Introduction: 1 Chronicles chapters 2 through 7 trace the genealogies of God’s people through the 12 tribes of Israel. Chapter 2 focuses on the fourth tribe of Judah because it was both the line of David and the line leading to the promised Messiah. The first half of the chapter includes names of people who were famous in Jewish history. Chronicles does not retell their successes and failures because the author assumed that they were common knowledge to the Jews. The ordering of the first half of the genealogies was to emphasize God’s grace throughout the entire line of descendants leading from Jacob to David. The second half of this chapter emphasizes how God’s grace was not limited to the chosen line from Jacob to David. Instead, His grace was available to everyone, including many that the Jews considered to be of lesser importance. The genealogies from Jacob through Judah’s descendants reveal seven lessons regarding God’s grace.
First, God’s chosen line included the patriarch Jacob and his 12 sons. But Jacob was a sinner for most of his life. His 12 children also came from four different women. These children and their mothers further quarreled with each other. From the ignoble beginnings of Jacob and his dysfunctional family, God reveals that His grace is based on faith, not merit or works. Second, God’s chosen line to David and the Messiah traced through Jacob’s fourth son Judah. But Judah and his sons committed sins so severe that God struck down Judah’s first two sons. Judah’s line further extended through Judah’s incest with his daughter-in-law. From the sordid past of Judah and his family, God reveals that His grace is available for even the worst of sinners. Third, God’s chosen line extended to Achar/Achan, who caused the entire nation to suffer after he violated God’s commands following the battle of Jericho. From Achar/Achan’s sins, God reveals that His grace cannot be lost. But it can be affected by sin. Fourth, God’s chosen line then extended through Boaz, who redeemed the Moabite Ruth. From Boaz’ example, God reveals that His grace can redeem you and make you part of His chosen line. Fifth, God’s chosen line then extended to David. Chronicles reminds the reader that God picked David even though he was the youngest of Jesse’s sons. At the time Samuel picked him, David was a humble shepherd. From God’s election of David, He reveals that His grace extends to the humble, regardless of their social status. Sixth, Chronicles then records other descendants of Judah who were not part of David’s line. Many are unknown today. Some did great things with the grace that they received. Others misused God’s gifts for themselves. From their examples, God reveals that His grace was meant for service for His kingdom, not yours. Finally, the line of descendants through Judah concludes with descendants through concubines and a gentile nation grafted into the Jewish peoples. From these examples, God’s grace extends to everyone, both Jew and gentile. Jesus loves everyone and died so that He might save everyone.
The 12 tribes of Jacob (Israel). After tracing God’s chosen line from Adam to Isaac, Chronicles narrows its focus to the 12 chosen sons of Jacob (Israel). Out of their birth order, the 12 sons included: “1 These are the sons of Israel:  Reuben,  Simeon,  Levi,  Judah,  Issachar,  Zebulun,  2Dan,  Joseph,  Benjamin,  Naphtali,  Gad and  Asher.” (1 Chr. 2:1-2). Jacob (Israel) had his 12 sons and at least one daughter through four different women. Through Leah, the first four sons were  Reuben (Gen. 29:32),  Simeon (Gen. 29:33),  Levi (Gen. 29:34), and  Judah (Gen. 29:35). Through Rachel’s servant Bilhah, the next two sons were  Dan (Gen. 30:1-6) and  Naphtali (Gen. 30:7-8). Through Leah’s servant Zilpa, the next two sons were  Gad (Gen. 31:9-11) and  Asher (Gen. 31:12-13). Through Leah, the next two sons were  Issachar (Gen. 31:14-18 and  Zebulun (Gen. 31:19-20). Through Rachel, the last two sons were  Joseph (Gen. 31:22-24) and  Benjamin (Gen. 35:16-18). The list omits his daughters, like Dinah (Gen. 31:21). In the Chronicler’s retelling of the 12 tribes, he changed the birth order of the sons after Judah. Each time God had people retell the names of the 12 tribes, He did so in a different order or with different names. This was to stress that God did not endorse or accept mankind’s view of the importance of the birth order. As set for in chapters to follow, each of these tribal leaders sinned. Each was unworthy to be part of God’s chosen line of people.
