Chronicles is to the historical books what John is to the synoptic gospels. Both John and Chronicles are supplemental and yet bring a unique insight and understanding. (The New Inductive Study Bible, p. 656)
This chapter may seem like it does not fit here chronologically. I put it here because the end talks about the descendants of Saul which is part of our "review of history," and I did not want to break up this chapter into smaller pieces like most chronological Bibles do.
It also gives continuity to what we have been reading the last few days: "all Israel (including Judah) enrolled by genealogies" before the Babylonian deportation (9:1). We will get to the Babylonian deportation later this year, but this chapter gives you an idea of where we are going in Judah's history (2 Chronicles 36).
This chapter identifies people who settled after their return from the Exile with the very first being the priests, the Levites, and the temple servants. The list is essentially the same as the one in Nehemiah 11:4-9 with a few exceptions which may be accounted for by a difference in spelling of names in the lineage of Judah or by a different selection of ancestors from these men. Also, Nehemiah does not include the line of Zerah which would account for the census figure difference of 690 in 1 Chronicles 9:6 and 468 in Nehemiah 11:6. Also, they both name different number lines of descent in the tribe of Benjamin.
The chapter ends with the genealogy of Saul that is almost exactly like the one in 8:29-40. It is repeated because our next two chapters will narrate the death of Saul and the succession of David (11:1-3). So, we can assume the chronicler wanted to keep Saul's line fresh in our minds.
What is a gatekeeper?
I was intrigued by the Levite duty of "gatekeeper." This chapter has more mention of this duty than any other chapter in the whole Bible. Warren Wiersbe comments on the gatekeepers and guards in Nehemiah 7:
Gatekeepers (Neh. 7:1, 3). What good are strong new gates if nobody is guarding them and controlling who enters and leaves the city? What good are walls if the gates are open to every foe who wants to enter the city? I understand that the Great Wall of China was penetrated by the enemy at least four times, and each time the guards were bribed. Gates and walls are only as good as the people who guard them.
The gatekeepers (“porters” in v. 1) were given specific instructions as to when to open and close the gates (v. 3). To open the gates early in the morning would only invite the enemy to come in while the city was asleep and unprepared. To close and lock the gates without the guards on duty might give enemy agents opportunity to slip in unnoticed.
Guards. Nehemiah also had appointed two kinds of guards (“watches” v. 3): Those to patrol the walls at specific stations and those to keep watch near their own houses. Since many of the people had worked on areas of the wall near their homes (3:10, 23, 28–30), Nehemiah now challenged them to guard the areas they had built. With guards at the gates, watchmen on the walls, and a solid “neighborhood watch,” the city was safe from outside attack.
All of this has a message for us today. If God’s people don’t protect what they have accomplished for the Lord, the enemy will come in and take it over. Paul’s admonition must be heeded: “And having done all, to stand” (Eph. 6:13). What a tragedy that schools that once were true to the faith are today denying the faith, and churches that once preached the Gospel now have in their pulpits ministers who preach “another gospel.” Every Christian ministry is one short generation away from destruction, and God’s people must be on guard.
We need guards at the gates, faithful men and women who will not allow false Christians to get in and take over the ministry (2 Cor. 11:13–15). We need watchers on the walls to warn us when the enemy is approaching. Christian parents need to guard their homes lest the enemy gets in and captures their children. It is while God’s servants are asleep and overconfident that the enemy comes in and plants his counterfeits (Matt. 13:25), so we must be awake and alert.
In this day when “pluralism” is interpreted by most people to mean “agree with everybody about everything and don’t make waves,” Christians need to remember that they are different and must test everything by the Word of God. There are many religions, but there is still “none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Anything that changes that message or weakens our motivation to get that message out is of the devil and must be opposed. We need guards at the gates and watchers on the wall, or the enemy will take over.
(Be determined.(Ne 7:1))
Are you on guard as a gatekeeper of your home?
Lord, help us to be gatekeepers in prayer. Gatekeepers in what we allow into our homes that might not bring You glory and honor. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.