Trivia Question: The Chronicler’s Emphasis on David

Introduction to the Old Testament, AnI suppose the title may have given the answer to this question away, but let me still ask it: What book of the Bible mentions king David the most?

I/II Kings? Psalms? I/II Chronicles? Well, hands down the winner is Chronicles. David is mentioned by name 88 times in the Psalms (including the subtitles), 96 times in I/II Kings, and a whopping 267 times in I/II Chronicles! In case you can’t do math (like me!), that means the chronicler mentioned David more times than the authors of I/II Kings and the Psalms put together.

Why? Why the emphasis? It is not because he’s mentioned many times in the huge genealogy in 1 Chr. 1-9 – he’s not. The reason he’s mentioned in Chronicles so much is because the chronicler/narrator wrote for a theological purpose: “The religious convictions of the authors dominate the telling of the history” (Provan, Long, Longman A Biblical History of Israel [Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2003], 241).

This is not to say that the davidic kingdom was a golden age, but to emphasize the messianic aspect of the davidic covenant. Or, in Dillard/Longman’s terms, the chronicler wrote a “messianic historiography.” David portrayed eschatological hope for post-exilic Israel – the davidic rule will be reestablished, restored, and renewed. The chronicler “describes the glorious rule of David…in the past in terms of his hope for the future.”

David is the figure par excellence in Chronicles; God will not cast his people away because of the covenant he made with David (2 Chr 21.7). Yahweh made an oath that David’s seed would sit on the throne forever (2 Sam. 7.12-17). Of course, David was not raised again to sit on a throne in Jerusalem – his bones were still decaying, so to speak, in NT times (Acts 2.29). Even as David’s mouth and pen testified about someone greater (Acts 2.27-31); the chronicler’s pen (in his structure, narrative, and theological emphasis) also testified about someone greater than David. All of Chronicles anticipates David’s greater son taking the throne. All of Chronicles points forward to Jesus Christ. Perhaps this is why it is the last book in the Hebrew Bible; perhaps this is why “go up” is the last word of Chronicles, of the Hebrew Bible (cf. Ps 24.3). The post-exilic people of God would read the name “David” so many times and say “That’s right! A king is coming to make things right, to restore and renew all things! Come, David, come quickly!”

In other words, the same interpretive methods that Peter used on Pentecost to preach Christ from Psalm 16, 110, (etc.) can be used for Chronicles’ emphasis on David. Maybe we can even apply Acts 2.30-31 to the chronicler himself – being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn an oath to David that one of David’s descendants would sit on the throne, the chronicler foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of Christ. Again, the fact that “go up” is the last word in Chronicles/the Hebrew Bible is no accident!

For an excellent and clear discussion of Chronicles (and for references to the above quotes), see Raymond Dillard and Tremper Longman III, An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 169-177. Note: there is a newer edition of IOT out.

shane lems

sunnyside wa