Do 1 and 2 Chronicles go too easy on David and Solomon?

The bulk of 1 and 2 Chronicles is devoted to the reigns of David and his son, Solomon. But while 2 Samuel and 1 Kings highlight their virtues and failings equally, Chronicles portrays these kings almost exclusively in a positive light.

David

  • There is no reference in Chronicles to the wars between Saul’s house and David, the negotiations with Abner, or the murders of Abner and Ish-Bosheth (2 Sa 1–4).
  • The Chronicler presents David as being anointed king over all Israel immediately after the death of Saul (1 Ch 11) and enjoying the total support of the people (11:10—12:40).
  • No mention is made of David’s sins against Bathsheba and Uriah, the crime and death of Amnon, the fratricide by Absalom and his plot against his father, the flight of David from Jerusalem, or the rebellions of Sheba and Shimei (2 Sa 11–20).

 

Solomon

  • Solomon’s accession to the throne is virtually without competition or detracting incident. It is announced by David and greeted with the support of all Israel  with no mention of the attempted coup by Adonijah.
  • Solomon’s execution of those who had wronged David (1 Ki 2) is not narrated.
  • No mention is made of his idolatry, his foreign wives, or the rebellions against his rule (1 Ki 11).

 

Why does the Chronicler offer these idealized portraits of David and Solomon? An important starting point for answering this question is the great likelihood that the Chronicler assumes that his audience will know the accounts of David and Solomon. He is not, therefore, simply trying to hide their failings. Instead, he seems interested in emphasizing two points.

First, he places the building of the temple at the center of his narrative, and the accounts from David and Solomon’s lives that help him to emphasize that building project are included and augmented.

Second, the Chronicler idealizes David and Solomon as a type or representation of the future Messianic king, a keen focus of expectation in the post-exilic period in which the Chronicler writes.

Also important are the different audiences and purposes of the two books. Kings is written to the exilic community (i.e. those who were in exile in Babylon) to explain how they ended up in that situation. By highlighting the negative features of past kings, the author identifies the people’s rebellion against God as the reason for their exile. Chronicles, on the other hand, is written to the post-exilic community (i.e. those who had come back home after the exile) to give them encouragement and hope by means of highlighting the Davidic kings who did acknowledge the Lord’s rule and received divine promises.

 

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Content in this article taken from NIV Study Bible, Fully Revised Edition, publishing September 2020. With its decades-long legacy of helping readers grasp the Bible’s meaning, the NIV Study Bible, Large Print, embodies the mission of the NIV translation to be an accurate, readable, and clear guide into Scripture. Specifically designed to expand upon the NIV, the NIV Study Bible’s editorial team crafts that same accuracy and clarity into every study note.

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