If we read the first book of Kings and the second book of Kings on the one hand and the first books of Chronicles and the second book of Chronicles on the other hand, we notice the great similarity between the contents of the two books of Kings and the two books of Chronicles. They therefore describe the same historical opinions. Yet there is an important difference. In the two books of Kings and the two books of Chronicles the history is described from a different point of view. They can be compared with each other, just as we compare the four Gospels with each other. Each writes history in his own way, while it is one Spirit who leads the writers. Therefore, there is no contradiction, but harmony. The books complement each other.
Who is used by the Holy Spirit to write these books is not known. Jeremiah has been mentioned as the author of the two books of Kings, while the two books of Chronicles has been understood as having been written by Ezra. However, there is no hard evidence for this.
The books of Chronicles occupy a special place among the historic books of the Old Testament. We can compare this with the special place the Gospel according to John occupies among the Gospels. John goes back to what was “in the beginning” (Jn 1:11In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.), when the eternal Word was with God. The Chronicles also go back to the beginning, but then from the history of man to follow that history along a line of promise and grace.
We find in these books the history of kings who ruled over God’s people. The first three kings – Saul, David and Solomon – ruled over all Israel, the twelve tribes. For a short time, Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, also ruled over the entire realm of the twelve tribes. But under his government the kingdom is torn into two parts: one part of two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, which continue under the name of Judah, and the other part of ten tribes, the other tribes, which continue under the name of Israel or also called Ephraim.
Nineteen kings ruled over each of the two realms until they both ceased to exist. After the nineteenth king of Israel, Hoshea, this realm was conquered by the king of Assyria and the inhabitants were scattered. After the nineteenth king of Judah, Zedekiah, this realm was taken away into exile by the king of Babylon.
Of the kings who have ruled over Judah, some are relatively good, others exceptionally bad; some start well and finish bad; others start bad and finish good. But they all fall short of the glory of God and of God’s ideal of what a king should be. Only the Lord Jesus answers perfectly to it. God calls him ‘My King’. The kings of the ten tribes are without exception bad.
The history described in both books mentioned in Chronicles, runs from Adam until the year 538 BC, roughly 3,500 year. Both books of Chronicles are written, or at least completed, after the return from exile. This is shown by the fact that the exile of Judah and Jerusalem is mentioned by Nebuchadnezzar as a historical fact in the first book of Chronicles (1Chr 6:1515and Jehozadak went [along] when the LORD carried Judah and Jerusalem away into exile by Nebuchadnezzar.).
Both books of Chronicles form a whole. The first book describes the history of David. In the second book we find the history of David’s posterity. Many of these histories can also be found in the first book of Samuel and the second book of Samuel and the first book of Kings and the second book of Kings. These four books can also be viewed as a whole.
Nevertheless, there is an important difference between the series of these four books and the books of Chronicles. The books of Samuel and Kings focus on the history of Israel and its kings, with the emphasis on the responsibility of man. In the books of Chronicles the emphasis will be more on the history of Judah and his kings with the accent on the grace of God.
After man has totally failed in his responsibility in the books of Kings, we see in the books of Chronicles the God of grace Himself working to write history again from the beginning. It is the history of God’s people that the Holy Spirit places in the spotlight. It has been said that the history in the books of Chronicles that it describes history as God loves to remember it. Therefore only those mistakes are mentioned which must be known to understand the teaching of His grace. The books of Chronicles show us the kingship according to the grace of God and not according to its responsible character as in books of Kings.
The first book of Chronicles for example is silent about the suffering and the rejection of David, which is described in the books of Samuel, but we see David directly as king in his glory. The books of Kings mainly give the history of the northern tribes realm. The sins of the royal house of David are meticulously mentioned in it, so that the reader may know the reasons for the decay and the tearing. Prophets come to the fore there, because the people have cut themselves off from the service of the priests and Levites, which is connected to the temple in Jerusalem. It is God’s provision that He provides for their spiritual needs through these prophets, such as Elijah and Elisha.
