a conversation by a roadside

Questions for Reflection and Discussion – 1 Chronicles 17, 21

We are studying portions of 1 Chronicles 17 and 1 Chronicles 21 for Sunday, December 15. [A few notes on the text are here.] Here are some questions we might want to think about or to discuss in class:

In verses 2 & 3, Nathan, a prophet, turns out to be mistaken about the course of action David should take. We learn this when Nathan’s initial approval of the [implied] building of a house for the Ark of God is corrected by a “word from God.” Does this tell us something about discernment, and if so, what does it tell us? Can we put this to use ourselves, and if so, how? Or, not, and if not, why not?

In verses 4-14, God’s speech emphasizes themes of mobility vs. stability or permanence. Why might it be good for the people of Israel that God, along with the place where God can be worshipped, has been mobile? Does people’s appreciation of God’s mobility depend on circumstances, do we think? What circumstances? When would we ourselves appreciate God’s mobility? When might we NOT appreciate it?

Same with stability or being in one place: when would that seem like a good thing, do we think? When would it not, do we think? Why?

The promises recorded in verses 7-14 are concretely to David, to Israel, and to David’s son [Solomon, later the builder of the Temple in Jerusalem]. We might want to ask ourselves how we think about ancient Biblical promises: do we see them as only concrete and specific to their own time? Do we think they can be both concrete and time-specific, and also have a larger significance? Can they have more than one larger significance at a time – that is, can they be promises to more than one set of people at a time? What difference does it make how we answer this question, do we think? Why is that?

In 1 Chronicles 21:20, Ornan the Jebusite and his four sons illustrate two different responses to seeing an angel. [We might wonder whether the angel they see is the same one described in verse 16, which is also seen by David, or a different one, introduced in verse 18.] Can we tell what explains these different reactions from the text? Or, do we have a sense for what explains these two different reactions from some other source? What source? Does the difference in reactions matter for this story? How?

More generally, does this difference in reaction matter as a way of approaching life events? How? What, if anything, can we learn from the character of Ornan?

David, as King, is presumably in a position to coerce Ornan or to commandeer the site of Ornan’s threshing floor in verse 22-25; Ornan, further, offers the site to David. (Why, do we think? Does it make a difference here that Ornan is not an Israelite? What difference, do we think? What might the Chronicler be trying to tell the readers here, do we think?) David refuses, and pays for the site. Is David’s insistence on paying a price for the site and materials of repentant worship a model for us? How? Why?

travellers stopping for a conversation by a wooded stream

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