God’s grace in selecting Jacob for His chosen line. Because of his faith at one point in his life, God renamed Jacob as Israel (Gen. 32:28). “Israel” means “God contends”. His birth name of “Jacob” meant “holder of the heel” or “supplanter”. As a man of the flesh, he committed several deadly sins that should have disqualified him from being the father of the 12 tribes. First, he tricked his brother into selling his birthright in a moment of weakness (Gen. 25:29-34). Second, he deceived his father Isaac by pretending to be his brother to receive his father’s blessing. In the process, he blasphemed God’s holy name (Gen. 27:18-29). He reaped what he sowed by being forced to flee from the wrath of his brother into the protection of his deceitful uncle: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” (Gal. 6:7). “For they sow the wind and they reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads; it yields no grain. Should it yield, strangers would swallow it up.” (Hos. 8:7). “But the way of the treacherous is hard.” (Prov. 13:15(b)). Third, he committed the sin of polygamy. He would be the future father of the nation of Israel. Yet, in reference to God’s leaders, the Bible warns that the leaders “must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.” (1 Tim. 3:12). A married man and woman become “one flesh.” (Mk. 10:8). Jesus’ standards of sexual morality also did not change between the Old and New Testaments (Heb. 13:8). Without exception, every man who acted out of the flesh to take on a second wife suffered long-term negative consequences. Fourth, Jacob committed the additional sin of marrying two sisters: “You shall not marry a woman in addition to her sister as a rival while she is alive, to uncover her nakedness.” (Lev. 18:18). Fifth, he let covetousness guide him by picking his spouse based upon physical beauty alone: “17 And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face.” (Gen. 29:17). In contrast, Abraham’s servant used tests of character and service to select a spouse for Isaac. Leah’s eyes are referred to by the Hebrew word rak, which is translated as “weak” (Gen. 29:17). Yet, that same word can also be translated as “tender.” (Gen. 18:7). Rachael’s name means “little ewe lamb” while Leah’s name means “cow.” Lambs are not known for making good decisions on their own. Rachel was beautiful. Yet, she remained an idol worshipper until at least her departure from Haran (Gen. 31:34). While Rachel’s beauty was on the outside, Leah was tender and beautiful on the inside. Sixth, Jacob never repented of either his sins or his father or grandfather’s sins. Thus, he suffered under the generational curse for the deceit of both his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham. Both deceived others in the same way that Laban deceived Jacob. The people they deceived used the exact same words that Jacob did upon discovering the deceit: “10 Abimelech said [to Isaac], ‘What is this you have done to us . . .” (Gen. 26:10). “9 Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, ‘What have you done to us? . . .” (Gen. 20:9). “18 Then Pharaoh called Abram and said, ‘What is this you have done to me? . . .” (Gen. 12:18). Finally, as set forth below and in the next chapters, Jacob failed to raise his children in Lord. As a result, his entire family sinned. None was worthy to lead God’s chosen line. God picked Jacob and his 12 sons based entirely on His grace: “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Dt. 7:7-8).
All have fallen short and are in need of Jesus as Savior. Just like Jacob (“Israel”), all have fallen short and are in need of Jesus. “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” (Ecc. 7:20; Ps. 14:3; Job 4:17; 25:4; Ro. 3:10, 23). But for God’s mercy and grace, Jacob would have been disqualified from being the future father of Israel: “And do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight no man living is righteous.” (Ps. 143:2). If you are grateful for Christ’s suffering and death for you on the cross, how are you thanking Him? (Ro. 12:1-2).
Like Israel, Jesus also loved and called you while you were still a sinner. Just like Jacob, Jesus also loved you and called you while you were still a sinner: “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. . . . But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Ro. 5:6, 8). Like Israel, you are called upon to accept and confirm God’s calling in your life: “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;” (2 Pet. 1:10). “knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;” (1 Thess. 1:4). Have you fully responded to His calling in your life? Or, are you clinging to your old life?
Out of mercy and grace, God extended His Covenant to Jacob (“Israel”). On seven occasions, God promised to extend Abraham’s blessing to include countless future descendants: (1) Gen. 12:3(b); (2) 13:16; (3) 15:5; (4) 16:10; (5) 17:4-5; (6) 18:18; (7) 22:18. At Beersheba, God affirmed this same covenant with Isaac (Gen. 26:23-25). In a quote that Jacob (Israel) attributed to God, Isaac promised that Israel’s descendants would become a great nation. “May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples.” (Gen. 28:3). At Bethel, God confirmed His Covenant with Israel. “13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. 14 Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’” (Gen. 28:13-15). Like Abraham and Isaac, Israel had done nothing to earn this Covenant. They all received God’s Covenant through His mercy and grace.
