II Chronicles 31
This chapter, after its first verse (which holds an intermediate place with
relation to the enthusiastic devoutness of the people recorded in the last
verse of the former chapter, and what now followed of the doings of the
king), tells how Hezekiah once more settles, first, the courses of the priests
and Levites, and the offerings for their support (vs. 2-10); and, secondly,
both the offices and officers needful for rightly attending to the business.
The Book of Kings gives us no parallel to this chapter.
when all this was finished, all
out to the cities of
down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out
of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until
they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all
the children of
returned, every man to his possession, into their own cities.”
As much as the last verse of the foregoing chapter was all of the
religious fervor of the occasion, this verse is all of the, practical honest
work of the people and their leaders. All
present (or Hebrew, “found”) in
chapter). Now the right mind of the people bore the reformation with a
wave of enthusiasm over all Judah and Benjamin; and their righteous
zeal carried them also over the strict limits of their own kingdom into
Ephraim… and Manasseh — a course the more practicable, and even the
more technically correct, because of the crippled state of the northern
kingdom, and the probably still continued captivity of King Hoshea of
Images… groves… high places… altars (compare ch. 14:3, etc.).
After the Excitement (v. 1)
And now what next? The services and the feasts are over; the temple door
is closed; the tables are taken down; the musical instruments are laid aside
in their places; the programme has been completed — the extended
programme. What now shall that excited, enthusiastic multitude do? There is:
moral danger — such is our human nature — than that immediately
following great religious excitement. The leaders of revivals are well aware
that this is so. There comes a certain reaction of the soul, a readiness to
give way to other and to unworthy impulses; the highly strung system
seeks relaxation, and becomes relaxed, and that is often found to be the
enemy’s opportunity; then he can sometimes find a footing, and do his
deadly work. Hence the need for wisdom, and hence —
there was the danger of some kind of reaction and wrong-doing,
went out “and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves,” etc.
This was something done in accordance with their religious convictions; it
was action along the line of their new devotedness to Jehovah. It was
rightful action, and, as such, it was timely, and it was serviceable.
Whenever there is any kind of danger, do something that is right; get to
some useful work. It may not be of the highest kind; it may not be
particularly meritorious or eminently useful; but so that it is rightful action
of some kind, it is well. Peril passes off in labor, in wholesome exertion. If
a man is doing anything which can be honestly considered by him to be
done unto the Lord, he is in the way of safety and of wisdom.
obedience by shunning the evil thing; by avoiding it; by “turning from it and
passing away” (Proverbs 4:15), or simply by declining to touch it. But
there are times and cases when this does not suffice; when our wisdom is
not merely to shut the eye or to tighten the hand, but to bring the axe and
to smite to the ground, and to break in pieces. Such was the wisdom of
was too strong a temptation for those times; true piety was shown in their
abolition, in sweeping them from sight, in clearing the temptation wholly
from the view. Such is often our wisdom, our piety now. The wine-cup
must be banished from the table, and even from the house. The cards must
be thrown into the fire; the favorite amusement must be kept well out of
reach. There are those — perhaps they are more numerous than is
supposed — whose devotion to their Master is most wisely shown by an
act of abolition; by placing beyond access the temptation that has again and
again proved to be too strong for them. The idol must not even be kept in
the cabinet; it must be broken in pieces.
SERVICE. They went on their way with their work of destruction, “until
they had utterly destroyed them all.” To leave any of those objects at all
would have been like leaving weeds in the soil; they needed to be
thoroughly uprooted. For the act of destruction to be of any lasting virtue,
it was essential that it should be complete. If we are bent on destroying any
vice in our nature, or ridding ourselves of any harmful habit in our life, the
only thing we can do is to extirpate utterly that which is wrong; to sweep it
away without reserve; to lay the axe to the root of the “evil tree.” It is
useless to cut weeds; they must be torn out of the soil.
doubt went to the creation of these images and altars much that was
valuable in its way. There had been expended on them labor, skill,
affection, piety (after its kind). There were connected with them some old
and, probably, some tender domestic associations. But while they were
thus costly, they must go down and disappear in the interest of truth and
pure religion. Their costliness must not save them when they stood in the
way of the nation’s true piety and real prosperity. Nor may the costliness of
any treasure we possess save it from removal from before our eyes, if it
Ø between us and our Master;
Ø between us and our moral and spiritual integrity;
Ø between us and our usefulness;
Ø between us and eternal life.
“If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee,” etc.
