plural; Samuel has singular.

Returned.—Rather, went round (1Chronicles 10:14). Samuel has “returned,” which in Hebrew is very similar.

The incident which in 2Samuel 6:20-23 here follows (Michal’s encounter with David) is omitted by the chronicler as a matter of purely domestic interest, and therefore out of place in his history, which is mainly concerned with the sacred institutions. 1Chronicles 15:29, however, plainly implies the story.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

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