Everybody Counts: The Chronicler’s interest in passing on the names, numbers, functions, achievements and allotments is a picture or a predecessor of “The Book of Life” mentioned elsewhere in the Bible, God’s complete view and understanding of all people, all that we are and have done, from his divine perspective. The two books of Chronicles were composed some time after Judah’s return from Babylonian Exile (some say by Ezrah), and seem also to serve the function of reconnecting life and nationhood after the Exile with life and nationhood before the Exile. The focus on Judah’s kings and territory, especially Jerusalem, makes sense in light of the fact that theirs were the people and the land restored after the Exile, while the Northern Kingdom never returned nor recovered. Many of these names and numbers are repeated from lists used in I and II Kings, and yet the priestly hand is evident throughout, in the addition of ceremonial and genealogical details. Such genealogical details (chapters 2-9) may also have helped to ensure the reunion of people and their ancestral land and thus the resumption of the sabbath and jubilee years laws.
Chapters 9-14 chronicle the rise of David’s kingdom, with again, a focus on the names of those who helped make it possible.
PSALM 32: Praise and Prophecy
Psalm 32 gives us a glimpse of worship in Israel, how prayer, penitence and prophecy might be mingled in a hymn, prayer or liturgy such as what this Psalm may have served. It rings just as true with the human experience now, that unconfessed, un-repented sin, or sin we strive to justify, comes between us and God and eventually deadens the relationship, from our end at least. In the spirit of St. Augustine, to fear God includes fearing what we might do to our relationship with him, by way of deluding and justifying ourselves. “Many are the woes of the wicked,” says v. 10. The first few verses show us that many are self-inflicted by our pride and obstinance. The Psalmist’s suffering under this self-imposed estrangement from God became a sort of hell, compared to the joy, release and peace gained from confession, from verse 5 on. This surrender and confession also opened the door for God to speak, or at least to be heard finally. Verses 8-9 (10 also?) recount God’s response, which is both blessing and warning, promise and peril.