Rembrandt Van Rijn (1606-1669) “Jacob wrestling with the Angel” (1659)1
Your salvation is also based upon Jesus’ grace. God also wants you to know that you did nothing to earn your salvation. Your salvation comes exclusively from faith in Jesus’ redeeming work at the cross: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9). If you could earn your salvation, Jesus’ death was unnecessary (Gal. 2:21).
Judah’s five sons. Of the 12 sons, God’s chosen line leading to David and eventually the Messiah traced through Jacob’s fourth son Judah: “3 The sons of Judah were Er, Onan and Shelah; these three were born to him by Bath-shua the Canaanitess. And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, so He put him to death. 4 Tamar his daughter-in-law bore him Perez and Zerah. Judah had five sons in all.” (1 Chr. 2:3-4). In the Bible, five is a number of God’s grace. Judah’s five children symbolized God’s grace in his life. The story of Judah and his family also speaks to God’s grace.
The sins of Er and Onan in rebelling against God. God struck both Judah’s firstborn son Er and his second son Onan down for rebelling against Him (Gen. 38:6-10; 1 Chr. 2:3). The Bible does not say what wickedness Er engaged for God to strike him down (Both the English word “err” from the Latin word “Errare” come from his name). According to the famous Jewish interpreter Rashi, Er and Onan both purposely tried to keep Er’s Canaanite wife Tamar from conceiving. In Er’s case, he was allegedly afraid of spoiling her beauty. After Er died, Judah directed his second son Onan to marry Er’s widow Tamar, his sister-in-law. This would have allowed Er’s descendants to be the firstborn with a double inheritance. It would have also provided a means for Tamar to support herself without living in poverty. Yet, to keep his deceased brother from having any offspring and to allow his line to receive Judah’s double blessing and inheritance, Onan pulled out whenever he slept with Tamar. For this reason, God killed him (Gen. 38:9). This shows that Judah failed to raise his sons to fear God. It was only by God’s grace that God selected him to be the patriarch of the tribe leading to David and the Messiah.
God’s mercy and grace in selecting Judah to lead the tribe of David and the Messiah. At his death bed, Jacob (“Israel”) praised Judah as the future leader of his brothers and the “lion’s whelp” against their future enemies (Gen. 40:9). He also foretold that Judah’s tribe would lead the 12 tribes with a king’s “scepter”: “10 ‘The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” (Gen. 40:10; Nu. 24:17; Ps. 60:7; 108:8). Before his death, Moses also blessed Judah’s tribe as a mighty force that would bring justice to Israel’s enemies (Dt. 33:7). David was a descendant of this tribe of Judah (1 Chr. 2:15). God promised that David’s line of kings would have no end: “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” (2 Sam. 7:16; Jer. 33:17; Ps. 89:4). Jesus Christ was and is the fulfillment of God’s promise (Lk. 1:33; Rev. 19:16). He also called Himself the “Lion of the tribe of Judah.” (Rev. 5:5). Yet, for several reasons, Jesus’ selection of Judah was based upon grace. First, Judah was Leah and Jacob’s fourth son (Gen. 29:35). Under the rules of society, he was not eligible to receive the leadership role in Jacob (Israel)’s family. Second, after Reuben, Simeon, and Levi forfeited their firstborn status through their sins, the spiritual blessings of leadership fell to Judah. But the firstborn land inheritance transferred to Joseph because of Judah’s many sins. “Though Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came the leader, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph,” (1 Chr. 5:2). Third, as one example of his sins, Judah encouraged his brothers to sell Joseph into slavery out of jealousy. ‘“Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers listened to him.” (Gen. 37:27). Fourth, as set forth above, he failed to raise his children Er and Onan in the Lord. Thus, both died for their disobedience to God (Gen. 38:7-10). At that point, Judah had one last heir, Shelah. Fifth, Judah then broke God’s law by withholding his last son Shelah from giving his daughter-in-law Tamar a son, who would become the firstborn in Judah’s family (Gen. 38:11, 26). Sixth, he then negotiated with what he thought was a “temple prostitute,” who was really Tamar in disguise (Gen. 38:16-17). This suggested that he was involved in temple prostitution. This also meant that he was guilty of both fornication and covetousness. Judah then showed himself to be a hypocrite for saying that Tamar should be killed for having sex outside of marriage (Gen. 38:24). Finally, by sleeping with his daughter-in-law, Judah broke God’s laws regarding sexual purity: “15 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness.” (Lev. 18:15; 20:10). As a result of this incestuous union, Tamar gave birth to twins, “Perez and Zerah”. (1 Chr. 2:4; Gen. 38:27-30). Tamar (along with Rebekah) was one of only two people in the Bible to have had recorded twins. She was also one of only two gentiles to be blessed with descendants leading to both David and the Messiah. The line leading to David and later Jesus ran through Perez. This again shows that God’s blessings are based on His grace.
