2 Chronicles: Lessons From Judah’s Kings

Some may consider 2 Chronicles merely a repeat of 1 and 2 Kings. On the contrary, it contains pertinent information not found in any other Old Testament book.

In the Hebrew listing of Old Testament books, 1 and 2 Chronicles were regarded as one book.

“Examination of the content of Chronicles likewise points to its unity. From beginning to end there does not seem to be any indication of differences in style or interest that would suggest more than one author. This account beginning with Adam and continuing to the return of the exiles from Babylon … reflects the work of one author who used numerous sources in his composition. OT scholarship has generally recognized the similarity between the account in Chronicles and the Ezra-Nehemiah volume, which in the Hebrew Bible likewise was a single unit” (The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible, revised edition, p. 839).

The major focus of 2 Chronicles is the reign of Solomon, the building and dedication of the temple, and the reigns of 20 kings of Judah—from Rehoboam to Zedekiah, approximately 933 to 586 B.C.

Old Testament Survey states: “The viewpoint or perspective of the Chronicler is what sets this work off from that of his predecessors and justifies its inclusion in the canon. Far from being Samuel and Kings warmed over, Chronicles has freshness and flavour all its own. When its purposes are understood, it furnishes rich nourishment for Christian faith, life, and ministry” (William LaSor, David Hubbard and Frederic Bush, 1996, p. 542).

Outline of 2 Chronicles

The book of 2 Chronicles covers much of the material in 1 and 2 Kings, except it focuses on the southern kingdom of Judah and excludes accounts of the kings of the northern 10 tribes of Israel.

The outline below may be helpful.

I. The glory of Solomon’s reign and the construction and dedication of the temple (chapters 1-9).

  • Chapter 1: Solomon established as king.
  • Chapters 2:1–5:1: The building of the temple.
  • Chapters 5:2–8:16: Dedication of the temple.
  • Chapters 8:17–9:31: Relationship with surrounding nations.

II. The 20 kings of Judah to the fall of Jerusalem; the decree of Cyrus (chapters 10-36).

  • Chapters 10-12: Rehoboam.
  • Chapter 13: Abijah.
  • Chapters 14-16: Asa.
  • Chapters 17:1–21:3: Jehoshaphat.
  • Chapter 21:4-20: Jehoram (also called Joram).
  • Chapter 22:1-9: Ahaziah.
  • Chapters 22:10–23:21: Athaliah.
  • Chapter 24: Joash (also called Jehoash).
  • Chapter 25: Amaziah.
  • Chapter 26: Uzziah (also called Azariah).
  • Chapter 27: Jotham.
  • Chapter 28: Ahaz.
  • Chapters 29-32: Hezekiah.
  • Chapter 33:1-20: Manasseh.
  • Chapter 33:21-25: Amon.
  • Chapters 34-35: Josiah.
  • Chapter 36:1-3: Jehoahaz (also called Shallum).
  • Chapter 36:4-8: Jehoiakim (also called Eliakim).
  • Chapter 36:9-10: Jehoiachin (also called Jeconiah).
  • Chapter 36:11-21: Zedekiah (also called Mattaniah); fall of Jerusalem and exile.
  • Chapter 36:22-23: decree of Cyrus, around 538 B.C.

Some of these kings were singled out as praiseworthy, while others were depraved and wicked. “The history of these kingdoms presents striking contrasts and instructive lessons” (The Bible Handbook, 1959, p. 467).

Motivational and inspirational scriptures

Below are selections from 2 Chronicles that correct, encourage and inspire:

“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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

“Now the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the former ways of his father David; he did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father, and walked in His commandments and not according to the acts of Israel. Therefore the LORD established the kingdom … and he had riches and honor in abundance. And his heart took delight in the ways of the LORD” (17:3-6).

“Yet He sent prophets to them, to bring them back to the LORD; and they testified against them, but they would not listen. Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, who stood above the people, and said to them, ‘Thus says God: “Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, He has also forsaken you”’” (24:19-20).

“But when he [Uzziah] attained power, he became haughty, and that ruined him. He broke faith with the Eternal his God” (26:16, Moffatt Translation).

“Then the king [Josiah] stood in his place and made a covenant before the LORD, to follow the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book” (34:31, emphasis added throughout).

Lessons from the kings of Judah

There is a consistent theme that appears throughout the Bible. When individuals made seeking and pleasing God a top priority in their lives, they received blessings in this life, as well as promises of a glorious future.

There is a consistent theme that appears throughout the Bible. When individuals made seeking and pleasing God a top priority in their lives, they received blessings in this life, as well as promises of a glorious future.The opposite is also true. Those who rejected God and His commandments brought adversity, hardship and suffering on themselves in the long run and earned the penalty of death.