The first book of Chronicles and the second book of Chronicles, written after the return of a remnant from the Babylonian exile to the land of Israel, seem to have been written more for this remnant. For it is a great encouragement for the returning handful of Judeans who read in these books to be reminded of God’s former gracious actions with His people. The books of Chronicles seem to be written more for the remnant, while the books of Kings seem to be written more for the whole people.
Also the genealogies we find in the first book of Chronicles, have their use. They are important because only the seed of Abraham is entitled to the promised land. The purpose of these genealogies is to prove origin. Happy he who has kept his genealogies and appreciates the inheritance of the LORD. It is a proof of their faith.
Furthermore, the genealogies are a means to prevent mixing with the surrounding peoples. They also serve to determine the succession of the Aaronite priesthood. For example, we read in the book of Ezra that a person who wants to serve as a priest must be able to prove from the genealogies that he indeed comes from a priestly family and is thus entitled to the priesthood (Ezra 2:62-6362These searched [among] their ancestral registration, but they could not be located; therefore they were considered unclean [and excluded] from the priesthood.63The governor said to them that they should not eat from the most holy things until a priest stood up with Urim and Thummim.; cf. Neh 7:64-6564These searched [among] their ancestral registration, but it could not be located; therefore they were considered unclean [and excluded] from the priesthood.65The governor said to them that they should not eat from the most holy things until a priest arose with Urim and Thummim.).
Above all, it is possible to determine from these genealogies Who as Messiah is entitled to kingship. This shows the importance of the genealogy in Matthew 1. This clearly shows that the Lord Jesus has the legitimate right to the throne of David. This genealogy can be seen as a continuation of the registers given to us in 1 Chronicles 1-9.
For us who belong to the church of the living God, such genealogies are not important. We do not need to prove our origin. When we think of our origins, it is enough to know that we originate from a sinful Adam. Therefore we are subject to the judgment of God. We have realized this and have been made able to believe in the work of the Lord Jesus that has been necessary to make us a new generation. Through faith in Him we are born again and belong to the family of God (Jn 1:1212But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, [even] to those who believe in His name,).
Belonging to that family is not based on natural descent, but on our new birth, through which we share the nature of God (2Pet 1:44For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of [the] divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.). For us, terrestrial registers are not important. Names can be removed from such registers. We may know that our names are written down in the heavens (Lk 10:2020Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”; Heb 12:2323to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of [the] righteous made perfect,). No names can be removed from these registers.
The main theme of the books of Chronicles is the temple. In these books the ‘house of God’ is often mentioned, while that name does not occur once in the books of Kings. That might plead for the priest-scribe Ezra to be the author of Chronicles. Temple and priest belong inextricably together. The book of Ezra is also closely linked to Chronicles. We can see that in the last verses of 2 Chronicles, which form the opening verses of the book Ezra (2Chr 36:22-2322Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia—in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah—the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also [put it] in writing, saying,23“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!’”; Ezra 1:1-21Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also [put it] in writing, saying:2“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.). Much attention is paid to the temple service, which was established by David and has fallen into decay, but is restored at the end of 2 Chronicles under Hezekiah and Josiah.
The actual importance of the books Chronicles for us is related to the main theme, the temple. As in the Old Testament the temple is called the dwelling place or house of God, so in the New Testament the church is called the dwelling place or house of God (Eph 2:21-2221in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord,22in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.; 1Tim 3:1515but in case I am delayed, [I write] so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.). Often we will make the ‘translation’ of what is described in Chronicles to our time.
The Bible itself indicates that this is permitted. With regard to the history of Israel in the wilderness we read: “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1Cor 10:1111Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.). On this basis we can therefore expect that through both books of Chronicles we can learn a lot about the church and our behavior in it.
