Who wrote it?
The book of 1 Chronicles does not specifically name its author. The tradition is that 1 and 2 Chronicles were written by Ezra.
When(ish) was it written?
The book of 1 Chronicles was likely written between 450 and 425 BC.
Why was it written?
The books of 1 & 2 Chronicles cover mostly the same information as 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings. 1 & 2 Chronicles focus more on the priestly aspect of the time period. 1 Chronicles was written after the exile to help those returning to Israel understand how to worship God. The history focused on the southern kingdom–the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi. These tribes tended to be more faithful to God.
Some Key Verses
Then all Israel gathered together to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh. In times past, even when Saul was king, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the Lord your God said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over my people Israel.’”
– 1 Chronicles 11:1-2
Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is very great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”
– 1 Chronicles 21:13
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.
– 1 Chronicles 29:11
A Quick Summary
The first 9 chapters of 1 Chronicles are dedicated to lists and genealogies. Further lists and genealogies are scattered throughout the rest of 1 Chronicles. In between, 1 Chronicles records David’s ascension to the throne and his actions thereafter. The book concludes with David’s son Solomon becoming King of Israel. Briefly outlined, 1 Chronicles is as follows:
Chapters 1:1-9:23 – Selective Genealogies
Chapters 9:24-12:40 – David’s ascent
Chapters 13:1-20:30 -David’s reign
In David’s song of thanksgiving to God in 1 Chronicles 16:33, he refers to the time when God will come “to judge the earth.” This foreshadows Matthew 25, in which Jesus describes the time when He will come to judge the earth. Through the parables of the ten virgins and the talents, He warns that those who are found without the blood of Christ covering their sins will be cast into “outer darkness.” He encourages His people to be ready because when He comes, He will separate the sheep from the goats in judgment.
Part of the Davidic Covenant which God reiterates in chapter 17 refers to the future Messiah who would be a descendant of David. Verses 13-14 describe the Son who will be established in God’s house and whose throne will be established forever. This can only refer to Jesus Christ.
What does this mean?
Genealogies such as the ones in 1 Chronicles may seem dry to us, but they remind us that God knows each of His children personally, even down to the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30). We can take comfort in the fact that who we are and what we do is written forever in God’s mind. If we belong to Christ, our names are written forever in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 13:8).
God is faithful to His people and keeps His promises. In the book of 1 Chronicles, we see the fulfillment of God’s promise to David when he is made king over all Israel (1 Chronicles 11:1-3). We can be sure that His promises to us will be fulfilled as well. He has promised blessings to those who follow Him, who come to Christ in repentance, and who obey His Word.
Obedience brings blessing; disobedience brings judgment. 1 Chronicles, as well as 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings, is a chronicle of the pattern of sin, repentance, forgiveness, and restoration of the nation of Israel. In the same way, God is patient with us and forgives our sin when we come to Him in true repentance (1 John 1:9). We can take comfort in the fact that He hears our prayer of sorrow, forgives our sin, restores us to fellowship with Him, and sets us on the path to joy.
Take a few minutes to review the Scripture from 1 Chronicles 21. What verses or ideas stand out to you from these passages? What questions do you have? What would you like to remember and apply to your life?
David disobeyed God by doing the exact opposite of what God had commanded. Do you tend to do what God commands only when you agree with Him, or do you trust in Him enough to rank His commands higher than your own understanding?
Read 1 Chronicles 21:17. David truly repented of his sin. What does repentance look like in your life? Do you apologize, and ask for forgiveness? Do you take responsibility for your sin? Do you shift blame and consequences to others when in reality it was your fault? Discuss.
Read 2 Corinthians 9:7 and James 1:27. The Bible consistently teaches that followers of Jesus should be cheerful, sacrificial, and generous in their giving. Does this describe you? What are some specific ways you can choose to make a voluntary “peace offering” this week, to demonstrate God’s generosity by being generous to others?