Like Father, Like Son—Only More So

Lindisfarne Codex (fol. 27r, Incipit to Matthew; 8th cent.; Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First Chronicles 16 reports the ark of the covenant’s placement in the tent David had prepared for it (1 Chron 16:1). The middle of the chapter is a poetic section that celebrates Yahweh’s greatness toward Israel (1 Chron 16:8–36). The first part of this section (1 Chron 16:8–22) corresponds to Ps 105:1–15, the second (1 Chron 16:23–33) to Ps 96:1–13, and the third (1 Chron 16:34–36) to Ps 106:1, 47–48.1 The Chronicler does not explicitly describe David as this hymn’s composer, although this supposition appears reasonable.2 In any event, the hymn is offered in David’s presence and at his behest (1 Chron 16:7, 37).

In part, the hymn seeks to rehearse its audience’s identity as Yahweh’s covenant people.3 Given the ark’s recent completion of its previously only partial return from Philistine captivity, drawing the people’s attention afresh to Sinai would have been entirely understandable (Exod 24:1–25:22; 1 Sam 4:3–7:2; 1 Chron 13:1–15:29). Instead, as the most explicit locus of covenantal identity, the hymn enjoins those gathered to remember Yahweh’s covenant with the patriarchs and this covenant’s accompanying promise of Canaan as an inheritance (1 Chron 16:15–22).4 Yet, both this hymn and the promise to Abraham and his seed project the worship of Yahweh much farther than Israel’s boundaries in Canaan (Gen 17:1–8; 1 Chron 16:23–34; cf. Rom 4:13). As David thus commissioned agents to hymn Yahweh’s greatness, so too has David’s Son commissioned agents through whom he even also effects among the nations the extension of Yahweh’s praise and the full actualization of the promise to Abraham (e.g., Matt 28:18–20; Acts 1:6–8; 26:15–18; Rom 15:7–13; 1 Cor 5:16–21).5

  1. C. F. Keil, 1 and 2 Chronicles (trans. Andrew Harper; K&D 3; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1866), 513; cf. Origen, Ep. Afr., 15 (ANF, 4:392). On these texts’ compositional relationships, see William Doan and Terry Giles, “The Song of Asaph: A Performance-critical Analysis of 1 Chronicles 16:8–36,” CBQ 70, no. 1 (2008): 32n7; Keil, Chronicles, 513–18; R. Mark Shipp, “‘Remember His Covenant Forever’: A Study of the Chronicler’s Use of the Psalms,” ResQ 35, no. 1 (1993): 29–39. For a concise description of their substantive differences, see Doan and Giles, “The Song of Asaph,” 38. 

  2. Keil, Chronicles, 511, 513. 

  3. Doan and Giles, “The Song of Asaph,” 38. 

  4. Ralph W. Klein, “Psalms in Chronicles,” CurrTM 32, no. 4 (2005): 267; R. Mark Shipp, “‘Remember His Covenant Forever’: A Study of the Chronicler’s Use of the Psalms,” ResQ 35, no. 1 (1993): 35–36; cf. Eusebius, Hist. eccl., 1.4 (NPNF2, 1:87–88). 

  5. Origen, Cels., 6.79 (ANF, 4:610); cf. Keil, Chronicles, 513; Shipp, “Remember His Covenant Forever,” 36–37; see also Rom 3:25; Heb 9:5. 

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