1 Chronicles

Theme: Religious or Spiritual Continuity; Key Verse: 1 Chronicles 17:11-14

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. 1 Corinthians 10.12
1 Chronicles History Overview

  • The story of 1 Chronicles begins with Adam and ends with King David’s death (1.1 and 29.28).
  • Most of the chronicle is the story of King David’s spiritual leadership of Judah. Ezra wrote the account during the Persian period of dominance and during the Jews struggle for identity and purpose after returning from exile.
  • The Jewish tradition says that Ezra wrote or edited Chronicles, probably between 460-425 BC. The emphasis on the temple, the priesthood, and David’s spiritual leadership indicates a priestly authorship—most likely Ezra.
  • At the time of writing the Jewish people have returned to their land after the Babylonian exile (605-536 BC, Jeremiah 25.1-14; Daniel 9.1-2. See John Whitcomb).
  • Cyrus the Great came to the Persian throne in 559 BC. He conquered Media in 549 BC, Lydia in 546, and Babylon in 539. Daniel wrote that his conquest of Babylon happened while Belshazzar was celebrating with a thousand of his nobles (Daniel 5; Isaiah 47.1-5).
  •  On that night Cyrus’ Persian army, led by General Ugbaru, diverted the Euphrates, entered the city, and conquered it. The date wasOctober 12, 539 BC.
  • In his first year after conquering Babylon he allowed exiles to return to their homelands. His decree to allow Jews to return was in 539/538 BC (2 Chronicles 36.22-23; Ezra 1.2-3).
  • The Jews then began to return to their land. Over the course of many years they would rebuild the temple and Jerusalem, though Persia would dominate Israel for the next 200 years.
  • Zerubbabel led the first return in 538 BC; Ezra led the second return in 458 BC; and Nehemiah led the third group back in 444 BC.
  • The record of 1 Chronicles was written during the period of the second and third returns to the land.
  • It answered their questions about identity and purpose by providing the religious or spiritual continuity or connections from God’s early promises and provision for the nation to the present generations of Jews.
  • Therefore, 1 Chronicles was written to inspire and challenge the Jews now back in their homeland to live as God’s people and to serve him through the law, the temple, and the priesthood.
  • Second Chronicles will carry the story from Solomon down to Cyrus’ decree of 539 BC.

Theme of 1 Chronicles: 

Religious or Spiritual Continuity

  • God’s people, Israel, just returned from Babylon. Though the Israelites wondered about their place in God’s plan because of all the bad things that have happened, they do have religious or spiritual continuity—divinely planned connections with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and especially with the great king David. In fact, God continues to work with them at the present time—after the Babylonian exile—and through them to bring the nation to the fullness of times and to fulfill his promises to the nation.

Key Verse: 1 Chronicles 17:11-14

  • 11 “When your days are fulfilled that you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up one of your descendants after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. 
  • 12 He shall build for Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever.
  • 13 “I 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.
  • 14 But I will settle him in My house and in My kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.” The Lord

Key Verse: 1 Chronicles 29.18-19

  • 18 “O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, our fathers, preserve this forever in the intentions of the heart of Your people, and direct their heart to You; 
  • 19 and give to my son Solomon a perfect heart to keep Your commandments, Your testimonies and Your statutes, and to do them all, and to build the temple, for which I have made provision.” David

Overview Outline

  • The spiritual and physical connections from Adam to David, 1 Chronicles 1-9.
  • David’s spiritual leadership and reign, 1 Chronicles 10-29.

Trace the Theme

  • The chronicler begins by tracing Israel’s heritage from Adam down through the tribes of Israel. This is Israel’s religious heritage (1-8).
  • Chapter 9, verses 1-34, is somewhat parenthetical. It records those who came back to the promised land after the Babylonian captivity. The author then gives Saul’s immediate genealogy in 9.35-44, and chapter 10 covers Saul’s death because of his spiritual failure (10.13-14).
  • 1 Chronicles 11 begins David’s story—the story of David’s spiritual leadership over the nation, a nation which, at the time of the Ezra and Nehemiah, finds itself back in the land and preparing for a new beginning.
  • David’s spiritual leadership was marked by seven actions: 1. men gathering under his leadership (11-12), 2. by him returning the ark to Jerusalem (13-16), 3. by his plan to build the temple—which the LORD interrupted by stating that not he but his son would build the temple (17), 4. by his wars that defeated Israel’s oppressors (18-20), 5. by his plans for supplies to build the temple (22) and his plans for service at the temple (23-26), 6. by his military and civilian organization (27), 7. and by his challenges to Solomon (22, 28) and to the nation (28-29).
  • David’s main failure was spiritual and national—to take a census of his military power instead of trusting God to guide and protect the nation (21).
  • 1 Chronicles ends with David giving his vision for the future and charge to the leaders and people (28-29).

Chapter Titles:

The Historical Connections from Adam to David, 1 Chronicles 1-9.