Arent de Gelder (1645-1727) “Judah and Tamar” (oil painting 1667)2
No sin is too big for the grace that Jesus offers. Judah’s family shows that there is no sin that is too big for God to forgive. Jesus’ atoning death can cleanse even the worst of sins when you have faith: “For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:13-14).
Perez’s descendants through Achar (“Achan”). Chronicles then traces the line of Judah’s son Perez up to Achar (Achan) when Joshua lead the Jewish nation into the Promised Land: “5 The sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul. 6 The sons of Zerah were Zimri, Ethan, Heman, Calcol and Dara; five of them in all. 7 The son of Carmi was Achar, the troubler of Israel, who violated the ban. 8 The son of Ethan was Azariah.” (1 Chr. 2:3-7). Perez’s son Zerah had five descendants, which again symbolized God’s grace. The genealogy then skips many generations during the Jews’ captivity. The genealogy then includes Achar/Achan, who violated God’s laws after God defeated Jericho.
Achar/Achan’s covetousness caused God’s anger to burn against Israel. Just before the battle of Jericho, God warned the Jews not to take either the gold and silver idols of Jericho (Josh. 6:18-19). Coveting the idols of Jericho violated the Tenth Commandment against coveting (Ex. 20:17; Dt. 5:21; Ro. 7:7). Coveting is also a form of idolatry (Col. 3:5), which violated the Second Commandment (Ex. 20:4; Dt. 5:8). After God miraculously destroyed the walls of Jericho, one man named Achar/Achan misused his deliverance to steal Canaanite idols. This in turn caused God’s anger to “burn” against him: “1 But the sons of Israel acted unfaithfully in regard to the things under the ban, for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, took some of the things under the ban, therefore the anger of the Lord burned against the sons of Israel.” (Josh. 7:1). God provides Achan’s genealogy to reveal that he came from a life of privilege. His father’s name was Carmi, a name who’s root means “vineyard.” (1 Chr. 2:7; Josh. 7:1). His grandfather Zabdi (who is not listed in Chronicles) had a name which means to “give a gift.” (Josh. 7:1) The family patriarch Zerah (who is listed in Chronicles) means “brightness, sunrise.” (Josh. 7:1) Together, these names reveal that Achan was blessed with “brightness” from the gifts of plenty and power that God had provided through his family. Achan’s status, however, fueled a sense of entitlement that caused him to covet things around him that he liked. His feeling of entitlement may have caused him to believe that he was entitled to keep the things that God had prohibited.
Achan’s coveting affected all of Israel3
Achan’s sins affected the entire nation. Unaware of Achan’s sin, Joshua made plans for the conquest of the next strategic city in the Promised Land, a place “Ai”. Yet, because of Achan’s sins, 36 Jewish soldiers died, and the Jews lost this battle (Josh. 7:2-5). From this sad defeat, Joshua later reminded the people that the sin of one person caused the entire nation’s loss: ‘“Did not Achan the son of Zerah act unfaithfully in the things under the ban, and wrath fall on all the congregation of Israel? And that man did not perish alone in his iniquity.’” (Josh. 22:20). The book of Chronicles includes this story from Judah’s genealogy to again establish that God’s blessings are based upon His grace.
Although God’s grace cannot be earned, sin can affect God’s blessings. Although your salvation is not based upon works, there are still consequences when you sin. Just like Achan, sin can limit the extent of some of Jesus’ available blessings for you (Dt. 28).
Hezron’s descendants through Boaz and Jesse. Chronicles then traces the chosen line through Hezron, Boaz, and Jesse, David’s father: “9 Now the sons of Hezron, who were born to him were Jerahmeel, Ram and Chelubai. 10 Ram became the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, leader of the sons of Judah; 11 Nahshon became the father of Salma, Salma became the father of Boaz, 12 Boaz became the father of Obed, and Obed became the father of Jesse;” (1 Chr. 2:9-12). Chronicles prioritizes the story of the line leading to David because the restoration of the Davidic kings was one of the central themes of the book. Of the line listed above, Salma is the same as Salmon. He married Rahab. He was also the father of Boaz, who was central to the story in the book of Ruth (Ruth 4:19). Ram (aka, Aram), Amminadab, Nahshon, Boaz and Jesse are all listed in Jesus’ genealogy (Matt. 1:4-5).
