The Two Books of the Chronicles
AUTHOR AND DATE:
After the return from exile in Babylon, the Jews struggled to maintain their religious identity amid their pagan neighbors.
Meanwhile, the Samaritans, who had developed traditions and practices at variance with those of the Jews, were claiming to have maintained the true faith and to be the true Israel rather than the returning exiles of Judah.
The two Books of the Chronicles were directed to the people of Judah 200 years after the exile to encourage them to hold fast to their identity as the true Israel.
The two Books of the Chronicles repeat many of the stories and accounts from the two Books of Samuel and the two Books of Kings, sometimes almost verbatim, but present them in a context of religious significance, offering theological insights that speak to the issues facing their intended audience.
There is a noticeable trend away from the idea in the previous books that all of Israel suffered from the sins of its leaders and more toward personal responsibility for each person’s own transgressions.
By weaving its historical narrative from the genealogies through the accounts of the Kings of Judah and Israel, the two Books of the Chronicles emphasized fidelity: the faithfulness of God toward his people and the need for his people to remain steadfast and faithful to his covenant and his Law.
Those who remain faithful will enjoy God’s blessings and experience joy; those who do not will be punished justly for their rejection of God.
A second theme is an emphasis on the presence of God among his people, particularly through the worship in the Temple at Jerusalem.
This is part of a continuing trend in Scripture in which God becomes increasingly immanent.
The detailed descriptions of elaborate, colorful, and joyful liturgies accent the role of the Temple and the centrality of ritual worship in the Jewish experience.
The Chronicler, a Levite himself, pays special attention to the role of the Levite priests, who lead this worship.
By the time the two Books of the Chronicles were written, Jerusalem had been restored, and its rebuilt Temple was serving as the flourishing center of worship for the Jews. The two Books of the Chronicles thus underscore the importance of the Temple both in worship and in Jewish identity.
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
2 Samuel 1:1-27 This book continues the narrative of 1 Samuel, which ended with the death of Saul. David learned of Saul’s death from an Amalekite who claimed to have killed the wounded king at his own request; this contrasts with 1 Samuel, which reports that Saul committed suicide. David responded with grief and with an order to slay the Amalekite for having killed the anointed king. His mournful song, more patriotic than religious in tone, paid tribute to Saul and his son Jonathan.
Ch 1:11-12 Took hold of his clothes and tore them: To tear one’s own garments was a sign of intense grief or outrage. The origin of this act is not clear, but it was still common centuries later in the time of Christ. For example, at the trial of Christ before the Sanhedrin (POP QUIZ!! What does “Sanhedrin” mean? Answer in the Comment Section of the Facebook Group Post 😁), the high priest tore his garments in outrage at Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah (cf. Mk 14:61-63); both Paul and Barnabas ripped their garments when the people of Lystra began to slip back into idolatrous practices (cf. Acts 14:12-17).
Fasted: Another act of mourning is the abstention from food. Fasting is a traditional practice of repentance and self-denial; the Church requires fasting on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and for one hour before receiving Holy Communion as well as recommending the practice on other occasions. (CCC 1430, 1434, 1969, 2043)
1 Chronicles 1-9 The first nine chapters of this book comprise what is essentially the family tree of Judaism. Chapter 1 lists the genealogies from Adam to both Israel (Jacob) and Esau; the eight chapters that follow offer the genealogies of the sons of Israel. Special attention is given to the descendants of Judah and Benjamin, the primary tribes of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, for it is through Judah that David’s dynasty began. Some historical details are presented regarding key battles or events involving each of the tribes. There are minor differences between these genealogies and those found elsewhere in Scripture, but they accomplish the same basic objective: they show that the remnants of the Twelve Tribes of Israel are heirs to the promises God made to Abraham and the pre-eminence of the line of David and the city of Jerusalem in Israel’s history. They stress Israel’s identity and unity as God’s Chosen People who will always enjoy his blessing provided they are faithful to his covenant. This clear notion was foremost in their minds as many of the people of Judah returned to the Promised Land after their exile in Babylon.
Psalm 13 The psalmist again was burdened by sorrow and sought refuge before God’s face for deliverance from his troubles and the rebuke of his enemies. His greatest suffering, though, was in God’s apparent absence. In the end, the psalmist consoled himself by remembering God’s faithfulness and reminding himself of his salvation, for which he praises God. The psalm as a whole bears witness to the value of PERSEVERANCE IN PRAYER. (CCC 231, 2573, 2742)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
The Reign of David
Upon hearing of Saul’s and Jonathan’s deaths, and the great defeat of Israel on Mount Gilboa, David tears his clothes, weeps, and fasts in mourning.
David praises the people of Jabesh-gilead for burying Saul with dignity, and he composes a lament for Saul and Jonathan, which he then decrees to be taught to all the people of Judah.
The refrain in this lament, “How are the mighty fallen!” (2 Sam 1:19, 25, 27), casts the preceding events, in some sense, as the vindication of Hannah’s prophetic word:
The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength … He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. (1 Sam 2:4, 8)
The mighty Saul is fallen, and the former refugee and shepherd boy David will soon be given a “seat of honor.”
David’s response discloses something about the man that we must not miss: he does not see Saul’s death or that of his heir, Jonathan, as a chance to grab for power.
