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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 11

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Verses 1-3


The events in 1 Chronicles 11-20 take place in the period from 1003-995 BC. In that time David grows to the height of his power. All that has happened before the people come to David in Hebron is passed over tacitly. The faults and suffering of David are not mentioned. History begins by presenting what constitutes the power and glory of the kingdom of David. We can connect these histories with the future establishment of the power of Christ, the Son of David, on earth.

David Anointed King Over Israel

Here comes all Israel as well to make David king and not, as is described in 2 Samuel, first the two tribes and then all the tribes (2 Samuel 2:4; 2 Samuel 5:1). From now until the end of this book (1 Chronicles 11-29) it is about David. The whole people know that they are his bones and his flesh. In this we can recognize what the New Testament people of God, the church, can say to Christ in the awareness of their close union with Him. In Hebrews 2 this union unity is expressed by the Lord Jesus (Hebrews 2:11-2 Chronicles :). Our union with Him is made possible because He “partook of blood and flesh” (Hebrews 2:14), but “without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Thought is being given to what David did for the people before, when Saul was king over them (1 Chronicles 11:2). We see here a picture of what the Lord Jesus did in our lives in the past. He has made sure that we have not perished under the rule of Satan and the flesh, of which Saul is a picture. When Saul reigned, the true blessing came in reality from David.

David has made the people “led out and brought in”. This reminds us of the words of the Lord Jesus whom He pronounces as the good Shepherd (John 10:9). Therefore it is also good to see that the LORD, the God of David, wants David in the first place to be a shepherd for His people. Then and thereby he can also be king. This applies fully to the true David, the Lord Jesus (Ezekiel 34:23-Jeremiah :; Ezekiel 37:24).

First and foremost is the care of God’s people, and then comes the reign. Be shepherd first, then become king. This is also the case in the life of the Lord Jesus. He is now the good Shepherd, while He will soon openly accept His kingship. For us it coincides. We will gladly acknowledge His dominion over our lives now because He has given His life for us as the good Shepherd and also cares for us every day as the chief Shepherd. Surely there is no one we would rather submit to than to Someone Who has given Himself so for us and who takes care of us every day, is there?

There is also much to be learned from this by all those who have a certain authority over others. We can think of the man’s attitude towards his wife and the attitude of parents towards their children. It is also important for the acknowledgment of authority in the church of God. If God has given persons a place of authority, they can only exercise that authority properly if they know for themselves what it is to serve, to be the least and to care for those entrusted to them. Such persons show the image of the Lord Jesus.

Subservience to someone who cares about you, who cares for you with love is much easier, than to someone who only wants to play the boss over you and abuses his position of authority for that. In God’s sight, authority is never separated from care and love, and that has become perfectly visible in the Lord Jesus.

After the declaration of all people, the elders come to David as the representatives of all Israel (1 Chronicles 11:3). David makes with them “a covenant … before the LORD”. He will have committed himself to be a good king for his people and to reign in accordance with God’s law for the king (Deuteronomy 17:14-Proverbs :; cf. 1 Samuel 10:25). In so doing, he was aware that he was taking on a task for which God would ask him to account. He will also realize that he depends on Him to perform his task.

The reaction is that the elders anoint David king over all Israel. By this he becomes a person dedicated to the LORD, through which he can act in His Name, with His authority. It is not an own act, but “according to the word of the LORD through Samuel”. Here David is anointed for the third time in his life (Elisha is anointed once, Aaron twice and David three times):
1. The first time David was anointed in his father’s house, in humiliation and among his brothers (1 Samuel 16:13). We can connect this with the anointing of the Lord Jesus with the Spirit, also in the midst of His brothers, in the Jordan in humiliation (Matthew 3:16).
2. The second time, immediately after Saul died, David is anointed by the two tribes (2 Samuel 2:4). He is not yet a king over all Israel, but only over Judah. This refers to the time when the Lord Jesus returns to earth. Then He will first come in connection with Judah, that is the remnant of the two tribes that are in the land at that moment. They will receive Him with joy as the promised Messiah.
3. The third time is described here, when he becomes king of all of Israel (1 Chronicles 11:3). This looks forward to the time when the Lord Jesus returns and openly accepts His kingship over Israel, visible to all.

Verses 4-8

David Captures Jerusalem

The first action mentioned here of David is that he goes from Hebron to Jebus to capture that city. The new king chooses this city as his new capital. The choice of this city is also of strategic importance, because Jerusalem is much more central in the land and is also situated on a mountain, which makes it difficult for enemies to capture the city. However, the first consideration is not the strategic importance. David’s choice of this city as a royal city is in keeping with the choice of God. It is the place He has chosen to make His Name dwell there.