God can use you no matter what baggage you have in your background. While the City of Jericho was under condemnation for its sins, God ensured that His believers were unharmed during the final judgment. His protection extended to “Rahab the harlot” who professed Yahweh as Lord and risked her life to protect Joshua’s two spies (Josh. 6:22-25). Between Joshua chapters 2 and 6, a total of 86 words are devoted to Rahab. In contrast, only 102 words are devoted to the destruction of Jericho. Rahab and her family, however, were initially treated as unclean outsiders and kept outside the Jews’ camp (Josh. 6:23). She and her family, however, were eventually allowed to stay and live within Israel (Josh. 2:8-11; 6:25). Rahab’s later inclusion into God’s family foreshadowed the inclusion of the gentiles into the line of Abraham. This theme is repeated through Baoz’s marriage to the Moabite woman Ruth. Boaz acted as a kinsman redeemer for Ruth following the death of Ruth’s husband when a closer relative refused his kinsman duty to redeem her (Ruth 4:9-11). Tamar, Rahab and Ruth were all gentiles. Possibly to show that God can use anyone no matter what your background, He included Ruth by name within the line that gave birth to Jesus: “Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse.” (Matt. 1:5).
Jesus, the kinsman redeemer for all mankind, has made promises that you also can trust. Like Boaz, Jesus is a kinsman redeemer. He qualified as a kinsman redeemer because He humbled Himself into human form to become our “brother.” (Heb. 2:11). He became the second Adam who redeemed humanity to restore its lost spiritual inheritance (1 Cor. 15:45; 1:30; Rev. 1:5). Like Boaz, He will perform a future redeemer wedding. The wedding will be completed when He marries the Church in heaven (Rev. 19:7-9; 21:1-2).
You can partake in Jesus’ inheritance as well. Jesus redeemed the gentiles as well as the Jews by twice drawing gentiles into His lineage through kinsman redeemer marriages. In the Bible, two is the number of confirmation (2 Cor. 13:1). First, He became a descendent of the kinsman redeemer marriage between the gentile Tamar and her father-in-law Judah (Matt. 1:3). Second, He became a descendant of the kinsman redeemer marriage between Boaz and the gentile Ruth (Matt. 1:5). Through His grace, every person, both Jew and gentile, can be adopted into His lineage through faith: “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Gal. 4:5). “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Ro. 8:14-15, 23). Are you trying to help others become His adopted children?
David’s family. Chronicles then narrows the genealogy to David’s family: “13 and Jesse became the father of Eliab his firstborn, then Abinadab the second, Shimea the third, 14 Nethanel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, 15 Ozem the sixth, David the seventh; 16 and their sisters were Zeruiah and Abigail. And the three sons of Zeruiah were Abshai, Joab and Asahel. 17 Abigail bore Amasa, and the father of Amasa was Jether the Ishmaelite.” (1 Chr. 2:13-17). In 1 Samuel, the Bible states that Jesse had eight sons (1 Sam. 16:10). Here, David is listed as the seventh son, and the eighth son is not listed. This missing son is presumed to have died at a young age. Or, he is omitted for some other unknown reason. A number of David’s siblings are celebrated for the support that they gave him as king. For example, his sister Zeruiah was a faithful supporter (2 Sam. 2:18-32). Abishai was also a faithful family supporter of David who followed David into Saul’s camp. Yet, David had to stop him from killing Saul while he slept (1 Sam. 26:6-11.) Abigail also gave birth to Absalom’s commander Amasa. He later reconciled with David and became David’s commander until Joab murdered him (2 Sam. 17:25). God’s selection of David again showed His grace. David did not deserve any of the honors that God gave him.