  • Chapter 1:           Adam through Esau (Edom)
  • Chapter 2:           Judah (Jacob [Israel] to David
  • Chapter 3:           David and Solomon
  • Chapter 4:           Judah and Simeon
  • Chapter 5:           Reuben, Gad, Manasseh
  • Chapter 6:           Levi
  • Chapter 7:           Issachar, Benjamin, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Asher
  • Chapter 8:           Benjamin
  • Chapter 9:           Workers in Jerusalem; Saul

David’s spiritual leadership and reign, 10-29.

  • Chapter 10:         Saul fell on his sword
  • Chapter 11:         David at Hebron and Jubus; his mighty men
  • Chapter 12:         Soldiers join David
  • Chapter 13:         The Ark, Uzza, Chidon
  • Chapter 14:         David’s victories and fame
  • Chapter 15:         Levites take Ark to Jerusalem
  • Chapter 16:         The Ark, celebration, and thanks
  • Chapter 17:         Davidic Covenant
  • Chapter 18:         David defeats Philistia, Moab, Zobah, Aramaea
  • Chapter 19:         Aramaea and Ammon revolt
  • Chapter 20:         War with Philistines and giants
  • Chapter 21:         David’s sinful census
  • Chapter 22:         David charges Solomon
  • Chapter 23:         Levites assist in temple
  • Chapter 24:         Levites in 24 groups serve
  • Chapter 25:         Musicians serve in temple
  • Chapter 26:         Gatekeepers, Treasurers, Judges
  • Chapter 27:         Standing Army
  • Chapter 28:         David: “Build the temple”
  • Chapter 29:         Consecration, Offerings, Benediction

Key People—Saul

  • Saul was a Benjamite (1 Samuel 9.1, 21), who because of the rebellious demands of Israel (8.4-8), was chosen by God to become king of Israel (10.1). He had few successes (11.6-15; 14.47-48), and in negative volition he rejected God’s word and will (13.8-14; 14.24, 43-46; 15.16-26; 28.3-20). Due to his rejection of God’s word and his desire for power and fame combined with great jealousy of David, he tried to kill David (20.33) and eventually destroyed himself (15.27-28, 35; 18.5-12; 19.1; 31.1-5).
  • Saul had great opportunity for service to Lord and Israel, but because he was preoccupied with himself and details of life, and because he would not humble himself before the Lord, the Lord removed him from service and potential blessing. Saul illustrates that emotional repentance and spiritual inconsistency do not please the Lord. God wants consistent spiritual living.

Key People—David

  • David: Tribe of Judah, Son of Jesse, King of Israel, Psalmist (2 Samuel 23.1). He was the second king in Israel and ruled after Saul, though he was the first king from the ruling tribe, Judah. He began as a shepherd, was Saul’s armor bearer, was anointed by Samuel to be God’s king of Israel (1 Samuel 16).
  • He killed Goliath, was pursued by Saul (17), and at Saul’s death was inaugurated King of Israel (2 Samuel 5). God promised him (Davidic Covenant, 2 Samuel 7.4-17) that his descendents, and especially his greatest descendant, Jesus the Christ (Matthew 1.1; Romans 1.3) would rule forever over Israel
  • His most noted sons were Absalom (3.3, mother was Maacah), Nathan (1 Chronicles 3.3, Bathsheba), and Solomon (12.24, Bathsheba).
  • He was noted for his faith and loyalty to the Lord (Psalm 22 and 23), and though he publicly sinned numerous times he always returned to fellowship with the Lord by confessing his sin to Him (Psalm 32, 2 Samuel 12.1-15; Psalm 51; 1 Kings 15.3-5).
  • God said that David was a “man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13.14; Acts 13.22, 36); that is, one who, in spite of his sin, always returned to fellowship with God and desired to do God’s will.
  • David was a great military leader and author of many at least 73 Psalms.
  • David’s challenge and instructions to Solomon, and the nation were applications of his understanding practice of grace, humility, obedience, and faith (1 Chronicles 28-29, and especially 29.10-21).
  • Principle: David’s greatness was his consistent desire to do God’s will, his faith in the Lord, his loyalty to the Lord, his willingness to honestly confess sin and failure to the Lord, and his spiritual and national leadership.

Key People—Solomon

  • Solomon was David’s son. His mother was Bathsheba. The Davidic Covenant went from David to Solomon. David told Solomon to build the temple; and David challenged him to know and serve God, to be strong and courageous, to be fearless, and to complete his task because God will be with him (1 Chronicles 22, 23, 28, 29). See the 2 Chronicles study.

Key People—Joab, Military leader

  • Joab: David’s nephew (2 Samuel 2.18) and commander in chief of David’s army (2 Samuel 5.8). Joab was at different times efficient, brutal, loyal, and wise (2 Samuel 11.6-26; 12.26-31; 18.14.33; 24.2-4). Joab tried to dissuade David from taking a census. Joab was right, but David did it anyway (2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21).
  • Joab was replaced by Amasa and later restored. Joab finally faltered by supporting a revolt against David and Solomon (1 Kings 1.5-53). Benaiah, in league with Solomon, killed Joab (1 Kings 2.28, 34). Principle: Strong leadership, yet pride and bad judgment get in the way.

