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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 11". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ tpc/ 1-chronicles-11.html. 1897.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 11". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
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1 Chronicles 11:1
Upon the death of Saul, Abner, for a while espousing the cause of Ishbo-sheth, the only surviving son of Saul, "made him king over" a large proportion of the people, exclusive of Judah (2 Samuel 2:8-10). Already David had been anointed at Hebron by "the men of Judah, king over the house of Judah" (2 Samuel 2:1-4). And David continued "king in Hebron over the house of Judah seven years and six months" (2 Samuel 2:11; 2Sa 5:5; 1 Kings 2:11; 1 Chronicles 3:4). Notice the agreement of this date with the account of the six sons born to David in Hebron (2 Samuel 3:2-5). The explanation of the chronology for Ishbosheth affecting this period is not easy. It is said that he reigned over Israel "two years" (2 Samuel 2:10). Where was the difference of five and a half years lost? Our first verse here, with its apparently emphatic then, would seem to make it very unlikely that it was lost between the death of Ishbosheth and the kingship of David over "all the tribes of Israel" together with Judah. On the other hand, the interval in question might find its account in the "long war (2 Samuel 3:1, 2 Samuel 3:6, 2 Samuel 3:17-21) between the house of Saul and the house of David." There is, however, still possible the supposition that the historian intends to give the intrinsically correct facts of the case, and means that, what with delay before getting the adhesion of the people to Ishbosheth, and what with the early decay of his sovereign power, he could not be said to have reigned more than two years. This verse, then, shows that the history proper of Chronicles purports to begin from the time of David's rule over the entire and united people, at the exact date of seven and a half years after Saul's death, while no mention is here made of his intermediate partial rule over Judah, or of Ishbosheth's temporary rule over Benjamin and Israel. All Israel; i.e. "all the tribes of Israel" (2 Samuel 5:1), by their representatives, "the elders of Israel" (2Sa 3:17; 2 Samuel 5:3; as well as our 2 Samuel 5:3). The first nine verses of this chapter cover the same ground as the first ten verses of 2 Samuel 5:1-25. Unto Hebron. We learn how David came to be here from 2 Samuel 2:1. "And it came to pass after this" (i.e. after David's "lamentation over Saul and Jonathan") "that David inquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah? And the Lord said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, Unto Hebron." Hebron was the "earliest seat of civilized life, not of Judah only, but of all Palestine." It and Bethlehem are two of the most special memorials of David. An interesting sketch of the topography and natural features of this place, and a succinct Biblical history of it in Stanley's 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 164, from which comes the following quotation:—"Hebron, according to the Jewish tradition, was the primeval city of the vine. Its name indicates community or society. It was the ancient city of Ephron the Hittite, in whose gate he and the elders received the offer of Abraham, when as yet no other fixed habitation of man was known in central Palestine. It was the first home of Abraham and the patriarchs; their own permanent resting-place when they were gradually exchanging the pastoral for the agricultural life. In its neighbourhood can be traced, by a continuous tradition, the site of the venerable tree under which Abraham pitched his tent, and of the double cavern in which he and his family were deposited and perhaps still remain. It was the city of Arba, the old Canaanite chief, with his three giant sons, under whose walls the trembling spies stole through the land by the adjacent valley of Eshcoh Here Caleb chose his portion when, at the head of his valiant tribe, he drove out the old inhabitants, and called the whole surrounding territory after his own name; and here the tribe of Judah always rallied, when it asserted its independent existence against the rest of the Israelite nation. It needs but few words to give the secret of this early selection, of this long continuance of the metropolitan city of Judah. Every traveller from the desert must have been struck by the sight of that pleasant vale, with its orchards and vineyards and numberless wells, and we must add, in earlier times, the groves of terebinths and oaks which then attracted from far the eye of the wandering tribes. This fertility was in part owing to its elevation into the cooler and the more watered region above the dry and withered valleys of the rest of Judaea—and commanding this fertile valley, rose Hebron, on its crested hill." Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh. This is a figurative expression, the pedigree and lineage of which it is interesting to note (see 2 Samuel 19:12; Judges 9:2; Genesis 29:14; Genesis 2:23). The highest service to which it was promoted may be said to be reached, however, in Ephesians 5:30.
1 Chronicles 11:2
Thou shalt feed my people Israel (so 2 Samuel 5:2; 2 Samuel 7:7; Psalms 78:71). Thus to the servant is condescendingly vouchsafed the same description as the Master takes through the Spirit for himself—to the under-shepherd the same as the Chief Shepherd acknowledges; note same psalm, verse 72; Psalms 23:1-4; Psalms 100:3; 1 Peter 5:4.
1 Chronicles 11:3
Made a covenant… before the Lord. A forcible use of this phrase occurs in Judges 11:11. It implies that the engagement was ratified in the presence of a holy place, a holy vessel of the sanctuary, or a holy person (1 Samuel 21:6, 1 Samuel 21:7; Joshua 18:8; Le Joshua 1:5). Whether the tabernacle was now at Hebron is doubtful, but the two priests, Abiathar and Zadok, were. They anointed David. The first time of David's being anointed (lSa Judges 16:1, Judges 16:13) Samuel the prophet officiated. The second time (2 Samuel 2:4) was when the "men of Judah" anointed him king over "the house of Judah." This third time when David was anointed king over the united people, it was at all events at the special instance of "all the elders of Israel," although who officiated on these two last occasions is not mentioned. According to the word of the Lord by Samuel. The sentence marks the complete fulfilment of what had been foreshadowed in 1 Samuel 16:12, 1 Samuel 16:13; and it may probably have been the more carefully introduced by the compiler of Chronicles, in consideration of the absence from his own work of previous details and of the previous anointings of David.
1 Chronicles 11:4
Jerusalem, which is Jebus. This ancient name of Jerusalem, of Canaanitish date, is found only once beside, viz. in Judges 19:10, Judges 19:11; the Gentile form of the noun, however, Jebusi, is of more frequent occurrence, and sometimes it is found even as the name of the city (Joshua 15:8, Joshua 15:63; Joshua 18:16, Joshua 18:28). The derivation and meaning of the word are unascertained. Gesenius explains it to mean "a place dry or downtrodden like a threshing-floor."
1 Chronicles 11:5
Thou shalt not come hither. The inhabitants of Jebus added something beside (2 Samuel 5:6). They had said, "Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither." The castle of Zion. This fort became the site of the temple. It is the Acra of Josephus, and is different from the modern Zion. It was the eastern hill in the city, was the second highest elevation in the city, and up to the time of the destruction of the city of Jerusalem was uniformly named Zion, though from the time of Constantine it has been used for the name of the western hill, the site of Jerusalem. There is but little doubt of the identity of the hill of Moriah with the hill of Zion, though no individual passage of Scripture asserts it. The passage before us, however, with its parallel, tells us plainly enough that the city of David, and that which became the sacred hill of Zion are one; and many passages in the Psalms and the prophets both confirm this and point out the difference between Zion and Jerusalem.
1 Chronicles 11:6
The name and fresh glory of Joab, as given here, are not given in 2 Samuel 5:3-10; and we could suppose that they were purposely withheld there. It is true that Joab already held high office, probably the first place as captain of David's men, but Bertheau's objection to the statements of this verse on such grounds easily yields to the considerations—first, that there can be no doubt Joab had fallen into disfavour with David and others, upon his slaying of Abner (2 Samuel 3:26-29, 2 Samuel 3:36, 2 Samuel 3:37); and further, that this was a great occasion, exceedingly favourable for evoking any very special ability of younger or unknown men, at present lost under the shadow of larger growths. The advantage which Joab gained now was one that confirmed his position and increased largely his influence; and an indication that he was not slow to avail himself of it is probably to be traced in the eighth verse, where it is said while "David built… even from Millo round about,… Joab repaired the rest of the city."
1 Chronicles 11:8
Millo. There is great uncertainty as to the derivation and the meaning of this word. It is probably not really of Hebrew extraction, but of the oldest Canaanitish origin. In the Hebrew it is always used with the article, and would presumably come from the Hebrew root "to fill." Josephus seems to use, as synonymous expression for "David's wall round Millo," this, viz. "buildings round about the lower city" ('Jud. Ant.,' 3.2, compared with 5; 'Wars,' 6.1, where he identifies those "buildings," etc; with Acra). As the name of a family, it is mentioned in connection with Shechem, known specially as a place of the Canaanites (Judges 9:6, Judges 9:20). The Septuagint represents it by the word ἡ ἂκρα. In the remarkable passage, 2 Kings 12:20, the word "Silla" is even a greater enigma, which, however, may designate the "steps from the city of David" (Nehemiah 3:15), or "the causeway of going up" to the west of the temple (1 Chronicles 22:16). The likeliest view of Mille is that it was a very strong point of fortification in the surrounding defences of the hill of Zion (1 Kings 9:24; 1 Kings 11:27). In 2 Chronicles 32:5 the otherwise unvarying translation (ἡ ἂκρα) of the Septuagint is superseded by τὸ ἀνάλημμα, a word itself of doubtful signification. For while some would render it by the word "foundation," Schleusner translates it "height." Grove (in Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 2:367) puts it in "the neighbourhood of the Tyropaean valley at the foot of Zion." Some clue may lie in the word "inward," applied to the building by David. Does it imply a covering by edifices of the space, or some portion of it, that lay between Zion and the rest of the city? (See also Keil on Kings, vol. 2:163.)
1 Chronicles 11:10-25
This list of chiefs of David's "mighty men' finds a more appropriate position where it is placed here, than where it is found, after the close of the very dying speech of David, in 2 Samuel 23:8-23. It plainly belongs to the time of the establishment of David's sway over the whole people. The different position of the list here is itself an indication of some force, that the writers of the work of Samuel and of Chronicles availed them- selves independently of the common source, and that the latter did not take through the former.
1 Chronicles 11:11
This is the number. The Hebrew has, "These are the number." The sentence should probably be, "These are the names" (2 Samuel 23:8). Jashobeam. In the parallel passage, this name is supplied by the words "The Tachmonite ישֵׁב בַּשֶּׁבָת, Authorized Version, "that sat in the seat" (see the previous verse), probably in error for our יָשָׁבְעָם (see Kennicott's 'Dissert.,' 82). His immediate paternal ancestor seems to have been Zabdiel (1 Chronicles 27:2). The only other notices of him are in 1 Chronicles 12:6; 1 Chronicles 27:2, in which latter passage he is mentioned as "over the first course for the first month and in his course were twenty and four thousand." The chief of the captains. The Authorized Version follows the Keri (which is distinguished from the Chethiv by a yod in place of a vau), and translates captains. It seems better (1 Chronicles 27:15, 1 Chronicles 27:25; 1Ch 12:1, 1 Chronicles 12:18; 1 Chronicles 27:6) to abide by the Chethiv, and translate "the chief of the thirty." He lifted up his spear. Notice the probable error in Samuel, occasioned by some similarity in the Hebrew letters. "The same was Adino the Eznite." The number of Jashobeam's victims is stated at "eight hundred" in the parallel passage (2 Samuel 23:8). (For analogous idioms, see Exodus 7:20; Exodus 20:25; Deuteronomy 27:5; Joshua 8:31; Psalms 41:9; Psalms 74:5; Isaiah 2:4; Eze 26:1-21 :28.)
1 Chronicles 11:12
Eleazar. Perhaps the same as Azareel in the list at 1 Chronicles 12:6, in which Jashobeam is also found. Dodo. This name is found in three forms, the Chethiv being Dodi; the Keri, Dodo; and Dodai being found in 1 Chronicles 27:4. He is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 27:4 as "over the course of the second month… in his course likewise twenty and four thousand." The Ahohite. In the parallel passage (2 Samuel 23:9), for הָאְחַוֹחִי here, we find בֶן־־אֲחוֹחִי. Ahohite is the patronymic of the Ahoah, who (1 Chronicles 8:4) was given among the sons of Bela, the firstborn of Benjamin. The three mighties. Who is the third? We have here but two—Jashobeam and Eleazar. The parallel passage supplies the omission by the name of Shammah the Hararite (2 Samuel 23:11, 2 Samuel 23:33; comp. our 2 Samuel 23:27). And a careful comparison of the passages suggests how the omission came about, and that it was but part of a larger omission. Between the sentences, "and there the Philistines were gathered together to battle," and "where was a parcel of ground full of barley" (in our next verse, 13) there is an hiatus of two verses (viz. those found in 2 Samuel 23:1-39, as latter half of 2Sa 23:9, 2 Samuel 23:10, and former half of 2 Samuel 23:11), and this hiatus was occasioned probably by the recurrence of the expression, "and the Philistines were gathered together," in the remaining half of 1 Chronicles 27:11 (see Kennicott's Bible, and 'Speaker's Commentary,' in loc.).
1 Chronicles 11:13
Pas-dammim. This word, הַפַּס דַּמִּים, appears in 1 Samuel 17:1 as אֶפֶס דַּמִּים, and is supposed to mean, in either form, "the boundary of blood;" it was the scene of frequent conflicts with the Philistines, and was the spot where they were encamped at the time of Goliath's challenge to Israel. It was near Shocoh, or Soech, in Judah, some fourteen miles south-west of Jerusalem. Full of barley. The Authorized Version reading in the parallel passage (2 Samuel 23:11) is "full of lentiles," the Hebrew for "barley" is שְׂעוֹרִים, for "lentiles" עֲדָשִׁים. Possibly the words should be the same, one being here spelt, by accident, wrongly for the other (so Kennicott). The first Bible mention of "barley" occurs in Exodus 9:31, Exodus 9:32, from which verses we learn that it, together with "flax," was an earlier crop than "rye" and "wheat." It was not only used for food for man (Numbers 5:15; Judges 7:13; Ezekiel 4:12), but also for horses (1 Kings 4:28). That it was nevertheless of the less-valued grain, we have significant indications, in its being prescribed for the "jealousy offering" (Numbers 5:15, comp. with Le Numbers 2:1), and in its being part of the purchase price of the adulteress (Hosea 3:2). Its derivation in the Hebrew, from a verbal root signifying "to bristle," is in noticeable analogy with the Latin hordeum, from horreo. Gesenius's observation, that the singular of the word given above in the Hebrew marks the "growing crop," and the plural the "grain" itself, seems hardly corroborated by this single passage at all events. The lentile, on the other hand, was a species of bean, and used much for soup, of which Egyptian tomb-paintings furnish illustration (Genesis 25:29-34; 2 Samuel 17:28; Ezekiel 4:9). Sonnini, in his 'Travels' (translation of Hunter, 3:288), tells us that still the Egyptian poor eat lentile-bread, but, what is more apropos of this passage, that in making it they prefer to mix a little "barley" with it. This apparent discrepancy between the parallel accounts not only counts in itself for very little, but may easily be surmounted by supposing that, though it be written that the "parcel" of ground was "full of lentiles," and again "full of barley," the description may only amount to this, that such parcels were in close juxtaposition. But if not, our allusion above to the possible error in the Hebrew words will sufficiently explain the variation.
