Chronicals 1 & 2 have so much information splattered in them. Is there a way to understNd them easier than straight reading?
Many good study Bibles have a rather extensive section prefacing the books. That gets you a good start. I believe Ignatius Press among others have some good tools to help you.
1 and 2 Chronicles tells the same story as 1 and 2 Kings but from a slightly different perspective. Chronicles is a restatement of Kings. Both of these cover the rise of the Kings in Israel, building of the Temple in Jerusalem and the division of the kingdom into two divided kingdoms.
Here is a very high level outline…
God himself promised to be Israel’s king. He himself would lead them. From time to time God raised up judges to take care of specific problems and to care for the people of Israel but Israel eventually insisted that they have a king like the other nations around them.
God warned Israel what would happen - the king would rule harshly, take away their sons and daughters to serve him, confiscate 1/10 of their wine and produce, force them to labor and force them to serve in his army. Israel said, 'No, but we must have a king" and so God granted them their wish. In rejecting God himself as their king, Israel set themselves up for repeated failure eventually leading the great exile. I am getting ahead of myself…
Saul was the firs king. He disobeyed God and his life was taken. David was next, the youngest son of Jesse. While the other brothers were in the tent yelling “Pick me! Pick me!”, David was faithfully working, out in the field tending the sheep, and so God picked him over the others.
David’s son Solomon then took the throne and ruled very harshly. All of his wealth and splendor cost money and he taxed the people heavily and forced them to labor. Solomon’s son Rehoboam took the throne and the people asked to have the burden lightened but Rehoboam refused saying, “My father chastised you with whips but I will chastise you with scorpions.” The result of his harsh rule was the succession of the ten northern tribes who formed the northern nation of Israel. The two remaining tribes of Benjamin and Judah formed the nation of Judah to the south. This is called the Divided Kingdom period.
Ten nothern tribes = Nation of Israel
Two southern tribes = Nation of Judah
Solomon’s other son Jeroboam became king of Israel and immediately set up not one but two golden calves saying, “Here are the gods who brought you out of Egypt.” They committed almost total apostacy. Judah was where the temple and they were more faithful but they had lots of problems and did not stay entirely faithful to God.
The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles does a good job of chronicling the kings of both Israel and Judah, going back and forth between the two, explaining who the king of one nation was based on the reign of the other. It outlines some pretty wicked people - Ahab for example. Kings and Chronicles contain all the stories of the prophets Elijah and Elisha. Kings is a more detailed account of David’s reign while Chronicles covers the divided kingdom more.
1 and 2 Chronicles should be read in the context of 1 and 2 King and vice versa. Most of the Psalms were written during David’s reign as detailed in Kings.
The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles used to be called 3 Kings and 4 Kings. The Knox and Douay-Rheims Bibles still retain that naming.
That’s about the best outline I can give without writing a dissertation. Others can add, correct or completely restate what I have written.
Apart from inspiration from the exploits of godly kings, and warning from the sins of wicked kings, the books of kings and chronicles provide us with invaluable historical information. If it wasn’t for these records, we could not date important events in the Old Testament.
Just one note. I think 1,2 Chronicles are called 1,2 Paralipomenon in the Douay and the Vulgate. 1,2,3,4 Kings in the Douay became 1,2 Samuel and 1,2 Kings. (so 3+4 Kings became 1+2 Kings in RSV naming)