First and Second Chronicles are but one book in the Jewish canon. Together they cover the period of Jewish history from the death of Saul to the captivities.
First Chronicles has three main divisions:
1. Chs. 1 to 9. Official genealogies.
2. Chs. 10 to 12. From the death of Saul to the accession of David.
3. Chs. 13 to 29. The reign of kind David and his death.
Beginning in Ch. 1:1, with the first man, Adam, we have a genealogy which traces more particularly the line of David through Seth, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his son Judah, Ch. 1 & 2. In Ch. 3, the family of David is recorded. The lines of the other sons of Jacob are traced in Chs. 4 to 9, closing with a brief mention of the descendants of Saul and Jonathan.
FROM THE DEATH OF SAUL TO THE ACCESSION OF DAVID.
In Ch. 10, a brief mention is made of King Saul. His reign is not dealt with but his last battle with his final battle with the Philistines is mentioned, which ended in his death. Special emphasis is placed upon the fact that Saul died because he asked counsel of one that had a familiar spirit and did not enquire of the Lord, vs.13-14.
After Saul’s death, David took the throne of Israel. From Second Samuel we learn that he ruled for the first seven years over Judah, and then the elders of the remainder of Israel proclaimed him as king over the whole nation. This is not mentioned in First Chronicles, just the fact of his being king over both groups.
David’s mighty men are mentioned in Ch. 11:10-47, and also a large company of men who joined themselves to David when Saul was seeking his life, Ch.12:1-22.
THE REIGN OF KING DAVID AND HIS DEATH.
In Chs. 13 & 15, we have the two accounts of David seeking to bring the Ark back among the people. The first attempt may be referred to as “Doing the right thing in the wrong way.” Through carelessness David and the people failed to appoint the Levites to carry the Ark, but had it placed in an ox cart instead. Uzza was smitten dead when he put out his hand to steady the Ark as it was jostled on the rough roadway. The second attempt, which also succeeded may be spoken of as “Doing the right thing in the right way.” This time the Levites were employed, and the Ark was carried to its destination with great rejoicing of David and the people. (This is a prime example of the idea that “it is never right to do wrong, even if it is a chance to do right.”)
In the remaining chapters of First Chronicles we read of how King David prospered in his kingdom; how he prepared an elaborate musical program for Divine worship; and how he appointed men from the tribe of Levi to labor in the tabernacle service.
In Ch. 17, we find how David expressed his desire to build a temple or house for God. This privilege was granted to his son, but David amassed mush material for same. God promised him an everlasting house, vs. 7-15, to which David had his son Solomon placed on the throne, Ch. 29:23-25. Shortly afterwards he passed away after reigning over Israel for forty years. The book ends by saying that David “died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honor, and Solomon his son reigned in his stead.”
This book continues the history begun in First Chronicles, it deals pretty largely with Judah, and ends with an account of the Babylonian captivity. The division of the kingdom under Rehoboam and Jeroboam is recorded, as also an ever-growing apostasy, broken temporarily by reformations under Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah and Josiah. The religious state of the nation is well described in Isaiah 1:4-6.
The first nine chapters of the book are devoted to recording the reign of King Solomon. Ch. 1:1 tells how God was with him and magnified him exceedingly. Much of what is stated in the first part of the first book of Kings is then repeated, ending in Ch.9:29-31 with a brief reference to Solomon’s death. The five periods of reformation in the kingdom of Judah are worthy of mention. Some of the kings were idolatrous and led their subjects away from God, but the Lord stirred up the royal family of David from time to time, and thus preserved the testimony of His Word among His people.
THE REFORMATION UNDER ASA.
After the division of the kingdom under Rehoboam and Jeroboam, Rehoboam had in mind to fight against the northern kingdom Israel, but was warned by Shemaiah the prophet to desist. Rehoboam heeded the word and civil war was averted, Ch. 11:1-4.
At the death of Rehoboam, Abijah, his son, reigned in his stead. A war broke out between Israel and Judah in which Israel was badly defeated. Five hundred thousand of their men were slain, Ch. 13:17. Abijah died after reigning three years and Asa, his son, took the throne. This king was a godly man. He was given a signal victory over the Ethiopians who invaded his land with an army of a million men the three hundred chariots. God fought for His people and completely routed the invader. Following this, Asa responded to an exhortation by Azariah, the son of Oded, upon whom the Spirit of God came, Ch. 15:1-2,8.
A real revival resulted as Asa made an effort and put away much of the idolatry of the land. Asa failed in his latter end through pride of heart, but brought much good to the kingdom in the first thirty-five years of his reign.
THE REFORMATION UNDER JEHOSHAPHAT.
