1 Chronicles

Introduction to the Book of 1 Chronicles

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Bill Fairchild

1 Chronicles:

The book of 1 Chronicles is a close-up of the story of King David, one of the towering figures of the Old Testament.  Its wider view covers the political and religious history of ancient Israel.   

First Chronicles and 2 Chronicles were originally one book, written in Hebrew.  About 300 B.C., Hebrew scholars translated the Bible into Greek, called the Septuagint.  Written Hebrew, which contained no vowels, could fit both books onto one scroll, but Greek, which contains vowels, required two scrolls.

  A natural dividing point stopped the first part at the end of David's reign and started the second part at the beginning of the reign of King Solomon, his son and successor.

The title "Chronicles" was suggested by Jerome, when he translated the Bible into Latin, about 390 A.D.  Martin Luther picked up on that idea in his German translation of the Bible, and subsequent translators continued it.

The first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles provide an exhaustive genealogy, from Adam to King Saul and his offspring.  Genealogies are important in the Bible both as historic records and proof that God knows each of his followers by name, taking a personal interest in our lives.

The rest of the book tells how David came to be king and all he did for Israel after he took the throne.  It ends with Solomon following him to the throne and the promise of a fruitful reign.

Some of the material covered in 1 Chronicles is repeated from 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel and 1 Kings and 2 Kings.

  However, some incidents in those books are left out of 1 Chronicles, which stresses how to worship God faithfully, a reminder to the Jews who had returned to Israel from exile in Babylon.

Author of 1 Chronicles:

Jewish tradition credits Ezra the scribe as the author.

Date Written:

About 400 B.C.

Written To:

The ancient Jewish people and all later readers of the Bible.

Landscape of 1 Chronicles:

Jerusalem, Hebron, the temple in Jerusalem.

Themes in 1 Chronicles:

Two simple themes stand out in 1 Chronicles:  Obeying God brings blessing; disobeying God brings disaster.

God made a covenant with David, "a man after God's own heart," that one of David's descendants would be the Messiah.  We see in the genealogy in Matthew 1:1-16 that the promised savior was Jesus Christ.

As with much of the Old Testament, the actions of Israel serve as an allegory or symbolic story standing for the actions of the individual.  Just as God kept his promises to Israel, so he keeps his promises to each of us.  And just as Israel fell away in sin, repented, came back to God and was restored, every believer must turn from sin, seek Christ, and receive forgiveness.

The Davidic Covenant has a practical application to every person today.  Following his atoning death, resurrection from the dead, and ascension into heaven, Jesus, the King of Kings, now sits enthroned in heaven, providing a way for sinful human beings to spend eternity with God.   

Key Characters in 1 Chronicles:

David, Solomon.

Key Verses:

1 Chronicles 10:13-14
Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

(NIV)

1 Chronicles 17:13-14
"I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.” (NIV)

1 Chronicles 28:5-7
Of all my sons—and the Lord has given me many—he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. He said to me: ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws, as is being done at this time.’ (NIV)

Outline of the Book of 1 Chronicles:

  • The genealogies of Israel - 1 Chronicles 1:1-9:44.
  • Saul commits suicide - 1 Chronicles 10:1-14.
  • David becomes king of all Israel - 1 Chronicles 11:1-12:40.
  • David brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem - 1 Chronicles 13:1-16:43.
  • God makes a covenant with David - 1 Chronicles 17:1-27.
  • David's military actions - 1 Chronicles 18:1-21:30.
  • David prepares to build the Temple - 1 Chronicles 22:1-29:20.
  • Solomon becomes king, David dies - 1 Chronicles 29:21-30.

(Sources: Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Trent C. Butler, General Editor; easyenglish.info, biblica.com, gotquestions.org.)

Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian website for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.