1 Chronicles 11:14
This, as well as the latter half of the preceding verse, belongs to the account of Shammah the Hararite (2 Samuel 23:11), and in the parallel the verbs are accordingly in the singular number. In that same place Shammah is called the "son of Agee," which probably answers to the "Shage" of the present chapter (1 Chronicles 11:34), where our reading should rather be, "Jonathan the son of Shammah the son of Shage, the Hararite." The word "Hararite" designates, according to Gesenius, "one from the hill-country," i.e. the hill-country of Judah or Ephraim, and would be equivalent with us to such a description as "the mountaineer."
1 Chronicles 11:15
Three of the thirty. The thirty here alluded to have not been mentioned either in the Book of Samuel or here, except by implication of our 1 Chronicles 11:11, where we might imagine the sense to be, "Now these are the names of the mighty men, in number thirty, whom David had, viz. Jashobeam, an Hachmonite, the chief of the thirty." Nor are we told in either place who were the "three" here spoken of. The article is absent in both places, or it would be convenient and natural to suppose that the three just mentioned are those intended, which cannot, however, be taken for granted. The language of 1 Chronicles 11:20-22, 1 Chronicles 11:25, might rather indicate that the three mentioned in those verses are those in question. The repeated uncertainty in which we are left on matters to which no intrinsic difficulty adheres seems evidence of injured manuscripts rather than of anything else. To the rock to David. This is the right reading, עֵל־חֵשֻּׂר אֶל־דָּוִד; and that in the parallel passage ("to David in the harvest-time") is not correct, אֶל־קָצִיר אֶל־דָּוִד. The cave of Adullam. Adullam, evidently a place of great antiquity (Genesis 38:1-30 :l, 12, 20), is mentioned in Joshua 12:15; Joshua 15:35; it was the seat then of a Canaanite king. It afterwards lay in Judah, in that lowland (called often the Shephelah) that ran from Joppa to Gaza, near the Mediterranean Sea. It kept name and fame to the last (2 Chronicles 11:7; Nehemiah 11:30). The "rock" marks the limestone cliffs of the region. We read of it, as David's refuge (1 Samuel 22:1, 1 Samuel 22:2). From our present passage, and its parallel we should have concluded that it could not have been far from Bethlehem. In this sense Dr. Thomson refers to the tradition that fixes the cave at a spot now called Khureitun, between Bethlehem and the Dead Sea, and says, "Leaving our horses in charge of wild Arabs, and taking one Arab for a guide, we started for the cave, having a fearful gorge below, gigantic cliffs above, and the path winding along a shelf of the rock, narrow enough to make the nervous among us shudder. At length from a great rock, hanging on the edge of this shelf, we sprang by a long leap into a low window, which opened into the perpendicular face of the cliff. We were then within the hold of David, and creeping half-doubled through a narrow crevice for a few rods, we stood beneath the dark vault of the first grand chamber of this mysterious and oppressive cavern. Our whole collection of lights did little more than make the damp darkness visible. After groping about as long as we had Lime to spare, we returned to the light of day, fully convinced that, with David and his lion-hearted followers inside, all the strength of Israel under Saul could not have forced an entrance, and would not even have attempted it." The host. For this word "host" (מַחֲגֵה) the parallel (2 Samuel 23:13) has the "life of the Philistines" (but the Authorized Version, the "troop of"), i.e. the beasts and cattle of the Philistines. So also the Syriac Version translates, The Septuagint shows in this place παρεμβολή, and in Samuel τὰγμα. The valley of Rephaim. The situation of this notable valley is not certain. Yet there can be little doubt, in spite of Furst ('Handwortbuch,' 2:383), who supposes a situation north-west of Jerusalem, that it must be near Bethlehem, and therefore south-west of the city. The word employed Here for "valley".
1 Chronicles 11:16
David was then in the hold. This statement may, perhaps, sufficiently identify this occasion with that of 2 Samuel 5:17, 2 Samuel 5:18; where it is expressly said that "David went down to the hold" (מְצוּדָה being the word found there as here). Garrison. The Hebrew here says "officer" (נְצִיב), but the parallel passage has "garrison" (מַשָּׂב); yet, according to Gesenius, the former word has both meanings. He is right, certainly, if he means that it has received both translations, for see 1 Kings 4:19 for the one, and our present passage supplies the other (1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Samuel 13:3).
1 Chronicles 11:17
The well of Bethlehem… at the gate. Nothing else is known of this well. No trace of it exists now, according to Dr. Robinson ('Bibl. Res.,' 1:473). The traditional well is half a mile distant, to the north of the town, and consists of a group of three cisterns, while the present town is supplied with water by an aqueduct.
1 Chronicles 11:18
David… poured it out to the Lord. This was done after the nature of a libation (1 Samuel 7:6; Judges 6:20; Exodus 30:9; Genesis 35:14).
1 Chronicles 11:19
My God forbid it me. Compare the Hebrew of this with that of the expression in the parallel (2 Samuel 23:17), where יְהֹוָה is found in the place of our מֵאֱלֹהַי. It is probable that the preposition nieni is lost from before "Jehovah." Shall I drink the blood, etc.? i.e. the water which has been obtained at the imminent peril of the life of these three brave men (comp. Genesis 4:10, Genesis 4:11; Genesis 9:4-6; John 6:53, John 6:54).
1 Chronicles 11:20
Abishai… was chief of the three. It is remarkable that again the name of one of the three is wanting, even if we take Benaiah of 1 Chronicles 11:22 for the second.
1 Chronicles 11:21
Than the two. The Hebrew (בַשְׁנַיִס) cannot be thus translated, but possibly the words may mark the second set of three.
1 Chronicles 11:22
Benaiah, His father Jehoiada was chief priest (1 Chronicles 27:5). Benaiah was, therefore, a Levite by tribe, though Kabzeel (Joshua 15:21) was in Judah far south. He was "captain of the host for the third month… and in his course were twenty and four thousand" (1 Chronicles 27:5). When in our 1 Chronicles 11:25 it is said that "David set him over his guard," the allusion probably is to his uniform and prolonged command of "the Cherethites and Pelethites" (2 Samuel 8:18; 2Sa 20:23; 1 Kings 1:38; 1 Chronicles 18:17). His fidelity and influence remained into Solomon's time (1 Kings 1:8, 1 Kings 1:10, 1Ki 1:32, 1 Kings 1:38, 1 Kings 1:44; 1 Kings 2:35; 1 Kings 4:4).
1 Chronicles 11:23
Five cubits high. This height is not given in the parallel passage; it means seven feet six inches. A spear like a weaver's beam (so 1 Samuel 17:7; 2 Samuel 21:19).
1 Chronicles 11:24
The name. There is no article in the Hebrew.
1 Chronicles 11:25
Over his guard. If the reference is not as above (see 1 Chronicles 11:22), the margin of the parallel (2 Samuel 23:23) may be followed, which would translate "guard" as council. This Gesenius adopts, and translates "privy council." There seems, however, no necessity for this, with the references before us above given.
1 Chronicles 11:26-41
These verses correspond with 1 Chronicles 11:24-39 in 2 Samuel 23:1-39; and with them the subject ends there, though not here. The list announced here as comprising "the valiant men of the armies," is unannounced there, but, beginning with the same name, Asahel, it calls him "one of the thirty," and suggests the inference that those who follow will make up the rest. The number that follows (coinciding in this respect strictly with our list here) is itself thirty, which, though one too many, may be considered satisfactorily accounted for in the fact of the untimely death of Asahel, already recorded (2 Samuel 2:23). Considering the exact crisis at which he died, it is very likely that his place should be compensated for, although his name were unremoved from the honourable list. Amid the difficulties that develop themselves in the contents of these lists, when compared, the comparison of them aids the conviction that, so far as they go together, they do stand for "the thirty" spoken of in both places, and that a sentence or two here and there, now lost or corrupted beyond recognition, would clear up the whole subject. The comparison also seems to make it clear that the compiler of Chronicles, meaning to go beyond an enumeration of the thirty, nowhere speaks of thirty after 2 Samuel 23:25. On the other hand, the writer of the account in Samuel carefully sums up all (2 Samuel 23:39) in the words, "thirty and seven in all"—an addition which means either the actual thirty-one given and the two sets of three each; or the thirty, with the two sets of three each and Joab ever all. Our present chapter, however, goes on to the number forty-eight in all, verses 41-47, adding sixteen to the thirty-two which precede. Beside some minor differences, it must be said that at fewest three names, Hepher, Ahijah, and Mibhar, in Chronicles, resist identification with those that should (from position) correspond with them in the list of Samuel and with any others. And the same thing may be said of the same number in the list of Samuel (Elika, Eliam, Bani) when compared with the list now before us. The points of contact and clearest identification are, therefore, in so great a majority and are so uniformly distributed that, although it is left hard to decide the causes of them, these differences cannot throw any discredit upon the list as a whole. Perhaps the most probable suggestion to be offered is that the knowledge of the writer of the Book of Samuel enabled him to supersede the names of such as were soon lost to their brave career by death by other names; or, resting on the same fundamental reason, there may have been two different editions of the list, to one of which the writer of Samuel was indebted, and to the other the compiler of Chronicles.
1 Chronicles 11:27
Harorite. The parallel passage has Harodite, the local identification of Shammoth, as from Hated, known for its spring (Judges 7:1), by which Gideon encamped, where also the army was tested by its mode of drinking. Some think it the same with the fountain of Jezreel (1 Samuel 29:1). Izrahite seems to have been the family distinction of Shammoth (1 Chronicles 27:8), from Zerah son of Judah. He is the fifth captain. In the parallel his name is followed by Elika, who is also called "the Harodite." Helez the Pelonite. Though the parallel place has Paltite, the present form probably should hold its own. Helez is the seventh captain of division, and said to belong to the "sons of Ephraim".
1 Chronicles 11:29
Sibbecai; Ilai. Both of these names are conceivably reconcilable with the Mebunnai and Zalmon of the parallel place, through the very possible mistake and substitution of one Hebrew character for another. Sibbecai was the eighth captain; he was of the family of Zerah, and of the town of Hushah (1 Chronicles 4:4).
1 Chronicles 11:34
The sons of Heshem the Gizonite. This sentence is unmanageable as it stands, and is insufficiently assisted from its parallel But if from this latter we take the suggestion of the preposition "from" (Authorized Version) before "the sons" (which, however, is not in the Hebrew), and from the Alexandrian Septuagint, the suggestion of the name Gouni (גּוּנִי), Guni, (1 Chronicles 5:15) in the place of Gizonite (גּזֹנִי), we should obtain a coherent reading. But this would be mere conjecture suggested by the Septuagint, and "the Gizonite" offers the difficulty of the presence of the article, which would not subsist with the proper name Guni. Were it not that the word בְּנֵי is found in both passages all difficulty would disappear with its disappearance. The remainder of this verse, in relation to 1 Chronicles 11:32 and 1 Chronicles 11:33 of the parallel, illustrates opportunely the uncertainties of the text. For, as seen above, Jonathan is the grandson of Shage (Agee, 2 Samuel 23:11), and son of Shammah, while (2Ch 23:1-21 :32, 33) the parallel reads "Jonathan," with no connective word "son" at all, yet supplies the right name, "Shammah the Hararite" for the father, and omits all mention of Shage.
1 Chronicles 11:35
Sacar… Eliphal… Ur. For these three names the parallel shows Sharar, Eliphelet, and Ahasbai respectively.
1 Chronicles 11:36
Hepher the Mecherathite. Although this name is not found in the parallel passage, it is tolerably plain that the niche for it is left before the words (1 Chronicles 11:34), "the son of the Maachathite," which last word answers to our Mecherathite. Ahijah the Pelonite. This name cannot be identified with the "Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite," which answers to it in the parallel.
1 Chronicles 11:37
Hezro appears as Hezrai in Samuel. (For Carmel, which lay south of Hebron, see Joshua 15:55.) Naarai the son of Ezbai. The differences between these words and those of the parallel (1 Chronicles 11:35), "Paarai the Arbite," or Arab (Joshua 15:52), are not formidable to reconcile.
1 Chronicles 11:38
Joel. This name is also easily to be reconciled with the Igal of the parallel passage (verse 36), though there is nothing to evidence which should stand. Mibhar the son of Haggeri. For this we have in the parallel place (verse. 36) the names "Bani the Gadite;" but before these comes the last word of the previous clause, "of Zobab." When these three words are compared with the three of our present passage, it is very possible to bring them into harmony ('Speaker's Commentary,' in loc.). Zobah was a district of Syria in the time of Israel's first three kings, stretching north-east and east towards the Euphrates (1 Samuel 14:47; 2 Samuel 8:7).
1 Chronicles 11:39
Zelek the Ammonite,… the Berothite. Among David's great men were evidently numbered some foreigners, whose admiration and fidelity he must have won. Hence the mention (1 Chronicles 11:38) of Zobah, and here of the Ammonite (2 Samuel 8:12; 2 Samuel 12:26-31), the Beerothite (Beeroth, originally a Hivite city, Joshua 9:17, fell to the lot of Benjamin, Joshua 18:25; to it belonging Rimmon and his two sons, Reehab and Baanah, possibly native Canaanites, the murderers of Ishbosheth, as above), and (1 Chronicles 11:41) the Hittite. The armour-bearer. To be made armour-bearer was a sign of honour and attachment (1 Samuel 16:21; 2 Samuel 18:15).
