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The Hebrew Worship Textbook

The books of Chronicles are very important for anyone desiring to study Hebrew worship. For the average reader of the Old Testament, however, the books may seem redundant, simply repeating material found in 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings. Why would God include another two books recording the same events?

A couple important introductory points. First, it is critical to recognize that no historical record is simply an unbiased treatment of brute facts. All historians have a point they’re trying to make in what they record and what they don’t record, and this is no less true for the Chronicles. It is instructive to note what is included in the Chronicles that is not in the Kings, and vice versa. More on this in a moment.

Second, it is important to recognize who wrote Chronicles, when it was written, and under what circumstances. Most conservative scholars believe that the Chronicles were written by Ezra around 450-400 BC. These books may have been the last written in the Old Testament; in fact, in a Jewish Bible, the Chronicles are the last books. This theory is substantiated by the fact that some portions in the book are word-for-word copies of material in Ezra, the books mention Cyrus, so they must have been written after return from exile, and it also records generations of Zerubabel’s descendants, so it had to have written after that period.

So now some comments on differences between 1-4 Kings (1 & 2 Samuel are actually the first two volumes in a four-volume set) and 1-2 Chronicles. Chronicles omits David’s sin with Bathsheba. Chronicles doesn’t mention David’s struggles to hold on to the crown from his son Absalom. Chronicles doesn’t mention Solomon’s sin and struggles with many wives. Chronicles contains lists and lists of genealogies that are not in Kings and which focus primarily on the houses of Judah and Levi. Chapters 22-29, which focus on David’s organization of the temple, has material that is found nowhere in the Kings.

All of this leads us to the conclusion that the author (God through Ezra) wants to highlight two primary themes in the history of Israel: the Davidic line and the Temple. In fact, those are the two most important events in the books: the Davidic covenant, in which David is promised that his descendent will build the Temple, and the organization and building of the Temple itself.

This all fits perfectly with the timing of the writing of the Chronicles. The Kings were written while the people were in exile, and thus they highlight the sin of the kings in order to show why they are under judgment.

The Chronicles, on the other hand, ignores the sin for the most part and instead focuses on (1) God’s faithfulness to bless and restore the line of David and (2) his desire for worship in the Temple. This would have been a great encouragement to people who now had a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem but no Davidic king on the throne. Furthermore, it would have encouraged them to follow God’s instructions regarding worship and hopefully warm cold hearts toward true worship to him.

In this way, the Chronicles should be viewed as the worship textbook for the Hebrew people, and by extension, an important book of principles about worship for even the Church today.

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is director of doctoral worship studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.