Chronicles: David/Solomon

April 13, 2011

Think about David.  What do you think of?  Goliath?  “Saul killed his thousands, David his ten thousands”?  Saul chasing David?  David and Jonathan?  David’s adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of Uriah?  Tamar’s rape?  Absolom’s rebellion?  David the old man who can’t keep himself warm?  David’s psalms?  Adonijah’s attempt to usurp Solomon?  If that’s what you think when you think “David”, then you’re not thinking Chronicles.

Think about Solomon.  What do you think of?  700 wives?  300 concubines?  Solomon the idolater whose heart is drawn away? Solomon the worshipper of Astarte, Milcom and Chemosh?  Solomon the king beset by enemies from Edom and Syria?  Solomon the one whose sin caused God to tear ten tribes away from David’s line?  If that’s what you think when you think “Solomon”, then you’re not thinking Chronicles.

Chronicles spends very little effort portraying either David as the great warrior or Solomon as the great breaker of Deuteronomy’s description of Israel’s ideal king (Dt. 17).  Alternately, the identities of both kings are almost completely related to the Temple.

  • David becomes king and captures the Holy City (I Ch 11-12)
  • David moves the Ark to Jerusalem (I Ch 13-15)
  • David leads in worship (I Ch 16)
  • David wants to build God a house (I Ch 17)
  • David consolidates the kingdom, amasses wealth.  Result: collecting necessary gold, silver, bronze, etc. for building the Temple (I Ch 18-20)
  • Sin in the census leads David to purchase the Temple site (I Ch 21-22:1)
  • David commissions Solomon to build the temple and prepares everything (I Ch 22-27)
  • Solomon made king, people contribute, David celebrates and dies (I Ch 28-29)

Temple, temple, temple.  The idea spends basically his whole self consumed with leading the people in worship and preparing for the building of God’s house (Remember the questions supplied by Chronicles genealogy).

Similarly, Solomon is not the horrible guy we’ve come to know from I Kings.  Take a look:

  • God gives Solomon wisdom (II Ch 1)
  • Solomon builds the temple (II Ch 2-4)
  • Solomon leads the people in worship, dedicates the Temple, God responds by fire (II Ch 5-7:10)
  • God’s responds to Solomon (II Ch 7:11-22)
  • Solomon spends the rest of his reign amassing wealth and gaining worldwide acclaim (II Ch 8-9)

Yes, Chronicles mentions some of Solomon’s sin (horses and gold; leaving out the wives and idolatry), but for the most part, Solomon is a positive example.

Again, the Chronicler is not bent on showing us how sinful the kings are (thus justifying exile), but answering the question of what God’s coming king will be like.



Chronicles: Genealogy

April 12, 2011

Remakes and reruns–always compared to the first and always trying to differentiate themselves from the first.  Growing up I know I took Chronicles as a kind of rerun.  “How did two of these make it in here?  Is this some kind of warm up for the New Testament’s Gospel fourpete?”

Last week I got a great chance to study Chronicles as a whole, finally setting it apart from Samuel/Kings as I’d never gotten to before, and oh was it good.  Here’s round one of where I settled in the story…

Chronicles begins with what to modern ears might seem like the narrative version of a nice 2×4 to the face: a genealogy.  And this one is a big one too.  Nine chapters big!  This has got to be the second graveyard of many read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plans (Second to Leviticus of course).  Painful as it may be though, Chronicles initial desert has bloomed–at least for me–as it has come to express much of the questions that drive the following narrative.

Beginning his story with a Genealogy, the Chronicler has…

  • …framed his story/questions within the context of all of humanity.  Not only does the story begin with Adam, but in a highly extraneous move, the author includes a fairly extended table of nations (53 verses)
  • …reminded us of God’s promise to Adam.  By beginning with Adam, we cannot help but remember that through the woman God had promised to crush evil.
  • …alerted us to the story’s prominent characters: Levi and Judah.  Half of the genealogy’s 400 verses are spent on these two sons of Jacob and their progeny.  As with Adam, these characters remind us of worship/priesthood and ruling/kingship–again, harkening back to God’s promise that the scepter would not depart from Judah until he comes to whom it belongs (Genesis 49:10-12).  And the Chronicler wastes no language in reminding us that the leader would come from Judah (I Ch 5:1-2)
  • …given us a new ending.  Chronicles begins with the knowledge that Israel is headed in to exile (I Ch 5:26; 6:15; 8:6-7), they will live there for an extended period of generations (I Ch 3:17-24) and they will return from the exile (I Ch 9:1f).  There’s no question over whether exile is coming.  Instead the question surrounds life as post-exiles.  Moses has already described post-exile life (Dt. 30:1-10), but this isn’t it.

