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 The books were written using multiple historical documents and are considered accurate, solid historical Biblical canon without challenge, unlike the Song of Solomon, whose usefulness as Scripture has been hotly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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Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

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.

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The Political Threats to David’s Reign

screen-shot-2016-12-22-at-4-41-29-pmKings are more frequently surrounded by those who want power or favours, than genuine friends; and it can hard to find genuine supporters who aren’t in your camp to reap some benefit. David was no exception.

CGP Grey sums up how precarious David’s position was in his video, *“The Rules for Rulers.” In order for any king to maintain power, he must have loyal supporters who he has adequately rewarded, (e.g. financially, in terms of status and by granting property,) otherwise anyone who can offer them a greater reward can amass enough support to overthrow them. This is why the unrighteous Joab, who had murdered Abner, was allowed to lead David’s army after securing Jerusalem for David. He was a key and had to be rewarded rather than discarded, no matter how unsuitable he was. [Ref. 1 Samuel 3 and 1 Chronicles 11] An underpaid and under-appreciated army general could easily look the other way in an organised revolt, if promised a better deal from someone else. In 1 Kings 1, Joab did jump ship when he thought David was near to death, in order to ingratiate himself to the expected new king, Adonijah, and keep his status safe. That proved how shallow his loyalty really was.

There is plenty of evidence of dirty politics going on around David’s palace, even though his court was made up mainly of members of his immediate and extended family in order to quell disputes. Aside from **Absalom’s rebellion, here are some of the key issues which David’s reign faced, which are reflected in the Psalms. (This is not an exhaustive list. There is the revolt of Sheba in 2 Samuel 20 which appears to have been prompted by his favouritism towards his own tribe, which is mentioned in 2 Samuel 19:41-43; hatred shown by Shimei in 2 Samuel 16:5-14 and the problems of a new king who didn’t trust David which led to a war in 2 Samuel 10.)
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Usurp Threats

The Psalms speak repeatedly of David being in danger as his position is coveted by others wanting power. This never stopped throughout his lifetime and had to be part of the reason why David held an illegal census in 2 Samuel 24. Being deeply fearful of being usurped and murdered was one of David’s greatest fears and it was one which always left him extremely stressed. While David was a very strong, capable man, everyone has their achilles heel and this seems to be David’s, which is understandable. If he’d been killed, the perpetrator would also have killed his entire family and many of his supporters, so there was a lot of responsibility on him.

From the time that Saul tried to arrest David in his home, to the time when David handed the throne of Isra’el over to Solomon, the danger never ended. That period covers over fifty years.

“And now, [Lord] in my old age, don’t set me aside.
Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing.
For my enemies are whispering against me.
They are plotting together to kill me.
They say, “God has abandoned him.
Let’s go and get him,
for no one will help him now.” Psalm 71:9-11
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Bribery Attempts

“Hear me, Lord, my plea is just;
listen to my cry.
Hear my prayer—
it does not rise from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from You;
may Your eyes see what is right.
Though You probe my heart,
though You examine me at night and test me,
You will find that I have planned no evil;
my mouth has not transgressed.
Though people tried to bribe me,
I have kept myself from the ways of the violent
through what Your lips have commanded.
My steps have held to Your paths;
my feet have not stumbled.
I call on You, my God, for You will answer me;
turn Your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show me the wonders of Your great love,
You who save by Your right hand
those who take refuge in You from their foes.
Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
hide me in the shadow of Your wings
from the wicked who are out to destroy me,
from my mortal enemies who surround me.” Psalm 17:1-9

A king who rules under the law of the Lord will fall foul of ungodly men, and this would have been a constant challenge to David. Pulling them into line would put David’s life at risk again, as they would want him removed to save their position and increase their power. There are a number of verses which speak of corruption among Isra’el’s leaders.

