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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

1 Chronicles 12

Verses 1-7

To David’s Aid, 1 Chronicles 12:1-7

The men named in these seven verses were early supporters of David, who left their homes and went into exile with him at Ziklag. This was while David was living under the protection of Achish, the king of Gath. They were very useful to him in his wars and came to be numbered among his mighty men. They were excellent bowmen, and being ambidextrous, could hurl stones and shoot arrows equally well.

It is interesting that several of these were of Saul’s own kinsmen, the first two named being from his own capital, Gibeah. Five other Benjamites are also named. Ismaiah, who became one of the captains among the thirty mighty men, came from Gibeon, in western Benjamin. One came from Anathoth, a priest city, near Jerusalem.

Five others were Levite members of the family of Korah, who were later prominent officials in the temple (1 Chronicles 9:19). Three men came from Gedor in the tribe of Judah, while the remaining eight were probably also from Judah. None of the known deeds of the mighty men are ascribed specifically to these, but they must have been brave, loyal, and dependable soldiers for David.

Verses 8-15

(Author’s NOTE: The following passage (1 Chronicles 12:8-15) is discussed here (although it is found in the hardbound commentary 1st Edition under 2 Samuel 5) because this is its place chronologically. There is no parallel in Samuel.)

This is the account of the eleven Gadite captains who led their men to the aid of David when he was on the defensive against the Philistines, prior to the battles discussed above. They are described as mighty men, battle-fit, adept with the large shield and with the buckler, or smaller shield, and having faces like roes on the mountains. The roe was a gazelle, a graceful, elusive, and alert animal of Israel. These men were like the roe in all of these traits and therefore very useful to David.

Of the eleven named men, all were captains, the least over a hundred men and the greatest over a thousand. None of their deeds of war are accounted in the Scriptures in their name. The brave feat they accomplished at this time was their coming to David’s aid at a critical time when the Philistines had him in hold at the cave of Adullam (2 Samuel 5:17; 2 Samuel 23:13-14). They crossed the Jordan (they were an eastern tribe across the river) in the springtime when the river was at flood stage. The Philistines likely did not expect an attack, but the Gadites cleared them out of the eastern valleys, and proceeded also to expel them from the western valleys, toward their own cities.

Verses 16-18

Newcomers, l Chronicles 12:16-18

This passage gives insight into the plight of David often voiced in his psalms, the times when he was uncertain of his friends, when those he had trusted turned against him (see, e.g., Psalms 41). David met them with hesitation, saying his heart would be knit with theirs in gratitude if they came in peace, but that the Lord would rebuke them if they had not. God’s people of the same mind and heart should be knit together in perfect harmony (Acts 4:32).

The chief captain, Amasai, answered. "Amasai" is the same name as Amasa, so he may well be the famous captain of Absalom’s host in later years (2 Samuel 17:25). He was a nephew of David, son of David’s sister, and if the same man, later betrayed his king. On this occasion, however, he was moved by the spirit of the Lord to answer for the men who had come to join David in exile from Saul. He said, "We belong to you, David, and we are on your side." He then expressed desire for peace on David’s part and on the part of those who helped him. He expected this because he believed David was helped by God. Peace should be characteristic of God’s people (Romans 12:18). These early adherents to David’s cause became captains in his band.]

Verses 19-22

Joined by Deserters, 1 Chronicles 12:19-22

Somehow when David had taken his men to join the Philistines in their campaign against Saul and Israel the men of Israel were aware of his presence. Those of the tribe of Manasseh are specifically mentioned, with seven captains of thousands being named. When David was sent back, at the insistence of the Philistine lords, these men deserted from Israel, perhaps with numbers of their men, and accompanied David back to Ziklag.

The sack of Ziklag is related in chapter thirty below. The Manassites were there with David upon the discovery and accompanied him and his men on their rescue mission "against the band of the rovers." They are called mighty men of valor and were assigned positions as captains in David’s host.

The attraction of David to the men of Israel is indicated by verse 22. It is probably also a commentary on the critical times following the ignominious defeat of Saul by the Philistines, and his death in the battle. The defeated men flocked daily to David until he had acquired a great host compared to the host of God.

Verses 23-40

Rallying to David, 1 Chronicles 12:23-40

When Israel finally turned to David to make him king, the men of war came to him by the thousands, to be in on the coronation and its festivities and to offer themselves to David’s service. All the tribes were represented, including the Levites, making thirteen tribal divisions in all. The small number ascribed to Judah may be accounted for by the fact most of the men of Judah had turned to David long before. The Simeonites also were of Judah, having their allotment in cities of his possession. The Aaronites are descendants of Aaron, Israel’s first high priest. Zadok of the Levites is especially mentioned as a "young man mighty of valour." Later he became high priest of Israel (2 Samuel 8:17).

The Benjamites who had adhered to Saul’s family now came in considerable numbers to join David also. The Joseph tribes, Ephraim and the half of Manasseh on the west side of Jordan, were represented by more than 38,000 warriors. An interesting commendation is made of the men of Issachar. They recognized the needs of Israel and acted thereon in one accord. The Zebulunites came well armed, numbering 50,000, sincere and not double-hearted. The Naphtalites numbered 37,000 under a thousand captains, while the Asherites had 40,000 and the Danites 28,600. Those from east of Jordan; Reuben, Gad, and the other half of Manasseh, mustered 120,000.

It is said all these came with perfect heart to Hebron to anoint David king of all Israel, and that the. people they represented were also of perfect heart. This means they were in wholehearted harmony in making him their new king. For three days they observed celebration, feasting on bread, meat, figs, raisins, wine, meal, oil, slaughtered oxen and sheep in great abundance. These were transported from nearby and from as far away as Issachar, Zebulun, and Naphtali by donkey, camel, mule, and ox. It was a great time, and the Scripture relates, "for there was joy in Israel."

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-chronicles-12.html. 1985.