Bible Geek: Does the Book of Chronicles Whitewash David’s Life?

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The book of Chronicles was known as “Events of Past Times” or “Acts of the Days” and was written around 520 or 530 BC, post exile by a Chronicler (perhaps Ezra or Nehemiah,) to remind the Israelites of the period of God’s favour and to encourage them to return to Jerusalem to rebuild a godly life. That is why the book can appear politically white washed, focussing less on sin, (except to warn of the deadly danger of idols and turning away from God again,) and focussing more on the good old days of David’ reign when everything was grand. It doesn’t dodge the issues of David’s sin, as these stories were already well known. Instead, the writer *gathers up “the threads of the old national life broken by the Captivity,” and shows the people that they can have their God and their nation back.

Major themes the book are centred around is Godly dominion over the people, righteous worship and obedience to the Covenant set out in the legal book of Deuteronomy. For that reason you will read a lot of detail about how the temple functioned and was set up. The books act as an instruction manual. Faith and hope and how the people of Isra’el belong to God (shown through the genealogies) are also main themes. The books were written using multiple historical documents and are considered accurate, solid historical Biblical canon without challenge, unlike the Song of Solomon, whose usefulness as Scripture has been hotly debated by both Judaism and Christianity throughout Church history.

Chronicles only talks about the the Kings of Judah as it is the Judean remnant that is being addressed. At this stage in history, the northern Kingdoms of Isra’el had long since been taken captive by the now overthrown Assyria, and there was a strong temptation for the people to retain their familiar lives in Babylon rather than step into the scary unknown. The land of milk and honey still waited for Israel to return, the people simply needed to be motivated to take it. [Ref: read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah for more on that period of Jewish history. It’s an amazing era which profoundly illustrates God’s undying mercy and love for His people, against the odds.]

A great deal of the book reiterates the content of 1 and 2 Kings, however there are chapters and verses which add to the picture we already see. It has a specific historical role and is loved by Bible scholars who like to focus on Godly leadership as it applies to our time. It has a lot to give, even without the books of Kings in the background to fill out the complete history.

I thoroughly recommend reading “Parallel Passages of the Historical Books” from the Companion Bible http://www.therain.org/appendixes/app56.html to help piece all the verses together. It takes in more than just Kings and Chronicles.

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From: *Easton Illustrated Dictionary:
The writer gathers up “the threads of the old national life broken by the Captivity.” The sources whence the chronicler compiled his work were public records, registers, and genealogical tables belonging to the Jews. These are referred to in the course of the book (1 Chr. 27:24; 29:29; 2 Chr. 9:29; 12:15; 13:22; 20:34; 24:27; 26:22; 32:32; 33:18, 19; 27:7; 35:25).

As compared with Samuel and Kings, the Book of Chronicles omits many particulars there recorded (2 Sam. 6:20-23; 9; 11; 14-19, etc.), and includes many things peculiar to itself (1 Chr. 12; 22; 23-26; 27; 28; 29, etc.). Twenty whole chapters, and twenty-four parts of chapters, are occupied with matter not found elsewhere. It also records many things in fuller detail, as (e.g.) the list of David’s heroes (1 Chr. 12:1-37), the removal of the ark from Kirjath-jearim to Mount Zion (1 Chr. 13; 15:2-24; 16:4-43; comp. 2 Sam. 6), Uzziah’s leprosy and its cause (2 Chr. 26:16-21; comp. 2 Kings 15:5), etc.

It has also been observed that another peculiarity of the book is that it substitutes modern and more common expressions for those that had then become unusual or obsolete. This is seen particularly in the substitution of modern names of places, such as were in use in the writer’s day, for the old names; thus Gezer (1 Chr. 20:4) is used instead of Gob (2 Sam. 21:18), etc. The Books of Chronicles are ranked among the khethubim or hagiographa. They are alluded to, though not directly quoted, in the New Testament (Heb. 5:4; Matt. 12:42; 23:35; Luke 1:5; 11:31, 51).

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Further Helpful Reading


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How Studying David Broke the Old Testament Open For Me

46010905_sI believe it would please David to hear that the most important lesson I learnt, when studying his life, was not about him. Instead, it’s been a journey of learning what the heart of God is really like and just what “the Lord is slow to anger and merciful” concretely means.