His respect for God’s fallen anointed king shows that he is genuinely concerned about the Lord, the people around him, and the welfare of Israel.
(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)
So Chronicles is a unique book
Typically, Chronicles would be the LAST BOOK in the Hebrew Canon
It is focused on the TEMPLE AND WORSHIP
It is focused on the KINGDOM AND THE MESSIAH
It might have been written by Ezra
The Chronicler is setting the stage for the Temple and Temple Worship to be re-established
The Chronicler is also setting the stage for the Messiah
King David is the prototype (TYPOLOGY!!) for the Messiah
2 Samuel will have the stories of David the GREAT, David the WISE, and David the SINNER
1 and 2 Chronicles will not emphasize David’s sins, but it won’t try and hide them either
Chronicles will EMPHASIZE David’s STRENGTHS, not just to GLORIFY David, but to HIGHLIGHT what the MESSIAH will be like PLUS SO MUCH MORE (hmmm sounds like an as seen on tv infomercial….or would it be as read in the Bible?? 😉)
Man oh Man, he said it again!
1 Chronicles is going to be fun
The names sure are fun ;)
We have to keep in mind that there is NEVER anything in Scripture that is WASTED
There is ALWAYS something the Lord is telling us
The Chronicler is pointing out something important
Even though God has not been mentioned once in 1 Chronicles Ch 1, we hear the names of some characters that we know
We know Adam
We know Seth
We know Enoch
We know Noah
Heck, we even know NIMROD!! Remember him?
We know these stories and remember, that every one of their stories had GOD DIRECTLY INVOLVED
Even though God is not mentioned AT ALL in the first chapter of Chronicles, we know that the one who is UNNAMED is the GREAT AND ALMIGHTY GOD HIMSELF
So these names mean something to us, not because of THEM, but because of what GOD DID THROUGH THEM AND WITH THEM AND IN THEM
Sometimes, God goes UNNAMED in our lives
Sometimes, God goes UNNOTICED in our lives
OUR LIVES MATTER BECAUSE GOD IS PRESENT
That is SO SO POWERFUL for us to REMEMBER
2 Samuel Ch 1 David mourns the death of Saul and Jonathan
David sings a song
David is the RENAISSANCE MAN of the Old Testament
DAVID ALSO WRITES SONGS
This lamentation of David that praises his enemy, Saul, and praises his great and dear friend, Jonathan
David says, “People of Israel remember this song. Learn this song. Sing this song of the first King of Israel and his great son, Jonathan.”
It’s an incredible reminder to us all that it’s one thing to have enemies, it’s another thing to allow our enemies to pursue us and to hold us captive
David refused to be held captive by the MEMORY OF SAUL
David refused to be held captive by Saul’s ANIMOSITY
David refused to be held captive by Saul’s JEALOUSY
Even in death, David honored Saul in Song and by taking justice on the Amalekite who claimed that he killed King Saul
David did not allow himself to be held prisoner by the memory of Saul
That can be a reminder to us
We have people in our lives that want to hold us captive and be our enemy for whatever reason
We can do whatever battle we need to do whether it is a spiritual battle or a battle for justice
But they don’t have permission to HOLD US HOSTAGE
Their MEMORY does not have permission to HOLD US HOSTAGE
Because you and I have been REDEEMED by Jesus Christ Himself and WE HAVE BEEN SET FREE
Just like David could rise above King Saul because he was anointed, so YOU ARE ANOINTED IN CHRIST
The memories of the past ARE REAL
Their effects and consequences ARE REAL
The FREEDOM that we experience in Christ IS REAL
You and I have permission to not be held hostage by our enemies
You and I have permission to not be held hostage by the past
You and I have permission to not be held hostage by the sorrow and the pain that is REALLY TRULY IN OUR LIVES
With God’s Grace, we can move forward just like King David is moving forward
There are things in our PASTS that are REAL and that are affecting our PRESENT
But God is giving us a FUTURE so we say YES to that
Yes, it is EASIER SAID THAN DONE
So we need to PRAY
It’s not a matter of WILLPOWER
It is a matter of GRACE
So let’s ask the Lord to give us the Grace to get out from underneath the past, from underneath from those who were or are our enemies, AND LIVE IN FREEDOM
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you thanks and praise. We thank you for all of the ways that you have interacted with us. And for the course of our lives, God, you have guided us. You strengthened us. You protected us. You have lifted us up when we have fallen down. You have forgiven us when we’ve needed your mercy. And you have continually led us to this moment in our lives, whether we are 14 years old and listening to your Word or whether we are 94 years old and listening to your Word. Lord God, every one of our breaths have been a gift from you, that we didn't deserve. Every heartbeat has been a gift from you that we did nothing to earn. They have all been gifts. And even if our hearts stop beating at 14, or our hearts stop beating today, every heartbeat, every breath up to this moment will have been a gift from you. And so we thank you for all the unseen ways in which you have guided our lives, all the unseen ways in which you have protected us, all the potential dangers and potential ways in which we could have fallen and we could have been destroyed. And yet, here we are today able to listen to your Word, able to receive your love, and able to love you in return. We thank you for this, and please help us to have that lens, the lens that no day is earned, but every day is a gift. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”