1 Chronicles 11:40
The Ithrite. One of the families of Kirjath-jearim (1 Chronicles 2:53). Other similar colonists from Kirjath-jearim, and descended from Shobal, were the Puthite, the Shuma-thite, and the Izrahite. With this verse we count up, including the dropped-out Elika, the names of "thirty mighty men." And we may understand Samuel's thirty-seven to consist of these, increased by Uriah and the two parties of three each.
1 Chronicles 11:41-47
These verses are assisted by no parallel, either in the Book of Samuel or elsewhere. Of the sixteen names which they contain,not a few are to be found elsewhere, yet not as designating the same persons. Also, while the Reubenite and the Gentile nouns Ashterathite and Aroerite are at once recognized, the Mithnite, Tizite, Mahavite, and Mesobaite are not traceable elsewhere, the plural form of the last but one being an additional source of obscurity.
1 Chronicles 11:42
Thirty with him. The Hebrew preposition here translated "with" appears thus, זְעָלָיו, and will naturally translate "and in addition to him." As he was a captain, this addendum may probably refer to those over whom he was captain, and whom he brought in his train, and who were possibly themselves officers. As the writer of Chronicles indicates no difference, nor any sense of a change of persons enumerated, when he has reached (1 Chronicles 11:41) Uriah the Hittite, it would all the rather be consistent with his own superscription when (1 Chronicles 11:26) he proposes to set forth simply "the valiant men of the armies" without confining their number to the "thirty."
1 Chronicles 11:44
The Ashterathite. Ashteroth was in East Manasseh (1 Chronicles 6:71). The Aroerite. Aroer lay east of the Jordan (Joshua 13:16, Joshua 13:25).
1 Chronicles 11:46
The Mahavite. It has been suggested that this word may stand for Mahanite, from Mahanaim.
1 Chronicles 11:47
The Mesobaite. This name is entirely unknown, unless it may be the same as Mezobah.
1 Chronicles 11:2.-The vicarious aspects of human life twofold-toward man and toward God.
In this verse two leading and very important phases of human life are brought to our remembrance. They may seem of unequal importance, the second being of higher character than the first. Yet, perhaps, they are more closely connected and even interwoven with one another than first thoughts might suppose. And so far-reaching and widespread are the issues of both, that it is needless to insist on much comparison between them to the prejudice of the former. The lesson, also, of both of them, charged though it is with serious responsibility, is, on the whole, of a cheerful, elevating kind. We might do well to separate them sometimes in our private meditation, simply in order to fix a more specific attention upon each. But it is not without valuable suggestion that they stand together here, nor shall they be divorced in the present consideration of them. They remind us —
I. OF THE VICARIOUS PRINCIPLE THAT ENTERS SO LARGELY INTO HUMAN LIFE, PERVADING IT, ALMOST LEAVENING IT, IN MEN'S MUTUAL RELATIONS. In the illustration of it now before us, it shows itself in the shape and the fact of one enjoying royal name and place, wealth and ease and dignity, while another incurs the risk and does the work—without pay—of that place. The life that was lived as between Saul and David would no doubt produce many instances and forms of this, but the one mentioned in this verse, and mentioned as it would appear by many consentient voices at the same time, is enough to tell the tale. Those instances commenced from the time that David challenged, defied, and successfully overcame Goliath, the Philistine champion. But as time went on, they became systematized and almost the rule, rather than merely matter of frequent occurrence. The general fact is patent. It grows in the structure, it runs throughout and across the texture of human life and society. It is a phenomenon, often merely as such inviting, often provoking, the deep thoughtful study of those who are but onlookers at any time. But again, it is as a personal keen experience that it most commonly opens the eyes and wakens the aching inquiry of those who have first suffered many a pang and rasping mortification. The real inventor is often a very different man from the nominal one, the real workman another than he who carries off the praise. The hand of one takes the gain of what was wrought by the brain of another; and the smile of one has for its correlative the bleeding heart of another. The temples of the fortune and wealth and splendour of the very few are built on the excessive toil and wrecked health of vast numbers. And even in the natural order of things, the fame of the great rests on the substructure of millions of lives of the humble obscure, whose industry, honesty, endurance, are the staple and the strength of the whole community, and whose head and heart are often of the most superior. The edifice that towers the highest, in fact, must rest on the broadest base. These considerations may guide us to the following conclusions upon the general subject, suggested by the particular instance so naively expressed now before us: —
1. There is, beyond doubt, a vast amount of gratuitous, unjust, cruel, vicarious suffering in the world, and found in men's mutual relations.
2. There is also, beyond doubt, a vast amount of vicarious joy and advantage. The striving, the toil, the genius, the self-sacrifice of one often serve, not the private selfish advantage of some one other, but to a most beneficent degree they serve the advantage and help the joy of very many others.
3. Whether it be in the matter of suffering or of advantage and joy, this presence is by no means all due to the action, and mournful action, of human selfishness, error, greed. There is Divine design in it, Divine use for it. It is one of the strongest of the cohesive forces that contribute to hold together the conglomerate mass and yet very various fellowship of humanity. The entanglement that results from this unequal system of exchange and substitution (the particular instances of which are so intricate, often so inscrutable, apparently untoward) constitutes probably one of the most ubiquitous and unresting of the mutual attachments and attractions of human society.
4. Even within the experience of the very individual at whose expense awhile the vicariousness seems to take effect, there are not unfrequently large redeeming and compensating considerations. As for instance here:
(1) David had the opportunity given to him of learning, learning well, the profession of a king, learning it practically, "even when Saul was king" in reality. If he were doing work and encountering risk, which formally did not belong to him, he was deriving untold advantages and the facilities of experience.
(2) He was being divinely permitted to mark himself out for the dignity when it should become vacant, in the eyes of all those with whom, ere long, the decision and gift of it would, under God, rest. How many men, in how many directions, would value just the corresponding opportunity above all things! How much would it be worth to one!
(3) Even during learning, education, and possibly much suffering, David was evidently, to the eye that could see deepest, to the heart that should beat truest, receiving the decoration of real honour. To a great mind, to a pure heart, it is sometimes the highest investment of honour which could be conferred, to be the one divinely selected to do the work, while others take the pay. This is not of man, nor by man, but God's own chosen children recognize and value above everything else what are also his chosen methods of reward.
II. OF THE VICARIOUS PRINCIPLE THAT ENTERS SO LARGELY INTO HUMAN LIFE, IN ITS MOST DIRECT DIVINE RELATIONS. The latter part of the verse before us is of the highest and most precious significance to every Christian man, and certainly not least so to the Christian pastor and minister. "The Lord thy God said unto thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be ruler over my people Israel." Every servant of God from the first was set to be a witness of God and a witness for God, by word and deed before the world. And every Christian is called to be a witness of Jesus Christ and his truth, and a witness for these before the world, in all he says and does. We object to such an appellation as "vicar of Christ," or "viceroy" of Christ, on behalf of the pope or of any other one man exclusively of others. But the description of the latter part of this verse applies accurately to all the pastors—the under-shepherds of Christ's fold and flocks—and by inference, in their measure and degree, to all his people whomsoever. All of these have something to say, have much to do, "in the stead of Christ." Nor should they repine when they may be called to bear and suffer in the Name and for the sake of Christ. The fact before us is just simply this, that David was entrusted by God and on behalf of God with a great work, which was and could be only the work of God himself in the last resort. The people are emphatically his; none could provide the food but he (Psalms 23:1); none could find the wisdom to rule, "the wisdom profitable to direct," the gift to "rule" but he. And he said, nevertheless, "Thou shalt feed… thou shalt be ruler over my people Israel." Out of the one simple but great fact before us we may select some special phases of it.
1. It is a very elevating reality of human life and work that it is not altogether shut off to a drudgery peculiar to itself, but that it is dignified by being called to similar work with that of Christ. The power, the wisdom, the love, the very thought of that work must first come from heavenly source, and be sustained by streams from the heavenly source; but then these should often betray their heavenly origin, and the human worker flash out tokens of the indwelling of Divine principle, gift, grace. It had been quite possible to suppose a hard-and-fast line drawn between the humblest of the Divine work amid men and the very highest of the human. But it is not so. It is far otherwise. And so soon as ever the clear pattern was shown on earth by Jesus himself, of what was to be and to be done, not a very few and a very picked band, but every one of his wide Church, was called to do similar work—yes, to do it and to bear the burden of it, and that not with eye-service as to men, but "as the servants of Christ."
2. It is a very elevating and encouraging fact in the renewed life of humanity that with such solemn responsibility attaching to it in work to be done, no less than Godlike in character, no less than Christ-like in execution, it is work not severed from Divine co-operation. Let us call it vicarious. Let us the rather prize it as such, and "love to have it so." Yet is it not the cold vicariousness of so large a proportion of our earthly labour—unwarmed by the presence, by the help, by the smile, by the reward of at least acknowledgment at the hands of those for whom we both do and bear much. No, indeed. It is work of co-operation, where in those co-operating extremes meet—the weakness, the poverty, the ignorance, the finiteness of us men, with the omnipotence, the wealth, the knowledge, and the infiniteness of God the Father; of Christ, the Shepherd of the sheep; of the Spirit of all grace and light. None work for God but his Spirit is with them. None work for Jesus but "lo, he is present in the midst" of their smallest group. Therefore it is plain that God does not so honour us as simply to devolve his work in Christ upon us, but rather to involve us in his doing, and lift us up into his sphere of work. The co-operating of Christ by his Spirit with his servants, when their work and their suffering shall seem most vicarious, is therefore a grand and most noteworthy fact as compared with our labour-relations and our suffering-relations, as fellow-creatures, to one another.
3. Over and above all other elevating and cheering thoughts suggested by this fact of God's calling us to work for him, and yet uniting himself with us therein, there remains such a one as this. It is a token of a certain harmony of plan and thought between human society and the perfection of that above. It is some "shadow of things to come." It is some foreshadowing of Divine goodness. The condescension and the grace are some indications of what shall be. They are not mere fictitious, tempting, beguiling persuasions of the way, for the "pilgrims of the night;" but they are rather snatches and earnests of the temper prevailing in the "city yet to come." It is a large and far from ignoble principle, the vicarious principle—cost what it may of smart, occasionally or systematically, among ourselves. But it is an indefinite extension, an immense expansion, it is a very glorification of the principle, when Christ enters on a similar footing and makes the circle henceforth a sacred circle. After doing and suffering all which he has done, "even unto death," for his people, he not simply hallows by his own example the summons to us to work and to suffer for our fellow-creatures and for him, but also favours therein the thought, in its very highest development, of our being "one with him, even as he is one with" the eternal Father. In a word, to work or to suffer in the stead of Christ is some earnest of entering in clue time the society of which he is the Head.
1 Chronicles 11:3-10.-The throne of justice and security.
These verses are morally and essentially connected with one another. They speak of one thing—the "making of David king." And we may notice in them —
I. THE FORM THAT REPRESENTED THIS. The most ancient Scriptures enrich us with the knowledge of the very earliest customs of men. Many of these may be obsolete. But two things are remarkable respecting them, viz.
(1) how some of them remain, and with but slightly altered dress;
(2) how those that do not remain often embodied some principle to which all growth of time has shown a growing importance to belong. These earliest customs of men, recorded in Scripture, seem, further, not only to have embodied certain principles, but passed, as they often were, beneath the eye of God, we may feel that they did something more—they enshrined with a real sacredness and invested with a special honour the principle that was to last and to gain in significance when the outer shell of custom or form was withered to nothing. The ceremony which set forth the making of a king of Israel was that of anointing. This was the third time David had been anointed. But these successive acts of anointing were not vain repetitions. The first was his private anointing, by Samuel, according to God's word and according to God's private call (1 Samuel 16:1, 1 Samuel 16:12, 1 Samuel 16:13). The second was when David became king over Judah, and when the call and the willing consent of his fellow-men, and of those up to this time his fellow-citizens, were added to the Divine appointment (2 Samuel 2:4). And the third was on the occasion before us, when the heads of the whole people, with hearty unanimity, added the sanction of their presence and consent. Now, therefore, the anointing was finally performed. It was a ceremony, but not one destitute of meaning and of usefulness. It marked David to the eyes of all the nation as their "feeder and ruler," appointed of God, accepted of themselves. And it reminded himself of the solemn responsibility laid upon him to fulfil his duty to men as under the commands of God.
II. THE CONDITION PRECEDENT TO IT. "David made a covenant with them… before the Lord." Beyond doubt, the choice and the call and the ordination of David were all of God. Beyond doubt, nothing could be safer or better for all the people than to accept his deed and appointment unquestioningly. But there are ever an earthly order and a visible sign of some kind for us men, answering to the Divine will These God does not only permit, but, as we believe, he enjoins them. It is another indication of the fact that God would ever be lifting our level nearer his own. The exact matter of the covenant is not here given us, nor in fact in any of the parallel places. Yet with very little hesitation we may say that we hear the echoes of it from the deathbed of David (2 Samuel 23:2-5). It consisted of a solemn mutual engagement—he "to rule just, ruling in the fear of God;" they to follow and obey. God's covenants with man at any and every time are of the nature of free promises of mercy and grace, but of what in their very nature require the loving acceptance and use of them to impart availingness to them and to keep them availing, and this is the only kind of condition attaching to them—no meritorious condition. But in the fact of this covenant being made, and in the fact of its being so explicitly recorded, we have an evidence of God's condescending attention to our mutual relations. Though he it is who with sovereign right elects and with the right of a sovereign voice calls one and another to pre-eminent place and authority over us, yet he bids us see and watch the thing that is transpiring, and insist upon the right and just being done, and he submits his own choice to the verdict of the conscience of his people. We have a great ecclesiastical principle, in embryo, as we might suppose, an instance of God's royal conge d'elire, entrusted to the elders of all Israel, and not formally put into effect by these until his own chosen one has entered into a covenant with them.
