My daughter loves Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. She loves watching each new version that comes out – and then rewatching the old classic again, too. Each new director has a slightly different angle on Austen’s original work of art so watching multiple versions helps the viewer appreciate Austen’s storytelling abilities and intent.
Similarly, God created the nation of Israel (and Judah) and gave them a deep and meaningful history – the story of God at work through His people. Since then, there have been various written (and inspired) versions to capture God’s work of art story of these people and their triumphs and failings. And each version shows a slightly different angle of the same characters, events, and the God who was over them all. And so we have 1st & 2nd Samuel and 1st & 2nd Kings written to tell of the history of Israel from the time they clambered for a king, through the kings of United Israel: Saul, David and Solomon and then the many kings of the Divided Kingdoms of Northern Israel and Southern Judah, leading up to the exile, first to Assyria for unfaithful Israel, and then years later to Babylon for Judah. The story was well-told. It emphasized the fact that the troubles that came upon Israel were because of their unfaithfulness to God and their disobedience to Him. They could have chosen a better way that would not have ended in exile, but instead they gave up God’s offered blessings to follow the pagan neighbors in idolatry and disobedience. It was important for God’s people in exile to see that connection.
Fast forward many years – Babylon has been overtaken by Persia and the Persian king (prompted by God no doubt) allows Jews to start returning to what had been their Promised Land so many years before. This is a new generation that grew up exiled from their homeland, surrounded by foreign people, customs, gods, and culture. God was calling them back again to be a holy people in a holy land devoted to Him. Their time-out was over. But, they needed to know the story of where they came from and the God who was over all.
It was time to tell the story again. It was time for 1st & 2nd Chronicles to be written. About 50% of what is written here was already told before in other books of the Old Testament, but this time the writer was coming from a slightly different angle.
They needed to show the returning Israelites they were God’s people – not Babylon’s or Persia’s. So 1st Chronicles begins with about 9 chapters of genealogies and lists of family names and positions. Imagine the thrill of finding your family name and tracing it all the way back to Adam. This is your family. You are a part of God’s chosen family. He has a plan that includes you and your family.
They needed to show the people how to worship the One True God, again. So, 1st & 2nd Chronicles includes many chapters detailing the roles and names of the Levites, priests, the worship singers and musicians, and gatekeepers, as well as David’s plans for the building of the first magnificent temple, the supplies he collected, the gifts given for the temple, and then Solomon’s final preparations, the temple furnishings, the ark of the covenant and the dedication of the first temple. The returning Israelites would be setting all this up once again – it was important for them to know and understand the history and glory and excitement the first temple designers, builders, priests and participants experienced. They needed to convey the joy and awe that comes with the awesome responsibility of worshiping the Lord God.
They needed to show the victories and triumphs that can be had when one truly seeks the Lord. The Chronicler chose to focus more on the positive examples through the history of Israel. 29 chapters include the good things about the reigns of David and Solomon when Israel was enjoying God’s richest blessings. And when he writes of the Divided Kingdom, he primarily writes about Judah – the country that had some good kings and continued the line of David.
It was a great time to remember the heroes of their faith as they now had a second golden opportunity to create a holy people in a holy land. In 1 Chronicles 22, we, too, can be encouraged and energized by David’s example. We can be encouraged to give generously, to work hard, to follow God’s plans not our own, to pass on the work of the Lord to our children, to teach them well to strive for understanding and discretion, being careful to obey the Lord for that brings success. Just as in the time of David, and the time of the return from exile, so today is a day to remember all these things.
“Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the Lord gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.” – 1 Chronicles 22:13
“Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God.” – 1 Chronicles 22:19a
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- If you were writing a history of the nation of Israel during Old Testament times, what would you make sure you include and what are the overall themes you would want your readers to know?
- Who in your life has been a positive godly role model for you? What have you learned from them? How can that help you when you begin a new endeavor or challenge in life?
- Can you point to any victories in your life when you were seeking the Lord? What about any exiles or punishments for falling away from the Lord? What can be gained from each experience? How can you use your experiences to help others?