This recurring theme is clearly demonstrated as we study the lives of the kings who, for about 350 years, ruled over Judah. Some of the kings were mostly God-fearing and ruled in an exemplary manner. Others were godless and depraved. Certain kings “did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD” (14:2; 17:4-5; 24:2; 26:4; 34:2); but other kings “did evil in the sight of the LORD” (21:6; 22:4; 28:1; 33:2; 36:5, 12).

In general, kings who endeavored to please God were recipients of God’s kindness, mercy and favor. Those who rejected God and His ways struggled with recurring problems, strife and turmoil. The people of Judah either were blessed through the righteous rule of their kings or suffered hardship under the unrighteous rulers. Proverbs 29:2 states: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” See also Proverbs 28:12.

Lessons from two kings

1. King Solomon: the good and the bad.

“God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore,” and “he was wiser than all men” (1 Kings 4:29, 31). He was so famed that “men of all nations … came to hear the wisdom of Solomon” (verse 34).

Solomon left us a rich legacy. He was responsible for writing numerous proverbs (Proverbs 1-29), the book of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon.

For much of his lifetime, Solomon walked with God; and as a result, he and his people were richly blessed. Tragically, toward the end of his life “his wives turned away his heart” and “his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God” (1 Kings 11:3-4). Although Solomon was endowed with so much, he allowed the weaknesses of the flesh to corrupt his relationship with God.

This demonstrates an important lesson for us: Unless we daily drive ourselves to stay close to God and His ways, we can begin to backslide spiritually. The result is that our conscience begins to harden, and we no longer see the need to stay away from sin. It is likely that due to spiritual neglect, Solomon may have lost some of the wisdom God gave him. God became angry with Solomon for disobeying Him (1 Kings 11:9), as “he did not keep what the LORD had commanded” (verse 10).

In like manner, the Bible warns that, due to neglect, God’s people may place themselves in jeopardy of losing the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30; Hebrews 10:26-29). Read more about this in our article “Unpardonable Sin: What Is It?

Sin had serious consequences for Solomon. God stated: “I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant” (1 Kings 11:11). Later Solomon’s disobedience would result in his kingdom being divided into the two separate nations of Israel and Judah (verses 26-40).

Clearly, sinning against God does not pay!

2. Hezekiah: a righteous king.

Hezekiah became king of Judah when he was 25 years old. He was responsible for turning the nation back to God through various reforms. “In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them” (2 Chronicles 29:3-19). While speaking to the priests and the Levites who were responsible for the temple service, he said, “My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him, and that you should minister to Him” (verse 11).

The king made a covenant with God, pledging to lead his nation into a renewed relationship with Him (verse 10). The people responded with joy and, as an act of worship, brought sacrifices to the temple (verses 31, 36).

These momentous reforms eventually led to the celebration of two very significant and important observances that God gave to ancient Israel and that Jesus Christ and His disciples in the New Testament continued to keep—the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread (30:13-27). Notice the emphasis on the zeal, great joy and gladness of heart these celebrations produced among the people (verses 12, 19, 21-23, 26).

When individuals are willing to observe the festivals commanded by God, He is well pleased. For more on these festivals and their meanings, see From Holidays to Holy Days: God’s Plan for You.

Important priorities for Christians

We can learn lessons from the good qualities some kings of Judah were praised for and the bad characteristics others were condemned for. Consider these three:

  • Put God first.

We must put God first in our minds, actions and daily lives. Are we allowing other things to come before our relationship and worship of the true God?

  • Are we making God’s will our will?

We live in a self-absorbed society where we are encouraged to satisfy our own personal needs and desires, often to the exclusion of God and the Bible. By nature our personal decisions seldom reflect God’s will, and instead follow the attitudes displayed by some of the evil kings.

Are you willing to give God’s will precedence above your own?

If we claim to be Christian, then it is logical that we should follow the example of Christ, who said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). The teachings (doctrines) of Christ were not His own, but “His who sent Me” (John 7:16-18).

If we are to gain eternal life and enter the Kingdom of God, we need to make God’s will our will.

  • Avoid pride and arrogance.

Pride may be defined as an exalted sense of personal worth and ability, excessive self-esteem, or conceit. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6), and the Bible tells us that “everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD” (Proverbs 16:5). Pride is a sin that God hates (Proverbs 6:17; 21:4). King Uzziah fell into the trap of personal pride and arrogance, and it cost him dearly (2 Chronicles 26:15-23).

One final thought

The prophet Jeremiah states, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

This is a wonderful promise. If we hear God’s calling and truly seek His will in our lives, He will respond and lead us toward His Kingdom and eternal life (Matthew 6:33).

Is there anything in this world that is more important?

May you continue to seek God and His will as you study His Word. For more about how to seek God first, see our article “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God.”

For a quick link to all the other books of the Bible, see “Books of the Bible” on the Learning Center.

About the Author

André van Belkum

Andre van Belkum

Andre van Belkum currently serves as the pastor of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, in New Zealand and the Pacific region. Previously he pastored congregations in southern Africa, including South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

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