III. THE MORAL SUPPORTS NECESSARY TO THIS KING-MAKING. Remarkable, and in some respects even unique, as was the raising of David to be king, in this final appointment and anointing of him, yet it follows the lines of any other high appointment to command of one man amongst his fellow-men. He is not really and for ever to be hedged in as a divinity, nor of divinity, except as this highest power works by human agency. The higher such a position is, the more necessary is it that it be not artificially dissevered from the aid, the approval, the moral influence of others. The exalted individual's temptation to forget this, and even to override it, has very often been unceremoniously enough called to account and fiercely rebuked. The hierarchy that obtains in human society, in the human family, may be accepted as an incontestible fact, and, therefore so far forth as authorized of nature. But neither ought this to be strained or exaggerated. Much less are we to create, favour, or permit violent gaps between rank and rank, class and class. The most insensible gradations from rank to rank and class to class make the strongest, safest society. History proves, by instances almost innumerable, that to disbelieve and affront this principle is disaster, but to set it at nought and defy it is to court destruction, and that without remedy. We must not overlook the significance of the expression that "the chief of the mighty men whom David had" neither held themselves aloof from him nor were held at a distance by him in his new greatness. They stood near the throne. They helped to uphold its dignity and the authority of him who sat upon it. There is really no such thing as actual irresponsibility between man and man. None is so strong as to be able to beast himself independent of the help, the love, the good opinion of his fellow-men. Conscience only can claim for itself the prerogative of freedom to do and speak as though irresponsible to man, but even these noblest displays of human power and virtue do not practically deliver from the consequences and the patent fact of responsibility; while in all inferior attempts the power is weakness, and the travestie of the virtue is the licence of vice. But no, David's mighty men strenuously held by him, and they were in turn seconded by the entire of an enthusiastic and faithful people. Their one combined aim was to put stability into his kingdom and to make him a strong and prosperous king. And it was all "according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel." Happy king! happy people! David had not to pay the very common penalty of exaltedness and empire. The people were a willing people in the day of his power. Would that it may last, last to the end—must have been the ardent wish of every patriot that day—the humble prayer of every earnest, spiritual Israelite!
1 Chronicles 11:15-19.-The bravery of David's three mighty men, and the better bravery of himself.
The graphic narrative of these verses needs no interpretation in the sense of either criticism or explanation. It offers itself, as it were, exclusively to the use of instruction, and to the illustration of the possibilities of human character. In doing so, it brings to view something of the weakness, much of the strength; and not least what is of the Divine in that character. Lessons manifestly present themselves from the consideration of the conduct of the three brave warriors in the first instance, and then of that of David by himself. Let us notice —
I. THE CONDUCT OF THE THREE WARRIORS.
1. Their courage. It was, perhaps, the least part of their excellence at this time. They were trained to deeds of dash and daring. They took pride in these. They were, by natural constitution and temperament, and now by some training and practice, predisposed to them. Their courage, therefore, must be somewhat the less reckoned to their praise, as containing but small measure of effort of any moral element. Possibly we ought even to deduct some little from it, as laying itself open in a degree to the charge of recklessness, on an occasion which was not one of absolute necessity in one aspect, nor of any moral necessity in another. Yet, nevertheless, if we cannot but admire the self-risking bravery, we shall not do wrong in crediting it with some intrinsic claim to commendation. For, to say the very least, how well it contrasts with the carefulness, the cautiousness, the lingeringness of cold self-calculation! And how well it illustrates how quality resides still in human nature which on occasion—if only the occasion be an altogether worthy one—can achieve very great things!
2. Their utter unselfishness. At all events, there is not the slightest trace of selfishness in what they did. They ran not for a prize of honour or money. They expect no crown, no garland, for their achievement if they shall be successful. The pleasure of ministering to a master they serve and love is the only reward they appear to contemplate.
3. Their spontaneous service. They wait for no command, nor even for a request. They do not so much as hear a wish, so uttered that they could interpret it into the nature of an intended hint or suggestion. They overhear only, and what they overhear is the sighing out of a wish. And probably it was the naturalness and the homeliness of it which helped much to move them—the deep-drawn breath and the utterance of heart which was recognizable in it, though the expression but of a bodily appetite. What chords, strange to say, one sentence, one tone, of nature's own voice will have efficacy to wake in the hearts of others, and, to the testimony of human goodness be it said, not least so when the voice is a voice of want! "God loves a cheerful giver," a willing workman, an obedient servant; rarely indeed does he behold more than this. For we cannot anticipate his command, nor run before his thought, nor be freer than his will. Yet let us feel it thus, not as from man to God, but as from man to man. If it be part of his glory and not the least of the tokens of his pitiful mercy to us feeble, faltering, limping full oft, that he take the will for the deed, and accept the thought for the act, how well must the sight suit him as some sign of nature's return, when he may see the deed of any one of us to a brother or sisters "swift to the thought or wish divined, swift to the sigh o'erheard."
II. THE CONDUCT OF DAVID. And we note that it is marked:
1. By a mistake of the tongue. We may allow that there was everything that there could be under the circumstances to palliate the mistake of a great man and a good man. But for that very reason let it be the more closely scanned. The facts were simply these. Here is a man whose slightest word will be likely to go further far than the entreaty and the argument and the urgent, plaintive expostulation of others. His position, his character, the known character of those now around him, the crisis of the hour, which witnessed such flush of military excitement in the royal camp, all argue this. Then that was the greater reason why, amid many a thought within, and the glowing of feeling, a special guard be put on the tongue. Yet the wish itself was an innocent wish, the outcome of a most innocent appetite, universally allowed to be at the same time an imperious appetite—innocent if gratified, agonizing if denied. Even Jesus, and on the cross, said, "I thirst." But David's was not a cry of mere thirst. It was not merely a sigh for the relief of thirst. If the thirst had been severer the evident probability is that it would not have been the water of Bethlehem's gate, but some nearer and some more possible, which would have been invoked. Or, again, we may not grudge to take into account the praiseworthy class of feelings on which David's mention of Bethlehem's well drew. Home, and youth, and memory, and affectionate associations all contributed to it. Yet the "whole array" and complete circle of explanation and palliation constitute the happier condition for decisively settling the problem. These all, we are reminded, must under certain circumstances be "blown away." They all must yield to facts. They only garland the victim if allowed to remain. It seemed harsh when once Jesus, of gentlest lip, said, "For every idle word that men shall speak" they shall be brought to judgment, and shall give account. How often, how genuinely, that has struck men, and good men, as "a hard saying"! But, after all, what is there like facts for "bringing men to judgment"? And the fact here is that "the word," inopportunely sighed out with ever so much feeling, on the part of a good man and a great man, who hadn't a wish or an idea of doing harm, produced effects immediately, at the very thought of which but a few hours after he himself shuddered again. It teaches us, great and small, how great is the peril of the tongue, and that the more pensive, tender, pathetic tone may be the more mischievous one. Born of the heart, it knows and exerts its energy to touch heart again, and its sphere is amid material the most dangerous because the most explosive.
2. By a noble, practical acknowledgment of the mistake. David shuddered to think of the narrow risk which had been just challenged, and, though it was now safely escaped, he refused to drink that water. How soon, by the way, mind can conquer body, conscience can master appetite, deep moral and religious feeling put to flight sentiment, and the flash of conviction scathe like lightning a whole host of excuses! This acknowledgment of mistake on the part of David was all the more noble:
(1) Because it was practical. "He would not drink of it My God forbid it me, that I should do this thing… drink the blood of these men that have put their lives in jeopardy; for with the jeopardy of their lives they brought it." David does not underrate the moral aspects of what had been taking place, and which was distinctly due to himself. He does not allow the plea that, as the mischief has been done, the only thing now left was to make the best of it. There was great moral honesty in this, loyal and even severe fidelity to conscience and its upbraidings, when he at once determines that he can take no advantage of enjoyment or of use from that water. And from the midst of error there rises up with fragrance a pure testimony to the moral feeling and moral principle of the wrong-doer. The recovery and return from their mistakes of those who essentially desire and follow after the right and good, wonderfully contrast sometimes with the corresponding sequel in the case of others
(2) Because it had to run the gauntlet of some of the most painful of all kinds of misunderstanding. It lay itself open to a suspicion of ungratefulness, that would seem the greater in proportion to the greatness of the efforts which had been made and the risk run. The appearance of ingratitude at such an untimely Juncture, in presence of such devotion, was the appearance which a keen and noble sensibility would shrink from above everything else. How much man will do at one time to save appearances, at another to court appearances! but what a test of principle, of resolution, of moral bravery, it is when sometimes a man is called on to set at naught appearances, and confide himself to right alone and to present conviction alone.
(3) And lastly, because of the homage which David paid to a principle distinctly religious as well as moral. David did not throw the water away, he did not give it to another, he did not beg the heroes avail themselves of it, but he "poured it out to the Lord." This was, no doubt, from his point of view and for his time of day an act of religion. That which was sacred with human life owns to one sovereign Proprietor alone. To him David took it, with faith in his existence, with faith in his watchful notice and oversight, with faith in his rewarding providence. It may be considered, indeed, open to possibility that David was permitted to feel in his own act the meaning of the blood of sacrifice. This, for the benefit of whomsoever it may be, must be poured out before the Lord God himself, if it is to have anything o! the efficacy of expiation and atonement. While for a moment we should think of it in this aspect, we may be taught, both for David and for ourselves, that. he who sacrifices to his God the thing he might most desire, shall find in the very midst of that sacrifice the principle, the earnest, the assured hope of life itself.
HOMILIES BY J.R. THOMSON
1 Chronicles 11:2.-A true leader.
David's life was made up of several successive stages; and, as we read his biography and so trace his course, we see clearly—what at the time he could not see—how one position, one experience, prepared for the next. His youth was a preparation for his manhood, his court life for the throne, exile for power, rule over Judah for sway over united Israel. The seven years during which Saul's son ruled over the other tribes were the years of David's reign over Judah. At the close of this period, upon the death of Ishbosheth, the elders of all Israel came to David at Hebron and offered him the crown. This was the occasion upon which they made the acknowledgment, "Even when Saul was king, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel." This was a recognition of the inborn qualities of true leadership, called forth by circumstances, and cultivated by responsibility and action.
I. HUMAN SOCIETY IS, ACCORDING TO THE APPOINTMENT OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE, COMPOSED OF THE LEADERS AND THE LED. Whilst in government there is much which is artificial, there is a natural foundation for the relationships which subsist. Parents direct the course of their children; elder brothers to some extent that of the younger; the capable, the self-confident, the experienced, are the natural leaders of the timid and submissive. In all human communities there are born leaders of men. If all distinctions were abolished to-day, to-morrow they would be revived in other forms. There is doubtless injustice in many political and social arrangements; but whilst the unjust acquisition and use of authority is of man, the principle of authority is from God.
II. LEADERSHIP OFTEN CALLS OUT GREAT QUALITIES. The fact of a man being placed in a position of influence and authority is sure, if he be capable and strong and under the domination of high principle, to elicit his best and most useful qualities. Especially will such a position foster habits of sound judgment and quick decision, habits of self-control and self-reliance, a just discernment of character, and aptness in recognizing ability and trustworthiness in others. Thus it is that a high position is fitted to lead to one yet higher (see this admirably shown in Henry Taylor's 'Philip van Artevelde'). It was leadership which made of the shepherd son of Jesse the warrior and King of Israel. As in other departments of life, so here, exercise promotes strength and development. Let none shrink from the responsibility of guiding others when Providence calls him to this work; strength and wisdom shall be "as his day."
III. IT IS FOR THE ADVANTAGE OF THOSE WHO ARE LED WHEN A SUITABLE AND CAPABLE LEADER IS PROVIDED BY THE DIVINE RULER. The power of "use and wont" is very strong. When men have been accustomed to be well led, their confidence in their leader grows with rapidity, and their attachment is consolidated by time. When the throne was vacant, the eyes of all Israel were turned to David. Their experience of his ability and valour, his designation by God's prophet, were the indications to them that the son of Jesse was the right man to rule over them. Events proved that they were not mistaken. The sway of David made the chosen people one great nation, and fitted them for the work appointed for them by the theocratic governor. There is in this passage a lesson specially suitable to young men of ability, education, and position. For such God in his providence has assuredly a work to do. It is for them quietly and patiently to await the indications of Divine providence, in the persuasion that faithfulness and diligence in present duty are the best preparation for future responsibilities. It is God's prerogative to train the workman and to provide the work.—T.
1 Chronicles 11:3.-David's accession.
With this chapter commences another part of this Book of Chronicles, which, from this point onwards, is occupied with the reign, the character, and the exploits of David, King of Judah and Israel. His accession, related in this verse, occupies accordingly a position of interest and significance in the narrative. The point especially deserving notice in the language of this verse is the combination of Divine and human agency in the nomination of David to the throne. This combination, especially apparent in the history of theocratic Israel, is really discernible by the reflecting mind in all the events of life and history. Observe —
I. THE HUMAN AGENCY which led to David's accession to the throne. To many eyes no other than human agency was visible.
1. His own character and services marked David out as the one only ruler whom Israel could select and trust. Born a shepherd, he had yet within him the heart and the future of a king.
2. A popular election effected his elevation. It was the wish of "all Israel" that David should take the responsibilities of rule. In his election the old adage was verified—Vox populi vox Dei.
3. A senatorial requisition sanctioned and enforced the popular nomination. "All the elders of Israel" came to David, to express the general feeling and to prefer formally the national request. The appointment of the king was not the work of a moment of enthusiasm, was not the caprice of a mob; it was the deliberate act of the wisest and the noblest in the land.
II. THE DIVINE CAUSE of David's appointment to the throne. This may not have been apparent to all, but it is acknowledged with justice by the sacred historian.
1. A Divine prediction led to David's accession. The language of the people is very noticeable: "The Lord thy God said unto thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be ruler over my people Israel."
2. A prophetic designation foreshadowed it. The appointment, so we read, was made "according to the word of the Lord by Samuel" The same inspired seer who anointed Saul was directed to nominate his immediate successor.
3. A religious covenant ratified the nomination of David. When he "made a covenant with them in Hebron before the Lord," he acted in accordance with his religious convictions, but he acted also in a manner harmonizing with the theocratic position of Israel. Church and state were not merely allied, they were identical. Nothing more natural than that a sacred ceremony should accompany the public and political act. There is no trace of selfish ambition on David's part. He acknowledged the tremendous responsibilities of reigning. And in the sight of Jehovah his subjects undertook to co-operate with the monarch in seeking the general good.
PRACTICAL LESSONS of great value are suggested by this passage.