2 “And Hezekiah appointed the courses of the priests and the Levites
after their courses, every man according to his service, the priests
and Levites for burnt offerings and for peace offerings, to minister,
and to give thanks, and to praise in the gates of the tents of the
LORD.” And Hezekiah appointed the courses. I Chronicles chapters
24-26 give in full the appointment and arrangement of these courses,
now again thrown out of order. Appointed; Hebrew, וַיַּעֲמֵר.
It is equivalent to saying Hezekiah re-established the courses.
Of the tents. The word is not “tents,” but the expressive and
emphatic “camps” (מַחֲגות). Order of the divinest kind, discipline of the
most perfect sort, are the glory of the temple and temple service of old, of
the Church, her ministers, her members, and all her pious work of more
The Camp of the Lord (v. 2)
Ø To the tabernacle. (I
Chronicles 9:19.) The religious center in
from the days of the conquest till the times of David and Solomon.
Ø To the temple. (v. 2.) On
had closed during the latter years of his reign (ch. 28:24), but
Hezekiah had now opened, cleansed, and rededicated to the worship
of Jehovah (ch. 29., 30.).
o Under the Old Testament dispensation (Leviticus 14:8;
Numbers 5:2; Deuteronomy 23:10), and
o under the New Testament dispensation (Revelation 20:9).
Ø That the Lord had pitched His tent there. This was true:
o of the tabernacle, which was usually styled the dwelling (Exodus
25:9), and, when finished, was filled with the symbol of the Divine
presence, the glory of the Lord (Exodus 40:34-.35);
and inhabited (ch. 5:13-14);
(Psalm 132:13-14); and
18:20; 28:20; II Corinthians 6:16).
Ø That those amongst whom the Lord dwelt were warriors. This, again,
in the latter place being fighting, not always with the Lord’s enemies,
as should have been the case, but frequently with one another; and
worshipping, though much oftener idols than Jehovah.
o of Christian believers, as it is when they in any degree realize the ideal
of their vocation — to fight the good fight of faith (I Timothy 6:12),
and to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ (II Timothy
3 “He appointed also the king’s portion of his substance for the burnt
offerings, to wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and
the burnt offerings for the sabbaths, and for the new moons, and
for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of the LORD.”
Also the king’s portion of his substance; i.e. Hezekiah did not
evade his own responsibilities in the matter of contribution. His “portion”
was the tithe, and he was evidently liable on “substance very much” (ch. 32:29).
Numbers 28., 29., and Leviticus 23. give us the particulars of the offerings and
set feasts, respectively here alluded to, in their original prescription.
he commanded the people that dwelt in
give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be
encouraged in the law of the LORD.” Hezekiah’s object was to send
impulses of energy through the whole nation. The portions here spoken of
are described originally in Exodus 23:19; Numbers 18:11-27;
Deuteronomy 14:22-23. After our word “encouraged,” we may
probably supply the words “to teach;” for see our ch. 17:9.
A Religious Reformation in the Days of Hezekiah (vs. 1-4)
Ø When begun. “When all this was finished,” i.e. after the temple had been
purified and rededicated (ch. 29.), and the Passover celebrated (ch. 30.).
Everything in its order. “To everything there is a season, and a time to
every purpose under the heaven;” “a time to pluck up that which is
planted;” “a time to break down;” “a time to rend” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2,
3, 7). This time had arrived in
whom undertaken. “All
two kingdoms (
observing the Passover. That they felt themselves stirred to such a vigorous
assault upon the instruments and institutions of idolatry was an indication
of the depth to which they had been moved by the high ceremonial in
which they had borne a part. A pity was it that the nation’s zeal for the
religion was so evanescent, not in
but also in Ephraim (Hosea 6:4). It is no contradiction to this that
II Kings 18:4 ascribes this destruction of the altars, etc., to the king.
Ø To what extent carried.
Geographically, the wave of reformation swept over all
Benjamin, i.e. all the southern kingdom, and over Ephraim and
Manasseh, i.e. a considerable portion of the northern kingdom —
portion which had furnished feast-pilgrims to
o Religiously, it paused not until within those territories it had swept
away every vestige of idol-worship. The iconoclastic zeal of the people
“brake in pieces the pillars or obelisks, hewed down the Asherim, and
brake down the high places and the altars, until it had destroyed
them all.” A similar outbreak against the symbols of idolatry, only on
a smaller scale, had taken place in the days of Jehoiada, immediately
after the fall of Athaliah and the coronation of Joash (ch. 23:17, which
see); never before had the land experienced such a purgation of
idolatrous institutions and instruments. So thorough-going was it
that even the brazen serpent made by Moses in the wilderness
(Numbers 21:9), and in Hezekiah’s day become an object of
idolatrous veneration, was called Nehushtan, “a piece of brass,”
and ground to pieces (II Kings 18:4).
