He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, just as his ancestor David had done.2 Chronicles 29.2
I just finished reading First and Second Chronicles as part of my annual Bible reading plan, and thought I would share a few thoughts about it. As I read these books this time around, I was thinking about the fact that they are the last books (actually last book) in the Hebrew canon. When read with this in mind, these books serve as a brilliant recap of all the important themes in the Old Testament. Especially significant is God’s covenant with David, the building of the Temple, and the importance of being faithful to the Lord.
The kings who follow David and Solomon were particularly interesting to me because of what they teach us about faithful leadership. These kings are described in one of two ways – they either “did what was right in the sight of the Lord,” or they “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” To the Chronicler, faithful leadership is simply that, doing what is right in the sight of the Lord. But the author of Chronicles also makes sure to lift up examples of kings who began by doing what was right, and turned to evil, or who began by doing what was evil, and repented. King Uzziah, for example, did what was right, until he became strong and proud, which led to his destruction. King Manasseh, on the other hand, did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, so much so that the Lord sent the king of Assyria, who “took Manasseh captive in manacles, bound him with fetters, and brought him to Babylon” (2 Chronicles 33:11). But Manasseh then repented: “while he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. He prayed to him, and God received his entreaty, heard his plea, and restored him again to Jerusalem and to his kingdom” (2 Chronicles 33:12-13). Uzziah teaches us not to become too proud when our faith-life is going well, while Manasseh teaches us not to despair when we have turned away from the Lord our God, thinking that it is too late to repent. It is never too late to return to the Lord our God!
Uzziah and Manasseh and the other kings in Chronicles demonstrate in vivid ways the importance of leadership, and the responsibility that comes with it, because a leader’s actions affect those they lead. Manasseh, for example, “misled Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that they did more evil than the nations whom the Lord had destroyed before the people of Israel” (2 Chronicles 33:9). A king who turns to evil can mislead not just himself, but an entire nation. So, too, for all leaders – parents, teachers, pastors, and all entrusted with this important responsibility.
But Chronicles also offers many inspiring examples of wise and faithful leaders who bless those they lead, bringing justice and peace to all those around them. Reading the stories of wise and faithful kings like Hezekiah and Josiah should inspire anyone to be more faithful in whatever leadership role they have.
My personal hope and prayer, after finishing these books, is that I always do what is right in the sight of the Lord, as a husband, father, pastor, and friend. And when when I fall short – which I do all too often – that I earnestly repent and, with the Lord’s help, begin again. To remind myself of this, I wrote myself a nonet poem, The Chronicler’s Prayer. Here it is:
The Chronicler’s Prayer
May I live each day in such a way
That when my life ends, and I rest
With my ancestors, those who
Remember me will say –
“He was faithful, and
Did what was right
In the sight