We also see a difference between the historical narrative of the chronicler and that of the author in 1 Samuel – 2 Kings. Notice that here the chronicler passes over almost all of David’s life in 2 Samuel 11 – 21. For example, it seems like we are going to enter into the topic of his sin with Bathsheba when he says, “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle; Joab led out the army and ravaged the country of the Ammonites and came and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem… (1 Chronicles 20:1) It echoes 2 Samuel 11:1 when the sin with Bathsheba was introduced.
But instead of retelling his sin, the chronicler skips it completely and runs right to the conclusion of the war against the Ammonites: “And David took the crown of their king from his head. He found that it weighed a talent of gold, and in it was a precious stone. And it was placed on David’s head” (1 Chronicles 20:2), just as in 2 Samuel 12:30. The chronicler skips almost two whole chapters of 2 Samuel and never mentions the sin with Bathsheba, the one against Uriah, the divine reproof through Nathan nor David’s repentance. Neither does he mention Amnon and Tamar nor the difficulties with Absalom that led to his rebellion. Why
doesn’t the chronicler these conflicts and the discipline against David’s house for his sins? Can it be that he is giving us a false representation of Israel’s history?
No. Again we must remember that when the Bible narrates history, it does not have an encyclopedic purpose. The chronicler does not try to tell us everything he can about David’s life but only what corresponds with the purpose of his narrative. In fact, what the chronicler does here is no different than what we do
today when we tell others about something that happened. Normally we don’t give others an encyclopedic description of an event but only those details that are important to the conclusion that we are trying to communicate.
For example, the day before yesterday my sons played soccer in two different games, and my wife could not attend either one. When we came home, I told her
the most important parts of the game that were of interest to her: one son scored a goal, and the other scored two goals, all of them on penalty kicks. When she heard this information, she asked what happened that caused the referee to call the penalties, then she was satisfied with the information. I never told her about the best plays of the other players, my evaluation of the referee’s calls or the condition of the field / pitch. She had all the information she needed. On the other hand, during one of the games I spoke with a friend who is the father of one of the opposing players. We talked about the strategies of the two coaches, the changes in strategies since the last time they played and the development and improvement of some of the players on both teams since the last time they played each other.
We mentioned almost nothing of the participation of our sons in the game. Our conversation had a different purpose.
Now, if we were to put my descriptions of the game in writing, wait several years and give them to another person to read, the reader might be dissatisfied. Are these really descriptions of the same game? The most important points in narrative A (what I told my wife) are not even mentioned in narrative B. The narratives have very different perspectives. Isn’t narrative A a false or at least inadequate representation of what really happened?
No; in reality, both narratives were given by the same person on the same day of the same event. But there were two different narrative purposes, and that’s why they are so different. Something similar is happening here between 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles and on other occasions when the Bible describes the same event from two, three, four or even more perspectives. Without trying to narrate an event like an encyclopedia, the authors of the Bible sometimes tell the same event for different readers in different generations and for different purposes, with everything inspired by the Holy Spirit and telling us about Yahweh. These varied perspectives enrich our perception of His glory.
That’s what it’s like in 1 Chronicles 18 – 20. The chronicler is explaining to the generations returning from the exile the characteristics that they should imitate of the founder of David’s royal house. “David reigned over all Israel, and he administered justice and equity to all his people” (1 Chronicles 18:14). Without denying that he sinned (we’ll see another example of his sin tomorrow), the chronicler highlights his devotion to Yahweh and tells us of his military victories and the righteousness and peace that he enjoyed because of His grace. That is how the chronicler portrays the future blessings that God’s people can enjoy if they walk in Yahweh’s paths with all their heart.