1. In all human history and biography there is a blending of the human and the Divine. Worldly men are in danger of looking only to "second causes;" possibly religious men may sometimes overlook these in an exclusive regard to the one great Divine Agent. We should seek the Divine in the human.
2. Elevation to great power involves great responsibility: A man who can think only of his own pleasure or magnificence, when Providence raises him to an exalted station, is not merely irreligious, he is unreasonable and unreflecting.
3. Social and political duties can only be discharged aright when fulfilled in a devout and prayerful spirit. The more responsible our position, the greater our need of a sincere confidence in the supreme Lord who is the supreme Guide of man.—T.
1 Chronicles 11:7.-The city of David.
Hitherto the city which crowned the height overlooking the Kedren valley was known as Jebus, and was held by the "people of the land." But from this time forth it was known as "the city of David," and its stronghold, Zion, with Mille and the adjacent quarters, constituted the famous and historical capital of the united kingdom—Jerusalem. Observe the significant name here given to it. Jerusalem was called "the city of David because it was—
I. THE TROPHY OF DAVID'S VALOUR. It was his prowess and that of his captain, Joab, that wrested the stronghold from the hands of the heathen.
II. THE STRUCTURE OF DAVID'S REGAL MAGNIFICENCE AND WARLIKE STRATEGY, Probably before this time it was nothing but a primitive fortress, strongly placed upon rocky heights. But David "built the city round about," and "Joab repaired the rest of the city." Henceforth "Jerusalem was a city compact together."
III. THE SCENE OF DAVID'S REIGN. Hebron was too far south to be a suitable capital for the united kingdom. Nature made Jerusalem for a metropolis. Here the king lived and ruled, prospered, sinned, suffered, and died.
IV. THE SEAT OF DAVID'S LINE. His son Solomon and the successive occupants of the throne of Judah held sway in this city, and some of them added to its splendour and its strength. Amidst its varying fortunes, its sieges, its dismantlements, its rebuildings, its festivities, Jerusalem retained the imperishable interest conferred by its association with the great founder of the Hebrew monarchy and dynasty. It was itself a memorial of its founder's name and life.
V. THE SCENE OF THE MINISTRY AND OF THE SEPULTURE OF DAVID'S SON AND LORD. Many of our Saviour's miracles were performed, many of Christ's discourses were delivered, in Jerusalem. It was over this city that Jesus wept; it was this city that Jesus entered in his lowly triumph; it was in this city that he died, for "it could not be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem;" and after our Lord's ascension, when his apostles preached his gospel, they were instructed to do so, "beginning at Jerusalem."
VI. IN ITS DESOLATION AND DESTRUCTION IT FURNISHED AN EXAMPLE OF RETRIBUTIVE JUSTICE EXECUTED ON DAVID'S POSTERITY. David's nation rejected David's Lord, and, according to his own prediction, their unbelief involved their metropolis in ruin.
"It moves me, Romans!
It confounds the counsel of my firm philosophy,
That ruin's merciless ploughshare should pass o'er
And barren salt be sown on yon proud city!"
1 Chronicles 11:9.-David's greatness.
From the time that the king began to reign over all the tribes of Israel his fortunes began to improve. Dark days had he gone through before; now the sun of prosperity blazed upon his path.
I. THE ELEMENTS OF DAVID'S GREATNESS. It consisted:
1. In warlike achievements. He was a man of war from his youth, and his manhood was occupied with the defence of his kingdom and the defeat of his foes.
2. In the valour of his captains. "Mighty men of valour" gathered around him, and contributed to his power and his fame.
3. In the prosperity of his people. That David's reign was an era of material prosperity is evident enough. If nothing else proved it, it would be established by the munificent offerings which the princes and the people presented at the close of David's reign towards the temple fund.
4. In the prevalence of religion. This appears from the establishment upon a grander scale of the Levitical and priestly orders, with the services, sacrifices, and festivals connected with the house of God. David's own psalms, sung as they were by the Levitical choirs, at once evidenced and furthered the prosperity of true religion.
II. THE GROWTH OF DAVID'S GREATNESS. He "waxed greater and greater." His career was one of continually advancing prosperity. As with most men favourably circumstanced, so in his case, success and prosperity were the cause of their own increase. "He went growing and growing."
III. THE EXPLANATION OF DAVID'S GREATNESS. "The Lord of hosts was with him." Cui adhoeres, praeest! the Lord God may better say than any earthly prince, He to whom I attach myself, he shall prosper. "The Lord of hosts was with David:"
1. To give him regal qualities.
2. To surround him with prudent counsellors, devoted friends, and faithful servants.
3. To give him favour with the people.
4. To reveal himself to his heart, as the Subject of praise, the Law of righteousness, the Lord of life.
1. It is within the power of all Christians, by the use of the means of grace, to grow constantly in true excellence.
2. Only by the presence and aid of the Most High can we be justified in looking for progress and true prosperity.—T.
1 Chronicles 11:11.-Mighty men.
Great epochs and great leaders call forth great men- In most nations' histories there are periods when greatness seems to spring forth spontaneously, and to display itself in all the departments of human activity. David had the power—distinctive of true leadership—of evoking, as it were, capable, valiant, and devoted followers. In his day and in the early periods of many nations, warlike qualities were needed, and the recommendations of physical strength and courage were the highest of all. In more settled states of society and more civilized communities, gifts of mind are more prized than those of body. The qualities that are developed among nations are for the most part those which are demanded by the necessities of the times.
I. EXTRAORDINARY GIFTS OF BODY AND OF MIND ARE ALL FROM GOD. This is indeed true of all gifts. "We are his offspring." "In him we live, and move, and have our being." Yet how often is this truth forgotten in the presence of splendid endowments of strength and skill, genius and influence! Men take the praise to themselves for the powers which God has conferred, for the achievements which he has enabled them to accomplish. But it should ever be remembered that all human might is but a slight and evanescent glimmer of his glory.
II. EXTRAORDINARY GIFTS SHOULD BE EMPLOYED IN GOD'S SERVICE. There is a notion that high station and great genius absolve men from allegiance to the ordinary laws of morality and religion. What is regarded as proper for the multitude is sometimes deemed inapplicable to the exalted few. There can be no greater error. Great men have great power for good or for evil, and in their case it is pre-eminently of importance that the "five talents" should be employed in the service of the Divine Lard, who has a rightful claim to their consecration. "Spirits are not finely touched but to fine issues."
III. EXTRAORDINARY GIFTS MUST BE ACCOUNTED FOR TO THEIR GIVER. There is nothing in the fact of their unusual number or magnitude that absolves from that responsibility which characterizes all moral and accountable natures. The Divine Judge will doubtless require a strict account at last. There is no principle more prominent in Christian teaching than this . "To whom much is given, of them much will be required."
1. Let those amply endowed with natural gifts beware of pride. There is nothing so unreasonable, nothing so spiritually disastrous, as is this sin.
2. Let such "great ones" remember to render to Heaven grateful acknowledgments, for to Heaven such acknowledgments are assuredly due. "What hast thou that thou didst not receive? Who hath made thee to differ?"—T.
1 Chronicles 11:14.-A great deliverance.
David, by the force of his character and the prowess of his arms, gathered around him many able, valiant men, who were a strength to himself and a protection to his kingdom. Of the thirty heroes most famous and mighty, some are recorded to have wrought great and memorable exploits. The passage before us relates a feat of arms performed probably by Shammah, one of these mighty men of valour. He attacked the Philistines, who were stationed in a field of barley or lentiles, routed and slew the enemy, and secured a victory for Israel. It is observable that, whilst the valour of the hero is celebrated, by which a defeat was turned into a victory, the result is ascribed to Jehovah, God of hosts: "The Lord saved them by a great deliverance." This deliverance may be regarded as symbolical of that yet greater salvation which our redeeming and merciful God has wrought on behalf, not of Israel only, but of mankind—a spiritual and everlasting deliverance.
I. THE LORD IS THE AUTHOR OF THIS SALVATION.
1. His mind designed it. The gospel is the good news of Divine compassion, and the expression of Divine wisdom. It bears the impress of his character. It witnesses to his attributes. It is his supreme word to the children of men.
2. His Son achieved it. The battle was fought when Jesus lived, was won when Jesus died. He is the Hero who girds his sword upon his thigh, and goes forth, conquering and to conquer.
3. His Spirit applies it. The deliverance has to be effected, not only for but in every ransomed and saved one who experiences the Saviour's interposition and shares his conquest.
II. THIS SALVATION IS GREAT, BEYOND ALL COMPARISON, BEYOND ALL PRAISE.
1. To understand the magnitude of the salvation, consider from what the redeemed of the Lord are saved. Israel had been saved from the bondage of Egypt, and in this book it appears they were repeatedly saved from the thraldom of the Philistines. From how much worse a slavery—a captivity—are men redeemed by the grace of God our Saviour, which appeared in Christi The gospel announces release from the bonds of sin and the yoke of Satan.
2. Consider at what a cost we are redeemed. "Not with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ."
3. Consider the nature of the safety—the salvation—which Christ secures for his people. It is not merely a deliverance from sin and death; it is a conferring of happiness, dignity, and joy; it is the impartation of the Divine favour, the bestowal of the Divine Spirit.
4. Consider its final, eternal character. It is a deliverance extending through time and into eternity, a salvation from which there is no return to bondage.
5. Consider for how great a multitude it is obtained. Many of all nations enjoy its benefits, and at last, "a great multitude which no man can number" shall join in the everlasting anthem ascribing salvation to God and the Lamb.
1. A great deliverance calls for great gratitude and great devotion from those who experience its blessings.
2. A great deliverance published is a great opportunity for the enslaved and oppressed. It is their privilege to accept the remission and the liberty proclaimed.—T.
1 Chronicles 11:16-19.-The well of Bethlehem.
This is one of the most touching and poetical incidents in the romantic life of the son of Jesse. It exhibits him in a light in which we cannot but discern both his amiability and his piety.
I. DAVID'S DESIRE. He was, with his faithful band of valiant followers, in the stronghold upon the borders of the Philistine territory. The enemy were in possession of his native vale, the scene of his boyish happiness and youthful exploits. It was a position of danger and of privation—this which he occupied at this time. How natural, how human, his desire for a draught of the bright, cool water from the spring that gushed from the hillside near his father's fields! It was a longing for home, it was a clinging to the associations of childhood, it was the unchanged heart, that prompted the desire that found utterance in his words, "Oh that one would give me," etc.!
II. THE FEAT OF THE HEROES. The men David had around him were men ready for any daring exploit—bold, fearless, and prompt. Yet they had tender hearts, that could sympathize with such a wish as that their chief expressed. It was a gallant and heroic feat, this which they performed, in breaking through the ranks of the Philistines, and bringing to David the draught of water his soul desired from the dear well at Bethlehem.
III. THE SELF-SACRIFICING AND PIOUS ACT OF THE LEADER. David appreciated the faithfulness, the sympathy, the bravery, of the noble three. He could not drink the water, for it seemed to him like the life-blood of the heroes. It was too precious for any but for Jehovah. Accordingly he poured it out in a pious libation before the Lord, giving his best to God.
1. The sacredness and beauty of human feeling. The associations of childhood and of home are precious, and it is no sign of weakness to cherish them.
2. The beauty of self-sacrifice. What more admirable than the willingness to run all risks to serve, to make happy, those whom we honour and love?
3. The supremacy of the Divine claims. God has a right to our hearts and to all that is dear to them. Withhold not from him his own.—T.
HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON
1 Chronicles 11:1-8. -Popular and royal wisdom.
All Israel now gave their adhesion to the person and house of David. The kingdom was knit together under one strong, wise leader (1 Chronicles 11:1). In the act by which the national acceptance of David was declared and ratified we have a suggestive instance of —
I. THE WISDOM OF THE COMMUNITY. All Israel:
1. Made their choice with discernment. The nation did not act precipitately, blindly, with a rash and ruinous impulsiveness. It had good reason for what it did. It elected to elevate David to the supreme post because
(1) he could claim very close relationship: "We are thy bone and thy flesh;" a fact which ensured his deep interest and patriotism;
(2) he had rendered valuable service in past days: "Thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel" (1 Chronicles 11:2);
(3) Divine designation: "The Lord thy God said unto thee," etc. (1 Chronicles 11:2);—three excellent reasons for their procedure.
2. Acted afterwards with wise precaution, Instead of trusting absolutely to the lasting virtue of a good man, they bound him to royal fidelity with a solemn pledge: they met the king in Hebron, and "he made a covenant with them… before the Lord" (1 Chronicles 11:3). This was most wise; they did not then know for a certainty what manner of monarch David would prove. It would have been blind and foolish on their part, in the last degree, to have committed themselves absolutely and without any guarantee into the new king's hands. Here are lessons for all communities (nations, societies, Churches, etc.) for all time.
(1) Think well before taking an important step which involves large issues.
(2) Choose for a leader the man who is likely to cherish a real and living interest in the well-being of the community.
(3) Prefer the man who has given assurance, by past action, of integrity and ability.
(4) Make much of Divine indications.
(5) Have a distinct understanding, carefully and solemnly ratified, before actually entering on the new relationship. Let there be no possible mistake on either side as to what is expected.
II. THE WISDOM OF THE KING. David did two wise things on this occasion.
1. He commenced his reign over united Israel by an act of courage and patriotism (1 Chronicles 11:4, 1 Chronicles 11:5).
2. He gave prominence and power to the man who earned them by his merit (1 Chronicles 11:6). Here are two lessons for leaders of all times.
(1) Strive to start well. To make a favourable commencement of a ministry, or of a government or office of any kind, is not everything; but it is much. It is a great step toward a real success; therefore, in beginning a new work with new workers, put forth the utmost energy and start promisingly.
(2) Show favour to the deserving. Let not kinship, nor friendship, nor the commendations of others, but personal merit shown in the face of duty and difficulty, be the condition of honour. Let the prize be to him who has won it. Partiality will soon destroy confidence and wear away affection. Impartiality will secure respect and love. Then as "David dwelt in the castle," will the wise leader of the community dwell in the stronghold of the esteem and affection of the Church or the community.—C.
1 Chronicles 11:9.-God's enlarging presence.
If God is with us in the sense in which he was "with" David, we also shall "wax greater and greater."
