Another Look at the Numbers Study
Updated: Feb 15, 2020
In the last post I looked at how the Book of I Samuel can be divided by isolating its middle verse. In that post I assigned a way to read I Samuel in a 4-4-4-7-4-4-4 chapter format that divided the book perfectly and also made doctrinal sense. For someone such as me who divides his reading according to how books divide themselves into chapters, I Samuel is not the only conundrum. Whereas I Samuel had 31 chapters that refused to divide neatly, I Chronicles has 29 chapters and is not dividable in a conventional way.
That problem was solved by finding the exact middle of the book, so why not try that with I Chronicles? There is a middle chapter to I Chronicles. It is chapter 15. There are 14 chapters before it and 14 chapters after it. There is a middle verse to chapter 15, it is verse 15. There are 14 verses before it and 14 verses after it. I Chronicles 15:15 is the exact middle verse to the whole book. And the children of the Levites bare the ark of God upon their shoulders with the staves thereon, as Moses commanded according to the word of the LORD, I Chronicles 15:15.
Let us reason for a moment. When a book and then books were written chronicling the history of kings, the exact middle verse of the first book was about the anointing of the king who was to eventually bring forth the messiah. What then is the point in a second set of two books which tell the same stories over again but from a different perspective? A look at the middle verse tells us.
Whereas the first book, I Samuel, and then the three other books labeled as Books of the Kings centered around where David and the kings fit into the plan of God, the two Books of the Chronicles center around how God fits into the kingdoms of men. Exactly in the middle of the book, David finally gets it right and puts the Ark of God in its proper place exactly as the Word of God commands. The two middle verses are the keys to understanding the difference in perspectives demonstrated in the two parallel histories of The Books of the Kings, I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings, II Kings; and then I and II Chronicles.
How then shall we divide I Chronicles to read it? Let it divide itself. There are nine initial chapters which are genealogies. Then there are 11 chapters of narrative about the reign of David, followed by 9 chapters which start with the purchasing of the temple mount and detail the extensive order that David gave to both the temple and the worship of God. It divides itself with 9-11-9 chapters.
There is one other thing that is worth pointing out about the middle verse of I Samuel. And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he, I Samuel 16:12. That verse starts a clock that will culminate in the rebellion of Absalom. One of the great stumbling blocks to Bible commentators has been II Samuel 15:7 with the phrase, And it came to pass after forty years.
That verse has been handled a couple of ways and usually very poorly. Some have tried to make it forty years since Amnon raped his sister and that Absalom kept his grudge that long. That won't work. David only ruled for 40 years altogether and only 33 of those years were in Jerusalem where the crime took place. There is simply no way that the forty years spoken of in II Samuel 15:7 can be talking about the interval between the rape and Absalom's rebellion. Other commentators have tried to demonstrate that this was an error in the text itself.
Neither is correct. It had been forty years from I Samuel 16:12 until II Samuel 15:7. David had been anointed for 40 years when Absalom attempted to alter the promise of God. When we see the phrase, And it came to pass after forty years, we need to keep in mind God's perspective. These are the Books of the Kings. Everything God does in these four books is predicated on the anointing of David. In I and II Chronicles everything is predicated on how God is fit into the kingdom. We can learn a lot from the verse markings themselves.