Ø The public ordinances of religion arranged.
o The priests and the Levites were divided into courses according
to the plan of David (I Chronicles 24:3, etc.), as in the reformation
o Each man was appointed to the special service for which he was
designed — each had his own work to attend to and perform. In the
New Testament Church Christ gives “to every man his work”
o The works distributed amongst them were such as pertained to the
temple-worship, viz. the offering of sacrifice, burnt offerings, and
peace offerings, and the ministering, i.e. giving thanks and praising
by means of vocal and instrumental music, “in the gates of the
camp of the Lord” — a remarkable expression (see next homily).
Ø The state service of religion provided for. The expense of keeping up
that part of the temple-worship which was, properly speaking, national, i.e.
the morning and evening burnt offerings, with the burnt offerings for the
sabbaths, the new moons, and the set feasts prescribed in the Law of
Jehovah (Numbers 28., 29.), the king took upon himself and discharged
out of his own possessions (ch. 32:27-29). As the crown wealth was,
to all intents and purposes, the nation’s property, the act of the
king was right; still, in so far as the national wealth was under his control,
his act was a deed of liberality. Whether kings or parliaments under the
Christian dispensation are required or permitted to allocate national wealth
to the support of religion may be open to debate; there is no room for
doubting that neither kings nor statesmen are hindered from devoting
portions of their own wealth to the cause of Christ, i.e. to the up-keep and
propagation of the true religion.
Ø A maintenance assigned to the ministers of religion. The portion which
belonged to the priests and Levites by the Law of Jehovah, i.e. the
firstfruits (Exodus 23:19; Numbers 18:12-13; Deuteronomy 26:2-4),
and the tithes of land and beast (Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:21-24) —
the first-fruits being assigned specially to the priests, and the tithes to the
whole tribe of Levi — the king commanded the people residing in
ministers of religion devolves exclusively upon believers (I Corinthians 9:7-14;
II Corinthians 11:7-12; Galatians 6:6; I Thessalonians 2:6). Kings and
parliaments in their official capacities have not been charged with the duty
of supporting ministers of religion out of public revenues.
Ø It is good to be zealously affected in a good thing, such as the
suppression of idolatry.
Ø It is not permissible under the gospel to suppress idolatry by violence,
but only by argument and the force of truth.
Ø The lawfulness of state establishments of religion in Christian times
cannot be inferred from the existence of such an institution among the
Ø Compulsory payments in support of Christ’s religion are indefensible.
Ø It is open to all to practice Christian liberality.
5 “And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of
and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all
things brought they in abundantly.” Honey; Hebrew, דְּבַשׁ. This is no
doubt the proper word for the honey of bees, for see Judges 14:8-18; I Samuel
14:27; Psalm 19:10, and many other passages. It is not certain, however, that
the word did not cover other sweet preparations, as probably in Genesis 43:11;
Ezekiel 27:17. The alternative reading, “dates,” has thus come into the
margin, but on very insufficient title, as, while there is doubt as to whether
the honey of bees was generally tithed, there is none at all that the people’s
pious zeal might prompt them to bring tithe of it voluntarily, among other
things, that they at any time held in honor and had in abundance.
concerning the children of
and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the
LORD their God, and laid them by heaps.”
That dwelt in the cities of Judah. As vs. 4 and 5 referred to
villages, etc., of the surrounding country (so ch. 30:25). Their
tithes of holy things probably denote the “heave offerings” of Aaron
(Numbers 18:8; for other references to the matter of this verse, see
Leviticus 27:30; Deuteronomy 14:28).
7 “In the third month they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, and
finished them in the seventh month. 8 And when Hezekiah and the princes
came and saw the heaps, they blessed the LORD,
and His people
The third month… the heaps… the seventh month. The
grain harvest closed with the Feast of Weeks, about the sixth day of the
third month so that tithe in kind would be paid. The seventh month brought
the Feast of Ingathering, when the vintage was over. For illustration of the
despatch with which Hezekiah proceeded in his reforming works, compare
ch. 29:3; 30:2, 13.
9 “Then Hezekiah questioned with the priests and the Levites concerning
the heaps.” The questioning had no doubt to do with the subject how the
super-abundant contributions should be utilized or preserved.
