This will be my last post focusing on The Apocalypse of the Sabbath, also known as Psalm 92-99. I may blog about some other prophetic apocalypse in the psalms, but I’ve covered the main points in this particular passage. But there is one more aspect that I want to explore before moving on. This post will probably only interest four people, so if you aren’t one of the four people who read my blog and that really like to get into the nitty-gritty, then feel free to skip this post. If you are serious about studying this passage, I would suggest having two Bibles open in front of you. One opened to I Chronicles 16, the other to flip through the psalms.
Psalm 96:1-13 has a parallel passage, almost word for word, over in I Chronicles 16:23-33 as a portion of another psalm. How did this come to be? First, I will give the background of I Chronicles 16. Then I will examine the entire psalm scripted in I Chronicles 16:8-36. The origin of the material not contained in Psalm 96 will be discussed. Finally, I will postulate what difference these seemingly trivial details make to our theology of prophetic apocalypse.
I and II Chronicles contain an overview of I & II Samuel and I & II Kings. There are many things omitted in the Chronicler’s review of history, notably the main portion of the kings of Israel ruling over the northern kingdom. This includes the ministries of Elijah and Elisha since they ministered in the northern kingdom. Whenever I want to look up a historical event during the reign of the kings, I usually consult the Samuel-Kings record. I rarely read the Chronicles if I’m quick referencing something because I know that Samuel-Kings contains the more complete account.
Yet there are things contained in the Chronicles which are not contained in Samuel-Kings. Many details about the temple, the order of worship at the temple, and promises concerning the temple are contained in the Chronicles. Do a word search on Asaph, the temple worship leader, and see how many times he is mentioned in Samuel-Kings as opposed to Chronicles. “If my people who are called by my name”… where do we get that from? I believe one of the reasons for these peculiarities is because the Chronicles were written post-exile. Temple worship was being reestablished and the historical records were consulted to give them a pattern for God’s will for worship at the rebuilt temple. This psalm that David presents in I Chronicles 16 is one of those details not included in the Samuel-Kings account. In fact, I Chronicles 16 in its entirety is simply not there. If it were, it should be inserted in between II Samuel 6 and 7.
The occasion for the psalm in I Chronicles 16 is that of the arrival of the ark of the covenant in Jerusalem. All Israel came to witness this event. David had prepared another tent, probably a replica of the tabernacle, to be the house for the ark when it came to Jerusalem. (David is listed as the author of the psalm contained here, and Hebrews 4:7 corroborates that Psalm 95 was written by David as well. I have operated under the assumption that David wrote the entire passage of Psalm 92-99 and it seems to be grounded quite well.) It only makes sense that David would be writing about the ark and the tabernacle on this occasion. Also to be noted is that David sets up ongoing worship before the ark of the covenant to be maintained continually at this same time. The description of this is both before and after the recitation of the psalm, I Chronicles 16:1-7, 37-43. Those whom David appointed were in charge of music, sacrifices, and observance of the law.
The Psalm contained in I Chronicles 16:8-36
With very minor variation, I Chronicles 16:23-33 is the exact same structure as Psalm 96:1-13. But before this section, the psalm opens up with I Chronicles 16:8-22 which is directly taken from Psalm 105:1-15. Then the closing of the psalm is taken from Psalm 106:1, 47-48. I would mention that Psalm 103-106 have no divisions denoting them as separate psalms. I see them as one continuous psalm. Since Psalm 103 has “Of David” above it, I attribute 103-106 as being entirely composed by David and the use of the material in I Chronicles 16 substantiates that position. So how did Psalm 96 come to be sandwiched in between sections taken from another lengthy psalm by David? And why?
The origin of the other portions of I Chronicles 16
103 – God’s covenant plan with mankind
104 – God’s covenant plan as revealed through nature
105 – God’s faithful covenant plan with Israel
106 – God’s covenant plan with sinful Israel
This series of psalms which is one psalm needs to be examined, but briefly, because this post will already be too long. Psalm 103 begins with an overview of God’s dealings with mankind. Some key phrases which reveal God’s overall plan for mankind are as follows. Verse 4, He redeems your life from the pit, which is a metaphor for death. Verse 7, He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the people of Israel. Verse 12, as far as the east from the west, so far does He remove our sins from us. Verses 17-18, the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, clarified, to those who keep His covenant. Notice covenant is in the singular. Although the psalm will cover creation, the flood, Abraham, and Moses, no one is expected to keep covenants, plural, just His covenant. It is the covenant plan of God, which all covenants are seen interacting with each other. Finally, verse 19, The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.
Psalm 104 gives the background of how God ordered creation for mankind. Contained within this psalm is the revelation of God at the head of creation, of things both seen and unseen. The unseen is God and His angels, Psalm 104:1-4. After mentioning that God laid the foundations of the earth so that it will never be moved, 104:5, there is a brief mention of the flood of Noah, 104:6-9. Then David describes in great detail how creation now fits together including food and water for creation, the sun and moon for chronology, and the cycle of life and death, 104:10-30. This section closes with a reminder of God’s sovereignty over creation, 104:31-35. All God has to do is touch a mountain and it will smoke.
