In the Hebrew Bible 1 & 2 Samuel are one book, 1 & 2 Kings are one book, and 1 & 2 Chronicles are one book. Together they cover the period of the life of Samuel to the destruction of Judah, and the Persian defeat of the Babylonians. All up then these books cover over 550 years, from around 1100 to 539BC.
There is some repetition here from what is covered in the books of Samuel and Kings. The divided kingdom has already been covered in 1 Kings 12 through to the end of 2 Kings. It dealt with both the northern kingdom, Israel, and the southern kingdom, Judah. But in 2 Chronicles we find only the kings of Judah being discussed.
As Fee and Stuart put it, “The Chronicler’s focus on the southern kingdom, however, is not over against the north as such; rather he tells the story of the north only in terms of its failure to worship at the place of God’s choosing, namely, the temple in Jerusalem.”
If we have to choose one major focus which is contained in these books, what we find in the ESV Study Bible is worth running with:
The central theme of Chronicles is the significance of the Davidic covenant as the enduring basis of Israel’s life and hope. The Davidic covenant is expressed in the two institutions that derive directly from it: the monarchy and the temple. These institutions are mutually related (1 Chron. 17:10b-14), and together they represent God’s kingdom in Israel (2 Chron. 13:5, 8). The Davidic covenant does not replace the Mosaic covenant but builds on it for the new age of the monarchy and the temple.
The broad outline of these two books is as follows:
1 Chron 1-9 genealogies
1 Chron 10 – 2 Chron 9 David and Solomon
2 Chron 10–36 the divided kingdom
For some further detail on what is covered in these books, see my earlier piece on the Kings: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2018/04/02/bible-study-helps-1-2-kings/
There are plenty of devotional highlights to be found in these two books, and three previous articles of mine may prove useful here:
Lessons from 2 Chronicles – https://billmuehlenberg.com/2017/05/14/lessons-2-chronicles-2/
More Lessons from 2 Chronicles – https://billmuehlenberg.com/2017/05/14/lessons-2-chronicles/
2 Chronicles 7:14 in Context – https://billmuehlenberg.com/2015/05/02/2-chronicles-714-in-context/
There are also many memorable passages found in the 2 books. Some of these include:
1 Chr 12:23, 32 These are the numbers of the men armed for battle who came to David at Hebron to turn Saul’s kingdom over to him, as the LORD had said:) … from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do
2 Chr 7:14 If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chr 14:11 Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “LORD, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O LORD, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.”
2 Chr 15:2 He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.
2 Chr 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
2 Chr 20:12 O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”
2 Chr 20:15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.
2 Chr 20:17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'”
2 Chr 26:5 He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success.
2 Chr 26:16 But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God, and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.
2 Chr 32:7-8 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.
2 Chr 32:31 But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.
These are some of the better critical commentaries on these books which are more or less conservative and evangelical in approach:
Allen, Leslie, 1, 2 Chronicles (MTOT, 1999)
Braun, Roddy, 1 Chronicles (WBC, 1986)
Dillard, Raymond, 2 Chronicles (WBC, 1987)
Hill, Andrew, 1, 2 Chronicles (NIVAC, 2003)
Merrill, Eugene, A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles (KEL, 2015)
Payne, J. Barton, 1, 2 Chronicles (EBC, 1988)
Selman, Martin, 1 Chronicles (TOTC, 1994)
Selman, Martin, 2 Chronicles (TOTC, 1994)
Wilcock, Michael, The Message of Chronicles (BST, 1987)
Williamson, H. G. M., 1, 2 Chronicles (NCBC, 1982)
Devotional and expository commentaries include:
Wiersbe, Warren, Be Restored (2 Samuel & 1 Chronicles) (Cook, 2001)
Wiersbe, Warren, Be Distinct (2 Kings & 2 Chronicles) (Cook, 2002)
Happy reading and happy studying.