Scott Hahn and others have hypothesized that Solomon’s reign, as described in 2 Chronicles 1-9, is a new creation story. This would explain a lot in the narrative.
The book of Chronicles is written with the Davidic covenant and the temple as the theological center. 1 Chronicles 17 is the thematic center of the book. Events in Chronicles are not provided in a chronological order but in a thematic order as they relate to God’s oracle in chapter 17. There is a pattern of sin or fall, repentance, call to worship, liturgy of praise and thanksgiving, burnt offerings and peace offerings, and fellowship or rest with God. This pattern accentuates worship as an approach to Yahweh, the covenant god of Israel. The Chronicler has taken the events of history out of order to make a rhetorical point regarding how we approach god in worship.
The pattern is broken, however, in 2 Chronicles 1-9 in that there is no event of sin or repentance on Solomon’s part. If the new temple is a new creation, the absence of a sin and repentance event is justified in that there is no sin or need for repentance in the new creation. It also explains Solomon’s prayer in the new temple in 2 Chronicles 6. Solomon’s prayer is all about sin and a request to God to forgive sin. At one point, Solomon says this:
If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to a land far or near, 37 yet if they turn their heart in the land to which they have been carried captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity, saying, ‘We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly,’ 38 if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart in the land of their captivity to which they were carried captive, and pray toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city that you have chosen and the house that I have built for your name, 39 then hear from heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their pleas, and maintain their cause and forgive your people who have sinned against you.
Solomon concludes his prayer by calling on God to enter the rest of his temple. This request echoes the events of Genesis 1, in which God enters His rest on the seventh day. Solomon captures the cruxt of the story and prophesies a fall when he observes, “for there is no one who does not sin.” Solomon’s prophesy comes to pass shortly after his death. The rest of the story in Chronicles is about the southern kingdoms failure to remain faithful to the covenant. The pattern of sin, repentance, and restoration through the worship of faithful kings returns.
God, however, does not leave the situation there. In His oracle to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7, He says this:
12 Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.
God promises to forgive and heal within the context of worship in the temple.
Modern theologians often speak of a pattern of creation, fall, redemption and consummation in the story of history. Others speak of a liturgical pattern to history. In other words, God has formed creation so as to facilitate a liturgy of life in approach to Him.
The Chronicler has caused these two theories of redemptive history to coincide. There is a pattern of creation, fall, redemption and consummation in history. But that is also a pattern of liturgically approaching God. We approach God by redemption and consummation in history. And we rehearse that drama in our worship through a liturgy of approach to Him. One day the rehearsal and the reality will coincide. The book of Revelation ends in a worship service, a great feast with the Lord of Life. At that time we will truly enter His rest in worship.