God picked David, a lowly shepherd and the youngest in his family, to be Israel’s King4
God picked the least important member of Jesse’s family. When Samuel came to meet with Jesse to select a new king, Jesse did not consider David, his youngest son, important enough to even meet with Samuel. “10 Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, ‘The Lord has not chosen these.’ 11 And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are these all the children?’ And he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.’ Then Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.’” (1 Sam. 16:10-11). The Jewish historian Josephus, made famous for documenting Christ’s existence, alleged that David was only 10 years old at the time. David’s absence during this meeting also suggested that Jesse was a man of humble means without the ability to afford servants. For either or both of these reasons, Jesse never called David in from the field where he was tending to the sheep. God’s selection of David fits a familiar pattern of grace over merit in the Bible: “Other men who were not firstborn but who were selected by the Lord over their more socially powerful older brothers include Seth, Noah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Ephraim, Moses and perhaps Abraham. It seems that the biblical record deliberately creates the impression that Yahweh prefers to use the disenfranchised members of society – earlier in 1 Samuel the barren woman Hannah and the child Samuel – to do his most significant work (cf. Mark 10:31; 1 Cor. 1:27.)” (Robert Bergen, 1, 2 Samuel, The New American Commentary, Vol. 7, B&H Publishing Group (1996) p. 121).
God elevated David as king only after training him to be a humble shepherd. All of the great patriarchs were shepherds before they became leaders. David’s training as a shepherd gave him all of the skills that he would need to be a great future king. “He also chose David His servant and took him from the sheepfolds;” (Ps. 78:70). Jesus also came as the Good Shepherd to find His sheep who are lost to sin. “But He answered and said, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’” (Matt. 15:24). His leaders were also called upon to love His sheep. “As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day.” (Ezek. 34:12). To be like David and Jesus, you must humble yourself and serve others.
God selection of David was also based upon God’s grace. Although David is considered Israel’s greatest king because of his faith, he did not deserve his honors based upon his merits. David violated at least seven of God’s Ten Commandments. First, by lusting after his neighbor’s wife, he violated God’s Tenth Commandment against coveting (Ex. 20:17; Dt. 5:21). Second, by repeatedly giving into his lusts of his flesh, he made an idol out of attractive women and violated God’s Second Commandment (Ex. 20:4-5; Dt. 5:8-9). Third, by sleeping with a married woman, he violated God’s Seventh Commandment against adultery (Ex. 20:14; Dt. 5:18). Fourth, he violated God’s Sixth Commandment against murder when he killed Uriah (Ex. 20:13; Dt. 5:17). Fifth, by engaging in lies and deceit to cover up his neighbor Uriah’s murder, he violated God’s Ninth Commandment against bearing false witness (Ex. 20:16; Dt. 5:20). Sixth, after he later married Bathsheba, he violated God’s law against a leader having more than one wife: “17 He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; . . ..” (Dt. 17:17(a)). He further violated God’s purpose of marriage by joining himself together with more than one other person (Matt. 19:4-6; 1 Tim. 3:2). To become king, he would have made a public vow to uphold the Torah. By breaking his vow before God, David also profaned His holy name. He was not to “swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God.” (Lev. 19:12). Thus, his actions also violated the Third Commandment: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” (Ex. 20:7; Dt. 5:11). Finally, as God’s appointed king, David violated the Fifth Commandment by dishonoring his heavenly Father. “Honor your father. . .” (Ex. 20:12; Dt. 5:16). Even if David only broke one of the Ten Commandments, he would have broken them all: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” (Jam. 2:10). Thus, God’s divine selection of David was another example of His grace.
God’s grace extends to any humble person, regardless of your status. Jesus promised: “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5: Ps. 37:11). “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12). Jesus will save any who humbles themselves and believes.
Caleb’s descendants through Gilead’s family. Chronicles then traces the family lines of members of the tribe of Judah who were not part of David’s line. The first of these lines traced is through Caleb: “18 Now Caleb the son of Hezron had sons by Azubah his wife, and by Jerioth; and these were her sons: Jesher, Shobab, and Ardon. 19 When Azubah died, Caleb married Ephrath, who bore him Hur. 20 Hur became the father of Uri, and Uri became the father of Bezalel. 21 Afterward Hezron went in to the daughter of Machir the father of Gilead, whom he married when he was sixty years old; and she bore him Segub. 22 Segub became the father of Jair, who had twenty-three cities in the land of Gilead. 23 But Geshur and Aram took the towns of Jair from them, with Kenath and its villages, even sixty cities. All these were the sons of Machir, the father of Gilead. 24 After the death of Hezron in Caleb-ephrathah, Abijah, Hezron’s wife, bore him Ashhur the father of Tekoa.” (1 Chr. 2:18-24). The Caleb mentioned in this family line is not the same Caleb who tried to silence those who doubted God’s plan to lead the Jews into the Promised Land (Nu. 13:30; Josh. 14:6). This line included Bezaleel, the son of Uri and grandson of Hur (1 Chr. 2:20). Along with Aholiab, God empowered Bezaleel to build the Tabernacle (Ex. 31:1-5; 35:31). Yet, this line also includes “Segub” (1 Chr. 2:21-22). Segub died because his father Hiel ignored Joshua’s curse upon Jericho (Josh. 6:26) and tried to rebuild there (1 Kings 16:34). One line is celebrated for using their God-given gifts to serve God. The other line used their gifts for themselves in defiance of God.
