Don’t Skip Chronicles in Your Bible Reading Plan

What we can learn from the chronicler’s stories about the kings of Israel.

To the dutiful Bible reader, Chronicles might seem a bit baffling. As we read, we might find ourselves wondering, Haven’t I read this before? The short answer is yes and no .

The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles retell some of the same stories of Israel and Judah that appear in the books of Samuel and Kings. But the chronicler also offers a fresh perspective on those years by incorporating new material and leaving other stories aside. His decision about what to keep and what to add is not arbitrary but intentional. And if we’re paying attention, we will find that the chronicler has a distinct message that we can learn from today.

First, only 50 percent of Chronicles is repeated material from Samuel and Kings. On the one hand, that’s a lot of overlap. But on the other, that also means that half of Chronicles is brand new material. Which means we cannot afford to overlook it!

And while the content of Chronicles overlaps with previous material, it emerged over 100 years later—giving the chronicler the benefit of hindsight and the opportunity to address a new set of challenges for his generation. The people of Judah had just returned from exile and were facing the massive task of rebuilding the temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem, which King Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed. This task profoundly shapes the backdrop to the books of Chronicles.

If you set Chronicles side-by-side with Samuel and Kings, you’ll find that the new material focuses on two primary topics: David and the temple. The chronicler spends extra time on the genealogy of David’s family and the details of David’s legacy. And although Kings focuses on the northern kingdom of Israel, Chronicles highlights the southern …

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