Day 36: A National Hero

Today’s reading: 1 Chronicles 13-29, Ps 54

Ever notice how, over time, our memories of those we love have a way of becoming smoothed around the edges? Their faults and failures fade into the background, while their accomplishments sometimes become larger than life.

Today, we get the polished version of the story of King David. Notice that there is no mention of Bathsheba here, much less of David sending her husband, Uriah–one of his mighty thirty–to be killed on the frontlines in order to cover up the king’s bad behavior. Gone also is any hint that David’s motivation for bringing the ark of the covenant home to Jerusalem might be tinged with self-indulgence.

The memory of David’s rule, including his rise to power and the crowning of Solomon as his successor, is also tidied up. Any hint of dissension in the ranks is gone. Following Saul’s death, in yesterday’s reading we saw all of Israel show up at Hebron to crown the new king (1 Chronicles 11), not just Judah (2 Samuel 2). We hear nothing of Abner conspiring to put Ish-Bosheth on the throne of Israel or a seven-year civil war. There is also no indication of a scramble for power at the end of David’s life. In this version, we do not see Adonijah seizing the throne for himself (1 Kings 1); instead, all of David’s leaders and all his sons are present and supportive as Solomon becomes king (1 Chronicles 29:24). David is also given credit for the plans and much of the preparation for building the temple, explicitly leaving his son with the charge to do what he has not been able to complete.

For the Chronicler, speaking to a people who have returned home from exile and are  rebuilding life together, the focus is on building a sense of unity and shared commitment. Having a national hero to rally around becomes central to that task.

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