10 “And Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok answered him,
and said, Since the people began to bring the offerings into the
house of the LORD, we have had enough to eat, and have left
plenty: for the LORD hath blessed His people; and that which is
left is this great store.” Azariah… chief priest of the house of Zadok. Though
this Azariah be of the house of Zadok, he is not of the line of Jozadak; and we
cannot be certain that he is one with him of ch. 26:17, 20; in which case his
grandson Jotham (ch. 27:1) would be grandfather of Hezekiah, inferring a
long term both for his office and his life.
The Service of the Consecrated Life, and of the Substance
Hezekiah, as soon as the excitement of the great Passover and of the
subsequent destruction of all idolatrous symbols was over, made wise
arrangements for the regular service of Jehovah. And this included:
priests and the Levites (v. 2). This service was threefold:
Ø Discharging sacred functions at the altar; doing for the people that
which only consecrated men could do — presenting their sacrifices to
Jehovah, thus standing between their fellows and their God, and
constituting a medium of communion between them and Him.
Ø Inquiry into and acquisition of all possible knowledge of the Law
(ch. 17:9; Deuteronomy 33:10).
Ø Conducting the service of song (v. 2), and teaching the people the
Law which they had themselves learned. There are many in the Christian
Church who have undertaken to offer to their Divine Lord a consecrated
life; and it devolves on them to yield to Him their strength in these three
o Ministration in His house or elsewhere; the special service which the
minister of Christ, as such, can render; praying to God for His people,
or helping them to draw nigh to God — a very valuable, indeed
o Earnest thought and inquiry; becoming more and more fully
acquainted with the mind of Christ as that is revealed in His Word
or in His providence, or through the experience or research of other
servants of His.
o Utterance of the truth thus acquired; by teaching or preaching, in the
sanctuary, or the school, or the house, personally or instrumentally.
For the advancement of the kingdom of Christ it is needful that there
should be a large number of men, answering to the priests and Levites,
who shall regularly give a consecrated life to the service of the Lord.
instance here recorded of the full and cheerful dedication of the substance
to the cause of God. Led as well as taught by Hezekiah, the people
responded with tithes and first-fruits, so that there were “heaps” in the
temple courts, even when everything had been taken that was required
(v. 10). Even the remainder was “this great store.” The scene suggests
Ø That the offer of our substance is a most appropriate method of sacred
service. How can we better express our gratitude to the great Giver of
every good thing of every kind (James 1:17) than by dedicating to Him and
to His service some serious proportion of the produce of our strength and skill?
Ø That those who urge others to show this grace should be forward to
illustrate it themselves (v. 3).
Ø That from those who have the greater privileges may be expected a very
clear encouragement by example (v. 4).
Ø That, if rightly addressed, the people of God may be trusted to make a
fair and even a liberal response (vs. 5-6).
Ø That such service, rendered in a religious spirit, will draw down the
Divine blessing in abundance (v. 10; and see Malachi 3:10).
11 “Then Hezekiah commanded to prepare chambers in the house of
the LORD; and they prepared them,” To prepare chambers; i.e. to
prepare for present use the chambers constructed for the purpose (I Kings 6:5).
12 “And brought in the offerings and the tithes and the dedicated things
faithfully: over which Cononiah the Levite was ruler, and Shimei
his brother was the next.” Faithfully. A pleasant reminiscence of ch.19:9.
Shimei (see ch. 29:14). Ruler… the next (so note, I Chronicles 5:12).
13 “And Jehiel, and Azaziah, and Nahath, and Asahel, and Jerimoth,
and Jozabad, and Eliel, and Ismachiah, and Mahath, and Benaiah,
were overseers under the hand of Cononiah and Shimei his brother,
at the commandment of Hezekiah the king, and Azariah the ruler
of the house of God.” Of these ten subordinates, Jehiel and Nahath are
found in ch. 29:12, 14.
14 “And Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, the porter toward the east,
was over the freewill offerings of God, to distribute the oblations
of the LORD, and the most holy things.” Kore. The name one with the
grandson of Korah (I Chronicles 9:19; 26:17).
15 “And next him were Eden, and Miniamin, and Jeshua, and
Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah, in the cities of the priests, in
their set office, to give to their brethren by courses, as well to the
great as to the small:”
cities (see Joshua 21:19). In their set office; i.e. in their appointed
duty. The word (בֶּךאמוּנָה) here used bespeaks the important and
trustworthy nature of the duty committed to those spoken of, and probably
betrays the fact that the duty had not always in the past been honestly
discharged (see same word in v. 12).