I. HOW GOD'S PRESENCE PROVED AN ENLARGEMENT TO THE KING. It resulted in:
1. An increase in his territory. God prospered him in war; his enemies were beaten; his dominion was enlarged, so much so that the prophecy of Genesis 15:18-21 was fulfilled.
2. The growth of power and influence in his royal person. David became more and more established in the regard, the confidence, and the affection of Israel. The whole nation came to yield him a full and unhesitating allegiance.
3. The rise of national power and influence over neighbouring nations. The kingdom of Israel had been little or nothing to the surrounding peoples, Now, however, it acquired consideration. The potentates of the East were glad to make treaties, to be on amicable terms with Genesis 2:4. The enlargement of his spiritual nature. We cannot say that David's spiritual course was "the path of the just, shining brighter and brighter unto the perfect day." It certainly suffered temporary eclipse, even if it did not, after a certain period, steadily decline. But we may indulge the belief that, for some time after his elevation to supreme power, it was not only in circumstance but in soul that he" waxed greater and greater."
II. How GOD'S PRESENCE IS AN ENLARGEMENT TO OURSELVES. If God be with us, with his Divine favour, with his providing and protecting care, with his Spirit's influence, it may be that he will give us enlargement in the shape of:
1. Temporal prosperity. He may "set our feet in a large room" (Psalms 31:8). We may be made by him to "wax greater and greater" (see 1 Timothy 4:8). It is certain God will grant us increase in:
2. Our views. We shall see, know, understand, more and more of himself, of ourselves, of the meaning and the capacity of our human life, of his holy will as revealed in his Word.
3. Our affections. He will "enlarge our heart" (Psalms 119:32). We shall embrace more in our kindly sympathies. Our purer, nobler, more generous feeling will flow forth to all those who are the most necessitous—to the "little ones" of Christ, to "them that are a far off."
4. Our influence. We shall become more of a blessing to those with whom we have to do. As God teaches us, disciplines us, ennobles us, we shall have a gathering and growing power over our kindred, our associates, our neighbours.
5. Our hopes. These will be gradually withdrawn from the small circle of time, and reach forth into the vast amplitude of eternity; and they will become ever higher and nobler as immortal life presents itself to us less as a mere endless enjoyment and more as a ceaseless service.—C.
1Ch 11:10-14, 1 Chronicles 11:20-47.-The moral of the mighty men.
We may learn from this record of gallant exploits and of the names of David's mighty men —
I. THAT NO MAN, HOWEVER GREAT AND WISE, CAN DISPENSE WITH THE CO-OPERATION OF OTHERS. David's elevation to the throne was largely due to his own character and to his own deeds. That was noble and winning; these were great and worthy. But he could not and would not have become king over all Israel, had not these mighty men "strengthened themselves with him… to make him king" (1 Chronicles 11:10). And though the power and glory of his long reign were, to a great extent, the product of the king's own wisdom, valour, and loyalty to Jehovah, yet the deeds of his mighty men had much to do with the triumphs he won and the power he wielded. No Christian leader can accomplish great things without an active following on the part of brave and true men, who "strengthen themselves with him." Around the illustrious men whose names are household words and who wrought great things for Christ and for the world, there were gathered others, less in moral and spiritual stature than they, whose names were unwritten or have faded from view, but whose co-operation ensured success. All who would accomplish much must know how to surround themselves with others who will second their work and sustain their hands.
II. THAT MEN MAY SERVE A GOOD CAUSE ANIMATED BY VARIOUS MOTIVES. It is impossible to suppose that all those who "strengthened themselves with David… according to the word of the Lord" (1 Chronicles 11:10) took their part, then and afterwards, solely on the ground that they were thus carrying out the Divine will. Doubtless they had their personal ambitions. The court at Jerusalem was not without its rivalries and jealousies. The mighty men were no doubt stirred to more daring deeds because they hoped to "have a name among the three" (1 Chronicles 11:20, 1 Chronicles 11:24), if not the "first three" (1 Chronicles 11:21); or among "the thirty" (1 Chronicles 11:25), if not the three; or to be counted among "the valiant men of the armies" (1 Chronicles 11:26). In our Christian warfare we should be actuated by the very highest considerations—by the love of Christ and the love of man. we may also be affected, may let our zeal burn more steadily and brightly, by considerations less lofty than these—by the desire to gain the approval of our leaders, by the hope of a large reward, etc.
III. THAT MEN MAY DEDICATE THEIR PHYSICAL PROWESS TO THE SERVICE OF GOD AND OF THEIR KIND. The worthies whose deeds are here recorded were rendering a not unimportant service to their race. The reign of David had a certain serious bearing on the whole plan of Providence. It was, perhaps, an essential link in the whole redemptive chain. In this light the exploits of these heroes, who helped to place David in regal power and to sustain him on the throne of Israel, formed a contribution to the work of God and the redemption of man. The tendency of our nature is to overestimate such brilliant feats as those of this chapter (1 Chronicles 11:11-14, 1 Chronicles 11:20, 1 Chronicles 11:22, 1 Chronicles 11:23). But it is possible, by a reaction of thought, to under-estimate them, and even to deny them a place in the account of honourable service. Physical prowess has served and yet may serve the cause of truth, righteousness, wisdom.
IV. 'THAT USUALLY IN OTHER WAYS THAN THESE GOD ASKS AND ACCEPTS OUR SERVICE. Now, in these Christian times, it is
(1) by moral rather than by physical courage;
(2) in obscurity rather than in distinction;
(3) with the sword of the Spirit rather than with the sword of steel, that we are to win victories and render service to our Lord.—C.
1 Chronicles 11:15-19.-A royal afterthought.
This is a beautiful and touching episode in the military career of David. It brings out both the weakness and the strength of the Hebrew monarch.
I. THE KING'S MOMENTARY INCONSIDERATENESS. (1 Chronicles 11:17.) David was not by any means thoughtless of his subjects. He was not made of the hard material of which some celebrated adventurers have been composed, which made them utterly heedless of the losses and sufferings of their followers. He had a warm and generous heart. But on this occasion he was betrayed into an inconsiderate act. When his thirst could not possibly be allayed without placing the lives of his men in the most imminent risk, he should have borne it in silence rather than have uttered his wish for water. He should have remembered that the wish of a sovereign would probably be interpreted as a command, or be seized upon as an occasion for distinction or a means of securing a large reward. To such default all men are liable. It requires unceasing prayer and sleepless vigilance to avoid being surprised and "overtaken in a fault."
II. THE DEVOTED LOYALTY OF HIS FOLLOWERS. (1 Chronicles 11:18.) Three of his mighty men no sooner heard his utterance of strong desire than they set out to gratify it. Daring the utmost danger, their life in their hand, they "brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well." David had the rare faculty of attaching men to himself with enthusiastic devotion. He won, not only the fidelity, but the eager and loving devotion of his servants. Surely his "greater Son," the Prince of Peace, is far more worthy of the unhesitating, uncalculating devotion of his subjects. Surely they should eagerly watch his eye, should spring to do his bidding, should joyfully run greatest risks and make largest sacrifices to fulfil the good pleasure of his will.
III. THE REDEEMING AFTERTHOUGHT. (1 Chronicles 11:18, 1 Chronicles 11:19.)
1. David disallowed his own selfishness. It is our habit to cover our wrong deeds with plausible pretexts. Our ingenuity is generally equal to the discovery of reasons which will extenuate or justify our errors and our sins. David might have done the same had he been less worthy than he was. But he took the nobler course. He rebuked himself and disallowed his deed, He shrank from the act of profiting by his own inconsiderateness. God forbid... shall I drink the blood of these won," etc.? Well would it have been for this oppressed world of ours if its kings and rulers had always shrunk thus from "drinking the blood" of the people. In itself it is doubtless better not to err than to err and afterwards to withdraw, but it is difficult for us not to be glad that David was guilty of this momentary thoughtlessness, inasmuch as it was directly followed by this noble and most honourable afterthought, that he would not gratify his taste through an act which had imperilled the lives of his followers. It was the readiest and most practical way of rebuking himself.
2. He rose into the region of self-denial and devotion. He "poured it out to the Lord." He made it quite impossible for him to drink, and, at the same time, he offered an oblation unto the Lord. Seldom does so unpromising a commencement issue in so excellent an ending. But for the profoundly religious character of David, it would not have done so. We learn that:
(1) Deep-seated principles of piety and virtue should correct a mistake into which we may be surprised.
(2) That self-denial and devotion are truer triumphs than military conquests. We do not think much of Jashobeam's exploit (1 Chronicles 11:11), but we shall never forget this penitential, self-sacrificing deed of David.—C.
HOMILIES BY R. GLOVER
1 Chronicles 11:1-3.-The promise fulfilled.
"They anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord by Samuel." David had a great promise given him. It was given him early in his life to inspire the noble purpose, and to make possible the necessary patience. You and I have great promises, given us, not when in sight of the longed-for good, but when it is yet distant and far away. Such promises are our morning stars, as they were David's. Often, however, to David the fulfilment of its promise seemed an impossibility. Often to us the obstacles to the fulfilment of our promises seem many and insuperable. It is worth while to linger and to observe how calmly and straight God's providence marched onward to the fulfilment of its promise in his case, and to gather thence some deepening of our confidence that it will march straight on to the complete fulfilment of every word on which he has caused us to hope. I confine myself to this one point, not dwelling on some important points likewise suggested here. Others may mark this to indicate the fact that ultimately the people are the source of all power in the state; or may single out the word "covenant" here, and dwell on the fact that David is the first example in history of a constitutional monarchy. We look above and beyond these things, to a Divine Giver fulfilling a long-despaired-of promise. That the precedent may have all its weight of consolation for the despairing inheritors of God's promises, let us mark successively —
(1) The seeming impossibility of this promise being fulfilled; and
(2) its blessed and complete fulfilment.
I. OBSERVE THE SEEMING IMPOSSIBILITY OF DAVID'S PROMISE BEING FULFILLED. NOT many arguments are usually needed to drive us to despair. Many of us when all is brightest cannot believe the good word spoken to us. How much more David might have concluded that the fulfilment of this promise was utterly outside the reach of all possibility! Look at the arguments of despair with which Satan could assail him.
1. There was already a monarch established in his throne. The choice of the whole people. And at the time the promise was made to David everything indicated he was the worthy choice of Israel. He had the hold which popular election, Divine approval, a generous disposition, great physical courage and prowess, great natural kingliness, conspired to give him. Nor had he any lack of heirs. There were three conspicuous sons—Jonathan; Abinadab, Melchi-shua, all worthy to succeed him. One of them, by his noble generosity and kindness, which blended with the noblest martial qualities, made him the darling and pride of the nation. There were other sons and grandsons. How was it possible that all these should be superseded and he made king? Especially impossible would this seem when he remembered that:
2. He did not belong to a tribe whose rulership would be acceptable to Israel, and did not even belong to the chief family of that tribe. Ephraim aspired to be the leading tribe of Israel. Her land centrally situate, she had been, from the days of Joseph downward, the leading tribe. They might as their first king accept a man of Benjamin, not caring to press their claims when they were securing one from a tribe always in friendliest alliance with their own, and too small to dream of rivalling them in importance. But would Ephraim ever admit Judah her rival to give Israel a king? And even if they were willing, would the great families of Judah accept that of Jesse as the royal house, when the family of Caleb was still found in Hebron? Yea, if they were willing, would his own family be? There were his brothers, great in warlike force; the eldest sufficiently kingly for Samuel to deem him the chosen of the Lord. There was his uncle Joab, probably no older than himself, and his brothers, all of them capable of ambition. Why should he be the one? Did his pride or legitimate complacency venture to go back to the great day at Ephes-dammim when he slew Goliath? There was Eleazar, who in the same conflict had supported David and won a great renown, and Jashobeam, who "slew three hundred at one time," and half a score of others who had done deeds of romantic fame. So that even before the enmity of Saul broke out there was enough to make David despair of his ever seeing the promise fulfilled. Then next:
3. Saul with all his forces sets himself to destroy David. The insanity that overtook Saul seemed to leave David no hope. The enmity so persistent; the whole soldiery of the kingdom available and employed to seize and destroy him; the land a little land—not much larger than Yorkshire;—what chance was there of surviving such a pursuit? The only defenders he could find were the rabble of outlawed people or men of broken character and fortunes, who could not lose by any change, but possibly might gain. Should he meet Saul in battle, his name would have a stigma of rebellion fatal to all kingly hopes. Should he avoid a battle, it was hard to see by what other means he could avoid the certain fate which seemed awaiting him. And when year after year this lasted, and David was "hunted like a partridge on the mountains," how inevitably would all hope of the fulfilment of God's promise fade from his soul I And yet the greatest difficulty of all remains to be noted. At last he cuts the knot of suspense, and, giving up all hope of the crown, he seeks to secure his life, and actually:
4. He enlists in the service of the enemies of Israel. We know not with what reservations he enters the service of Achish, whether he had intended the treason of fighting against Israel, or the treason of siding with Israel against the Philistines after receiving their hospitality and pledging faithfulness to them. Despair was working its usual folly and recklessness; and he had put himself in one of those false positions which are above all things to be avoided. And doing so, he not only abandoned for ever all thought of being king, but seemed to make the throne impossible. But even here God steps in, and, by raising up opposition on the part of the lords of the Philistines, saves him from the shame which would have dishonoured him whether he had fought against Israel or Israel's enemies. But put all these together: the settledness of the dynasty of Saul; the disadvantages of David's birth; the persecutions of Saul; his own break-down in faith;—and would you in his circumstances have been ever able to hops for the fulfilment of this great promise? Would you not rather have looked back on it as the dream of a friendly nature and as nothing more? Are there more impediments to-day in the way of God's promise to you being fulfilled than studded the way to the fulfilment of these? Yet observe, spite of all these impossibilities —
II. THE COMPLETE AND BLESSED FULFILMENT OF ALL GOD'S PROMISES. Consider how many things go to this.
1. There is the opportunity for making himself known to all Israel.
2. Then, by marvellous providential deliverances and by restraints on the heart of Saul, every effort to destroy David is frustrate.
3. Then, God saves him from himself, from the complications of his own despair, by keeping him entirely out of the war between Saul and the Philistines.
