EVIDENCE FROM HISTORY 1 Chronicles 1–10
“All Israel was listed in the genealogies recorded in the book of the kings of Israel” (1 Chron. 9:1).History shows that God is faithful. As evidence, the author of Chronicles traces the lines of David and Abraham, each of whom received covenant promises from the Lord.
The Hebrews maintained careful genealogical records. These were important, for God’s covenant promises were made to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel). Each Jew’s claim to relationship with God rested on his or her membership in the covenant community, as well as on personal faithfulness to the covenant code. The genealogical record was particularly important for priests and Levites, for only descendants of Levi—and in the case of priests, of Aaron—were qualified to serve God at the tabernacle or temple. The genealogies recorded in Scripture use ancient records to trace family lines. These genealogies typically include representative ancestors rather than every individual in a line. For this reason most genealogies have “gaps,” and it is impossible to use them to count the supposed number of years between, for instance, Adam and Abraham.
The author traced the lineage of David back to Adam (1:1–3:24), and of the sons of Israel, God’s covenant people (4:1–8:40). The genealogies continue with a list of those who returned to Jerusalem from Babylon (9:1–34). Finally Saul’s line is traced, with an account of his death and rejection as king (v. 35–10:14).
Understanding the Text
“These were the sons of David” 1 Chron. 1:1–3:24.
The first genealogical list begins with Adam, and moves quickly to Abraham. It takes a quick look at the line of Ishmael, and then turns to look in detail at the line of Judah, the grandson of Isaac and son of Israel. Judah’s line is singled out for an important reason. This is the royal line, the family from which David came. The author not only shows that every king of Judah came from David’s line, but also demonstrates that members of the Davidic line are still in Judah after the Exile! How important this was. God had promised that there would never fail to be a descendant of David qualified to sit on Israel’s throne (cf. 2 Sam. 7; 1 Chron. 17). The genealogies proved that God had been faithful to that promise. Thus the tiny community of Jews who had resettled in Palestine could rejoice. The God who had been faithful would continue to be faithful, and one day a Child of David’s line would again take the throne and restore Israel’s lost glory. What a message for us today. God, who has been faithful, will be faithful. Like tiny Judah in 450B.C, an insignificant district in a mighty Persian Empire, we too may struggle now. But we can look ahead to great things! The promised Descendant of David, Jesus Christ, has been born, and exalted to the throne of heaven. One day He will return and then we will reign with Him. “All Israel was listed” 1 Chron. 4:1–9:1. As the genealogical lists continue, we sense again the author’s purpose. In measured lists tribe after tribe is mentioned; family after family documented. God has been faithful not only to the royal line of David, but to every family in Israel. “Saul and his sons, fallen” 1 Chron. 9:35–10:13. The account of Saul has a somewhat different purpose. It closes off the genealogical record which demonstrates God’s faithfulness with a warning. Saul “died because he was unfaithful to the Lord.” Even a member of the covenant community, even one exalted to be king over God’s people, must submit to God and do His will. The faithless Saul was rejected, and “the Lord put him to death.” Yet even the unfaithfulness of Saul could not thwart God’s good purposes for His people. Saul was set aside, but the Lord “turned the kingdom over to David.” David would be faithful to God. And God would give unique promises to him.
Boring, Boring, Boring (1 Chron. 2–3)
First Chronicles seems to be the one place not to start reading the Bible. List upon list of names. Strange names, strung out one after the other. As more than one Christian has thought, “Boring, boring, boring.” Still, if you’ve ever felt unimportant or insignificant, these lists may have more meaning than you suppose. Think about it. Names. Each name representing an individual. Each name representing a person, most unknown to us, but every one known and remembered by God. Most of the people on these lists are unknown to us because they play no great role in the sacred history. Few are heroes. Few performed great deeds. Most lived quiet, unexceptional lives. And yet not one name on these lists is lost. Not one name is misplaced. When we stop to think about it, these “boring” lists of names are a reminder that God cares deeply for His own. It’s not the great deeds we do, but the fact that we are His that counts. Insignificant? You? Never to God! There is no more chance of His misplacing you than there was of His losing a single thread in the line of His Old Testament saints.
However unimportant you may feel, you are vitally important to God.