“Justice—do you rulers know the meaning of the word?
Do you judge the people fairly?
No! You plot injustice in your hearts.
You spread violence throughout the land.” Psalm 58:1-2
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Theft Allegations

“Save me, O God,
for the floodwaters are up to my neck.
Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire;
I can’t find a foothold.
I am in deep water,
and the floods overwhelm me.
I am exhausted from crying for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes are swollen with weeping,
waiting for my God to help me.
Those who hate me without cause
outnumber the hairs on my head.
Many enemies try to destroy me with lies,
demanding that I give back what I didn’t steal.” Psalm 69:1-4

I have no idea what incident this referred to, but David’s words speak clearly enough. If you want to  replace a king, create a scandal which will discredit him enough to lose his popularity with the people. Think about how much rumour and malice occurs in the short reign of a modern politician. How much more garbage can go down over a forty year reign? There must be far more to David’s story than has been recorded.
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David’s Reactions: The Census

All these factors could have contributed to why David ordered an illegal Census in 1 Chronicles 21, so he knew how many able bodied men could be called into service. The events leading up to the Census aren’t clear. 2 Samuel 24 talk about a drought, and before that, there was the revolt of Sheba which some scholars attribute David’s decision to take a census to. In 1 Chronicles 21 the preceding event is the war with the Ammonites which had been a very hard won victory, but which had appeared back in 2 Samuel 10. The cause may be something which just isn’t mentioned in our Bibles at all.

2 Samuel 24:1 says, “Once again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he caused David to harm them by taking a census. “Go and count the people of Israel and Judah,” the LORD told him.” and 1 Chronicles 21:1 says, “Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel.” It seems like God, Satan and David were all unhappy with Israel, but it was David’s choice to resist temptation and do the right thing. This was the only area where he acted like Saul and gave into fear and anger.
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David’s Reactions: The Psalms

As always David turns to his greatest weapon to deal with these problems: prayer and praise. Over time, he seemed to have worked out how to deal with these stresses better. In Psalm 39:1-5 he speaks of learning to hold his tongue and in Psalm 37 he encourages us by saying:

“Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and He will help you.
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for Him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.
Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper—
it only leads to harm.
For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.” Psalm 37:5-9

yhryhrHe also determined to deliberately stay away from bad influences. Psalm 101:2-7

“I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
when will you come to me?
I will conduct the affairs of my house
with a *blameless heart.  (*integrity, perfect)
I will not look with approval
on anything that is vile.   (evil, wicked, base)
I hate what *faithless people do;  (*those who fall away or turn away  from God)
I will have no part in it. (won’t cleave to)
The *perverse of heart shall be far from me; (*devious, perverted, evil, fraudulent)
I will have nothing to do with what is evil.
Whoever slanders their neighbour in secret,
I will put to silence;
whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart,
I will not tolerate.
My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
the one whose walk is blameless
will minister to me.
No one who practices deceit
will dwell in my house;
no one who speaks falsely
will stand in my presence.”

David has the final word on how to handle the chaos in this Psalm:

“I wait quietly before God,
for my victory comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will never be shaken.”  Psalm 62:1-2 (Cross reference Psalm 131:2)
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Notes

*The Rules for Rulers https://youtu.be/rStL7niR7gs  Based on “The Dictators Handbook” by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita & Alastair Smith  “Why Bad Behaviour is Almost Always Good Politics.” The second video in the series Death and Dynasties is also helpful for understanding David’s position. https://youtu.be/ig_qpNfXHIU

**Absalom: 2 Samuel chapters 13-18 recount Absalom’s story. For an explanation of Absalom’s mental status (sociopathic), please read this article: http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32723


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Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

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.

Yesterday’s Hero: Ancient Politics or, How to Keep a King Humble

This song, by John Paul Young*, reminds me of some of the challenges David faced:
“Take a look at me, I’m yesterday’s hero,
And yesterday’s hero is all that I’m gonna be if I don’t get together,
Make a new start and be somebody better,
All that I’ll be if I don’t get together now…
If you followed my story,
Then just be glad you ain’t in my shoes.”

