Reward and Punishment in Chronicles: The Theology of Immediate Retribution -- By: Raymond B. Dillard

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 46:1 (Spring 1984)
Article: Reward and Punishment in Chronicles: The Theology of Immediate Retribution
Author: Raymond B. Dillard


Reward and Punishment in Chronicles:
The Theology of Immediate Retribution

Raymond B. Dillard

I. General Description

Though the history of research in Chronicles has been characterized by vigorous debate surrounding the author’s theology, date, and purpose, on one theme of his historiography there is a near consensus.1

The Chronicler’s adherence to a “theology of immediate retribution”2 provides his dominant compositional technique, particularly formative in his reshaping of the history of Judah after the schism. “Retribution theology” refers to the author’s apparent conviction that reward and punishment are not deferred, but rather follow immediately on the heels of the precipitating events. For the Chronicler sin always brings judgment and disaster, while obedience and righteousness yield the fruit of peace and prosperity. Even a cursory reading of the text reveals the contours of the writer’s convictions; they are both (1) specifically articulated and (2) demonstrated in his reshaping of narratives.

1. Specifically Articulated

In a number of passages unique to the Chronicler, i.e., not found in the parallel text in Samuel/Kings, the author gives the reader a glimpse of his literary program by directly articulating the theme of retribution theology. Consider the following passages:

Be careful to follow all the commands of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever. And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. [1 Chr 28:8b–9]

If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. [2 Chr 7:14]

This is what the Lord says: “You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you.” [2 Chr 12:5]

The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. [2 Chr 15:2]

Listen to me, J...

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