16 “Beside their genealogy of males, from three years old and upward,
even unto every one that entereth into the house of the LORD, his
daily portion for their service in their charges according to their
courses;” Beside their genealogy of males; i.e. except (מִלְבַד) the
family count of males, etc., the remainder of the verse describing those
who are meant by the excepted. They were excepted because for
themselves and their little ones, their daily present temple service brought
their daily maintenance as of course. The “unto every one” of our version
is misleading. Keil translates perspicuously, “of all those who entered the
house of the Lord, to the daily portion for their service,” etc. The glimpse
of the picture of the little children fed for the sake of their fathers’
sanctuary service, so true to the true religion even of nature, is a pleasant
glimpse to catch.
17 “Both to the genealogy of the priests by the house of their fathers,
and the Levites from twenty years old and upward, in their charges
by their courses;” It is hard to feel certain as to the exact construction of this
and the following verse. Keil would translate here,” And concerning the
catalogue of the priests, it was according, etc.; and the Levites, they were
from twenty years,” etc. And arrived at v. 18, and unable to proceed in
like manner with it, he reverts to the “to give” of v. 15, as what is to
stand before the words,” to the genealogy [or, ‘catalogue’] of all their little
ones.” He thus treats both vs. 16 and 17 as parenthetical. It seems quite
as probable that the “to give” should be shown before v. 17 as well as
v. 18. On the whole, this seems to suit best the entire passage. The
significant וְאֵת, at the beginning of v. 17, neutralizes then the מִלְבַד of
v. 16, and connects vs. 15 and 17. (On the words, from twenty years
old, compare I Chronicles 23:27. See also Numbers 4:3; 8:24.)
18“And to the genealogy of all their little ones, their wives, and their
sons, and their daughters, through all the congregation: for in their
set office they sanctified themselves in holiness:” (Compare ch. 20:13.)
19 “Also of the sons of Aaron the priests, which were in the fields of
the suburbs of their cities, in every several city, the men that were
expressed by name, to give portions to all the males among the priests,
and to all that were reckoned by genealogies among the Levites.”
The much more manifest meaning of this verse confirms the
interpretation favored just above for vs. 15, 17-18. The men that were
expressed by name; translate, men were expressed… to give. The purport
of this verse is to say that all priests and Levites of full age were sacredly
remembered and similarly carefully provided for, viz. those also who lived
in the fields of the suburbs of the cities (Leviticus 25:32-34; Numbers 35:2-5).
A Nation’s Liberality;
A Lecture on Tithes (vs. 5-19)
Hezekiah (v. 5), not, however, acting in his own name and by his own
authority, but merely publishing the Law of Jehovah for the maintenance of
those who conducted the temple service. Under the old economy JEHOVAH
was the sole Head of the Church, as Christ is under the new. For the
or prophets of the nation, but Jehovah; as for the Christian Church it is
neither kings nor parliaments, neither Church dignitaries nor Church
courts, but JESUS CHRIST! That which gave binding authority to
Hezekiah’s commandment was not that it was “the word of a king”
(Ecclesiastes 8:4), but that it was the ordinance of Jehovah as declared
by Moses (Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:12-13, 21, 24;
Deuteronomy 26:2-4). That which lends weight to human legislation in
the Christian Church is the circumstance that it accords with the teaching
of Christ in the New Testament Scriptures.
Ø Promptly. “As soon as the commandment came abroad,” the children of
showed their zeal was not fanatical, but religious, and not seeming, but real
— the last thing to be affected by a man’s religion being his purse; perhaps
also it proved that the king’s liberality had been not without its influence
(ch. 30:24), as certainly it imparted additional value to their gifts. Qui cito
dat bis dat. (he gives twice who gives promply)
Ø Faithfully. Nothing was omitted or evaded that the Law enjoined. The
people presented “the firstfruits of corn, and wine, and oil, and honey, and
of all the increase of the field;” paid in the tithes or tenth parts Jehovah had
assigned as a portion for the whole tribe of Levi (v. 5), as well as the
tenth parts of such things as were dedicated to the Lord (v. 6); and
rendered free-will offerings to Jehovah over and above what had been
directly commanded (v. 14).
Ø Unweariedly. It was no sudden fit of liberality which had overtaken
them and quickly expended itself. The first-fruits presenting, tithe-paying,
and free-will offering went on for four months (v. 7). Many can do a
generous deed when seized by a momentary impulse, but are wholly unable
to bear the strain of continuous giving. That these ancient givers grew not
tired of their liberality was a proof that it proceeded from principle rather
than from impulse — showed they were acting more from respect to the
Divine Law than from a desire to gratify their own feelings.