In Hebrew, the title of Chronicles is ‘words of the days’, which means ‘events of the time’. In the Hebrew Bible, the books of Chronicles are at the very end (cf. Mt 23:3535so that upon you may fall [the guilt of] all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.). These things say something about the span of Chronicles. Chronicles begin with the origination of mankind and extend beyond the period of exile to eight generations before the Messiah. Then the thread of the genealogies is taken up again at the beginning of the New Testament with the genealogy of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 1 (Mt 1:1-171The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham:2Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.3Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram.4Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon.5Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse.6Jesse was the father of David the king. David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah.7Solomon was the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa.8Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah.9Uzziah was the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.10Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, and Amon the father of Josiah.11Josiah became the father of Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.12After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel.13Zerubbabel was the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor.14Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud.15Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob.16Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.17So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.). Chronicles begins with the first Adam; the genealogy of Matthew 1 ends with Christ, the last Adam.
The Holy Spirit begins in Chronicles with the history of mankind, to focus in the midst of mankind attention on that one people of Israel and among that people to focus on Judah and finally to focus on the family of David and in that family on the one man David. This one man is chosen by God.
The authority of the books of Chronicles as Word of God is confirmed by the Lord Jesus. He refers to some events from these books. Thus He refers to the visit of the queen of Sheba to Solomon (Mt 12:4242[The] Queen of [the] South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.; 2Chr 9:1-121Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to Jerusalem to test Solomon with difficult questions. She had a very large retinue, with camels carrying spices and a large amount of gold and precious stones; and when she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was on her heart.2Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was hidden from Solomon which he did not explain to her.3When the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, the house which he had built,4the food at his table, the seating of his servants, the attendance of his ministers and their attire, his cupbearers and their attire, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, she was breathless.5Then she said to the king, “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom.6Nevertheless I did not believe their reports until I came and my eyes had seen it. And behold, the half of the greatness of your wisdom was not told me. You surpass the report that I heard.7How blessed are your men, how blessed are these your servants who stand before you continually and hear your wisdom.8Blessed be the LORD your God who delighted in you, setting you on His throne as king for the LORD your God; because your God loved Israel establishing them forever, therefore He made you king over them, to do justice and righteousness.”9Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold and a very great [amount of] spices and precious stones; there had never been spice like that which the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.10The servants of Huram and the servants of Solomon who brought gold from Ophir, also brought algum trees and precious stones.11From the algum trees the king made steps for the house of the LORD and for the king’s palace, and lyres and harps for the singers; and none like that was seen before in the land of Judah.12King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all her desire which she requested besides [a return for] what she had brought to the king. Then she turned and went to her own land with her servants.) and to the murder of Zechariah (Mt 23:3535so that upon you may fall [the guilt of] all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.; 2Chr 24:20-2120Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest; and he stood above the people and said to them, “Thus God has said, ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD and do not prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, He has also forsaken you.’”21So they conspired against him and at the command of the king they stoned him to death in the court of the house of the LORD.). Further a verse from 1 Chronicles is quoted in Hebrews 1 (1Chr 17:1313I will be his father and he shall be My son; and I will not take My lovingkindness away from him, as I took it from him who was before you.; Heb 1:55For to which of the angels did He ever say, “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? And again, “I will be a Father to Him And He shall be a Son to Me”?).
The book 1 Chronicles can be subdivided as follows:
1. 1 Chronicles 1-9 The people of God
2. 1 Chronicles 10-12 The anointed of God
3. 1 Chronicles 13-16 The ark of God
4. 1 Chronicles 17-29 The house of God
Introduction to the first book of Chronicles
Before we look at the content of this chapter, let us first make some general remarks about the first part of the book, 1 Chronicles 1-9. This first part consists mainly of names. These are chapters that are almost never read. Yet they are part of the whole Word of God and therefore it is useful to read them with attention. The following also applies in these chapters: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2Tim 3:16-1716All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.).
