The Chonicler here continues his positive, Judah-focused assessment of the history of God’s people. His assessment of Abijah, son of Rehoboam and King of Judah, is strikingly different than that of the author of Kings. In 1 Kings 15:1 ff. we read….
Now in the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam son of Nebat, Abijam began to reign over Judah. He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah daughter of Abishalom. He committed all the sins that his father did before him; his heart was not true to the Lord his God, like the heart of his father David.
By contrast, the Chronicler tells us nothing whatsoever negative about Abijam, whom he calls Abijah. The King of Judah argues against King Jeroboam of Israel for the superiority of Judah as the ancient seat of King David with the proper Levitical priesthood. When Abijah goes to battle against Jeroboam, Abijah’s forces are victorious because they cry out to the Lord in the midst of the battle. (See 2 Chronicles 13.)
Chapters 14-16 focus on Abijah’s son, good king Asa of Judah. Kings and Chronicles are both agreed that Asa was, basically, a righteous king. However, Kings only spends one chapter recounting the reigns of Abijam and Asa, whereas Chronicles spends one chapter on Abijah and three on Asa. Of course, Chronicles is focused on telling the story of Judah whereas Kings told the story of Judah and Israel. Thus, the Chronicler has more room to expand on the southern kingdom.
What are the characteristics of a good king? The Chronicler tells us that Asa commanded Judah to seek the Lord, to keep God’s law and commandment. He removed the high places and the incense altars where the people worshiped other gods. He fortified cities while the land had rest, a peace given to them by the Lord. When attacked by the Ethiopians, Asa cried out to the Lord and the Lord defeated Judah’s enemy.
One unique thing that the Chronicler tells us is that many of God’s people from the northern kingdom of Israel defected to Judah during the reign of Asa. We read that Asa…
…gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and those from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who were residing as aliens with them, for great numbers had deserted to him from Israel when they saw that the Lord his God was with him. (2 Chronicles 15:9)
However, the Chronicler’s account of Asa’s reign is not entirely glowing, unlike that of Kings. The Chronicler actually ends his account by showing how Asa trusted in his alliance with King Ben-hadad of Aram instead of trusting in the Lord. Even in his foot disease that Asa suffered at the end of his life, “he did not seek the Lord, but sought help from physicians.” (2 Chronicles 16:12)
One thing that we continue to learn, as we contrast Kings and Chronicles, is that the Bible, as we view it today, may be one book, yet it is one book with many voices. Furthermore, oftentimes those voices are not saying the same thing. Each human author has a somewhat unique message and a unique perspective on God and God’s people. This raises the question: if we listen to the variety of voices in Scripture from days of old, why do we sometimes find it so hard to listen to the variety of voices in the Church today?