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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 12

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-7


In the previous chapter, David’s heroes have been listed who have been with him from the beginning of his wanderings. That was the time when Saul chased him like a partridge on the mountains. In this chapter we are told
1. who joined him when he was in Ziklag (1 Chronicles 12:1-Judges :; 1 Chronicles 12:19-Song of Solomon :),
2. who came to him when he was in the mountain fortresses (1 Chronicles 12:8-Job :) and
3. who came to him in Hebron (1 Chronicles 12:23-Haggai :).

Family Members of Saul

It is still about the time when David was the rejected and persecuted king, “while he was still restricted because of Saul”. Yet there are many who come to him at that time. They are also “among the mighty men who helped [him] in war”. It is striking how often in this chapter there is talk of ‘help’ (1 Chronicles 12:1; 1 Chronicles 12:171 Chronicles 12:18; 1 Chronicles 12:191 Chronicles 12:21; 1 Chronicles 12:22), a total of seven times.

These heroes come to David when he is at Ziklag. He is there because he thinks he someday still falls into the hands of Saul who is persecuting him restlessly to kill him (1 Samuel 27:1). It is not an act of faith of David, but that is not the emphasis here. It is presented here in such a way that he is in a position where he is restricted in his freedom of movement. The word ‘restricted’ also has something in it of ‘being banished’. David is not in the land he loves and in the inheritance that belongs to him because Saul persecutes him. We do not see here the side of David’s unbelief, but the emphasis here is on the side of God’s grace.

It is therefore a sign of this grace that it is precisely at this time that men come to him to help him in his struggle. They are men that David can use well, because they have their weapons with them and are also very adept at using them. They can use their weapons with either the right or left hand. That makes them surprising for the enemy, who does not know from which side the attack will come.

The first mentioned among those who come to David are those of Saul’s family. This shows the work of God in the hearts of the relatives of that great adversary. In their eyes, God and the choice of His king and the knowledge of His will have more value than blood relationship and the advantage that is usually associated with it. They give their strength and ability to David instead of to Saul. Many have been with Saul, but with him they have not become heroes.

For whom do we use our gifts, our talents? As long as we were unrepentant, we used all our gifts and talents for ourselves, which is essentially for the devil. After our conversion, that changed. We can now do everything we can to fight the good fight of faith. In doing so, we must continue to ensure that we do not yet use our skills to our own credit. That danger remains in everything we do.

Verses 8-15


The next group of men who are said to come over to David are eleven Gadites. They have separated from their home area and their family in the east side of Jordan to be with David. David is then “in the stronghold in the wilderness”, where we can think of the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1; 1 Samuel 22:41 Samuel 22:5; 1 Samuel 24:22), where David and his people have hidden from Saul.

David will also have been very pleased with the arrival of these men. The description shows that they have an impressive record of military service. However, it is not just a description of past activities, but they are still fully available for battle. They come in full armor at David.

Their appearance at David is like the appearance of eleven lions. The fact that they look like lions does not only say something about their courage, but also about the fear they instill. Their speed is also described visually. They are “as swift as the gazelles on the mountains”. They are not only fast in the wilderness, but also on the mountains. They know how to overcome ‘mountains’ of difficulties or great resistance with great speed.

We are dealing here with men who have an impressive power (1 Chronicles 12:14). Each of these eleven men is worth at least as much in strength as a hundred other men, while there are also men worth a thousand other men. With eleven of these men you have a large army at your disposal.

These men have not only great strength but also impressive courage. The proof is that they crossed the Jordan during spring tide (1 Chronicles 12:15). The roaring water has not stopped them from going through it. They have overcome insurmountable difficulties to be with him who is irresistible to them. Not only have they defied natural elements, they have also driven out enemies who found themselves in both the west and the east. It didn’t matter where those enemies were. Their courage and their strength have proven themselves in several areas.

The character of the Gadites should characterize us, believers, more. This character appears among those who are irresistibly attracted to the Lord Jesus. He who sees and loves Him is able to do great acts of faith, and can fight for Him and His kingdom. This happens in this time, the time of the church, not with carnal weapons and carnal courage, but with spiritual weapons and with spiritual courage. It is about God’s power that is accomplished in weakness and about the mind of the Lord Jesus who overcomes the greatest opposition and opponent.

Verses 16-18

Benjamites and Judeans

Still others come to David when he is still in the stronghold. Again it is about “sons of Benjamin” (1 Chronicles 12:16; 1 Chronicles 12:1-Exodus :), together with descendants of “Judah”. When they come to David, he goes to meet them. He is careful in their case and wants certainty about their motives. He wants to know if they come to him “peacefully”, to help him, or if they want to betray him to his opponents (1 Chronicles 12:17). In the first case, they can count on him to be one of heart with them. They then fight for the same good cause. If the latter is the case, they must know that there is no wrong in his hands and that God will then give him justice by punishing this evil.

David is not naive. Nor should we be naive when people we do not know tell us that they want to serve and worship the Lord together with us. It is our responsibility to test what motivates them. David acknowledges them as belonging to the people of God by speaking to them about “the God of our fathers”, that is, their common God. These are people who belong to God’s people, but of whom we must be certain that they really stand right before God.