4. Then, Saul and his three sons fall together at Gilboa, and the only son of Saul remaining is one without any of the strength requisite for kingship. The house of Judah accepts him as the ruler fittest to secure them from the Philistines, one whose very name is itself worth an army. And Benjamin, nearest to the Philistines, is glad to do the same. Then, while the conflict with Ishbosheth has the minimum of slaughter that could be found in civil war, it daily made the eminence of David more conspicuous. And so it happens that, without any effort, toil, or solicitude on God's part, all things are brought round so perfectly that at last all the tribes of Israel come and invite him to be king. And that at the right time, viz. as soon as he was fit for such a post. He reached it and held it forty years in the richest manner; his kingdom reaching dimensions and prosperity hitherto never dreamed of, and being transmitted to a long line of descendants, seventeen generations holding the throne before the Captivity broke the line. And even so, what is impossible with man ever proves to be possible with God. And the promise made to you—of pardon of your repented sins, or of grace to conquer indwelling evil, or of answer to your prayer, or of perseverance to the end, or of daily bread, or of help in every time of trouble—however impossible its fulfilment may seem, will be perfectly, easily, richly fulfilled by him whose love and power know none of the limits within which we have to work.—G.
Verse 10-12:40.-The groups of heroes.
"These are the chief of the mighty men whom David had." This roll of ancient chivalry is worthy of a little notice. Men of valour consecrating that valour to service of David and their country, emulating each other's deeds and all abounding in service to their land, their numbers, association, prowess, has charmed many a reader and inspired through many generations a grand succession of heroic souls. As courage is a constant requisite in all directions, let us study this singular group of valiant men, and observe how ―
I. HEROES COLLECT ABOUT A HERO. There are few qualities which are not more or less contagious. Corruption corrupts, and strength invigorates others. Honour sets its fashion, and vice finds many to copy it. The bad man has to answer, not only for the harm he does, but for the harm that he leads others to do. The good man has the reward of his service, which is great, but of his example as well, which is greater still. Here we see that one hero makes a multitude. After one man has fought and slain a gigantic foe, Benaiah can do the same. And Jashobeam and Eleazar can do their marvellous deeds, slaying foes by hundreds who come against them. The nobility of David's nature attracts and elevates kindred spirits. It attracts them; for even when an outcast and exile, they collect about him (see 1 Chronicles 12:1-40.) in the cave of Adullam and in the land of the Philistines. All Saul's authority as king and kinsman does not prevent many of the bravest of the Benjamites attaching themselves to David, even in Saul's lifetime. A Moabite, and an Ammonite were among his chief captains; a Hittite, one of his thirty knights; from beyond Jordan many gather to him; and later on, from every tribe of Israel some are attracted to his standard. There is such an attraction about every great soul. The law of gravitation, I suppose, is true of souls, that they attract each other in the ratio of their masses; and if a nature be tenfold grander than another, it has tenfold more attraction. Great men cannot help attracting, and men less great from feeling the force of that attraction. And when the greatness is the rounded greatness in which generosity of nature meets with courage and with wisdom, there is no bound to the attraction exercised and the devotion yielded. If God has made you a kingly spirit, you need not be over-solicitous about the recognition of your claims. He whom God makes to be master is master by a law of gravitation, and finds his level as naturally as material things find theirs. Impatience to reach your throne only delays it. Be still, and if God means you to rule, there is nothing more certain than that you will. Meanwhile, as perhaps you have not that part to play, attach yourself as a learner and a follower to him whom you find better and wiser than yourself, and, sitting at his feet, you will, in the practice of obedience, learn the secret of command. David not only attracts, however, but elevates. Beneath the kindling inspiration of his valour all hearts grow brave. Courage seems so easy and fear so shameful that, with him as leader, each man is twice, ay, sometimes many times himself. A Bruce, a Cromwell, a Nelson, or a Wellington, will never lack brave following. "As iron sharpeneth iron, so does a man the countenance of his friend." Valour in one makes many valiant. King Arthur had his knights of the Round Table, and David had his, and all brave men have theirs. Such a fact is worthy of notice, for we are apt to think evil a stronger thing than good; the fact being that good is the most omnipotent thing on earth, kindling similar goodness in others' lives. Be brave and good, and you will not long be without companions.
II. A WISE KING CHOOSES BRAVE MEN FOR CAPTAINS, He did so because he recognized the validity of the principle we have just been considering. His valour infused into the captains; theirs would be infused into the men. In war an army wants brave leaders, not figure-heads. "Take the kings away every man out of his place, and put captains in their room," said the sensible military critics of Benhadad, who had made his first invasion of Israel with thirty-two kings as leaders of his troops. But it is not only in military matters, but in all others that courage is wanted. From the teacher of a Sunday school to a prime minister, from a minister of religion to a town councillor, whoever is at the head of his fellows should be brave; wise as well, but brave. Prudence without some daring and enterprise will so shrink from difficulties and risks that it will take ofttimes the most dangerous course of all—doing nothing. There is always at hand, available for whoever can use it, abundance of power to work reforms, to render needed service to mankind, if only there be leaders for it. Are you in a position of influence of any sort, in Church or state, with few or many? Remember that David would have none but heroic men for leaders, and if you have not courage to lead men forward, you should give place to those who have. Happy the village Church, the Sunday school, the school board, the town council, the land, whose leaders have brave hearts that do not slacken with languor or shrink from danger! With such leading, the community, like Israel, will find safety, prosperity, blessing, in richer measure than languid hearts ever dare to dream of.—G.
1 Chronicles 11:22.-Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.
"Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done many acts; he slew two lionlike men of Moab: also he went down and slew a lion in a pit in a snowy day. And he slew an Egyptian, a man of great stature, five cubits high; and in the Egyptian's hand was a spear like a weaver's beam; and he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and slew him with his own spear." I venture to treat of this hero, although far removed from any nineteenth-century characteristics. He was a priest, son of a high priest, yet a warrior. To find one like him in office and quality one has to go back to the fighting bishops of the Middle Ages. We do not read of his ministering at the altar. Yet we must not, therefore, imagine him some degenerate son of Aaron, affording warning rather than example. For there is something savoury in his brief story, which occurs twice in the Bible, and just because of its unusual combinations of characteristics it is worth our lingering on it. Let me urge some simple lessons which may be of use, at least to the more combative of our readers. Observe —
I. THAT MANLINESS IS A GREAT DESIDERATUM IN A PRIESTHOOD. To make a true priest of God, the first and greatest thing required is godliness, and the second is like unto it—manliness; and on these two qualities hang all effective discharge of priestly duties. It may be objected that this remark does not necessarily spring from Benaiah, who, though of the tribe of Levi, might be an exception to rather than a specimen of the priestly order. And I should admit the relevancy of the remark were it not that the tribe of Levi seems, in Egypt, to have been conspicuous for its courage and leading qualities (for otherwise the eminence of Aaron before Moses received his commission would be inexplicable); that the tribe of Levi was called pre-eminently "the host," during all the encampments in the wilderness; that in David's time the tribe of Levi seems to have afforded one of the monthly army corps of twenty-four thousand men (1 Chronicles 27:5); that from the days of Phinehas to those of the Maccabees, and even later, the priesthood furnished many of Israel's noblest warriors; so that, without pressing or straining anything, we have the fact clear that the manliness of the tribe of the Levites was one reason of its selection for the priesthood, or at least one characteristic of it. There is a vulgar manliness, loud, blatant, coarse, unfamiliar with any of the finer questionings or feelings of the soul. Far from all priestly work be such. But the noblest manliness is not coarse. It blends gentleness with courage, is a thing of force of spirit rather than of bodily strength, marked by vigour and truth, daring rather than any braggart delight in blows. And it should be remembered that weak and feeble spirits are nowhere more out of place than in the Christian ministry. To make a true minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ you want essentially, as the raw material out of which God makes him—manliness. Courage to avow the faith when all may be denying it; to stand alone; to resist all seduction to smother doubt and to repeat hearsay; to dare to do right; to have the inspiring power which nerves others to dare it as well; to rebuke; to warn; to count and accept the cost of faithfulness to principles; to be a leader and commander to the people;—for these things is manliness not needed? is courage not supremely requisite? Peter said, Add to your faith manliness ( virtue in the Latin sense, not in the English). Christ said of Peter, "Thou art a rock, and on this rock I will build my Church." In Hebrews 11:1-40, you could almost substitute the word "courage" for the word "faith," so constantly and inseparably are they united. The great names of the Church are no less illustrious for courage than for spiritual insight. Paul, Athanasius standing "alone against the world," Luther, Calvin, Knox, Wesley, Carey, Williams, Livingstone; you have just to go over the great names of the Church's history to see that the names of those greatly good have been those pre-eminently of men greatly brave as well. Whatever your work, Christian, if you would be a true priest of God you must be brave. "Put on thy strength, O Zion." Religion never enervates when it is the real thing, but uses and increases all the braver qualities of the spirit. Faith is a fight in all directions. We have sometimes fostered a piety too sentimental, phrasy, and self-conscious. From the manliness which God approved in in the old priesthood, and which Benaiah had in prime fulness, learn that godliness and manliness should meet to make a thorough character. Observe (what, indeed, flows from this) —
II. THAT THE COMBATIVE QUALITY IN MAN, WHILE IT NEEDS HALLOWING, ADMITS OF IT. Man is very largely a fighting animal. His modes of attack come almost as instinctively as the various modes of assault used by the lower animals. The taste for conflict distinguishing all men, true religion does not destroy, but seeks to hallow it. The mental analyst will tell you that be needs some admixture of the combative element to produce some of the finest qualities of nature. It is that which gives hardness and a staying power to the man. There is no decision of character without it. We need the power of standing up against our enemies to stand up against ourselves. There is no pertinacity of purpose without it. He who has not a little of the combative element soon gives in. There is no conquest of difficulties without it. We shrink from every trouble, say a lion is in the street, if there is nothing of this quality in us. So that the combative quality is not one of nature's mistakes that grace has just to weed out, but something it has to hallow; an edged tool, in learning the uses of which we often cut our fingers, but something not on that account to be thrown away. It may be hallowed, but it needs a good deal of effort to secure a thorough hallowing of it. It is apt to he a reckless quality, striking wildly; the weapon of the passions rather than of the reason; used by and intensifying animosity; the source of strife and confusion, and the "every evil work" which attend them—shedding blood, devastating kingdoms, burdening conscience with guilt, running riotous in its wrong. When rightly used, one of the grandest blessings of life; when ill used, one of its great curses. If so valuable hallowed, so mischievous unhallowed, the question rises—When is it hallowed, and truly and divinely used? And I think Benaiah's case gives us, somewhat roughly, perhaps, but clearly, the true answer to the question. It is used rightly and hallowed when directed against the enemies of the public good. Sometimes against an Egyptian host mustered to battle, sometimes against the Moabites, and sometimes against the wild beasts. An evangelical generalization might not be far out of it which stated it that the combative clement is wisely employed when it operates against whatever injures our own character or our neighbour's well-being. The man fights foolishly who does not begin the conflict by fighting with himself. It were vain to fight against Egyptians and Moabites, and then give in and let some lion destroy the power so valuable—power which might have done such splendid service. To say "No" to our own weaknesses, to protect the interests of others, to oppose whatever by its falsehood, sin, or mischief threatens the true well-being of our friends and neighbours. Oh, how much there is that needs fighting! how much of evil in our own hearts! how much in the world! How much of evil is daily assailing and destroying the happiness and well-being of multitudes, but for want of brave hearts that think of more than merely getting to heaven themselves, and that are willing to make some sacrifice of comfort and ease and to risk what is dearer than either! "Fight the good fight of faith; lay hold on eternal life;" and oppose whatever harms your brethren.
III. THAT THERE ARE A GOOD MANY DIFFERENT KINDS OF ENEMIES TO BE TACKLED IN' THE COURSE OF OUR LIFE. Sometimes Egyptians; sometimes Moabites; sometimes lions; sometimes some other foe, like the Philistines encamped round Bethlehem, through whom Benaiah and two others broke to fetch David a draught of water from its well. Yes; there is more than one or two or even three sorts of enemies against which we have here to fight. Now it is a subtle whisper that denies there is any Providence here or heaven hereafter; now it is some passion that, rising up within us, clamours for mastery ever the reason and duty; now it is greed, which makes the fingers stick to the money they should part with; now it is one of what are called the minor faults, but which yet are capable of inflicting much pain and injury that needs to be put down; now it is the ignorance of the children of the people; now it is their vices, their drunkenness; now it is the system which is permitted to increase the wealth of individuals at the expense of corrupting the life of the people. Oh for a few Benaiahs, that in conflict with such evils will put forth a noble strength. Let us not live a merely private life. Rise and assail the foe which is injuring society, beginning, I must say again, with the enemies that fight in your own heart—unbelief in Christ, unwillingness to follow him, indulgence of your own weakness. There are too many Reubens in every age who, when great issues are being fought out big with bliss or woe to generations, "abide" ignobly "among the bleating of the sheep." Keener interest in all efforts of philanthropy and politics to further human well-being, is what is required at our hand. Lastly, observe that —
IV. IN ALL FIGHTING, THE SOUL IS THE MAIN THING. Doubtless Benaiah had great muscular strength, but that was but a little of his equipment. The splendid audacity that engaged with the Egyptian, meaning to kill him with his own spear. The fine superiority to thought of consequences to himself of engaging with that hungry lion on a winter's day, in close quarters, where neither could escape the other. It was that brave spirit in him which, never shrinking from attempts that seemed impossible, nor kept back by the discretion that seeks to save its skin, wrought its grand marvels. Oh, bow little of this grand courage marks us! How much solicitude we have about our name, our peace, what people may think of us, our money, the chance of failing] In this world the timid don't always go most safely. It is the brave heart that comes best out of all its conflicts. Pluck up a little strength, and call to God for more, and venture bravely wherever duty calls you, and, like Benaiah, you will find fame, safety, usefulness, attendant on your steps.—G.
