TODAY’S READING: 1 CHRONICLES 17-19
“And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more.” – 1 Chronicles 17:9
God spoke these words to Nathan the prophet in response to David’s desire to build a house for the Lord. David wanted to build a house of cedar, a fixed, firm, permanent dwelling. But, God said he never asked for that and had always lived in tents, flexible, movable dwelling places.
So, instead of David building a house for God, God said he would build David a house. But, before God said he would build David a house, God said he would appoint a place for his people in verse 9 above.
There are two other interesting translations of this verse (the one above is from the ESV). Young’s literal translation says, “And I have prepared a place for My people Israel, and planted it, and it hath dwelt in its place, and is not troubled any more.” The interesting difference is that the ESV says Israel will be planted and Israel would dwell in its own place – notice the third person plural pronouns. But, in Young’s, God planted it and it dwelt – notice the third person singular pronouns.
Another interesting take on the verse is from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. This was the version of the scriptures familiar to Jesus and the writers of the New Testament. Often the quotes of the scriptures in the New Testament better align with the Septuagint than the text of our Old Testament. In the Septuagint, verse 9 says, “I shall establish a place for my people Israel, and I shall plant it, and it shall encamp according to itself, and it shall not be anxious again, and injustice shall not impose to humble it as at the beginning.”
Why do I mention these three versions?
I think the three versions help show that the place God was appointing, preparing, or establishing is Jesus. The Hebrew word for place comes from a root word meaning to rise, to arise, to get up, to stand up, to come to fruition. This calls to my mind Ephesians 4:11-13, which says, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Jesus is the place appointed, prepared and established for us to rise into.
When we see Jesus as the place God is talking about in 1 Chronicles 17:9, it becomes more clear that what God is planting and dwelling in its place is Jesus. In John 15:1, 5, Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser…I am the vine; you are the branches.” Jesus is the vine planted by the Father. The vine is the place that we, the branches have appointed to us to arise from or into. The vine is the place where we come to fruition.
The vine dwells in its place or encamps according to itself. The vine is planted in God’s vineyard. God’s vineyard was on the mountain, or in his kingdom. Jesus is firmly in his kingdom, which is not of this world.
I love the last part of the Septuagint version of verse 9 – “and it shall not be anxious again, and injustice shall not impose to humble it as at the beginning.”
If Jesus is the vine, then how was the vine planted?
A vine, like any plant, starts from a seed. In John 12:24, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” The vine was planted, got its start, when Jesus died on the cross.
Jesus’ death on the cross was injustice imposing itself upon Jesus to humble and humiliate him. He was mocked as a king by the soldiers who placed a crown of thorns on his head and beat him. He was stipped naked and hung on a tree for all to see. Jesus was taunted to come down from the cross in order to show his power and to prove himself the son of God. The people taunted Jesus with his came that if they destroyed the temple he could rebuild it three days.
I love how the Septuagint says that this happened at the beginning of God planting the place for Israel to dwell but that it would not happen again. The cross was the last stand of injustice.
In all of this, I hear the words of Jesus from John 14:1-3, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come against and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”