Ø Abundantly. So extraordinary was the outburst of liberality, that not
only had the priests and Levites obtained the most ample maintenance,
having had enough to eat and plenty over (v. 10), but so fast came the
people’s offerings in that they were obliged to be piled up in heaps (v. 6),
while so liberal had they been that, when the tithe season ended, so great a
store remained (v. 10), that the priests and Levites were guaranteed
against want throughout the rest of the year. The Christian Church might
herein find an example. It is poor policy, besides being unscriptural
(Luke 10:7; I Corinthians 9:14), for Churches or congregations to
starve or underpay their ministers.
Ø Generally. Most likely there were those who refused to comply with the
king’s commandment, acting from a spirit of avarice which could not bear
to part with their goods, or a spirit of unbelief which secretly hankered
after the false gods they had formerly worshipped, or from a spirit of
indifference, because they had no real interest in religion; and doubtless
there were those who gave grudgingly and of necessity, adhering strictly to
the letter of the Law, never going beyond the bond if they could help it,
and certainly never throwing in any free-will offerings; but manifestly also
the main body of the people, in the northern kingdom (v. 5) no less than
in the southern (v. 6), yielded obedience to the king’s commandment,
and fell in with the order of the day.
Ø The chambers for their reception. These were prepared in the house of
the Lord (v. 11), in accordance with instructions from Hezekiah, but
whether they were old cells or new cannot be determined.
Ø The officers for their supervision.
o Two superior — Cononiah the Levite, and Shimei his brother (v. 12).
o Ten inferior-Jehiel and Azaziah, Nahath and Asahel, Jeri-moth and
Jozabad, Eliel and Ismachiah, Mahath and Benaiah — who acted as
subordinates and assistants to the two chiefs, who derived their
authority from Hezekiah the king, the chief magistrate in the state,
and Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok (v. 10), and
ruler of the house of God (v. 12).
Ø The distributors.
o The chief — Kore, signifying “Partridge” (Gesenius), a name borne by
the son of Ebiasaph (I Chronicles 9:18), and here by the son of Imnah.
By descent a Levite, he was by occupation “a porter towards the east,”
i.e. keeper of the king’s gate on the east side of the temple.
o The assistants, six in number, named Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua,
Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah, resided in the cities of the
priests in different parts of the country.
Ø The distribution.
o Kore distributed to those priests and Levites who served in the temple,
first of such things as were required for the maintenance of themselves
and the male children over three years of age who accompanied their
serve, and secondly of such things as were necessary for any portion
of their temple service. The distribution to the priests was according
to fathers’ houses (v. 17) — so much for every house, according to
its size; that to the Levites was to individuals from twenty years old
and upwards, according to a carefully prepared register.
o The assistants distributed necessary portions to those priests and
Levites who resided in the priests’ cities, not being at the time
engaged in active duty at the temple, and to the families of these
as well as of those who were engaged (vs. 15-19). Both parts of
this work were performed with scrupulous fidelity (v. 18); the
distributors “acted in a holy manner with the holy gifts,”
distributing them “impartially and disinterestedly to all
who had any claim to them” (Keil).
Ø The duty of Christ’s people to support the ministers of religion.
Ø The voluntary character of all acceptable payments towards religion.
Ø The necessity of order and system in Church finance.
Ø The excellence of Christian liberality.
thus did Hezekiah throughout all
which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God.”
This verse, when rendered with literal exactness, is a fine
instance of the force and brevity of the Hebrew style in Old Testament
21 “And in every work that he began in the service of the house of
God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God,
he did it with all his heart, and prospered.” In every work; translate, and
in all work. The “all work” being in the following clause triply described as
pertaining to the service of the house of God, the observance of the sacred Law,
and of any individual commandments flowing from it.
Earnestness (vs. 20-21)
Perhaps the characteristic of Hezekiah was moral earnestness. There was
no hesitation or half-heartedness about him. What he did he did “with all
his heart,” as is stated in the text. Under his direction everything was
carried out and completed with a vigor and determination that showed
that his heart as well as his hand was in his work. Hence his success in
accomplishing that in which even Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Jotham, failed; by
him “the high places were removed” (v. 1); and hence the historian could
say, shortly but significantly, of him that “he prospered.” Regarding
earnestness itself, we may consider:
mere temperament; it is a distinctly moral quality. Men may be endowed
with a very ardent nature, and they may, as a consequence of their natural
disposition, without any praise or blame attaching to them, espouse any
and every cause they adopt with the greatest warmth, throwing into it an
almost consuming energy. Yet they may be far from being earnest men.
