1 Chronicles covers from Adam to a Son of David sitting on the throne. As such, 1 Chronicles represents a summary of all God’s purposes, not only for His people Israel but for the world. “These tables give the sacred line through which the promise was transmitted for nearly 3,500 years, a fact unexampled in the history of the human race” (J. Sidlow Baxter, Explore the Book). It shares with the Gospel of Matthew the distinction of being the only other book in the Bible to cover history from creation through the author’s day.
Place in the Canon
In the Hebrew Bible, 1 and 2 Chronicles are at the very end of the Scriptures. As such, they cover the entire history of the OT from Adam and creation to the captivity. We go from the beginning of the creation to the bondage of the nation. Genesis and 1 Chronicles are two books in the OT with genealogies. Genesis begins with 10 “toldots” (“generations”) and 1 Chronicles begins with nine chapters. To the restored remnant, it would suggest a fresh beginning! The Hebrew name for the book of Chronicles is “events of the days.”
Distinct from the accounts in 1 and 2 Kings in several ways:
The Genealogies – these reflect Israel’s racial and religious purity; in the first nine chapters, there is a large section dealing with Judah at the beginning and a large section related to Benjamin at the end. In the middle are 81 verses concerning the Levites, emphasizing the attention given to the priests and Levites and the work of the Temple. The genealogies show the nation’s link with the past and their right to the land, their legitimacy, in the present.
The emphasis – the books of Chronicles are seen through the eyes of someone concerned with the Temple and how each king related to the Temple, the sacrifices and the law.
David – the record of David, his exploits, glory, wealth, and preparation for the Temple was the penman’s way of encouraging his readers as they sought to reestablish their nation in the Promised Land.
The books of Chronicles deal primarily with Judah and not the Northern kingdom. This is because the Temple was in Judah.
Omissions – the failures and sins of David are omitted; in place is the emphasis, not on David’s days of wandering and rejection but on the preparation he made for the Temple and its service. While many might look upon the first nine chapters as a barrier to studying 1 Chronicles, look at some of the things mentioned just in the genealogic record which are unique to Chronicles:
Ch 4:5,14,21 The Enrichment by the Providers
Ch 4:9-10 The Exercise of Prayer – Jabez
Ch 4:21-23 The Employment of the Potters
Ch 4:34-43 The Enlargement through the Pastors
Ch 5:18-22 The Exploits of Power
Ch 6:31-49 The Exulting of Praise – the Psalmists
Ch 7:20-27 The Encouragement from Pain
Ch 9:17-34 The Energy of the Porters
Most agree that Ezra compiled the record of 1 and 2 Chronicles. If we also accept that he is the writer of Ezra and Nehemiah, we are deeply indebted to him for this post-captivity history of the nation.
-All Israel (22x in 1 Chronicles and 22x in 2 Chronicles). This would be important to a people who had returned from exile, and especially with the ten tribes having been carried off.
-Seeking God (10:13-14; 22:19; 28:9)
-Prayer (4:10; 5:20; 21:26)
-Abandon and Forsake (in the original Hebrew, 28:9,20)
-Unfaithful and Rebellious (2:7; 5:25; 10:13)
When the occurrences of these words in 2 Chronicles are added to the list in 1 Chronicles, it is even more significant.
Chronicles explains and expounds the meaning of many events in Israel’s history. The original readers of Chronicles were those who came out of the captivity. They needed to know their history, the failure which led to the captivity, and their destiny. These lessons would guide them as they sought to reestablish Israel in the Promised Land after the Babylonian Captivity. The returned remnant was faced with the reality of the lack of a king sitting on the throne of David. In 1 Chronicles 5:2 there is mention that from Judah would come the “chief ruler,” a reference to the coming Messiah. Also, to counter this sense of loss due to an empty throne, the Spirit of God spends much of 1 Chronicles telling of David and the covenant that promised an heir to the throne. The returned remnant was not great in size; they had none of the signs and wonders of the days of Moses or Elijah and Elisha; they had no significant men as former generations did. But the genealogy would remind them of links with their past.
The Record of their Genealogies (chs1-9)
A Selective Record (ch1)
The Davidic Line (chs2-3)
Tribal Lines (chs4-8)
Space Given to the Tribe of Levi (ch6)
The Returned Remnant (ch9)
The Reign of David (chs10-29)
His Elevation to the Throne (chs10-12)
His Exercise Concerning the Ark (chs13-16)
The Establishment of the Covenant (chs17-21)
His Endeavors for the Temple (chs22-28)
His Enthronement of Solomon and His Death (ch29)