Jehoshaphat was the son of Asa. He followed the example of King David and very zealously taught the people and sought to lead them back to God. His army numbered over a million men, Ch. 17:14-19. Jehoshaphat made a mistake in forming an alliance with Ahab, King of Israel, but in a battle with the Syrians, God spared his life. After that he was still more zealous in exhorting the people to fear the Lord and walk in His ways. The Moabites and other nations formed an alliance and invaded the land of Judah. Jehoshaphat prayed for Divine help. The Spirit of God came upon Jehaziel, the son of Zechariah, who told the king to march his army out against the enemy, but all they would need to do would be to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. Jehoshaphat responded by worshiping God. The next day, they put the singers in front of the army and went out against the enemy. God set ambushes among the invaders. They slew one another in their panic so that none escaped, and Judah spent three days gathering up the spoil, Ch. 20:14-25.
THE REFORMATION UNDER JOASH.
After the death of Jehoshaphat, his son, Jehoram came to the throne. He was a wicked man and the kingdom suffered temporally and spiritually during his reign, which lasted eight years. Ahaziah was the next king. He also did wickedly and finally lost his life at the hands of Jehu when that man slew the king of Israel, of whom Ahaziah was somewhat of an ally. Joash the son of Jerhoram was the next king of Judah. While a reformation took place in his days, it was due to the faithful aid of Jehoida the priest who ruled as regent, for Joash was but a boy when he first came to the throne. When Jehoida died the king was influenced by his princes and fell away from God, and was later murdered by his own servants.
THE REFORMATION UNDER HEZEKIAH.
The four kings who reigned after the death of Joash were not all godly men. No outstanding spiritual uplift took place until Hezekiah the fifth king came to the throne. He did right in God’s sight according to the ways of King David. Hezekiah commanded the Levites to sanctify themselves and then invited the people of Judah and Israel to gather together to observe the feast of the Passover. A great company responded and there was much joy in Jerusalem as there had not been since the days of King Solomon. After these things, Sennacherib, the king of Assyria invaded the land. In response to his insulting taunts, Hezekiah prayed and God sent an angel and destroyed the Assyrian army. Hezekiah later became sick, but while God said he should die, He added fifteen years to his life in answer to prayer, Ch. 32:24; 2 Kings 20:6.
THE REFORMATION UNDER JOSIAH.
Josiah was the great grandson of Hezekiah. His grandfather, Manasseh, proved to be a very wicked king. At his death, Amon his son, took the throne but reigned only two years. He was murdered by his servants. Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign. At the age of sixteen he instituted a nation-wide reform. While the temple was being repaired the book of the law was discovered, Ch. 34:18-19. When same was read before the king he was greatly distressed because the moral standard of the nation was so out of accord with the law that Josiah feared the judgment of God. Huldah, a prophetess, was consulted. She said judgement would surely come, but Josiah would be spared because he was sincerely trying to please God. The law was read to all the people and all were called together to observe the feast of the Passover. Josiah met his death while interfering with the Egyptians, who were not invading Judah, but carrying on a campaign against a neighboring nation.
THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY.
In the last chapter of Second Chronicles brief mention is made of the invasion of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. After a long siege, Jerusalem was taken. King Zedekiah was made a prisoner, and after his eyes were put out he was taken to Babylon. This captivity was to last seventy years according to the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, v.21. The two last verses of the book anticipate the end of the captivity and mention the degree of Cyrus king of Persia, who gave the people of Judah liberty to go back to their homeland.
LAST COUNSELS TO PRIESTS, LEVITES, AND TO JOSHUA.
In view of God prohibiting Moses from entering the land, He gave his parting counsel to the spiritual heads of the people. Joshua was called and in the sight of all Israel was told to be of good courage that God would be with him to defeat all their enemies, even as He had already dealt with Sihon and Og, kings of the Amorites, Ch. 31:3-7. Then God called Moses and Joshua into the tabernacle and gave the latter a charge. Moses was told that he was to sleep with his fathers, and that the people would in course of time go after the gods of the lands, vs.14-16. For this the anger of the Lord would be kindled against them. Moses was then told to write a song to be rehearsed by the Levites in the ears of all the people.
THE SONG OF MOSES AND HIS PARTING BLESSING.
In the sublime spirit of prophecy Moses gave forth a song, which for accuracy of foreknowledge cannot be equaled. It called upon Israel to remember how God had condescended to choose them and had blessed them beyond what had been done for the other peoples of the earth. Their backsliding is then foretold and the judgments which would result, and the final restoration of His people is clearly stated, Ch. 32:1-43. The whole of Ch. 23 contains the statement of Moses’ blessing upon the tribes of Israel. Moses’ heart was knit to his people, and before his death he remembered every tribe with some helpful word.
THE DEATH OF MOSES.
To the great lawgiver was granted a vision of the land, which the people were to inherit. God called him up to the top of Mt. Pisgah and showed him a wonderful panoramic view of the north and south, Ch. 34:1-4. Then Moses passed on to his reward and the Lord buried him. The testimony of his physical state is left on record, v.7, that all might learn how a man can be kept by God even to a good old age and then go home to heaven.