This post concerns the climax of the Solomon story in Chronicles. This part of the story is told almost identically to Kings, but it has an importance here that far exceeds its purpose in Kings. We are not treating this section in the order found in the text, but still looking at it in light of the structure of the passage. Thus it may be helpful to find the outline available as a link a couple of posts ago should you want to study this more thoroughly.
2 Chronicles 5:2-14
Comparing 2 Chron 5:2-14 with 1 Kings 8:1-11, Dillard says that it is largely identical with the only exceptions being the addition of 2 Chron 5:11b-13a and a slight change to 2 Chron 5:4. These changes reflect the interest of the Chronicler in Levitical worship concerns. In 2 Chron 5:13b-14 we see the glory-cloud, which is important to the structure of this part of the Solomon story. The story begins with Solomon assembling all the elders of Israel for the moving of the ark to the temple. The change in verse 4 is that Kings had attributed the movement of the ark to the priests, whereas Chronicles tell us that it was done by the Levites. The Chronicler does this to highlight the difference between priests and Levites, which often those offices are blurred together.
Dillard notes that the movement of the ark to the temple is a paralleled account to the earlier movement of the ark to Jerusalem. The reason for this parallel is the way that David is a model for Solomon. The Chronicler does this even more than Samuel and Kings with his attention to the details about musicians and ”all Israel.” Also, the inclusion of the glory-cloud at this point in the story further supports a parallel between the tabernacle and temple. The glory-cloud appears when both structures were finished. Moreover, 2 Chron 5:14 tells us that the priests could not stand to minister because of the glory-cloud filling the temple. This recalls a similar experience when the tabernacle was dedicated in Exodus 40. It foreshadows the transfiguration of Christ.
2 Chronicles 7:1-10
2 Chronicles 7:1-3 gives us a second telling of the glory-cloud incident. It is told again for a literary purpose – maintaining the chiasm. Others have argued that it immediately followed the earlier account in 2 Chronicles 5:13-14. Thus in the former the glory-cloud appeared to the priests inside and the latter was an appearance of the same to the people. In order to maintain this chiastic patterning the Chronicler added to those things found in Kings a note here concerning the Levitical musicians.
The added verse is 2 Chronicles 7:6, ”The priests stood at their posts; the Levites also, with the instruments for music to YHWH that King David had made for giving thanks to YHWH—for His steadfast love endures forever—whenever David offered praises by their ministry; opposite them the priests sounded trumpets, and all Israel stood.” This emphasis on the ministry of music is not a surprise by any stretch this far into the book of Chronicles.
Also the Chronicler shows the David as model for Solomon theme through saying ”David and Solomon” where Kings had said ”David His servant” in 1 Kings 8:66. Thus Chronicles reads, ”On the 23rd day of the 7th month he sent the people away to their homes, joyful and glad of heart for the prosperity that YHWH had granted to David and to Solomon and to Israel His people” (2 Chron 7:10). Kings had said, ”On the eighth day he sent the people away, and they blessed the king and went to their homes joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that YHWH had shown to David His servant and to Israel His people.”
2 Chronicles 6:1-11
2 Chronicles 6 is nearly identical to 1 Kings 8:12-50. Yet in Chronicles its very placement at the center of the chiasm of Solomon’s reign gives this text much importance.
2 Chronicles 6:1-11 was where Solomon spoke to the people. He makes reference to the Exodus event quoting a promise from God to David, ”Since the day that I brought my people out of the land of Egypt” (2 Chron 6:5). Interestingly, the Chronicler leaves out some of the other allusions to Exodus from this passage in Kings.
This particular speech is Solomon blessing the people, by which Solomon was a new David (1 Chron 16:2). Here I might mention that David didn’t build the temple because of all the bloodshed during his reign while Solomon is associated with peace (compare the Hebrew of Solomon and shalom). This is different than Kings, which asserts that David didn’t build the temple because he was busy fighting wars. This explanation is not repeated here but instead Solomon’s speech discusses David’s desire to see the temple built.
2 Chronicles 6:12-42
2 Chron 6:12-13 were once thought to have been added by the Chronicler to prevent people from thinking Solomon was doing work that only a priest could do. However, the consensus now is that these two verses were in the original text of Kings and were accidentally omitted in the process of copying. Nevertheless, it is an interesting posture for prayer – standing with his hands spread out and then kneeling and spreading his hands out toward heaven. This posture for prayer is not unique to Solomon in Chronicles and was also common for oaths.
The Chronicler does leave out 1 Kings 8:51-53 and instead includes 2 Chron 6:40-42, loosely quoting Psalm 132;1, 8-10. But again although this chapter is almost the same as Kings this prayer and Solomon’s blessing of the people did not have the importance in Kings that it does in Chronicles because of the structure of the Solomon story. This is somewhat surprising since we might have expected the building of the temple to be at the center, but instead it was these speeches and prayers that we find there.
Also, it is Solomon’s prayer with the theme of immediate retribution that serves to be the ”charter” of the rest of Chronicles. That is, the history that unfolds for the divided kingdom is told in response to this prayer. This too means that this prayer has much more importance in Chronicles than it did in Kings. The prayer does show the possibility of both exile and restoration and the temple in this prayer is not foremost a place for sacrifices but a place to which one would pray. These things too would be very important for people living in the Chronicler’s day.
2 Chronicles 7:11-22
God then speaks in response to Solomon’s prayer. In both Kings and Chronicles this divine response is narrated right after Solomon’s prayer. However, historically speaking the answer came about 13 years later. Yet the way the Chronicler tells the story, to quote Dillard, ”is programmatic for the author’s presentation of the divided kingdoms (2 Chr 10-36).” Ironically it is this passage that takes place so many years after Solomon’s prayer that the Chronicler uses to highlight the theme of immediate retribution.
A few verses of God’s words to Solomon are unique to Chronicles. This is 2 Chron 7:13-16. ”When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.”
In these verses especially we see what is important to the Chronicler – he wants to stress the theology of immediate retribution. The idea is one of deed and effect such that if the deed is good then the effect will be one of blessing and if the deed is sinful then the effect will be one of divine judgment or punishment.
Moreover, the Chronicler has made another very important change. In 1 Kings 9:5 the word of God says, ”you shall never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.” whereas the Chronicler modified this slightly to ”you shall never fail to have a man to rule over Israel.” The latter parallels Micah 5:2 speaking of the ruler who would come forth from Bethlehem. In other words, the Chronicler is appealing to his audience’s messianic hopes of a coming King. Thus the throne may not have a king to sit upon it but God’s promise to David holds fast.
As we continue with 2 Chronicles 10-36 we will see that the author of Chronicles will go out of his way to articulate the immediate retribution perspective. He will vary from the text of Kings by giving us other details that show why they were blessed or punished. Thus the whole of Solomon’s words and God’s response here at the center of the Solomon story are here at the center of this story because they continued to have relevance in the Chronicler’s own day while they waited for the coming King from Bethlehem Ephrathah.