After the testing words of David, the Spirit of God comes over Amasai. Literally it says that the Spirit clothes Himself with Amasai (cf. Judges 6:34). Then he pronounces things that testify of great willingness to help David, to serve in the great army. David recognizes that it is really the Spirit in Amasai Who speaks and he accepts him and his men and makes them captains over the band. Through the Spirit Amasai expresses that David is acknowledged as the rightful king. That is also what the Holy Spirit wants us to do, that we confess the dominion of the Lord Jesus in our lives.

The words Amasai speaks on behalf of all testify to their great attachment to David. Through Amasai they declare that they belong to David and that they want to be with him. They wish him peace. By connecting to him as helpers they know that they share in that peace. They also confess that God is the source of that peace, for because God helps David, that peace is present.

The testimony of Amasai is beautiful: “[We] are yours, O David, And with you, O son of Jesse!” In this we find two aspects that we can apply to our relationship to the Lord Jesus and our confession thereof. We may say to Him that we are connected to Him. This means that we are His, we belong to Him. The second is that we are with Him. This means that we follow Him on the path of humiliation.

The first aspect is linked to the name “David”. David means ‘beloved’. The Lord Jesus is the Beloved of the Father. The second aspect is connected with the way of humiliation, which is expressed in “son of Jesse”. ‘Son of Jesse’ points to the humble origins of David. Is it also our confession that we are with the Lord Jesus as the One Who suffered, was rejected, and was crucified?

In a striking way both aspects are expressed by Paul. He indicates our position when he says: “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16). This relates to our connection to the Lord Jesus. But this testimony of our connectedness in position is also connected with the place of rejection we take. This is immediately followed by Paul when he says: “If indeed we suffer with [Him] so that we may also be glorified with [Him]” (Romans 8:17).

Here we find two rules that are fundamental to our faith:
1. our confession, that is what we say and
2. the practice of our life as Christians, that is what we show.
When the Spirit brings us to this, we long for peace on earth, as Amasai then proclaims: “Peace, peace to you, And peace to him who helps you; Indeed, your God helps you!” (1 Chronicles 12:18).

Peace and the desire for it occupy a large place in this history. This too is connected with the Holy Spirit, Who is a Spirit of peace. That is what every believer desires deeply. This is the peace which the Spirit, Who is on Amasai, bears witness to. If we accept to follow a rejected Lord and share in His rejection, that peace is there for us too. Then we will experience what the Lord Jesus says to His disciples: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27).

At Calvary, the place of the deepest humiliation, that peace has been established. One of the great features of the Lord Jesus is His peace in all His doings. He had that peace because He trusted His God and Father completely. How we can stand in that peace, we can only learn from Him. In all circumstances we need to remain in that peace in our doings. Each one of us can work this out because the Spirit dwells in us.

After the confession of Amasai David takes him and his men up and gives them all a task. When we give ourselves completely and entrust ourselves to God, He notices it too, and He entrusts us with a task. Only in this attitude are we fit to fulfill a task for Him and He would like to use us if the Spirit can work in us in this way. We also see that David himself, and no one else, takes them up. If we translate that to the Lord Jesus, it is the same. The men who are subjected to David, become captains. It’s about serving David actually.

In what Amasai says to David by the Spirit, we recognize what the believer says to and about the Lord Jesus when he is led by the Spirit. Words spoken out of love for the Lord Jesus come from and through the Spirit and that in the time of rejection. Those who believe and are guided by the Spirit choose His side. They first say that they are of Him and then that they want to be with Him.

Many Christians unfortunately only say that they are of the Lord Jesus and do not show that they are with Him. Always being in His company can sometimes cost too much. Whoever wishes peace to the Lord Jesus, wishes it also to himself and will receive it, for God is on the side of the Lord Jesus.

Verses 19-22


Also from Manasseh there are those who choose David’s side in the time of his rejection. Seven army officers from Manasseh come to David when he lives in Ziklag. That is shortly before Saul is killed by the Philistines with whom David should go to war. In His grace God keeps David and also these men of Manasseh to fight with the Philistines. He makes sure that the city princes do not want David to go with them in their fight against Saul (1 Samuel 29:4). The Manassites have helped David in his battle against the Amalekites, among others, who destroyed Ziklag during his absence (1 Samuel 30:1-Ruth :).

Through all who come to David, his army becomes “a great army like the army of God” (1 Chronicles 12:22). David is helped by God, Who allows warriors to come to him to give substance to this help. At the same time, David’s army is an “army of God”.

What we see in this whole section, we can also apply to our time. We see God’s kingdom expanding. This is not done through political efforts. Gospel and politics cannot be combined in order to extend the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom expands every time someone comes to repentance. At that moment someone accepts the Lord Jesus as Savior and Lord and comes into His sphere of authority and under His authority. To enter the kingdom of God, the power of faith is needed, for only faith overcomes the world (Matthew 11:12; 1 John 5:4).