Such moral earnestness as Hezekiah had, which was the glory and crown
of his character, was more than this, was different from this. It was the
consecration and concentration of his powers to the full performance of
that which he saw to be right. It was the conscientious and determined
keeping to the front, holding in full view of his soul those things which he
knew to be of the first importance, which he felt entailed the weightiest
obligation. Earnestness was with him, as it should be with us, not a
constitutional peculiarity, but a spiritual force.
with the wise King of Judah; he sought and wrought the good and the right
and the true thing.
Ø The pursuit of truth. The first thing for a man to know is — What is the
truth? Who is right? What is our life? Who and what are we ourselves?
What can we accomplish on the earth? What is the range and what are the
limits of our powers? To whom are we accountable for all we are and do?
When we die, shall we live again? Has God spoken to us now in the Person
of Jesus Christ? It becomes every man patiently, diligently, determinately,
earnestly, to seek an answer to these questions until he finds it.
Ø The acquisition of rectitude of character. To become right with God, to
be right at heart, to be governed by right principles, to be moved and
prompted by a right spirit, to have a character that is sound and strong, —
this also is a thing to be earnestly endeavored after until it is attained.
Ø The accomplishment of that which is good and useful. It should be our
most earnest hope and effort to live a life that will be one of faithful
service; and, in particular, to be the servants of God. Here the earnestness
of Hezekiah shone forth most brightly. “In every work that he began in the
service of the house of God… to seek his God, he did it with all his heart.”
To promote the cause and kingdom of Jesus Christ, and in this way to
contribute toward the elevation and well-being of our kind, — this is a
direction in which our earnestness should stand out strong and clear. Let us
be unmistakably in earnest in all the work we do for our Divine Saviour —
for Him who gave Himself for us. Let us live and labor “with all our heart,”
and with all our strength, never flagging nor failing, maintaining our
devotedness through the heats of youth, and through the vigor of
manhood, past the golden days of prime, still “bringing forth fruit in old
age.” (Psalm 92:14)
because God loved him and smiled upon him, and was “with him.” He
prospered also in those particular spheres in which he manifested so much
Ø It is earnestness that does prosper.
Ø Indifference does not leave the starting-post.
Ø Impulsiveness soon turns back.
Ø Half-heartedness is weary long before the course is run.
But earnestness clasps the goal and wins the prize.
The Secret of Prosperity (vs. 20-21)
Ø Negatively. It is not personal, material, and temporal aggrandizement,
inasmuch as one might gain the whole world, and yet lose his own soul
(Matthew 16:26); thus seeming to succeed, but in reality only gaining a
Ø Positively. It is working that which is good, right, and faithful before the
Lord as Hezekiah did — constructing a life in harmony with the Divine
ideal of what a life should be, viz.
o good, such as God can approve, admire, and pronounce excellent
o right, according with the law of duty prescribed for God’s intelligent
o faithful, in the sense of proceeding from a spirit of fidelity towards
God. A life fashioned after this model is prosperous, no matter what
its external environment may be.
Ø Generally, by seeking God. Only in the knowledge and service, favor
and fellowship of God, can the ideal of life above outlined be realized. To
designate that career successful which has never proposed for its aim, and
consequently never reached as its end, a personal acquaintance with God
— which has never occupied itself with either ascertaining or doing God’s
will — is simply to misapply language.
Ø Particularly, by rendering to God acceptable worship and true
obedience. To worship and obey God the chief end of man. No life can be
successful which offers its homage and service to another than God, or
offers only homage self-devised, and service self-directed. Both in worship
and in duty the Law of God, with its specific commandments, must rule.
It must be sought after:
Ø Always. Hezekiah kept the above aim before him “in every work that he
began.” Mere occasional efforts after goodness will result in nothing but
Ø Earnestly. Hezekiah sought it with all his heart. Half-hearted endeavors
can only terminate in feeble achievements. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to
do, do it with thy might.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10); “This one thing I do,
forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those
things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the
high calling of God in Christ Jesus!” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Ø Religiously. Whatever works Hezekiah engaged in were done “before
the Lord his God,” as in His sight and for His glory. So should it be with
Christians. “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do,
do all to the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31); and “Whatsoever
ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” (Colossians 3:23).
The Works that Came of Faith (vs. 1-21)
This chapter discloses to our view the perfection of activity. The rest of the
Sunday, so to say, is followed by most laudable industry, and “the fervent
in spirit” are “diligent in business” worthy of them. The picture is, indeed,
of a living, moving scene. An army of volunteers issues forth from the
recently purged city of
“images,” “groves,” “high places,” “altars,” and utterly exterminating them
from “Judah and Benjamin, Ephraim and Manasseh.” They do not stay
their hand till the work is done. The “camp” (v. 2) also at home, the
sacred camp of the temple, is once more set in array, that shall make it
answer to its name, and in higher sense show forth that Church, wherein all
should be “decent and in order.” (I Corinthians 14:40) King and people, priests,
chief priest, and Levites, work with one surprising consent. The destruction of
images and all the other signs of idolatry is followed by the restoration of David’s
arrangement of the courses, dishonored so grievously by the neglect of
worship in the temple, even to the closing of that temple, and by the re-ordaining
of tithes and first-fruits, the king himself setting the example.