Jerahmeel’s descendants. Chronicles then traces a third line of descendants of Judah through Jerahmeel: “25 Now the sons of Jerahmeel the firstborn of Hezron were Ram the firstborn, then Bunah, Oren, Ozem and Ahijah. 26 Jerahmeel had another wife, whose name was Atarah; she was the mother of Onam. 27 The sons of Ram, the firstborn of Jerahmeel, were Maaz, Jamin and Eker. 28The sons of Onam were Shammai and Jada. And the sons of Shammai were Nadab and Abishur. 29 The name of Abishur’s wife was Abihail, and she bore him Ahban and Molid. 30 The sons of Nadab were Seled and Appaim, and Seled died without sons. 31 The son of Appaim was Ishi. And the son of Ishi was Sheshan. And the son of Sheshan was Ahlai. 32 The sons of Jada the brother of Shammai were Jether and Jonathan, and Jether died without sons. 33 The sons of Jonathan were Peleth and Zaza. These were the sons of Jerahmeel. 34 Now Sheshan had no sons, only daughters. And Sheshan had an Egyptian servant whose name was Jarha. 35 Sheshan gave his daughter to Jarha his servant in marriage, and she bore him Attai. 36 Attai became the father of Nathan, and Nathan became the father of Zabad, 37 and Zabad became the father of Ephlal, and Ephlal became the father of Obed, 38 and Obed became the father of Jehu, and Jehu became the father of Azariah, 39 and Azariah became the father of Helez, and Helez became the father of Eleasah, 40 and Eleasah became the father of Sismai, and Sismai became the father of Shallum, 41 and Shallum became the father of Jekamiah, and Jekamiah became the father of Elishama.” (1 Chr. 2:25-41). Little is recorded about Jerahmeel’s descendants. Yet, they were loyal to David. During his flight from Saul, they risked death by staying with David (1 Sam. 27:10; 30:29).
Use your gifts for God’s service. God endowed a man named Bezaleel with special gifts to build the Tabernacle: “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship,” (Ex. 31:3; 35:31). Jerahmeel’s descendants also used their gifts to serve God’s anointed king David (1 Sam. 27:10; 30:29). In contrast, Hiel used his gifts for himself. God has given every person gifts. He wants you to use your gifts as a co-builder of His Church: “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Pet. 4:10). “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Ro. 12:6-8). “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;” (Eph. 4:11-12). “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. . . . .4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Cor. 12:1-7). Every person’s gift is needed in the body of Christ because no one person has them all (1 Cor. 12:13-27). There is also no gift labeled “spectator” within the Church. “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” (Col. 3:23). Are you using your gifts for Christ?
Be obedient by engaging in the good works that God created you for. God called every believer by name before the foundation of the world to do good works for Him: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10). “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Tim. 2:21). If you claim to be obedient to God, are you responding by volunteering your time, talent, and treasure to help God’s Church?