David makes the capture of Jebus a matter of honor for his leaders. Joab turns out to be the man who takes up the challenge and wins and becomes the new chief and commander of David’s army. Joab is mentioned here in a positive sense and not negative as in the second book of Samuel. This is about the establishment of the kingdom of David; everything is done with an eye on him, on him all attention is focused.

After this capture David takes authority over the city. He is going to live there. Therefore the city can now be called “the city of David”. Such a change of authority takes place in the lives of every newly converted person. At the moment of his conversion he passes from the power of Satan to God and acknowledges the dominion of the Lord Jesus over his life. The Lord Jesus comes to dwell in the life of such a person and has access to it.

Verses 9-10

The Heroes of David

David now dwells in Jerusalem and gains in stature (1 Chronicles 11:9). That the LORD of hosts is with him, is evident from the list of mighty men. David gains in stature because of the great men around him, his heroes. Above all, he gains in stature, because the LORD of hosts is with him. The men of valor are led by the LORD to David. They followed him in the time of his being rejected and have become heroes. By the LORD of hosts, to which also the army of David belongs, they are mentioned as men who helped David to acquire his kingship and the conquest of the royal city.

These men owe their stature to him (1 Chronicles 11:10). By strengthening him they strengthened themselves and their own interests. They have given “him strong support in his kingdom, together with all Israel”. His prosperity is their prosperity. Through their connection with David they share in all that is His part. So it is with us in our connection with the Lord Jesus. What we do to promote the kingdom of the Son of David will be for our profit. What makes someone great is the good he does. This greatness cannot be obtained without work and danger for one’s own life. It is about the good fight of faith in the Lord Jesus.

Hereafter follows the list of the names of David’s heroes (1 Chronicles 11:11-2 Corinthians :). That list is also in the second book of Samuel (2 Samuel 23:8-Malachi :). In 2 Samuel 23 this list is given at the end of David’s life, while here the heroes are mentioned at the beginning of his reign. The heroes and their actions are remembered here in relation to the time when David was not yet king.

From this we can learn the lesson that we are heroes if we already live up to the reign of the Lord Jesus in our lives. He will remember and appreciate this when we are with Him later. Nothing of what is done for the Lord in the time of His rejection is forgotten by Him (cf. Luke 22:28-Amos :).

The heroes are mentioned in connection with their actions in three areas. They have fought
1. with the enemies,
2. for the land and
3. for David.
The deeds of heroism reflect David’s great heroic deed in defeating Goliath.

The LORD has made David king, but here is seen the commitment of David’s followers to make him king. Their lives show what kind of people it are that have helped David to acquire the kingship. We see what spirit has inspired them and what has led them to their intense personal dedication.

We can also apply this to ourselves. Partly through our faithfulness, commitment and dedication, the way is paved for the Lord Jesus to establish His kingship here on earth. As soon as the last person has been added to the church of God, the Lord Jesus comes. As far as our responsibility is concerned, we can help to ensure that this happens quickly. Through our faithfulness, commitment, and dedication we can hasten the dawn of God’s day, that is, let it begin sooner (2 Peter 3:12). The day of God is the day when God will “be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28) and all things will answer to Whom He is.

Verse 11


The name of Jashobeam appears here for the first time. He is not mentioned in the description of David’s life during his rejection. He is of those who come to David when David is in Ziklag (1 Chronicles 12:1; 1 Chronicles 12:6). Here we see that he is mentioned as David’s main hero. His heroic act consists of killing three hundred men on a single occasion. He pierces all these enemies with his spear and radically deals with them.

There is no mention of who these enemies are. It gives us the example that we can defeat a powerful enemy who wants to overpower us or the people of God if we are attached to the Lord Jesus. For this we need to know how to deal with the spear. The spear is here an image of the Word of God. Only then we can defeat the enemy.

Verses 12-14


Eleazar defends the food of the people against the enemy, the Philistines. Philistines are people who live in the promised land and claim it for themselves, without any right to it. They represent people who reside on the Christian territory and call themselves Christians, while they have no life from God. They moderate that the Christian territory belongs to them and that only they know how to behave there. They fill in being a Christian at will, thereby depriving God’s people of the food of God’s Word. Such people are, for example, modernistic ministers.