In my Twitter feed today, Franklin Graham made this comment on the 2016 U.S.A. election: “Our nation is broken and the fix isn’t through any person or political party, but will only come through turning to God.”

yesterdays hero

Nothing has changed in three thousand years. The populace still blames their leaders for the nation’s problems, no matter how complex, and unless that leader can turn the situation around, (be that within their power or not,) the people want them out. Reason, fairness and faith have nothing to do with it.

David went through the same thing repeatedly, and it is recorded in the Psalms. “Many people say, “Who will show us better times?” Let your face smile on us, LORD.” Psalm 4:6

Israel was looking for stability, prosperity and salvation, but ironically and sinfully, God’s own people were looking for answers in man, not God. They put David into power because they thought he could solve their problems.

“Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and your flesh. “Previously, when Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel out and in. And the LORD said to you, ‘You will shepherd My people Israel, and you will be a ruler over Israel.’” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them before the LORD at Hebron; then they anointed David king over Israel.” 2 Samuel 5:1-3

However, when David didn’t solve the problems of the nation as they expected, or do things the way they wanted, he became yesterday’s hero and there were multiple attempts to oust him.

“I have heard the many rumours about me,
and I am surrounded by terror.
My enemies conspire against me,
plotting to take my life.
But I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!” Psalm 31:13-14

We don’t know every reason why David faced opposition, but here are some of the most likely scenarios. Firstly, power challenges are simply the fate of any leader: someone else wants the power, fame and wealth you hold. In modern politics, we see parties wrangling to be elected to power through dirty deeds, arguments and rhetoric. In other countries, military coups take place, which happened to David via his son, Absalom, in 2 Samuel chapters 13-19.

Secondly, some of the tribe of Benjamin were never happy that the leadership of Isra’el was taken over by the tribe of Judah: God’s choice of man did not matter to them, and this is demonstrated in 2 Samuel 16 with Shimei, and again in chapter 20 with Sheba. There were also problems with David’s favouritism towards the closest tribes to him, Benjamin and Judah, which rumpled feathers all over Isra’el. (2 Samuel 19)

If that isn’t enough domestic trouble, the Psalms record attempts to bribe King David, and opposition to his godly behaviour. He didn’t fit the status quo, or the plans of the wicked, so they wanted him gone. (References below.)

To that, you need to add in the effect of stress, hopelessness and exhaustion on the people, that would have been caused by Isra’el’s national security problems. After David became King, there were are least another twenty years of war ahead for Isra’el. As strong a leader as he was, the process of winning would take time and a weary nation didn’t necessarily wish to wait. They wanted better lives, now and any perceived failure to deliver would have made David unpopular.

Long term insecurity with warring and raiding neighbours would have had the people living in terror and would also have had a detrimental economic impact. For example, in Saul’s time, the Philistines wouldn’t allow Israel to have blacksmiths. The nation was being held for ransom by forced dependence on their enemies for blacksmithing services. This would have affected agriculture and many aspects of how the people of Isra’el lived, not just weapons. I don’t know if this was still occurring in David’s time, but it does illustrate the problems Isra’el had and that David was up against. [Ref: 1 Samuel 13:19-22]

Whatever reason, David did not reign without facing as much trouble from his own people, as he faced from the surrounding warring nations, who wanted Isra’el’s territory. While much of Isra’el is now desert and desolate due to land clearing, over farming and war; three thousand years ago, Isra’el borders included a major western trade route which could potentially controlled for profit (like the ancient city of Petra.) It was a lush place, with high rainfall and lucrative natural resources. In short: a land of milk, where cattle could thrive and honey, where the land yielded abundantly. For an opposing nation, gain was also to be had by taking slaves. Isra’el was valuable and David’s enemies went to a great deal of trouble to get at him.

