Thoughts on 1 Chronicles 1-21

 •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 9
The Chronicles are by some thought to be a supplement to the preceding historical books, that is, to supply the omissions and defects supposed to be found in them. This is a denial of God as their Author. For if holy men of old were divinely inspired to write them, failure or error is impossible. To assert that the Chronicles are a mere supplement to correct what went before is to misapprehend the aim and purpose of the Holy Spirit Who has never written one book as a supplement to another, in the above sense and meaning. Each separate book of the Bible is perfect in itself, though each a necessary part to form one divine whole, and needs neither filling up nor correction. Even in the historical books the events related are never a bare record, but all are in special relation to the object the Holy Spirit has in view. And all, being under His control, are just so many steps leading to the accomplishing of His will and purpose. So it may be that many circumstances, having no direct and immediate bearing upon the object of the Spirit in the particular book, are omitted, not because they are unimportant in themselves, but that the purpose of God does not call for their mention. And these same circumstances may be most essential in another book written for another object. The true question is, What is the purpose of God in this or that book? And only when we have apprehended it, can we see why events are mentioned in the one book and not in the other, although both may be concerning the same persons and nation. Take for instance David and Bathsheba and the moral processes by which David is restored, so fully given in the Kings, and not alluded to in the Chronicles. Only one fact connected with it circumstantially is found in Chronicles, viz., that David tarried at Jerusalem when he ought to have been at the head of his army. The consequences are narrated in Kings. The purpose of God in Chronicles did not require that mention.
Yet the Chronicles are the counterpart, the complement, of the Books of Samuel and of the Kings; for complement does not imply defect in that of which it is the complement. Supplement, ordinarily, implies omissions in the thing supplemented. A perfect book or epistle may have a complement, never a supplement in the above sense and meaning. The Epistles to the Ephesians and to the Colossians are counterparts to each other, and both are perfect. We have the glories and fullness of the Head in the one; but Head implies body, and the fall privileges and blessedness of the body are given in the other: not the one Epistle supplying omissions in the other, but each perfect in itself. And the body is the fullness (complement) of Him Who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:2323Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:23)). These Epistles are complementary to each other. So Paul speaks of filling up what is behind of the afflictions of Christ. That is, the sufferings of the body—the church—are the complement of the sufferings of Christ. Does this mean that His sufferings were not perfect?
So also the Books of Samuel and of the Kings on the one side, and the Chronicles on the other, are complementary. The former is a record of mercy and forbearance. The iniquity of the people reached its climax when they rejected God as their king, yet He forbore. It was God's mind to give them a king, and this necessarily appears in their history, as proof of God's goodness which their sin could not turn away. But it in no way lessens Israel's guilt in desiring a king like the surrounding nations, that it was the purpose of God to give them a king in His own good time. Israel would have a king before God's man (typical) was prepared for them. The result was ruin. But the point in Samuel and the Kings seems to be the complete breakdown of man as seen in Israel; responsibility and ruin are correlatives. Now in Chronicles, where of course the ruin is as plainly read as in the former books, the point is God's predetermined bringing in of His Only-begotten, through a human line, but His only begotten Son. That is to say, His purpose is the more prominent in Chronicles. The genealogy is proof of this, and gives the key to the book. The sin and rebellion of the Kings involving the ruin of the people is met by God's purpose that His King shall reign.
The grand solvent for every apparent difficulty as to what is recorded or not is that Christ is the one Object before the Spirit of God, whether in the Bible as a whole or in each separate book. Nothing is there but what exalts Him. And He must be before our hearts if we would understand; and then we can laugh to scorn (or rather mourn over) all the futile objections of ignorant infidelity. If David and Solomon are historically more prominent in Samuel and 1 Kings, it is only because they are types of the Lord Jesus, in His rejection, than of His kingly power and glory. Suffering was David's pathway to the throne; it was the necessary path of Christ to His kingdom. “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory” (Luke 24:2424And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. (Luke 24:24))? In Chronicles there is no rejected David; his history begins with the transfer of the kingdom to him and the establishment of his throne, though when the kingdom is committed to the responsibility of man, Israel becomes irretrievably ruined. And for the time the ruin is not merely apparent, but real. This, however, only for a season, so that in the end grace will be seen to provide the only stable foundation and sure basis for the accomplishing of the counsels of God. Saul's enmity, David's failures, and all to the consummated sins of the sons of Josiah, could not annul God's counsels or set aside His purpose. What a triumph for Satan if God had on account of Israel's wickedness revoked His promise to Abraham, for in his seed all the nations, not Israel alone, are to be blessed! What would have become of the blessing? Apparently all was contingent upon man's obedience and faithfulness. Really, all rested upon an unassailable foundation, God's promise, given to Abraham 430 years before the law. But if Israel made the fatal step of accepting law as the ground of inheriting blessing, man's failure can never annul the purposes of grace.