There is a need for heroes to defend spiritual food against these influences. Such an act of heroism can be done only by someone who has love for God’s people. Here lies an important task for believers who have been given by the Lord as teachers to His church. They have to accurately handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15), that is to say, explain each part of the truth correctly, so that the Word of God is food for the hearer’s heart and he is built up by it in his faith.

Verses 15-19

Three Heroes Fetch Water for David

The three heroes who fetch water for David are characterized by love for David. What these three men do, may seem to unbelief an unreasonable or perhaps even a nonsensical love. The reason for this love deed is a childhood memory that David expresses. He would like someone to give him water to drink from the well of Bethlehem, where he grew up. He expresses this desire without addressing anyone directly. He does not give a command, but vents a sigh, as it were.

This sigh, this desire, is heard by these people. What they hear from David’s mouth and heart is enough to make an effort that David gets what he desires. They do not act on the basis of an order, but on the basis of a wish. They don’t discuss, but go. They must break through enemy lines twice. That doesn’t stop them from going anyway. They accomplish their mission and bring – we can imagine, with radiant faces – the water to David. Precisely because there is no meaningful argument for their action, the only motive can be their love for David.

David appreciates their deed. It penetrates deeply into him what efforts these men have made and what dangers they have defied. Therefore he does not want to drink the water they bring to him, but pours it out as a libation. For him this water is equal to their “blood”, that is “their life”, which they have put at risk for him (1 Chronicles 11:19). The men know the meaning of the libation. Therefore what David does is not an insult to them, but a proof of his great appreciation of their deed. The pouring out of the water is the only act that, between the mention of all the heroic deeds of his men, is mentioned of David himself.

Verses 20-21


Abshai or Abishai is mentioned several times in the history of David. He is the oldest of the three sons of Zeruiah, the sister of David (1 Chronicles 2:16). The first time his name is mentioned when David asks who wants to go with him to Saul, who pursues him. This is a dangerous undertaking. Abishai then presents himself (1 Samuel 26:6). Abishai has always stayed with David in the time that David is pursued by Saul.

The act mentioned here is not mentioned in the description of his fates with David. It is an impressive act. Within the second group of three, he takes first place and is even the commander of the other two heroes. At the same time it is mentioned that he did not reach the height of the first three.

That may seem like a disappointment, a shadow over his fine performance. Yet that is only true if he were an ambitious man. We have no indications of this. His brother Joab is ambitious. That this of Abishai is noticed is therefore not meant to be a denigration of his heroic deed. It is about the appreciation of his deed in comparison with the deeds of others. The Lord determines the value of everything.

It may be that others have done more for the Lord than we have. We don’t have to be sad about that, find it unfair or envy those others. We may know that what we have been able to do is fully appreciated by Him.

Verses 22-25


Benaiah performs three heroic deeds by defeating three enemies who were a threat to the people of God. Successively
1. he defeats two sons of Ariel from Moab,
2. he kills a lion in a pit at a time when there is snow, and
3. he defeats a giant of an Egyptian, whom he kills with his own weapon.

Benaiah was a very determined man. Nor is it the case that after one victory he thought it was all right. He has a keen eye for everything that threatens God’s people. Every time new danger presented itself, he dispels it by a firm and powerful action. When defeating the lion and the Egyptian, he turns to the enemy, he takes the initiative. Benaiah is a man with courage and perseverance.

From his achievements we can learn important spiritual lessons. We must remember, however, that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual [forces] of wickedness in the heavenly [places]” (Ephesians 6:12). The three enemies that Benaiah defeats and kills are a picture of three spiritual enemy powers that we face in our lives. We will see that Moab is a picture of the flesh in the believer, that the lion here is a picture of Satan and that the Egyptian is a picture of the world.

In the spiritual application, defeating the enemies takes place when someone comes to faith through the preaching of the gospel. Every time someone comes to faith, Satan and the world are defeated. We also see it when believers are led to live by the Spirit and thereby kill the workings of the flesh. [For a more detailed applications of the heroic deeds of Benaiah, see Explanation & Application of 2 Samuel 23:20-23.]

Benaiah is honored, but not like the others. Yet his reward comes after years, when David’s wanderings are over and David has become king over Israel. That is the time of decoration. Then David appoints him as the head of his bodyguard (1 Chronicles 11:25). The long time that has passed before Benaiah gains this important position may be an encouragement for believers who have to wait a long time for God’s public acknowledgment. Believers who see that believers who are less spiritual or even carnal minded seem to have more prosperity need not be discouraged. Once, at God’s time, perhaps only after years or at the open reign of the Lord Jesus, comes God’s public acknowledgment of what has been done for Him.

