1 Chronicles 22:2–19 (NIV)✞: Preparations for the Temple
Although David is not the one to build a temple for the LORD (see Chapter 17), he still has a heart to make sure it’s done – and done right. So in this chapter (which I don’t believe has a correlating passage in Samuel), David starts preparing for its building.
He starts with ones who will do the work – the forced labourers:
2 So David gave orders to assemble the foreigners residing in Israel, and from among them he appointed stonecutters to prepare dressed stone for building the house of God. 3 He provided a large amount of iron to make nails for the doors of the gateways and for the fittings, and more bronze than could be weighed. 4 He also provided more cedar logs than could be counted, for the Sidonians and Tyrians had brought large numbers of them to David.
5 David said, “My son Solomon is young and inexperienced, and the house to be built for the LORD should be of great magnificence and fame and splendor in the sight of all the nations. Therefore I will make preparations for it.” So David made extensive preparations before his death.
When I first read this I was wondering why David is using foreigners to be his “stonecutters,” why he wouldn’t use Israelites to build a temple for the God of Israel, but that’s because I was thinking of a “stonecutter” as a very skilled artisanal kind of thing, whereas I think it’s more just… labour. Here’s what the ESV Study Bible has to say:
1 Chron. 22:2–5 David’s preparation of the temple workforce included the imposition of forced labor on resident aliens (see 2 Sam. 20:24; …). War booty provided some of the material (see 1 Chron. 18:8). These events belong to the last years of David’s life, when Solomon was still young and inexperienced (22:5)—hence David’s solicitous care.
ESV Study Bible
David then gives a speech to his son, to get him mentally prepared for working on the temple. First, he opens up the concept to Solomon:
6 Then he called for his son Solomon and charged him to build a house for the LORD, the God of Israel. 7 David said to Solomon: “My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the LORD my God. 8 But this word of the LORD came to me: ‘You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight. 9 But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign. 10 He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’
I honestly don’t know how old Solomon was when God told David his son would build the Temple; I do know that, in the recorded words of God, Solomon wasn’t called out by name. It could be that David is using flowery language for this speech, or that the author(s) of Chronicles are “spicing it up” a bit. However, it does seem that Solomon was always the intended builder of God’s Temple, so it’s not like anything is being covered up.
That aside, David also introduces the concept that God’s reason for not letting him build the Temple is that David had shed too much blood. That his hands were too “dirty” (to use modern language) to be the one to build the Temple. Again, this isn’t recorded in God’s speech as outlined earlier in the book, but that doesn’t mean He didn’t say it.
Also, as we already talked about back in Chapter 17, David is still outlining the covenant as being between God and David’s son—that Solomon’s throne will be established forever—even though we always think of it as David’s throne being established forever, not Solomon’s. (Even the rest of the Bible refers to the covenant with David, and the line of David, not the covenant with Solomon or the line of Solomon.)
David goes on to give his son some advice on how to be a good king – but, being David, his advice is very much focused on how to follow God:
11 “Now, my son, the LORD be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the LORD your God, as he said you would. 12 May the LORD give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the LORD your God. 13 Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.
Interestingly, we know that Solomon didn’t live up to all of these commands from his father, he didn’t keep the law as he was supposed to. However, God did give Solomon discretion and understanding—he was the wisest man who ever lived!—so it’s yet another example of God living up to His obligations even if the other party doesn’t. Christians know this very well; I’ll never be as holy as I’m called to be—not even as holy as I’d like to be—and yet there will never be a point when He’ll turn His back on me. That’s the whole point of Christ’s work on the cross: nobody does any better than I do1 at following God; He had to do the work Himself!
He ends his speech with some practical matters for the building of the Temple itself:
14 “I have taken great pains to provide for the temple of the LORD a hundred thousand talents of gold, a million talents of silver, quantities of bronze and iron too great to be weighed, and wood and stone. And you may add to them. 15 You have many workers: stonecutters, masons and carpenters, as well as those skilled in every kind of work 16 in gold and silver, bronze and iron—craftsmen beyond number. Now begin the work, and the LORD be with you.”
Whenever we see numbers being mentioned in the Bible—especially in the Old Testament—we should remember that they’re not intended to be precise (the way we use numbers in the modern world), however, regardless of the specific amounts it’s a lot of gold, silver, bronze, and iron!
Having completed his words to Solomon, David summons Israel’s leaders and instructs them to devote themselves to the building of the Temple, as well, even though he’s already given Solomon (the one who’ll be in charge) instructions.
A question that immediately arises in my mind is how this passage fits in with 1 Kings 1, which reads to me as if Nathan and Bathsheba are tricking David into “remembering” that he decided Solomon should be king. Here in Chronicles, however, it is presented as if David is giving instructions to a very young Solomon, presumably long before David gets old and feeble.
Perhaps I’m misreading 1 Kings 1, or perhaps I’m missing something else. Perhaps the events in verses 1–5 take place much earlier than the events in the rest of the chapter?
Aside from all of that, however, what we see in this passage is a man with a heart for God. David isn’t going to be building the Temple, but he wants to make sure it’s done right. He’s put a vast amount of his own wealth toward it (knowing in advance that Solomon will add even more), and is going out of his way to make sure Solomon understands the great task before him.
David was a deeply flawed man, as the book of Samuel made clear, but what is also clear is that he was a man who’s heart was for God. His heart wasn’t in the right place in the last passage when he took a census he wasn’t supposed to take (or took a census in a way he wasn’t supposed to take it), but it’s definitely in the right place when it comes to the building of the Temple. Many kings/rulers/leaders in the past have built monuments that were really monuments to themselves, but it’s clear that David wants the temple to be built for God, not for himself or for his people.
And I think his instructions to Solomon hit home, too, because Solomon’s dedication of the Temple was a high point of his reign, too. (I assume Chronicles will devote some attention to it, as the book of Kings did, but we’ll get there when we get there.)
- Well… that’s an exaggeration. Lots of people do better than I do! But in the grand scheme of things, if I’m 0.00000000002% holy and you’re 0.00000000004% holy, you’re twice as holy as I am, but it still doesn’t amount to much in comparison to God… ↩