Equipped with the opening genealogy, the reader has to ask: 1) How will God crush evil as he promised to Adam? 2) What is this Judahite ruler going to be/rule like?  3) How are we supposed to live as post-exilic people?

Chronicles to Luke/Matthew

December 22, 2009

We were discussing in Old Testament History and Poetry class the other day the genealogy of Chronicles and how the chronicler sets up the genealogy to help clarify his view of history: the chronicles genealogy starts at Adam and rushes to David, gets to David and slows down, and then continues on. The chronicler’s genealogy emphasizes the importance of David in all of history, that the genealogy of Israel is rushing towards that one man, and from him all history revolves itself. It is not Moses, or Abraham, or Israel(Jacob) but David. Which got me to thinking about genealogies.

In Matthew and Luke are two different genealogies, and scholars have commented on how they prove Jesus right to the Davidic throne and legitimizes Jesus family line. But what if, like Chronicles does, it also points out Jesus importance in all of history. In Matthew especially we see the book beginning with genealogy (a genealogy following the genealogies of Chronicles if the OT is taken in TaNaK order), rushing from Abraham, stopping at David, picking up again to Exile, then up to Jesus. And after that, the book slows down and tells us the story of Jesus, what he has done, who he is, his death and resurrection. And Luke begins with Jesus, and traces itself backwards to Adam, not even bothering to stop, as Matthew did, at David or Abraham, but continues to Adam, as if laying out that from Adam all history has been moving to the time when Jesus would come, which when he does the book of Luke slows down, explaining Christ, and then after his death, much like Chronicles does, goes on to further explain the acts of the apostles in Acts, sort of like a 2 Chronicles in the NT.

So what do you think? Could the genealogies not only legitimize Jesus but also act as an explanation of what all of history has been moving towards, the focal point on which everything was coming to, and is now moving from? Could Luke and Matthew use the genealogy to rearrange history?


Sanctuary! Sanctuary! Sanctuary!

May 13, 2008

I often look at the temple that David built as a place for worship, a place for slaughtering of animals and where the priests get to hang out; I’m sure they play hearts and gossip to each other while they sit around in their robes. But that point is neither here nor there; I was reading in 1 Chronicles and came upon this passage in the 28th chapter:

1 Chronicles 28:10 “Realize now that the Lord has chosen you to build a temple as his sanctuary. Be strong and do it!”

I was thinking about this sanctuary that is built; it is a mighty building with fortified walls and with much splendor inside of it. It is one of the central places within Jerusalem and something that the Jews must have often looked towards. And for the Jewish people this building was the place where the Lord resided.

Exodus 25:8 “Let them make for me a sanctuary, so that I may live among them.”

My mind got to thinking though about the Psalmist use of the idea of a hiding place, a fortress for them to go to, about God being his Rock and Strength, his Strong Tower, his sanctuary. And I wondered, these ideas floating around in the Old Testament, how integral the temple really was for these people. When they say things like, “You are my hiding place; you protect me from distress. You surround me with shouts of joy from those celebrating deliverance” (Psalms 32:7) I wonder how much the temple plays into things like that. If the Lord is a hiding place, and his residence is in the temple, maybe things like this aren’t just a figurative thing but a real literal meaning as well. They could hide in the presence of the Lord because the temple was a strong tower, a literal hiding place. And maybe when they were building the temple it was not just merely a building, but as David put it, a “temple as his sanctuary.” Maybe the Jews had this understanding that this wasn’t just a place to worship but also a sanctuary, a place of safety and rest, a literal place where they could go and hide away from their enemies. Maybe it meant something to the Psalmist when he talks about going to the Lord for shelter; he knew the literal place that he was talking about.

And maybe I’m just reading into things too much, but it seems like when the Jews used this idea of a sanctuary, a Rock, a might fortress, they didn’t just mean figuratively but that there really was a place where they could go and hide in the presence of the Lord, a place of refuge. They had a temple that enveloped all of these attributes. And they wholeheartedly believed this was a place of refuge. Maybe we need to start reading those words differently.