SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- In verse 1 David making his son Solomon king is mentioned. More detail will be given in chapters 28 and 29 (though not nearly as much detail as is provided on the same subject in 1 Kings 1 and 2), but for now the author wants to explain the preparations that were made for the building and running of the temple.
- As in 1 Chronicles 21, David takes another census. Last time it was to see how ready his nation was for war, this time it's to see how ready they are to serve God and run the temple.
- David starts by counting Levites who were at least 30 years old. Apparently, this ended up not being enough Levites to serve in all the roles needed, as the age was lowered to 20 years soon after (see verses 24 and 27).
- The basic role of the Levites was to assist the priests (see verses 28 and following).
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- In 1 Chronicles 21:6-7 David took a census, and it made God very angry. Here (verse 3) he takes one that is acceptable. What was the difference? David's motives. The previous census was driven by a prideful heart and was David seeking to establish his adequacy without God - he wanted to know how many soldiers he had available to win a war. In fact, in that census David did not count the Levites - because they had been set apart to serve God. This census is driven by a servant's heart and was David seeking to establish his dependance on God. In fact, in this census David only counts the Levites - because they were the ones set apart to serve God. We need to be driven not by pride and a desire to be self-sufficient, but by humility and a desire to be God-dependant.
- The Levites were servants, not "leaders." That may sound like they had a lowly role, but in God's Kingdom, the exact opposite is true. Jesus said He came to serve (see Mark 10:45) and that we are to follow His example and humble ourselves to serve (see Philippians 2:1-11) and that, with God, the people who are willing to be "last" will ultimately be "first" (see Matthew 20:16).
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Where do you see yourself relying not on God, but on your own abilities and resources? In what ways do you sometimes "take a census" of what resources you have available to win the battles you have to fight? How do you think this might be upsetting God? Why do you think that might upset God? What changes would it take (in your thinking, your habits, etc.) to get you relying on God instead of yourself?
- How about in you in relation to other people? Do you seek to be first, or are you happy to be "last"? Do you feel like you should be served, or like (as a follower of Jesus) you come to serve? Ask God to give you Jesus' servant's heart.