Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 11

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-9

B. David’s Coronation and Capital 11:1-9

David is really the hero of both 1 and 2 Chronicles. The heart of Chronicles is the rise of David and the establishment of the Davidic kingdom, which begins with chapter 11.

"They [1 and 2 Chronicles] look forward with anticipation to the coming King who will bring in God’s final salvation and blessing." [Note: Sailhamer, p. 32.]

"The principle point we wish to emphasize is that the Chronicler, the composer of the original work, structured his history around the figure of David and his dynasty, focusing attention on the religious activity of the monarch and his successors." [Note: David N. Freedman, "The Chronicler’s Purpose," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 23 (1961):440.]

"David’s heroic personality exemplifies the success that God bestows on those who trust in him, whether in the Chronicler’s time or any other." [Note: Payne, "1, 2 Chronicles," p. 368.]

In 1 Chronicles the writer documented David’s greatness as God’s faithful vice-regent. In 2 Chronicles he evaluated all David’s successors in terms of his successes. In the chapters that unfold, the writer wove his hope for Israel’s future together with God’s love, as demonstrated in His past faithfulness, to encourage faith and obedience in his readers.

David’s eventual coronation was inevitable because God had chosen him as king long before Saul died. The Chronicler began his history of David with his coronation over all 12 tribes. This fact probably reflects the writer’s concern for the unity of God’s chosen people. The people recognized David as the suitable king because he had led Israel. Furthermore, God had anointed him to shepherd the people (his function) and to be prince over them (his office under Yahweh, 1 Chronicles 11:1-2). David’s elevation happened as God had announced through Samuel (1 Chronicles 11:3). God was leading the nation. These verses provide solid evidence that David, not Saul, was God’s preference as king of Israel.

David’s capture of Jerusalem was foundational to all the political and religious events that followed. The earliest reference to Jerusalem (Salem) that archaeologists have found so far occurs in the Ebla tablets that date from about 2400 B.C. [Note: See Eugene H. Merrill, "Ebla and Biblical Historical Inerrancy," Bibliotheca Sacra 140:550 (October-December 1983): 302-21; and Giovanni Pettinato, "The Royal Archives of Tell Mardikh-Ebla," Biblical Archaeologist 39 (May 1976):44-52.] Joab’s deed shows he was a mighty warrior. By fortifying Jerusalem, David established a secure base of operations at a politically neutral site between Israel and Judah. This led to his succeeding, though the real reason for his greatness was that the Lord of Armies was with him. God was with David because David was with God, as well as because God had chosen David as His vice-regent. Payne believed that David established a "constitutional" monarchy, which was unique in the ancient Near East. [Note: Payne, "First Chronicles," p. 377.]

Verses 10-40

C. David’s Mighty Men 11:10-12:40

This list of great warriors reflects the greatness of David. People know something about a man or woman by the company he or she keeps. The writer identified three groups: the chiefs among David’s mighty men (1 Chronicles 11:10-25), the mighty men in David’s army (1 Chronicles 11:26-47), and the mighty men who joined David at Ziklag (ch. 12).

There are several discrepancies between the numbers in Chronicles and those in parallel passages in Samuel, Kings, and elsewhere. A case in point is 1 Chronicles 11:11 where 2 Samuel 23:8 has 800. The number in Samuel is apparently the correct one in this case, and the difference was evidently due to a scribal error in copying. [Note: For an explanation of each such difference and other problems involving numbers in Chronicles, see the note in The New Scofield Reference Bible, pp. 472-73; and J. Barton Payne, "The Validity of the Numbers in Chronicles," Bibliotheca Sacra 136:542 and 543 (April-June and July-September 1979):109-28, 206-20. See also Appendix 2: "Numbers in Chronicles That Disagree With Their Old Testament Parallels" from Payne, "1, 2 Chronicles," at the end of these notes.]

David was a leader who had won the confidence and support of the strongest men in Israel as well as Judah. The episode in 1 Chronicles 11:15-19 shows why men such as these pledged their loyalty to David. He showed unusual sensitivity to the dangers his men faced.

Chapter 12 has no parallel in Samuel. Its unique emphases are these. Men from Israel as well as Judah followed David, and there was a very large number of them (1 Chronicles 11:22). David also had many other supporters (1 Chronicles 11:39-40). Even Saul’s relatives followed him (1 Chronicles 11:2; 1 Chronicles 11:16; 1 Chronicles 11:29). [Note: See Benjamin Mazar, "The Military Elite of King David," Vetus Testamentum 13 (1963):310-20.] God sanctioned the plan of these men to turn the kingdom of Saul over to him (1 Chronicles 11:23).

Popular enthusiasm for David was overwhelming (1 Chronicles 11:38; cf. 1 Chronicles 11:18). The writer named all the tribes, proving broad-based support (1 Chronicles 11:24-37). This emphasis is much stronger in Chronicles than it is in Samuel.

Chapters 11 and 12 give evidence of what God told David later in 1 Chronicles 17:8, namely, "I have been with you wherever you have gone." They also provide hope that God would do for David what He promised in 1 Chronicles 17:10, namely, "I will subdue all your enemies."

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 11". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.