Though the people sinned till there was no remedy (save that remedy which was only as yet in God's counsel), and they were carried away captives into a foreign land, during all that dark time of disobedience and idolatry grace was constantly watching over them, and guiding the destinies of this wonderful people. And grace is, now that they are scattered and for the most part unseen by human eye, controlling the world's history for their sakes. Now Lo-ammi is written upon them with a pen of iron; the time is coming when in that place where it was said, “Ye are not My people,” there it shall be said unto them, “Ye are the sons of the living God” (Hosea 1:99Then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. (Hosea 1:9)). That will be when the true Anointed, the Man of God's right hand, comes, Who is not only Son of David, but also Son of man. For when grace acts in sovereign power it cannot be limited to the sphere of Israel. Such grace must be unto all. Hence the genealogy begins, not with Abraham which might suffice for a Jew, but with Adam proof that not Israel's future blessing is alone before the mind of the Holy Spirit, but Christ in His exaltation and glory. The throne of the world is His, as well as the throne of David.
The types being only of men afford much instruction over and above the great and prominent fact that God is leading His chosen man to the throne. David's trials and faith, his failures and victories, come in by the way and are written for our learning.
His failure cannot interfere with God's purpose. Rather do they bring out more manifestly the unchangeable decree of God, that David as the great type of his greater Son must sit upon the throne of Israel. For David had done enough to be righteously thrust aside; his willingness (real or feigned) to fight under Achish against Israel was alone sufficient to have debarred him from the throne. But he was the man chosen to be type of Him Who could not fail and so there was a divine necessity that he should reign. Therefore David's failure in offering his services to Achish is not mentioned in Chronicles, nor any part of his life previous to Saul's death. Not God's grace in meeting David's failures in the path of suffering is the point, but the accomplishment of His purpose. David is king. This purpose fulfilled, and a glimpse of the glory seen in Solomon's day, when the temple was finished, and we may say consecrated by the fire of Jehovah consuming the sacrifice, His glory filling the house (2 Chronicles 7.), the proper typical aspect ceases. The exaltation of the king becomes the sphere of his responsibility. Soon the inherent disobedience and evil of man appears, and David's house and the whole nation are speedily corrupted. On Israel's throne we see man in his best estate; the glory of the greatest Gentile monarch, pales before the glory of Solomon, who truly was in honor, but where of himself he could not abide. The kings sinned and the people followed them, and God closes that period in judgment. The kingdom, so bright in Solomon's earlier days ends in Babylon, and an alien if any occupied Israel's throne afterward.
Ruin was stamped upon the kingdom long before the Babylonian captivity. For when the ten tribes were cut off through the revolt of Jeroboam, Judah, alone could in no wise answer to the thought of God respecting His King as the Son of David. Not two tribes but the whole twelve form the kingdom over which Christ the Son, of David must reign. Even if Judah had been faithful, and no evil king ever found on the throne, Christ could not be shorn of His glory in having only two tribes instead of twelve.
But in point of fact Judah became more offensive than Israel, Jerusalem more guilty than Samaria. While there were entreaty and warning, promise and threatening to Israel, but never one ray of goodness from the throne, while in Judah there were some good kings, and the channels of governmental blessings, yet we have the testimony of the prophets that Aholibah was worse than Aholah. God had His own among them. The righteous are distinguished from the wicked, but the condition of Judah as a whole appears far deeper sunken in idolatry and iniquity (see Ezekiel 23).
Idolatry was always dominant in Israel. In revolting against the house of David, the ten tribes forsook the ground of covenanted blessing. Patience waited long, and called with wondrous evidences of mercy and power in the days of Elijah and Elisha.
The signs and wonders wrought by these men were proof that they (Israel) were off the ground of God's covenant. Israel as a nation rebelled against God. Judah as a nation remained professedly true, inasmuch as they clave to the house of David, and outwardly to the temple and worship of Jehovah; yet were in heart as rebellious as the Israelites. God said of them, “This people draweth nigh with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” The hypocrisy of Judah was more hateful to God than the open apostasy of Israel. God had His remnant in both kingdoms. In Israel He had His seven thousand who had not bowed to Baal, and righteous ones were found in Judah with whom it should be well (Isaiah 3:1010Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. (Isaiah 3:10)). Both kingdoms sinned till each filled up the measure of its iniquity: their land given to strangers, themselves captives.
Aholibah took no warning from the fate of Aholah, but became more idolatrous. If Judah is worse than Israel, why is Judah in captivity preserved as a people? Why not dispersed and lost among the nations, as are the ten tribes? Because there was a purpose of grace to be accomplished and full judgment was delayed. God had set David upon the throne, and it was a pledge that Christ must sit there also. For Christ on the throne of David is God's center of blessing for this earthly sphere. Accordingly the tribe whence the King was to come is preserved till the appointed time when Jesus is born in Bethlehem. So this tribe is preserved while the ten are hidden in the dust of the earth, and has the prominent and sole place in the books of the Chronicles, and the family of David pre-eminent in that tribe. It is the royal tribe, and David's is the royal family. The line of true heirs, during the captivity when the Gentile was in possession of the throne, is sacredly preserved, and after the return from Babylon carried on by Matthew to the birth of Christ in Whom it ceases.
Wonderfully, yea divinely, kept are these family records, so that the title of Jesus of Nazareth to the throne might be established both legally and naturally: by law the Son of Joseph, by birth the Son of Mary. Then when the Christ has appeared Judah is overtaken in full judgment: there was no reason for further delay.