As a stimulus for reading these genealogies I would like to quote something from a comment on 1 Chronicles that has encouraged me: ‘Reading the Chronicles takes some perseverance. The introduction to the genealogies at the beginning of this Bible book can easily reduce our interest. But whoever possesses a little energy and enter into this ‘treasure room’ with prayer will come out again with a hymn of praise.’ (H. Rossier, ‘The Scroll of the Book’, the books of Chronicles I.)
The names mentioned are of great value, because they often contain a message in their meaning (Heb 7:1-21For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,2to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all [the spoils], was first of all, by the translation [of his name], king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace.). Here is a gold mine for the zealous researcher. Using a search program and dictionaries of biblical names, many lessons can be learned here. With a few exceptions, this comment leaves the research for the meaning of the names to the reader.
Just one more general remark about the genealogies we encounter here, and elsewhere in the Bible. Paul warns Timothy not to pay “attention to myths and endless genealogies” (1Tim 1:44nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than [furthering] the administration of God which is by faith.). It will be clear that Paul does not mean the genealogies we encounter in the Bible, for they belong to the inspired Word of God (2Tim 3:1616All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;).
The genealogies that Paul mentions in his first letter to Timothy and against which he warns are lists of data originating from the human spirit. They do not come from the Spirit of God. The word ‘genealogy’ means ‘a doctrine about origin’. What the Jews are concerned with are theories about the origins of angels and the families they are supposed to have. This has nothing to do with the Bible, but with being busy mystical (Col 2:1818Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on [visions] he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,).
To conclude this general introduction to 1 Chronicles 1-9 a few tips for self-study of these chapters:
1. Read through a chapter or part of a chapter every day.
2. Write down at least one characteristic of a name of which you know something. (For easy retrieval also note the verse.)
3. Sometimes there is just a peculiarity mentioned between the names. Write it down in your own words. As far as I have noticed any details, I will point this out, without saying that there are no more.
4. Write down a verse from each chapter or a name that appeals to you.
Every name that comes after Adam is just another manifestation of this first Adam. In some of his descendants we also see that faith reveals itself. Where there is faith, there must be new life, a new nature, that is to say, the Divine nature. Where faith reveals itself, God is glorified.
The first chapter of the first book of Chronicles goes from Adam to the sons of Jacob, who are mentioned in the next chapter. There they are called “the sons of Israel” (1Chr 2:1-21These are the sons of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun,2Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad and Asher.). This chapter deals with two series of names, which are then further elaborated (1Chr 1:1-4,24-271Adam, Seth, Enosh,2Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared,3Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech,4Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth.24Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah,25Eber, Peleg, Reu,26Serug, Nahor, Terah,27Abram, that is Abraham.).
We can imagine reading the names of this genealogy we are at a cemetery. We walk along the graves and see the names of past generations. They are all names of people who were born and died, they loved and suffered, people who have made their way through the world. The names are engraved on these fixed plates, tombstones. If Christ does not come to take us up during our lives, so will our names. “All flesh”, including ours, “is like grass” (1Pet 1:2424For, “All flesh is like grass, And all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, And the flower falls off,).
Each of these lives has fulfilled a necessary part in the progress of the race and has passed on the torch of human life. Each will also exist on the other side of death, after being revealed before the judgment seat of Christ (2Cor 5:1010For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.).
The names of the persons in this chapter, who are individually known to God, can all be found in the book of Genesis (Genesis 5; 10; 11; 25; 36). There are ten listings. First ten ancestors, from Adam to Noah, are mentioned (1Chr 1:1-41Adam, Seth, Enosh,2Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared,3Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech,4Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth.). This is followed by seventy peoples from Noah. Then come the names of another ten ancestors, now from Shem to Abraham (1Chr 1:24-2724Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah,25Eber, Peleg, Reu,26Serug, Nahor, Terah,27Abram, that is Abraham.). Then again seventy nations that come forth from Abraham.
This shows a divine order. The fact that the genealogies start with Adam shows that David’s house – because it is about him in the genealogies – is not only important for Israel, but for the whole of humanity.