The chief of the third group assigned to serve during the third month was Benaiah the son of Jehoiada the chief priest, and 24,000 were in his division.
~1 Chronicles 27:5
The reader may recall from previous passages the story of Benaiah and his loyalty toward King David’s reign (2Sa 23:20-23; 1Ki 1:8, 2:29).
He was one of David’s few confidants who did not betray him even after his death.
What I had not personally reflected upon was his family’s namesake.
His father was “the leader of the sons of Aaron,” that is to say, the Levite priests (1Ch 12:27).
Benaiah did not live off of his father’s spiritual reputation.
He made his own name before God and followed his own career in sacred service, unrelated to priestly duties.
What this teaches me is that even if my mother or father or grandparents are well known in the community for their ministry work, I still need to make my own name before God as an individual.
It is not enough to inherit values; they must also be put to good use.
[…] Ornan said to David: “Take [the site of the threshing floor] as your own, and let my lord the king do what seems good to him. Here, I am providing the cattle for burnt offerings and the threshing sledge for the wood and the wheat as a grain offering. I give all of it.”
~1 Chronicles 21:23
When Jehovah’s angel told King David to build an altar at the site of Ornan’s threshing floor, which Ornan was in the middle of using, Ornan did not ask, “Why me?” (1 Chron. 21:20).
On the contrary, he selflessly and with the utmost generosity offered his belongings up as a contribution toward true worship.
King David proceeded to formalize the acquisition by monetarily reimbursing Ornan, for he did not want to half-heartedly fulfill God’s commandment (1 Chron. 21:24,25).
This site became the place around which the entire temple was eventually built by David’s son (2 Chron. 3:1).
Today, the floor may very well still exist under the Muslim Dome of the Rock (“Araunah.” Watchtower Online Library, Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, June 2015. Web 16 Nov. 2015).
We have many opportunities to demonstrate a sincere, generous attitude toward those in the congregation who dedicate all their time and effort to God’s service.
For example, when we enjoy our overseers biannual visits, we are encouraged to invite them to eat or sometimes even share our home with them.
Other times we are invited to donate resources toward expanding construction projects.
If we take advantage of these opportunities, no doubt we will be pleasing Jehovah.
“Do you think that David is honoring your father by sending comforters to you? Is it not to make a thorough search and to overthrow you and to spy out the land that his servants have come to you?”
~1 Chronicles 19:3
When Hanash, the king of the Ammonites died, King David sought to comfort Hanash’s son.
However, Hanash’s son, King Hanun, received bad advice from his companions and questioned David’s motives.
This suspicion led him to disgrace David’s messengers (1 Chron. 19:4).
Fed by fear of retaliation, the Ammonites eventually waged war on Israel with the help of Syrian soldiers, 47,000 of whom died at the hands of David’s forces (1 Chron. 19:6-10, 18).
All this damage could have easily been avoided if King Hanun had been less skeptical and more grateful toward David.
This passage highlights the importance of not being hyper-critical.
It is not wise to jump to conclusions and assume that anyone reaching out a hand to me really means to harm me.
If I am always defensive and doubting others, I could bring great harm to myself and the congregation.
“Of the tribe of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do, there were 200 of their headmen, and all their brothers were under their command.”
~1 Chronicles 12:32
In the time of David, the tribe of Issachar consisted of 87,000 men registered to fight in his army (1 Chron. 7:5).
200 of them, who were particularly wise, headed the tribe.
If we divide 87,000 by 200, it means there was one commander per every 435 men.
Yet, “all their brothers were under their command.”
The men of the tribe of Issachar acted in unity because they humbly respected their elders’ knowledge and intentions (Prov. 14:8; Eccl. 7:19).
Jesus said of the people he tried to teach: “[…] Why do you not know how to examine this particular time?” (Luke 12:56).
Today’s congregation elders try to make us aware of the times we are living in so we do not fall asleep in a spiritual sense and risk losing our spiritual battle (Ro. 13:11,12; Eph. 6:12).
Most congregations worldwide have much fewer than 435 members each, and they benefit from a body of elders who are wise in years of service toward God and Biblical insight.
If the tribe of Issachar was able to carry out their work in unison, we should be able and willing to do the same in our own congregations.
Have you ever felt eager to volunteer but then in practice, felt out of place, as if you could be doing more in a different capacity?
First Chronicles chapter nine, verses 22-34 explains how the Levites were divided into sub-groups to perform specific duties.
There were the temple gatekeepers, there were those in charge of the temple utensils, those in charge of the bread, and the singers.
These duties were assigned by genealogy and all those assigned had to live in Jerusalem.
It did not matter if one of the Levites wanted to be a gatekeeper instead of preparing balsam oil. They accepted their assignment as privilege and their responsibility as heads of household.
They are a good example of humility and cooperation for those of us wishing to offer ourselves up to God for greater service within his organization.
We should not be picky when it comes to realizing assigned tasks, but see our “job” as an honor and do it whole-heartedly.
“[Reuben] was the firstborn, but because he defiled the bed of his father, his right as firstborn was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel […]”
~1 Chronicles 5:1
The “sons of Israel” totaled 12, but the first born was supposed to receive double the inheritance portion of the others.
Israel’s first-born, Reuben, slept with his father’s concubine, thereby forfeiting his right to his double portion of inheritance (Ge. 35:22).
Joseph was Israel’s favorite son, long believed to have died before reappearing in Israel’s life as savior and provider for their entire household (Ge 45:25–46:4).
Also, he was the first-born son of his favorite wife, Rachel (Ge. 29:30; 30:22-24).
Joseph had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, and Israel prophesied that the younger would dominate the older (Ge. 48:13-20; Jos. 14:4).
The distribution of tribal land was to be divided among twelve tribes (Ge. 49:2-28).
This significant number worked out well when we take into account that the sons of Levi, whose jobs were directly related to the worship of Jehovah, would not receive their own territory (Nu. 18:20).
Therefor, there were thirteen total tribes of Israel, twelve of which had territories.
Israel’s prophecy that the tribe of Ephraim would grow more than his brother’s began to materialize in chapter seven of this week’s reading.
In fact, Ephraim grew so large as a tribe that it eventually came to represent the northern nation of Israel, after the original nation divided in two (Ho. 13:1).
From Ephraim came both spiritual people inclined to serve God, while other Ephraimites became apostates (1 Ki. 12:25-30; 2 Chron. 15:9).
The point I wish to highlight from this reading is that while God can decide our future in general terms, as he did with the tribes of Reuben, Manasseh and Ephraim, it is up to us as individuals to decide whether or not we want to serve him.
“O that you would bless me and enlarge my territory and let your hand be with me and preserve me from calamity, so that it may bring no harm to me!”
~1 Chronicles 4:10
Jabez is a lesser known Bible personality.
This is the only passage in the Scriptures that makes reference to him.
Upon beginning to read Chronicles, it may seem like a restatement of genealogies and some passages appear to be copied straight out of other books.
However, the writer Ezra, who was both scribe and priest, referenced some seventeen to twenty scrolls of his day that are not currently in existence.
That is why the book of Chronicles provides details essential to developing a fuller faith in Jehovah God and the Bible as a whole (“Chronicles, The Books of.” Watchtower Online Library, Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, June 2015. Web 12 Oct. 2015).
Returning to the story of Jabez, Jehovah heard his prayer and “brought about what he had asked for.”
From this, we gather that to be outstanding in God’s eyes, we do not need to go out and perform great deeds that change the course of history.
Jabez put his faith in Jehovah, not so much in himself, and that distinguished him enough for God to include his account in the Holy Scriptures.