Descendants that included concubines and foreigners. This chapter concludes with additional descendants of Caleb mentioned in 1 Chronicles 2:18. This line is noteworthy not because it lists prominent members of society. Instead, the descendants are noteworthy because they include the children of both concubines and foreigners: “42 Now the sons of Caleb, the brother of Jerahmeel, were Mesha his firstborn, who was the father of Ziph; and his son was Mareshah, the father of Hebron. 43 The sons of Hebron were Korah and Tappuah and Rekem and Shema. 44 Shema became the father of Raham, the father of Jorkeam; and Rekem became the father of Shammai. 45 The son of Shammai was Maon, and Maon was the father of Bethzur. 46 Ephah, Caleb’s concubine, bore Haran, Moza and Gazez; and Haran became the father of Gazez. 47 The sons of Jahdai were Regem, Jotham, Geshan, Pelet, Ephah and Shaaph. 48 Maacah, Caleb’s concubine, bore Sheber and Tirhanah. 49 She also bore Shaaph the father of Madmannah, Sheva the father of Machbena and the father of Gibea; and the daughter of Caleb was Achsah. 50 These were the sons of Caleb. The sons of Hur, the firstborn of Ephrathah, were Shobal the father of Kiriath-jearim, 51 Salma the father of Bethlehem and Hareph the father of Beth-gader. 52 Shobal the father of Kiriath-jearim had sons: Haroeh, half of the Manahathites, 53 and the families of Kiriath-jearim: the Ithrites, the Puthites, the Shumathites and the Mishraites; from these came the Zorathites and the Eshtaolites. 54 The sons of Salma were Bethlehem and the Netophathites, Atroth-beth-joab and half of the Manahathites, the Zorites. 55 The families of scribes who lived at Jabez were the Tirathites, the Shimeathites and the Sucathites. Those are the Kenites who came from Hammath, the father of the house of Rechab.” (1 Chr. 2:2:42-55). We know little regarding most of these people. But most who returned from exile could not claim a special status through David. If the only celebrated line in the Bible was the line leading to David or those with a famous history, many might have felt unimportant in God’s eyes. But God included everyone because His grace can extend to any believer.
God’s grace is available to everyone. The genealogy includes two concubines, Ephah and Maacah. While the society at that time allowed for concubines and relegated them to lower class sex servants, God did not condone this. He always intended for marriage to be between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5; Mk. 10:7; Eph. 5:31). By celebrating the heritage of the two concubines, God showed that they were not lower status people in His eyes. God also showed that these persons were important in God’s kingdom. For example, Salma was the founding father of Bethlehem (1 Chr. 2:54). The prophet Micah foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Approximately 700 years later, Jesus fulfilled this prophecy (Matt. 2:4-6). As another example, Shobal founded a city called Kirjath-jearim (1 Chr. 2:52). The ark of the Covenant protected her for a number of years (1 Sam. 6:21-7:2). Finally, this line included Kenites (1 Chr. 2:55). They were a gentile nation that lived in Canaan when Abraham lived there (Gen. 15:18-21). Moses’ father-in-law Jethro was also called a Kenite (Jdgs. 1:16). Yet, he was also a pagan priest of Midian (Ex. 3:1). Thus, the Kenites were likely related to a broader Midianite tribal nation. The significance of the Kenites' inclusion here was to demonstrate that God’s grace was not limited to the Jews. Just like Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth, the gentile nations were eligible to receive His grace.
Jesus died to save everyone who believes. For both Jews and gentiles, Jesus died so that people everywhere on Earth might be saved. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jo. 3:16). “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,”’ (Jo. 11:25). His grace only requires your faith in Him.
Through Christ, the Abrahamic Covenant is available to you as well. Through faith in Christ, you too can share in the Covenant offered to the patriarchs: “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” (Gal. 3:29). “It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the Earth shall be blessed.’” (Acts 3:25). “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the nations will be blessed in you.’” (Gal. 3:8). “For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,” (Ro. 4:16). Like Abraham, you did nothing to deserve His blessings. Have you given thanks for your undeserved right to share in this blessing?
The gift of Jesus’ righteousness. The vast number of descendants of Abraham recorded in Chronicles was also the fulfillment of one of God’s many promises to Abraham. In addition to referring to Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the sand of the sea, God also referred to Abraham’s future descendants as being like the “stars” in the sky (Gen. 15:5). “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed;” (Gen. 26:4). “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’” (Ex. 32:13). “The LORD your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are this day like the stars of heaven in number.” (Dt. 1:10; Josh. 24:3). “Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.” (Heb. 11:12). The light of the stars comes from the Messiah Jesus, who comes to restore the righteousness that mankind lost when Adam and Eve sinned. “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; a star shall come forth from Jacob, a scepter shall rise from Israel, and shall crush through the forehead of Moab, and tear down all the sons of Sheth.” (Nu. 24:17). “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” (Rev. 22:16). By Jewish tradition, Adam and Eve glowed like angels before their sin: “In these luminous garments, they resembled heavenly beings. After their sin, the glory faded, leaving the man and his wife naked in the garden.”5 Jesus is the light of the world (Jo. 8:12; 9:5). Yet, you bear witness to His light inside of you (Matt. 5:14). When you receive a new body in heaven, you will glow like Adam and Eve before they sinned: “Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Dan. 12:3).6 Through Jesus, you also can receive His brilliant righteousness.
Through faith in Jesus, you are also an heir to God’s Covenant with Abraham7