Verses 23-37

Who Come to David at Hebron

In this section, people are no longer mentioned so much, but mainly the tribes and numbers. They come to David at Hebron when he is already king, to acknowledge that the kingship of Saul passed to him (1 Chronicles 12:23), which is a confirmation of what is written in 1 Chronicles 10 (1 Chronicles 10:14).

They are, so to speak, a second batch. Others have already left Saul at an earlier stage to join David. They come after Saul is dead and they have had to conclude that they are facing a lost cause (1 Chronicles 12:29). We also see that there are people who accept and follow the Lord Jesus at an early age, while others do not do so until later in life, when they discover that they lead a lost life.

Details are mentioned for each tribe. There are tribes who are said to be “mighty men of valor” or “mighty men of valor for war” (1 Chronicles 12:25; 1 Chronicles 12:281 Chronicles 12:30). Others have “all kinds of weapons of war” (1 Chronicles 12:33; 1 Chronicles 12:37). Others are mentioned “who understood the times” (1 Chronicles 12:32). All these particularities can be applied to the different characteristics that are perceptible in children of God. Everyone has something specific, something that characterizes him or her. This also shows that they complement each other and need each other to be one.

It is striking how few fighters come from the tribes of Judah and Simeon close to Jerusalem, compared to other tribes further away (1 Chronicles 12:24-Lamentations :).

The tribe of Levi also provides warriors, as does the priestly family, the family of Aaron (1 Chronicles 12:26-Hosea :). As an exception in the enumeration of the tribes, two names of persons are mentioned here. One name is that of “Jehoiada … the leader of [the house of] Aaron”. The other name is that of “Zadok”, of whom it is also said that he is “, a young man mighty of valor”. A priest has the privilege of serving God in the sanctuary. However, that does not mean that he does not have to fight. A believer who worships God as a good priest in the sanctuary will certainly be a good warrior outside the sanctuary for the interests of the One he worships.

Zadok was chosen by God to stand before the king. Under Solomon he will be the high priesthood (1 Chronicles 29:22; 1 Kings 2:35; 1 Kings 4:4). God has told Eli that He will have a priest walking before His anointed king (1 Samuel 2:35). Here king and priest are connected. It is the union we see in the true Melchizedek, the Lord Jesus Who will be Priest on His throne (Zechariah 6:13).

For the third time in this chapter we hear of Benjamites (1 Chronicles 12:29; 1 Chronicles 12:2-Judges :; 1 Chronicles 12:16). Here it appears that the majority of this tribe remains loyal to Saul. This means that the Benjamites who go to David are against the majority. They defy the hatred of their family members who may have accused them of cowardice or betrayal.

From the Issacharites we read that they “understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). We need people like them who know what time it is on God’s clock (cf. Esther 1:13). They have learned, through perception in the world around them and from experience in dealing with the people around them, what their own duties and interests are and what those of others are. They know that they have to make David king now, now is the time for that.

In spiritual terms, Paul belongs to this tribe. As a real Issacharite he says to the believers, that he knows the time when they must awaken from sleep, because “knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. To this end he then says: “Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:11-2 Kings :).

Do we know the time and the spirit of the time? Do we know what we have to do to not be overwhelmed and eliminated by the enemy, but to remain subservient to the Lord? Can we serve our fellow believers with our understanding of God’s thoughts about time and the spirit of the time?

Who wants to be a real Issacharite, also has to be a real Zebulunite. From the men of this tribe we read that they are prepared to “draw up in battle formation … with an undivided heart” (1 Chronicles 12:33). Their hearts are seized by nothing but David and the battle for him. Their hearts are “united” (Psalms 86:11). They are not double-hearted. There is no other motive in their hearts but to be only for David and to confirm him in his kingship. This characteristic must be found with us in relation to the Lord Jesus.

They are draw up “in battle formation”. This indicates that they are disciplined in their army unit. They each take their own place, but in the knowledge that they are part of a whole. There is individual dedication with all, each in his or her own place, so that the whole is a ‘team’ focused entirely on David.

Paul can rejoice at the sight of the “order” of the believers in the church in Colossae (Colossians 2:5). If there is personal commitment and an orderly whole, the enemy does not get a chance to break in a local church. However, if there are divisions, or schisms, he can easily sow disunity (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Verses 38-40

The Kingship Celebrated

All “men of war” come “Hebron with a perfect heart” (1 Chronicles 12:38) and “all the rest also of Israel” – which probably means the civilian population – come “of one mind” to David to make him king “over all Israel”. This is first and foremost a look ahead to the kingdom of peace, when all will acknowledge the Lord Jesus as King of the kings and Lord of the lords. That will be a time of feast and joy (Proverbs 11:10), of eating and drinking in abundance.

The great source of joy is being “with David”. In his presence, fellowship is also enjoyed with one another, of which the meal speaks, prepared for them by “their kinsmen”. There is more than enough for everyone.

There is “joy indeed in Israel”, both among those who have shared in the rejection of David and among those who only now acknowledge him. Where Christ reigns in the hearts, there is great joy in the heart. Where all authority is given to Him, there is unity. Then there is also power. Where believers in unity acknowledge the Lord Jesus as Lord, there is an abundance of spiritual food.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Chronicles 12". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/1-chronicles-12.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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