“How long will you people ruin my reputation?
How long will you make groundless accusations?
How long will you continue your lies?’ Psalm 4:2

“I come to you for protection, O LORD my God.
Save me from my persecutors—rescue me!
If you don’t, they will maul me like a lion,
tearing me to pieces with no one to rescue me.” Psalm 7:1-2

“My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.” Psalm 31:15

“Malicious witnesses testify against me.
They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about.” Psalm 35:11

“Confuse them, Lord, and frustrate their plans,
for I see violence and conflict in the city.
Its walls are patrolled day and night against invaders,
but the real danger is wickedness within the city.
Everything is falling apart;
threats and cheating are rampant in the streets.
It is not an enemy who taunts me—
I could bear that.
It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me—
I could have hidden from them.
Instead, it is you—my equal,
my companion and close friend.
What good fellowship we once enjoyed
as we walked together to the house of God.” Psalm 55:9-14

David also faced cruel opposition from his family and friends. “Even my own brothers pretend they don’t know me; they treat me like a stranger.” Psalm 69:8 “I am scorned by all my enemies and despised by my neighbours— even my friends are afraid to come near me.” Psalm 31:11 The threat of a takeover must have been so strong, those closest to David were scared of being on the wrong side, as they would have paid for that decision with their lives.

creationswap_painDavid had become yesterday’s hero. His victory over Goliath was old news. His glory days in Saul’s army were as good as forgotten. This breaks my heart for David, yet despite that, I can see how the political problems that David faced, greatly assisted in keeping his heart right with the Lord. Not having an easy reign kept him dependent on his God for deliverance, and stopped him from venturing too far down the easy track of excessive egotism. Had his head turned from faith to power, he would have become as lost as the wicked men of Isra’el.

Psalm 30 shows how David was swayed by his military and material success:
“When I was prosperous, I said,
“Nothing can stop me now!”
Your favour, O LORD, made me as secure as a mountain.
Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered.” Psalm 30:6-7

In many Psalms, we read David lamenting not receiving answers from the Lord when he desperately needed them the most. “O LORD, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide when I am in trouble?” Psalm 10:1 (This is also seen in Psalms 22:19, Psalm 13, Psalm 35:17-22 and Psalm 6:2-3.)

If David had been placed in power by the Lord to deliver Isra’el from her enemies, why would the Lord play cat and mouse at the worst possible times? The answer is complex, but simple**. Kings are used to absolute power and having people respond to their summons. The Lord did not respond to every summons, no matter how humble, or desperate, as David had to learn that he served a far greater King and it was critical that he live his life in total submission to that Sovereign’s standards. “My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.” Psalm 119:71

By not being allowed absolute success and on demand, priority access to the throne of God, David stayed spiritually whole, even when physically and mentally hurting. That kept him on track and also allowed the Lord to make Isra’el safe… and to be able to bless us with David’s legacy of the Psalms to build up and inspire us.

Can any of this apply to us? Yes. David’s experience reminds us that the suffering we face makes us grow, develop our character and respect God, so that we don’t become unrighteous, spoiled brats. As much as it hurts, or as confused as we are as to why God hasn’t fixed everything the way we thought He would, we shouldn’t be given everything too readily. For the Lord to smother us in too greater abundance, would be our ruin too. Like it or not, we need to suffer.

“The LORD looks down from heaven
and sees the whole human race.
From his throne he observes
all who live on the earth.
He made their hearts,
so he understands everything they do.
The best-equipped army cannot save a king,
nor is great strength enough to save a warrior.
Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory—
for all its strength, it cannot save you.
But the LORD watches over those who fear him,
those who rely on his unfailing love.
He rescues them from death
and keeps them alive in times of famine.
We put our hope in the LORD.
He is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33:13-20 New Living Translation

* Source: Yesterday’s Hero, John Paul Young, 1975: watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmfil4faFuw

** For more information on the complexity of answers which never seem to come, please read “How Long?” When Answers to Prayer Don’t Seem to Arrive
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33409

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OTHER RELATED RESOURCES ON THIS TOPIC:
– Did God Want a King for Israel, to learn more about how the people increasingly turned from God in this period. http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32570
– The Anti-King: David and Humility
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33025
– Was King David a Megalomaniac?
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32067
– Does Absolute Power Corrupt Absolutely?
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32731


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.