The word “seek” shows up in Chronicles around 24 times. In almost every instance it appears, “seek” is used in relationship to God. The focus for the Chronicler (the author of Chronicles) in using this word is that the success of the kings of Judah was directly related to whether or not they sought after God in their lives and leadership.
Although the Chronicler sees Israel’s disasters as God’s judgment for Israel’s unfaithfulness, he describes that unfaithfulness differently than the author of Kings. Kings describes Israel’s unfaithfulness as acts of idolatry, and the failure to keep God’s statutes. The Chronicler’s explanation probes more deeply and clarifies Israel’s unfaithfulness as “forsaking Yahweh,” or not properly “seeking Yahweh” (IVP D.O.T Historical Books p. 171-172).
The Hebrew word translated as “seek” or “inquire” in English includes the idea of seeking God as worship to God. It indicates a trust in God that comes from how He has revealed Himself. In the case of Israel, it is how He has revealed himself through the covenant. For the Chronicler, there is a direct connection between seeking after God and receiving the blessings God promised His people. Likewise, if a king forsakes God, there is a direct connection between his abandonment of God and the disaster that came upon both him and the people. With this framework as the filter through which kings are judged, it makes sense that David’s sin with Bathsheba is left out of Chronicles, because in every other part of David’s life he was faithful to seek God. Likewise, Solomon is held in a positive light because he sought the Lord for wisdom, though in Kings he is the archetype for the kind of idolatry that leads Judah into Exile. In many cases, the reader of Chronicles sees a greater explanation surrounding events simply listed in Kings; the Chronicler ties these explanations to whether the king was seeking God or not. For example one reads of the long reign of Manasseh in Kings; this lengthy time on the throne seems curious because of his great sin. In Chronicles, however, one reads that Manasseh repented and sought the Lord; perhaps this explains his long reign.
When one looks at the worldview of those under the Old Covenant, it can seem at odds with the covenant of grace we find ourselves in through Christ, but we serve the same God today as is described in the Old Testament. So much of the worldview of those under the Old Covenant was shaped by their understanding of the covenant blessings and curses of Deuteronomy, yet Paul makes it clear in Galatians that Jesus became a curse for us, so this equation does not apply to us under Christ’s blood. Chronicles shows us that the more one seeks God, the more His blessings are poured out upon them. Conversely, if one forsakes God, then, as it is often repeated in the text, “God will forsake them.” In Christ, we have the promise (found in John’s Gospel) that Christ will not let go of those who have been given to Him. If we forsake Jesus, and ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit, however, this promise doesn’t release us of the consequences. We see in both Chronicles and John’s Gospel that seeking God is a timeless principle that is to be at the center of our relationship with God.
Seeking God really comes back to the idea of identity. The Israelites’ identity was to be found in their seeking God. They had been called to seek him and their relationship with God was what defined them as a people. This identity is still true of us today, though we are not seeking God in the context of the Mosiac Law, but in the context of the New Covenant. Jesus has revealed Himself to us in such a specific way and we know now even more clearly how we can seek Him in our lives. We have access to the Holy Spirit – when we seek God He is so very near to us and is able to speak into every situation we find ourselves in.
The idea of “seeking” has become very practical for me lately. God has been surrounding me with the truth of my need to seek Him more completely. From the books I (Michael) teach, to the books I read, to the experiences of my life, I have been forced to see how much I need to seek God in all things in my life, and how blessing and good comes from that. Recently I was discussing this revelation with Helen and we were in the midst of deciding what to do that night. Totally inconsequential decision, but I felt like it was a great opportunity to practice what I felt God wanted more of in my life. So we prayed a simple, “God what should we do tonight?” I joke that part of my hesitation in praying such a prayer is that I feared God was going to call us to do something really difficult, like go to the nearest mosque and share the Gospel with the people there. If God did say that I now believe that it would have been a really beautiful and good thing. Instead, God’s instructions led to a beautiful night of going on a date and still having time to hang out with good friends. It all would seem mundane if I described it to you but I truly enjoyed the whole night and would have never come up with all of it on my own. Most importantly, it built my faith both in my ability to hear God and that what I hear will be good if I obey.
So test it out for yourself. My suggestion is that you start by tearing down your sense of sacred and secular/common. Think like people who serve a God who longs to restore goodness to all things, if we would only bring all before Him in seeking after Him.