When I was introduced to the Old Testament, early in my Christian walk, I was led to believe that there was no mercy in it. Certainly, there is a massive difference between obtaining right standing with God through grace and the sacrifice Jesus made, and through animal sacrifices. Throughout the Old Testament, sacrifices had to be made to atone for the sins of the people. However, the heavy statement of ‘no grace” was interpreted by me as “not much mercy.”

Whenever I visit the Old Testament section of our local Christian bookshop, I am the only one there. The Old Testament is notorious for being a tough read. Life was cruel and hard. There were terrible wars, God’s judgement on mankind was a heavy feature and He seemed to be in a bad mood, quite a lot of the time. Prophetic books overflow with warnings of judgement due to disobedience, and many people stay clear of the whole thing. We prefer the softer, more loving Heavenly Father in the New Testament. We don’t want our ears burned off with tales of rape, child sacrifice, sexual immorality and fighting.

I can understand the revulsion and how hard it is to understand the old way of things; but to understand even the most basic parts of David’s story, I had to dive deep into waters I did not like swimming in. I read of God’s judgement of Moses and my heart broke for him. Not to reach the Promised Land after all he went through and sacrificed for the nation seemed cruel. He’d only acted disobediently once. Just once. I told the Lord quite plainly what I thought of that.

Then I got to David’s story and slogged through the judgement that came after the affair with BathSheba and death of Uriah, her husband. All hell broke loose in David’s life and I comprehend why, but it still seemed incredibly excessive that he paid so dearly. To lose a baby would be bad… but… the rape of a daughter, murder of his heir, rebellion and murder of his second son… isn’t that too heavy?

So I was left with a decision. Was I going to tell the Lord off again?

This time I wised up. Something in my head said, “stop yelling at the Lord, that’s just not right.” It’s not. I had to stop and look at the heart of God. What occurred to me was how desperately the Father must have wanted Jesus to come to earth and become the sacrificial lamb, to stop the necessity for all this horrific suffering.

creationswap_wordsWhen you look at the Psalms, the number of references David makes to the Lord’s unfailing love for him and His deep mercy, are many. Severely chastised as he was, he was on secure footing with his heavenly Father. David knew who he could depend on. I see mercy and love everywhere in David’s story.

Then I looked back at Moses, the Exodus, the book of Judges and then I slowly began to move forward, in historical order, through the prophets. Again, everywhere I find mercy, promises of love, forgiveness and restoration.

There is no shortage of grace in the Old Testament. It was just that no one could be sanctified through it yet.

Do you know how long it took the Lord to send the people of Isra’el into captivity for their disobedience? From the time Moses took the people out of Egypt to the last Babylonian captivity which took out Judah, was roughly 849 years. I can get really mad in under eight seconds.

A harsh, angry, judgemental God would not wait that long to act. Our God did,

The point at which the northern tribes of Isra’el and the southern tribes of Judah went into their captivities, was the point where the people had become so depraved, the temple was filled with foreign gods which represented murderous and immoral practices, and even God’s own priests had become murderers. The people had reached a point of blackness and depravity not seen in our western culture. They could no longer be reached. So God punished them, knowing that through His word and the prophets, that some would realise their suffering was because they had forsaken their God and their promises. [2 Chronicles 36:15-16]

That meant that at least some people and future generations were saved to regenerate a relationship with the Lord, and to ensure the survival of the nation of Isra’el, living within God’s covenant promises. Had God not acted, none would have been saved.

That is patience on a scale I can’t comprehend.

So that is what I learned. That throughout all the bad old days, the love of the Lord was as committed, strong and beautiful as it is now. I no longer see a division between the behaviour of an Old Testament and New Testament God. I can see how it is the same God, Yahweh, who has been striving with mankind against all odds, and because of His unfailing love and mercy, I now serve Him.

Do you want to know what the next lesson after that revelation was? How desperately both God the Father and Jesus, the Messiah, must be awaiting the coming of Jesus, so they can upgrade mankind’s spiritual condition to a higher level of safety and intimacy with Him, again.


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.