Ezra, the probable author of Chronicles, is not just repeating the stories of Samuel and Kings. He stands at the end of the Old Testament, looking back on what has befallen Israel. What is at the core of being Israel? What binds them together as a people, as an entity, and as a nation? What is central to their successful future? Ezra’s answer is essentially twofold: God’s forever covenant with David, and the worship of Yahweh at the Jerusalem Temple.
In reality, these two emphases merge: David is not only the man to whom God gives the kingdom of Israel, but he is also the man who does all in his power to establish a true worship of God at Jerusalem and to prepare for the Temple that his son Solomon will build there.
1 Chronicles opens with 9 chapters of genealogies. All Scripture is profitable, but genealogies? Key to an Israelite knowing his or her place in the nation was knowing to whom they were related. This was especially true for the Davidic line, as the ruling family, and the priests and Levites, whose opportunities for Temple work were determined largely by their lineage.
The Kingdom Becomes David’s
The genealogies quickly give way to the reign of David. Ezra summarizes the entire reign of Saul in about 12 verses and then gets to his main point: “Therefore, He [Yahweh] put him [Saul] to death and turned the kingdom over to David, the son of Jesse” (10:14). The rest of 1 Chronicles charts the course of David’s reign but written in a way to spotlight David’s heart for the house of the Lord. Priests and Levites--not prophets-- dominate the pages of Chronicles.
David’s Heart for the House of the Lord
As you read through 1 Chronicles, note how many times 1 Chronicles links an event in David’s life to the temple or temple worship in some way. While Israel did not even inquire of the Lord during the reign of Saul (13:3), David makes bringing the Ark of God to Jerusalem a priority. When David wins a battle, he dedicates the spoils for the Temple’s construction (18:7-11). David identifies the place where the Temple will be built (22:1). David prepares the stones and other materials for the Temple and encourages Solomon to be courageous to build it: “I with great trouble have prepared for the house of Yahweh . . . rise and do it and may Yahweh be with you” (22:14a, 16b). Essentially, David says to Solomon: Get that Temple built! All of chapters 22-29, except chapter 27, relates in some way to the Temple and the worship Israel would offer there. David creates a priestly rotation that was still in effect over one thousand years later (1 Chron. 24; see Luke 1:5). David appoints gatekeepers, treasures, and musicians. He gives Solomon the construction plans for the Temple (28:11-12). He contributes personally for the Temple and urges all Israel to do so as well in 1 Chron. 29—the willingness of all to give becomes the refrain of the chapter (vv. 6, 9, 14, 17).
God’s Covenant with David
Central to all that David was and did was God’s covenant with him in 1 Chronicles 17. David delighted in God’s house, and God delighted in his house. David does not get to build the Temple, but God establishes David’s “house” forever. In fact, God calls David’s kingdom “My kingdom” (17:14). And David’s son Solomon will have the privilege to build the Temple where God will put His name forever.
But there is a warning clause in God’s contract with David. David knows it and he issues a caution to Solomon that, if he would have heeded it, would have changed the course of Israel’s future. “But as for you, Solomon, my son, know the God of your fathers and serve Him with a whole heart and with a willing soul. For Yahweh searches all hearts and pays attention to every intention of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found of you but if you abandon Him He will reject you forever” (28:9). Will Solomon and Israel continue in the path of worship and loyalty that David has blazed for them? 2 Chronicles will give us the answer.
- Explain why we say that 1 Chronicles covers more history than any other book of the Bible.
- What is Ezra’s twofold answer as to what is at the core of being Israel? (I am assuming that Ezra is the author of Chronicles.)
- Give one reason why the genealogies in 1 Chron. 1-9 are important.
- What does Chronicles spotlight in its telling of the story of David?
- Give some examples of David’s heart for the Temple as found in the pages of 1 Chronicles.
- What is the refrain in 1 Chronicles 29?
- What is the warning clause in God’s contract with David?
- 1 Chronicles 28:9 also suggests David’s burden that his son Solomon walk in God’s ways (see also 29:19). What is your burden for your children? What do you desire more? Their physical wellbeing or their spiritual usefulness? (Have you ever thought about praying these verses to the Lord for your children?)