During the rejection of David Benaiah remained faithful to him. Without shivering, he fought enemies that were a threat to society. It did not matter to him whether they approached him or whether he had to go there himself. Where he saw danger, he acted fearlessly. We’ve seen that in the previous verses.

David acknowledges Benaiah’s impressive record of service and makes him the head of his bodyguard. This ‘promotion’ must have been a great joy for Benaiah. He was already so attached to his king and now he will be even more closely involved in David’s life. As the head of the bodyguard he will have to consult a lot with David. David will inform him of his whereabouts and his daily activities. David will tell him where he intends to go. On that basis Benaiah will have to investigate where dangers threaten and how they can be circumvented or rendered harmless.

We can see the next lesson here. Every victory over the flesh, the devil or the world is rewarded by the Lord Jesus with something of Himself. The power to say no to something the devil or the world offers is only found in our love for the Lord Jesus. For the Lord Jesus, this proof of our love is so important that He will tell us more about Himself. We are going to discover more and more in the Bible about how He thinks and acts, now and in the future.

At the same time he gives us the responsibility to keep what He entrusts us and not to let it take away from us. Thus Paul says to Timothy: “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you” (1 Timothy 6:20). Then the task is that we do not engage in “empty chatter [and] the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”” (1 Timothy 6:20). This is found among liberal theologians who, by appealing to the Bible, justify the most brutal sins and thus deceive countless people.

I read an example about a pastor who, appealing to “anything is lawful” (1 Corinthians 10:23), justifies a homosexual relationship! As if that is a relationship in which God’s thoughts of love between husband and wife are also expressed. These are enemies of the worst kind. The Lord Jesus wants us to hold fast what we have – in this example, marriage as He has instituted it – until He comes (Revelation 3:11).

When David has grown old, Benaiah faces a great danger that threatens his king. The danger comes from within. A son of David, Adoniah, wants to become king, while it is clear that Solomon is the rightful successor of David. This history is in 1 Kings 1. Adoniah is a handsome boy and a cunning talker. He also knows who to involve in his conspiracy and who to keep out. He knows it makes no sense to ask Benaiah to help him. It is clear to him that he cannot get him under his influence.

Does our environment also know us as someone with character? Or are we rather quick to go along with someone who has a certain ‘charisma’? Are we relying on the way someone comes across without paying attention to the content? Then ‘Adoniah’ has got hold on us. We no longer pay attention to the Lord Jesus, who we see as ‘old’ in the sense of old-fashioned. We are looking for new impulses to live our faith. How God wants it to be is no longer so important. ‘Experience’ or emotion is what it is all about. Not that experience or emotion is not important, but the ‘kick’-faith is not from God. It is not the Lord Jesus Who is central in this, but man and his feelings.

Let us think about whether we are in the right company. That is the case with Benaiah. He has good comrades in the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan. They are not invited by Adonia either. Who are our comrades, from whom do we have support when we need it? Are our friends spiritual-minded people who want to live with the Lord Jesus?

Verses 26-47

Other Heroes

God considered it important to list the names of these heroes and to preserve them. With very few exceptions we only know their names, but God knows exactly what they did for David and for Him. In this way God also keeps His registers today. There are deeds that stand out, while countless other deeds remained concealed. However, God knows how to appreciate every heroic act and to reward it in His time (cf. Matthew 25:14-Isaiah :; Luke 19:11-Psalms :). God rewards according to faithfulness, not according to the greatness of the deed.

We have several lists in which believers are mentioned, sometimes with mention of deeds. In the list of heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 first many names are mentioned, but at the end there are no more names, there we only read about deeds (Hebrews 11:1-Matthew :). See also the list of names in Romans 16, where Paul mentions believers, sometimes with, sometimes without an addition (Romans 16:1-Nehemiah :). This is also the case with the disciples of the Lord Jesus. Of some we know a lot, of others less, of a few only the name. But they were with the Lord and followed Him. That He remembers and will reward.

Some names of the list are known to us. We know the first name, Asahel. He is called the brother of Joab. This makes it all the more striking that apart from this mention to make it clear which Asahel it is about, the name of the honorary Joab does not appear on the list as David’s hero.

A remarkable, well-known name on the list is that of Uriah (1 Chronicles 11:41). David killed him to own his wife, Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:14-Esther :; 2 Samuel 11:22-Daniel :). We should not be surprised that his name is mentioned. He has shown great loyalty to David.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Chronicles 11". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/1-chronicles-11.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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