Q: Why did the Spirit of God give a duplicate account of events in Kings and Chronicles?
A: One would have to conclude that anyone who has read through the scriptures from 1 Samuel to the end of 2 Chronicles has asked this very question, at least in their minds. One basic thought on the matter is to compare the existence of the four gospel records. Those four books speak of the same person and era, but provide differing perspectives on specific events, and also add events that the others do not include. In the same way, these two books in the Old Testament cover much of the same era, and record the history of the same persons. Yet, there are also substantial differences, and in the end, one can conclude that there was distinct intention in providing them.
The writings of William Kelly are not often cited, perhaps because it can be difficult to find comments on specific portions of Scripture. In this instance, however, Kelly provides a succinct comparison and contrast of the books of Kings and Chronicles. “The books of Chronicles … look at the line of promise and purpose. and hence, therefore, are occupied with David and those that inherited the kingdom of David’s race. The books of Kings, on the other hand, look at the kingdom of Israel as a whole … [and] more closely show us the history of the kingdom viewed as a matter of responsibility. Hence, we have the failure of the 10 tribes detailed at great length in the Kings, but not in the Chronicles, because there it is not purpose, but responsibility.” So, purely from a narrative perspective, the books of Kings are more historical in nature, whereas the Chronicles, though historical, more readily disclose a distinct intention. The two books serve different purposes just as the four gospels do.
Regarding the general contrast in the content, consider a simple case in point. Jeroboam was the one who initiated the split of the north and south kingdoms in the land of Israel (1Kings 11:26). His name is recorded in 90 verses in Kings and Chronicles, whether in reference to his own lifetime or his influence in the generations to follow. Of those references, 71 are found in the two books of Kings and the remainder in the Chronicles. This simply indicates that the book of Kings records the history of both kingdoms in greater detail and, as William Kelly indicates, emphasizes the responsibility and consequent failure of the people in both places.
The matter of distinct intention in the Chronicles is introduced to us from the outset of the first chapter. The genealogies that the Chronicles commence with are an indicator of both the distinction and the intention or reason for them. Jumping from there to the last verses of the book(s), 2 Chronicles 36:22-23, and noting how similar they are to the first three verses of the following book of Ezra, we are again impressed with a distinction from the Kings, an indicator of the reason God has provided these additional books. It seems reasonable to identify Ezra as the one who compiled the Chronicles. We recognize that Ezra is part of the post-exile period when God moved to restore Jerusalem and to reestablish His people in the land. It was imperative that a record of their history, indentifying primarily their roots and lineage as linked to David’s place in God’s purpose, be refreshed and preserved. This book, then, was not simply another official registry of births, nor a narrative of the history of David’s kingdom. It was a book by which God’s purpose of restoring Judah and Jerusalem would legitimize the nation, but also through which He would preserve the prospect and promise of the coming Messiah. It is a book that, though historical, shows us that God’s purposes can not be thwarted, and His promises will be fulfilled.