Everywhere the work glows, everywhere there is plenty; the work of God
is no more starved, and sacred “barns” and storehouses have to be
“prepared” for tithes, which in their “heaps” were so plentiful that they
take the name — auspicious omen — of “free-will offerings” (v. 14). In
this busy, happy, holy scene, it is not difficult to pick out, even in the
human elements of it, four features which embody noble principles, offer
inspiring example, and lend dignity to our faith in the possibilities of human
nature when once divinely set on the pursuit of the right! We notice:
BECOME THE ADOPTED EXAMPLE, THE CREED, AND THE
HEARTY PRACTICE OF A VERY ARMY, THAT SEEMS THEREUPON
TO NEED NO OTHER TRAINING. (vs. 20, 21, 1, 2, 8.)
RELIGIOUS FEELINGS FITTED TO PRODUCE, AND ACTUALLY
PRODUCING, THE TRUE PRACTICAL LIFE. Every grateful work of
this chapter was the outcome of the religious heart-stirrings recorded in the
INDIVIDUALS OR AS COMMUNITIES OF PEOPLE), WHEN YEARS
HAVE ACCUMULATED UPON US, WITH ALL THEIR MIXED
CONTENTS, A MERCILESS DESTRUCTION OF THE OLD WRONG
IS THE WAY TO LAY SURE FOUNDATIONS OF CONSTRUCTION.
Hezekiah had found “good and right and truth” nothing less than choked
up of evil when he entered on his reign. But the key-note of his reformation
was its thoroughness and completeness, and his own heartiness of work, in
the “service of the house of God, and in the Law, and in the
commandments” (vs. 20, 21, 2, 4, and passim).
THERE FOLLOWS THE GOING HOME IN PEACE AND
BENEDICTION. (Vers. 1, 21.)
Systematic Church Finance (vs. 11-21)
Hezekiah was careful to provide for the distribution of the first-fruits and
tithes and special offerings among the priests and Levites. So he had cells,
or chambers, constructed for their reception (v. 11), and every needful
arrangement made for the due apportionment of all that was stored among
those for whom it was intended. There are three points worthy of
FINANCE. What was given here was placed within the precincts of the
temple, for it was given to the Lord while it was appropriated to His
ministers. It was a religious act on the part of the donors, and not less so
on the part of those whose special duty it was to distribute it. “They
brought in the dedicated things faithfully” (v. 12); and “according to
their fidelity did they show themselves holy in regard to the holy;” - i.e.
“they acted in a holy manner with the holy gifts, distributed them
disinterestedly and impartially” (Keil). There is no reason why both the
giving of money to the cause of God (and included in this is the
contribution to the sustenance of the Christian ministry) and also the
allocation of all such money should not be a thoroughly devout and pious
action. It may be rendered as truly “unto the Lord” as the singing of a
hymn or the delivery of a discourse. It should be a sacred service, offered
conscientiously, devoutly, holily.
considerable room was left under the Law for spontaneous liberality and
for special offerings under peculiar circumstances, there were certain
regulations as to tithes and first-fruits (v. 5). These latter were not
optional, but obligatory; at the same time, they do not seem to have been
recoverable by legal process; but they point to systematic contribution not
unattended with special and spontaneous bestowments. And this surely is
the right principle in the Christian Church.
Ø Let every man consider what proportion of his income, considering
o the amount of his receipts, and also
o the measure of his liabilities, he can possibly devote to the cause
of God and man, of religion and philanthropy; and let him set that
Ø Let every one of us be prompted to give special help whenever some
specially powerful appeal is made to our spiritual convictions or our
depend upon the constitution of each particular Church, and must vary
according to that constitution. But there are some general principles, partly
suggested by these verses.
Ø Let every care be taken that all that is contributed be devoted and
distributed, none being wasted or perverted. Here is scope for carefulness
and for faithfulness.
Ø Let the necessities of those on whom God has laid the weightier
domestic burdens be generously met.
Ø Let those who are engaged in the less prominent places be as much
as those who are “serving at
Ø Let men of acknowledged probity and capacity have charge of the
treasury (see vs. 12-14).
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