Psalm 105 recites God’s past dealings with the nation of Israel. This should be of interest to us because now we are entering the section that is identically mirrored in I Chronicles 16. Here God’s faithfulness is highlighted. God is shown to be a God who keeps His promises, also known as His everlasting covenant, 105:8-11. Nobody is allowed to touch Israel without God’s permission, 105:12-15. That’s where the section in I Chronicles 16 ends, but the psalm continues here with further insight as to how God orchestrated the events of Joseph’s life, the plagues on Egypt, the exodus, and taking possession of the promised land. The law of Moses is briefly mentioned at the end, but it is simply a part of the covenant plan of God.
Psalm 106 rehearses again God’s dealings with the nation of Israel, but here the flip side is shown. While Psalm 105 emphasized God’s faithfulness to Israel, Psalm 106 brings to the forefront Israel’s sinfulness in the midst of God’s love for the nation. The miracles are rehearsed, but Israel’s failures are interwoven throughout this account. A key phrase can be found in verse 6, “both we and our fathers have sinned.” Anyone singing this song would have to sing in the first person, that they and the nation that they belong to are sinners. They sinned at the Red Sea, they sinned at Sinai, they sinned at Kadesh-Barnea, they sinned at Peor, and they even sinned after entering the promised land by not destroying their enemies. Remember that David wrote as Samuel, the last judge, was transitioning the kingdom into David’s own hands as king. So Psalm 103-106 gives us the covenant plan of God up to the time of David. It is apocalyptic, in that God is supernaturally revealed, but it is all PAST apocalypse. The end of 106 is the key. Verses 44-46, God is still operating according to His covenant plan. Verse 47, based on Your faithfulness to Your own covenant, save us God!
106:47 Save us, O Lord our God,
And gather us from among the Gentiles,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
To triumph in Your praise.
What it means to us
David wrote two massive psalms, proceeded to quote selectively from each, then presented the excerpts in one shorter psalm on the day that the ark of the covenant came into Jerusalem upon Mount Zion. To begin with, I would note that book III and book IV are the two shortest books of the psalms. Book III contains 16 chapters while book IV contains 17 chapters. If psalm 92-97 is one psalm with 98-99 as an alternate ending, and if psalm 103-106 is one psalm, and if psalm 90-91 is one psalm**, we really only have six separate works. These six works must have been related in some way to be set apart in one book by themselves. For 92-99 to be in the same book as 103-106 is significant in light of the fact that David combines portions from both to formulate his presentation in I Chronicles 16.
Since the overall theme for Psalm 103-106 is the covenant plan of God up until the time of David, and since Psalm 92-99 is prophetic apocalypse portraying what God will do in the future in light of His covenant plan, I see progressive continuity in the two works. David wrote of past events in Psalm 103-106. He wrote of future events in Psalm 92-99. In I Chronicles 16, he joins them both together. David saw the covenant plan of God in the past, also in the present as the kingdom was being revealed through his own lineage, and in the future with the apocalypse of the Messianic Kingdom. The past apocalypse and future apocalypse are one continuous story.
105:15 is an excellent place to end the portion which David places in I Chronicles 16. “Touch not my anointed ones” is descriptive of God’s favoritism toward the nation of Israel, but it actually began with Abraham, the pagan Gentile who believed God could do the impossible. 96:13 is the centerpiece which foretells the coming Messiah and His Kingdom, so that is a poignant crescendo before transitioning to the very end portion. But 106:47-48 is the capstone. It is in light of 105 (God is faithful to Israel) and with 106 as a springboard (Israel is a sinful nation). It is a plea for God to save the nation of Israel because He is a faithful God and Israel is a sinful nation. So the plea for God to save the nation of Israel is bound up with the coming Messianic Kingdom.
Conclusions: God’s dealings with the nation of Israel are a part of the everlasting covenant. The coming Messianic Kingdom will include the salvation of Israel as a nation. God’s past dealings with Israel have not yet come to fruition because the Messianic Kingdom has not yet been revealed as described in prophetic apocalypse. The Davidic Throne cannot be separated from God’s promises to Israel as a nation. The shekinah glory will be revealed in the Messianic Kingdom. It would only be logical to conclude that there will be a tabernacle or temple in the future Messianic Kingdom from which the shekinah glory will shine forth.
So if you’d like real continuity, read through Psalm 103-106 about the past. Then read through Psalm 92-99 about the future. Then continue on with Psalms 102, 72, 50, 46, and 45. They are all one story.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman
** (I count psalm 90-91 as one psalm for a couple of different reasons. First, there is no division in the original text denoting Psalm 91 as the beginning of a new psalm. Second, Psalm 90 is ascribed to Moses and Psalm 91 can be dated to the time of Israel living in the wilderness. 91:10 pictures the nation of Israel living in tents (Strong’s #0168) at a time when plagues through the camp were frequent. In fact, 91:1-2 gives comfort to those who might be afraid that they might be struck down by one of those frequent plagues. 91:3-6 seems to view these plagues as very real threats that could come at any time.)