Raise your hand if there are chapters in the story of your life that you’d rather not make it into the final printing! As I read through the Old Testament, there are many encouraging stories, in which God’s people made good choices and are rightfully remembered as faithful saints. And if we only had records of the times when they proved faithful, we might be discouraged as we look at our own lives. Which of us can be called a man after God’s own heart like David, or one whom God speaks face to face as with a friend, like Moses?
Thankfully, scripture provides not only the “Insta-worthy” snapshots but also exposes the everyday reality – the human frailties and failures that show we all need God’s grace and mercy.
I was reminded of this as I read through 1 Samuel 6-14 this morning. These chapters include two events in David’s life that he probably would rather we didn’t know about. The first occurred as he made plans to bring the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem. He failed to consult God’s clear instructions on how to transport the ark, which resulted in Uzziah’s death. The second event is shocking. He has an affair with a married woman, gets her pregnant, and kills her husband to cover up his sin.
Thankfully, God’s mercy and grace is enough to redeem the vilest of sins. In both cases, David repented, confessed his sin and turned back to the Lord, who forgave him. While his spiritual condition was renewed and his sin account wiped clean, he still suffered the discipline of God’s hand; his sin had long-lasting and fateful consequences on his own sons.
1 Samuel 12:10,13-14 – Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. … Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.”
As I read these chapters, I turned over to 1 Chronicles to read the parallel version. Have you ever wondered why there are two versions of the same events in scripture? Here’s one explanation.
The books of Samuel/Kings and Chronicles cover a similar period of time. Much of the narrative of both sets of books cover the basic periods between King Saul and the exile. They both provide the history of the kings of Judah, describing their reigns and encouraging the people to remain faithful to God. Both highlight David as being a special ruler and the measure by which later kings are judged. Both sets of books are included in both the Jewish and Christian canons.
There is a difference between Chronicles and Samuel/Kings. To begin with, they do not appear in the same sections within the Hebrew Bible. The Jewish order of the books is different than the Christian order (which is based on the Greek Old Testament). The Hebrew Bible has three sections: Law, Prophets and Writings. Samuel and Kings are found in the Prophets section, specifically the Former Prophets along with Joshua and Judges. Chronicles is found within the writings, along with books such as the Psalms, Proverbs and others.
When you read Samuel/Kings and Chronicles, there is an obvious difference. The earlier books deals with both kingdoms, Israel and Judah, while Chronicles is only interested in Judah. Israel is only dealt with when it has an immediate impact on the events in Judah. But there is another difference that not everyone sees. Chronicles cleans up the reputation of the kings. For example, if you go to 1 Chronicles 20, you can see where the story of Bathsheba fits but it is not there. Chronicles removes most of the bad stuff. The same is true of Solomon. In 1 Kings, we see that Solomon really lost his way in the final years of his reign. If you only read Chronicles, you would think his reign was a complete success.
Why do these differences exist? It comes down to the historical context. Samuel/Kings was written at the beginning of the exile. It was a time of repentance and reflection of how they had come to that terrible situation. Chronicles was written after the exile was over and the Jews were trying to re-establish themselves. It would do no good to go over their sinful past. They needed to have renewed faith in their leaders. Chronicles was written for a Jewish people who needed encouragement and strengthening. That is exactly what Chronicles does. (Source)
Both historical records are accurate but serve different purposes. It’s the same in our lives today. We all know our sinful past exists, but the only purpose it serves to remember it, once we have confessed it to God, is to remind us of the glorious work of redemption He has done in us. It’s no longer part of our present story. We can walk forward in renewed faith, strengthened and encouraged because of what God has done. Our enemy is the only one who gains from a constant looking back on our moral and spiritual failures.
Aren’t you glad God “cleans up our story?” If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Though your sins be as scarlet, they will be white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).
We do not have to live in fear that when we get to heaven, all our wrongdoing will be displayed on an IMAX screen for all to see and judge – if we have confessed our sins and they have been covered and atoned for by the blood of Jesus. Our record can be “expunged” but only in Christ.
Which story is being written about you? All of us have an “original” version that condemns us to death and separation from God. Make sure your story has a second ending – a retelling that proclaims the grace and mercy of God.