We are studying 1 Chronicles 16 (more specifically, 1 Chronicles 16:8-12, 19-27) for Sunday, December 8. This is the Chronicler’s glance back at the worship that accompanied David’s installation of the Ark of God in the tent he had prepared for it in Jerusalem. [A few notes on the text are here.] Here are some questions we might ask ourselves or one another as we study this text:
Chapter 16 of 1 Chronicles describes a significant, communal celebration: there have been sacrifices, blessings of the people, everyone has gotten food (16:3), and there has been a lot of music (16:4-6). Knowing what we know about worship in our own context – what does all this tell us about what is going on in this passage? Why is that? [For instance – how much do our answers draw on our own experiences of worship?]
Most of chapter 16 provides the text of psalms (Psalms 105, 96, and 106) that are used in “singing of praises to YHWH”; this seems to be the beginning of the institution of regular worship observance in Jerusalem, in addition to worship that is being conducted elsewhere (1 Chronicles 16:37-42). Why do we think the Chronicler has included the text of these psalms here? What are some of the reasons people quote “worship words”? What effect do these words have on the reader? (For instance, do they give us a sense of mood? Do they emphasize anything in particular about God? Or …?) What do we think the Chronicler is trying to communicate here?
If we focus on the specific text of the psalms included here – what do we notice? What do they tell us about God? What image do they give us of God? What do they instruct the listeners to do, think, or feel?
Do we count ourselves among “the listeners”? How does reading these words make us think, or feel? Why is that, do we think?
Remembering that the Ark of God is a focal point of this worship – what difference does the presence of a sacred object like the Ark make in the celebration of worship, do we think? Why?
We know that the Chronicler is writing about worship that occurred in “the past,” relative to the Chronicler’s own time. This may make us think about the way worshippers at different times experience the same words, in particular, the words of the psalms included in the text. We may want to spend some time thinking about the different experiences of the original worshippers, the worshippers of the Chronicler’s time, and our own experience in using these same psalms, either in worship, or in study.