Key People—Priests

  • Zadok and Ahimelech served under David. Both trace their lineage to Aaron. Aaron had four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. Nadab and Abihu did not respect their priestly service and God removed them by death (Leviticus 10).
  • Zadok traced his lineage to Eleazar. Ahimelech traced his lineage to Ithamar.
  • David, Zadok, and Ahimelech organized the temple service in 24 groups. Each group served for two weeks on a rotating basis (1 Chronicles 24).

Key Words and Key Ideas

  •  Ark of the Covenant. 10X. 1 Chronicles 15.25. 26. 28, 29; 16.6, 37; 17.1; 22.19; 28.2, 18.
  • Covenant. 3X with the Abrahamic Covenant and the Land Covenant.
  • Establish. Used 11X with the Davidic Covenant and Kingdom. 1 Chronicles 17.11, 12, 14, 23; 22.10; 28.7.
  • Courageous. 4X because God is with them and working through them. 1 Chronicles 19.13; 22.13; 28.10, 20.

Key Doctrines

  • Heritage, a continuity with your past gives belonging, direction, purpose, and stability
  • Theocratic Program
  • Davidic Covenant
  • Ark of the Covenant
  • Temple or central sanctuary
  • Spiritual and national leadership
  • Disobedience to God brings divine discipline

Ark of the Covenant (in Scripture)

  • “Ark of the Covenant” is found 43 times in the Bible: 10x in our study of 1 Chronicles (1 Chronicles 15.25. 26. 28, 29; 16.6, 37; 17.1; 22.19; 28.2, 18); 2x in 2 Chronicles; 2x in Numbers; 4x in Deuteronomy; 12x in Joshua; 1x in Judges; 3x in 1 Samuel; 1x in 2 Samuel; 4x in 1 Kings; 1x in Jeremiah; and 1x in Hebrews.

Ark of the Covenant (symbolized)

  • The ark was the physical symbol of God’s presence, God’s holiness, and God’s majesty. It was a constant lesson that God was their God, that they were His people, that He was with them, that He was holy, and that they were dependent upon Him (Exodus 25.10-22;16.33-34; Joshua 20.27; Joshua 3.13; 1 Kings 8.10-11; Hebrews 9.4-5).
  • God appeared above the mercy seat on which blood from the sacrifice was placed on the Day of Atonement.  He accepted the blood in place of the people and cleansed them from sin (Leviticus 16).

Ark of the Covenant (Levites)

  • The tribe of Levi was responsible for its care and movement (Deuteronomy 10.8). The Levites carried it in front of the Israelites when they traveled during the exodus (Numbers 10.33; Joshua 3.3).

Ark of the Covenant (contained)

  • The Ark was kept in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle and then in the temple (1 Chronicles 22.19; 2 Chronicles 5.7).
  • The Ark contained two stone tablets of the ten commandments, a copy of the law, the golden pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod (Deuteronomy 10.1-5; 31.25-26; Hebrews 9.3-5).

Ark of the Covenant (physical make up)

  • It was a box made of acacia wood and covered with gold: 2 ½ cubits long, 1 ½ cubits wide, and 1 ½ cubits high. The lid was called the mercy seat. Mercy seat in Hebrew means covering; in the Greek LXX and NT it means place of propitiation (Romans 3.25) or propitiation (1 John 2.2). The blood from the Day of Atonement sacrifice was placed on the mercy seat (Leviticus 16).
  • Two gold figures (cherubim, angels) stood on the lid. They emphasized God’s holiness expressed in grace and judgment. Wings spread upward and their faces looked at each other.
  • God saw the blood on the mercy seat that was from the substitutionary sacrifice and accepted the sacrifice in place of the death of the people.

Ark of the Covenant (teaches)

  • The Ark of the Covenant reveals God to man and teaches us His holiness, grace, forgiveness, judgment, continuing presence with His people, and His protective and judging care.
  • But the Ark of the Covenant specifically teaches us reconciliation to God through a sinless sacrifice—the doctrines of substitution, propitiation, unlimited atonement, and justification.

Lessons for Us Today

  • The expectation of David, Solomon, and the people was that they had a future in their promised land. This future would be ruled by a king in David’s line. This expectation was based upon God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. God’s promise still holds. Israel has a future of blessing in their land.
  • As the central place of revelation and worship was necessary to the Jewish nation (Ark and Temple), so the Bible and the assembly of believers in the church is equally important.
  • Your Christian heritage (family, friends, other ministries, nation, and the universal church) influences us in visible and invisible ways. It is a blessing to each of us to know our heritage.
  • Spiritual leaders are gifts from God. Spiritual leadership is something that we all depend upon—family, church, missions, body of Christ, and national leadership. God has made us dependent upon leadership.

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. 1 Corinthians 10.12