HOMILIES BY F. WHITFIELD
1 Chronicles 11:1-4.-David's anointing.
This chapter properly follows the twelfth chapter. The union of heart to make David king is taken up at the commencement of this eleventh chapter. This event happened on the death of Ishbosheth (see 2 Samuel 5:1-3). The repeated anointings in the presence of the heads of the kingdom seem to have been necessary to the general acknowledgment of the sovereign by the nation. In David we are to see Christ. In the "oneness of heart" to make him king (see 1 Chronicles 12:38), we see that love to Christ which constitutes all true subjects of the Saviour. It was simply love to himself which drew all these heroes around David. At his yearning for the water of the well of Bethlehem, it was this love that made them brave all danger, and, at the risk of their lives, "break through the host of the Philistines." In all this we see the personal love of the Lord's people to their King, Jesus. Love is the mighty bond—love to himself, love that will brave all dangers, love that will lay down its life for him—the reflection of his own shed abroad in their hearts. And the object of this great gathering was one, even as their hearts were one, viz. to make David king. Thus is it also the one desire of all the followers of Christ—that he shall be King. They would cast every crown at his feet and say, "Thou art worthy," and they long for the time when he shall be "King of kings and Lord of lords." But while they were "of one heart" to make David king, he, on his part, made a covenant with them. In this covenant he made himself over to them as their leader and captain, and that they should partake of the reward of his victories and of his glory. All this would be included in that covenant. In this, again, we see Christ, our true David, engaging to his faithful people all covenant blessings. "I will give unto you the sure mercies of David." His own wondrous love has bound them to himself, and that same love ensures to them, in a covenant that nothing can set aside, every spiritual and temporal blessing. "He hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ."—W.
1 Chronicles 11:4-9.-Capture of Jerusalem.
David and all Israel with him went to Jerusalem, then called Jebus, and in the possession of the Jebusites. But they would have none of him. David, however, took the castle of Zion, and Joab subsequently captured the city, and was rewarded for his bravery by promotion to the chief military rank. We have seen the anointed king and his subjects, and now we are presented to the royal residence. In all this Christ is again shadowed forth. We have seen the anointed King Jesus and those who are his faithful ones. He has gone into "the far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return;" and his people shall share in his glory when he shall return. "I go," he said, "to prepare a place for you: and if I go and .prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." He has purchased Zion for his loved ones with his own precious blood, and they shall reign with him in his glory.—W.
1 Chronicles 11:10-25.-David's mighty men.
Among the elders of Israel (1 Chronicles 11:3) who came to anoint David king, there were mighty men of valour, who had in various ways distinguished themselves. These are referred to in these verses, and also in 2 Samuel 23:8-24. David formed a military staff out of this "great host" that had gathered around him. The "mighty men," or "champions," of this staff were divided into three classes. The highest was Jashobeam, the son of Hachmoni; the second, Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite; the third, Shammah the son of Agee, the Hararite. These were of the first class or highest rank. In the second class were first Abishai the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah; the second, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; the third, Asahel the brother of Joab. These were of the second rank. The third class were the thirty men enumerated in these chapters, of whom Asahel was the chief. There are thirty-one mentioned in the list, including Asahel, which, including the six of the two superior ranks, make thirty-seven. The first name in the chief rank, Jashobeam, was an office, or "seat" (2 Samuel 23:8). Adino the Eznite is said to have filled this office under Joab. The one who filled this seat was president of war. The three chief men who composed the ranks of each of the first two classes were chosen for their valour, and the remarkable manner in which they had distinguished themselves at, the time when David was Saul's general against the Philistines. The two chapters give in detail the account of the exploits performed by Jashobeam, Eleazar, Shammah, Abishai, Benaiah, and Asahel. These were the men who had so distinguished themselves under David when acting as Saul's general. Adino the Eznite is represented as sitting in Jashobeam's seat—probably acting for him as the president of the council of war. Jashobeam is said to have slain eight hundred men with "his own spear." The Philistines gathered together against David in a field of barley, or lentiles. There Eleazar met them, and fought "till his hand was weary," and it "clave unto the sword." The same battle was continued by Shammah after the exhaustion of Eleazar, and he, by his valour, preserved the field. To these two the Lord gave a great victory, and "the People returned after them only to spoil." These were the exploits of the three chief men of David's first rank. In his second rank, Abishai the brother of Joab slew with his own spear three hundred men. Benaiah the son of Jehoiada slew at one time two Moabitish giants; at another time, when snow covered the ground, he slew a lion in a pit; and at another an Egyptian giant with his own spear. Asahel, the third of the second rank, and brother also of Joab, is merely described as one of the valiant men. This "great host" had gathered to David in the cave of Adullam, situate within a few miles of Bethlehem. Drawn thither by personal attachment to himself, they preferred rejection and danger and every hardship of life. Let us learn a few spiritual lessons from this narrative. All those who are drawn around the true David, the Lord Jesus, are not only Christians but warriors. They are to be heroes in the Lord's service—to "fight the good fight of faith." And as with these "mighty men," according to their individual prowess will they be rewarded in the day of the true David's glory, Many of the noble acts of valour which distinguished these "mighty men" were done in secret, and on their own special ground, never heard of till now, and on this account were they chosen as David's "mighty men" now. Those who are fit to fight the Lord's battles in public are those who have conquered in secret, on their own home ground, and where no eye has seen but God's. The man who knows not, like David himself, what it is to have killed the "lion and the bear" in secret is not fit to stand in the public arena to contend with Goliath of Oath. Here we have the election of David to the throne by God, even while Saul was reigning. Just so is it now. The prince of this world reigns, but Jesus is God's chosen One. "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his Anointed Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion." The anointing of David by God is brought before us in 1 Samuel 16:12, 1 Samuel 16:13. The election and anointing of David by the people is recorded in the chapter we are now considering. In these two passages we have the election of Jesus and his anointing by God shadowed forth in those of David, even while as yet the world's king was reigning. In the mean time David, thus chosen and anointed of God, is rejected and cast out by the people of God and by the Gentiles. This is shadowed forth in the rejection by Saul and by Achish, King of Gath (1 Samuel 21:10-15). Thus Jesus, the Chosen and Anointed of God, has been rejected by Jews and Gentiles. "Away with him! Crucify him!" was the united cry of both. The rejected king David takes refuge in the cave of Adullam, and there "a great host as the host of God" gather round him, drawn to him by devoted love, and preferring to be identified with him in his rejection than to be in honour under Saul. How fully we see Christ in all this! As the rejected One, Jesus is now hiding from the view of the world, like David in the cave of Adullam. He has ascended on high, as the Chosen and Anointed of God. He is King, "set upon his holy hill of Zion." And now "a great host, as the host of God," is being gathered out of this world, "a multitude which no man can number," drawn around this rejected One—drawn by his love, and preferring rejection with him to "enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season." The prince of this world is ruling still; but though in the world, his people are not of the world. Saul is not their king, but David; not Satan, but Jesus. "He is precious" to them—the "chief of ten thousand, the altogether lovely." And just as there was great joy in this outgathered host of David (1 Chronicles 12:40), so there is joy among the people of God. Jesus is their joy. He is coming to reign. They know it. And the joy which David's outgathered ones had in him was indeed only a faint shadow of that joy which is theirs, for they have "his joy fulfilled in themselves." And what was the character of those who were drawn to David as the rejected one in the cave of Adullam? "And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was bitter of soul, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them.' Could any passage more accurately describe those who flocked round the standard of the Lord Jesus when on earth? "Publicans and harlots, sinners," those out of whom had been east seven devils, the broken in heart, the out- cast, the blind and deaf and dumb, the naked and hungry and wretched,—such were those who were drawn to the true David when on earth—drawn by his love, and, with his love constraining them, content to "count all things as dung that they might win Christ, and be found in him." And such are they still who are drawn to the world's rejected One. They are in "distress"—they have nothing, and are full of want. Wearied with the mockery of a world that has ever cheated them, they have cast themselves, weary and heavy laden, on Jesus. Again and again they have uttered the cry, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." They are "in debt"—debtors to a broken Law, with the sword of Divine wrath hanging over their heads on account of guilt and sin. They are "bitter of soul;" for sin has wounded them, the world has wounded them, Satan has pierced them through and through. They had "no hope, and were without God in the world." They were "hateful and hating one another." They were "dead in trespasses and sins." Drawn to Jesus by his love, he is now their "All in all." He has risen from the dead and has ascended on high. He has "become a Captain over them"—the "Captain of their salvation, made perfect through sufferings." The host thus gathering round the true David is indeed "the host of God." It is increasing and shall increase till it becomes "a multitude that no man can number," which shall come with Jesus when he shall return in glory, and shall reign with him, "King of kings and Lord of lords." There is one very precious word in this narrative, "And David went on going and growing: for the Lord of hosts was with him". What a word for each of us—"going and growing"! Yes; they are inseparable! In your "walk" with God you must "grow." Oh, how many are in the way to heaven, but standing still! Reader, are you growing? Are you "walking" with God? then you must grow; but not otherwise. Less each day in your own eyes, but more in his. Growth in grace is a going down—a reversal—to ourselves. Christ's glory so rises till the soul is lost in it. "Going and growing"! And what was the secret of it? Not David's natural prowess; not the numbers who were daily flocking to his standard. No; none of these: "for the Lord of hosts was with him." Yes; God's presence—abiding in Jesus—is the secret of all "going" and the secret of all "growing." None without it.—W.
HOMILIES BY R. TUCK
1 Chronicles 11:1-3.-God's providences fulfil God's promises.
The fact is brought prominently before us in these verses that eventually, after long waiting and much trial of faith and patience, the promised throne was secured for David, and that in a most hopeful way, by the good will of the people and the providential removal of all possible rivals. It has been said that "They who wait on providence will never want a providence on which to wait." But we must guard against making providence something operating distinct from God. It is really the living God working in the sphere of material things for the highest good of his people.
I. GOD'S PROMISE OF THE THRONE TO DAVID. It had been made long years before, when David was but a youth (1 Samuel 16:13). It was made by the significant act of anointment, and by the inward witness of God's Spirit. But it was not accompanied with any assurance of immediate fulfilment. God's promises still may serve for years unto the culture of our dependence and trust, until he finds the fitting time for their realization. The Christian man now has the promise of the "inheritance undefiled," but only the promise; yet to him "faith is the substance of things hoped for."
II. WHEN THE PROMISE WAS GIVEN THE FULFILMENT SEEMED MOST UNLIKELY. Another king was actually seated on the throne. There were no outward signs of weakness in his rule; no perilous dissatisfactions among the people; and he was a strong, hale man, and likely to live and rule for many years. Moreover, this King Saul had a family, and, in the natural order of things, it would be expected that they should succeed him on the throne. And, as time advanced, Saul's enmity against David could not fail to create such party feeling as would greatly hinder, if not absolutely prevent, his ever securing the full allegiance of the nation. Taking these things fully into account, any one, looking on from his youth-time to David's future, would say that it was of all Possible things the most unlikely that he should ever occupy the royal throne. But one has skilfully said that "the unexpected is the thing that happens," and the seemingly impossible often becomes the fact. A man who holds fast God's promises need never be troubled by disadvantageous appearances. Following the Divine lead, a man's way unfolds step by step.
III. THOUGH HE HELD FAST THE PROMISE, DAVID NEVER FORCED ITS FULFILMENT; herein setting us a most noble and pious example. He never tried to make a national party; he never pressed himself into high court positions; he never resisted the enmity of Saul; when his enemy was actually in his power, and a spear-thrust appeared to be the step on to the throne, he would not take matters into his own hands (1 Samuel 26:9-11). And even when Saul was dead, David did not press forward or attempt to seize the full kingdom. It may be urged that this was good policy, but it was really something far deeper—it was that true piety, which finds its best expression in waiting on God and waiting for him. A common Christian sin is saying we trust God, yet taking life into our own hands.
IV. GOD MAKES HIS PROVIDENCES EVENTUALLY WORK OUT HIS PROMISES. We may conceive of all things and all events as under his control; and the hearts of all men are in his hands. He is the Divine Master of all man's wilfulnesses. The long ages are his to work in. He can not only use forces, but fit forces together, and compel them to serve his ends. Perhaps the greatest marvel of human life is the way in which things unfold, and seemingly impossible issues are reached. In St. Paul's thought, "All things work together for good." Full illustration is found in the events which led David to his throne. What, then, becomes the duty of the child of the Divine promises? Simply this—let him do the right, so far as he knows it, and in dependence on God's strength, day by day; and let him rest assured that the faithful Promise-keeper will find the fittings, and lead on to the final issues.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 11:6.-Joab, the military statesman.
Though this man, Josh, is introduced to us before (2Sa 2:13, 2 Samuel 2:26, etc.), yet, in order of time, this passage is his first appearance, and only here have we the account of his prowess in taking Jebus, and his part in the building of the city of David. He probably had been chief captain of David's band of outlaws, but on this occasion he gained the position of general of the national army, and he became subsequently the great military statesman of the kingdom, and the chief king's counsellor. Probably he may be regarded as the man who exercised most influence over the king, and the careful review of their relations produces a deep impression that the influence was seldom a good one. He became David's master, and under his bondage David vainly writhed and struggled in his later years.
I. JOAB HIMSELF. The incidents by which he is made known to us are mainly the following: —
1. Abner's killing of Asahel, Joab's brother (2 Samuel 2:12-32), filled Joab with purposes of revenge.
2. Joab treacherously slew Abner (2 Samuel 3:6-39), and David felt himself too weak to do more than denounce the murder; he dare not punish the murderer.
3. Joab took a leading part in the wars of the reign, especially distinguishing himself against the Ammonites (2 Samuel 10:6-14).
4. Joab connived at David's sin in the matter of Bathsheba, and so gained the power over him which he so humiliatingly used afterwards.
5. Joab was faithful in the time of Absalom's rebellion.
6. He directly and insultingly disobeyed his king and lord in slaying Absalom.
7. He showed his mastery and his control of the army by killing Amass, who had been appointed chief general in his stead.
8. He properly remonstrated with David against his self-willed scheme of taking a census.
9. But after David's death he took the part of Adonijah, and was condemned by Solomon. He was strictly a man of the world, brave, daring, manly, generous, and persevering, but masterful, impatient of what he thought David's hesitancy and weakness; a man who saw clearly an end to be aimed at, and was in no way particular about the choice of means by which to reach it. He was unscrupulous, having no quick sensitiveness of conscience to that which is wrong. He ordered his life by the rule of the expedient, not the rule of the right, and was heedless of the claims of others if they stood in his way. A man who was a type of a class still to be found in business and social spheres, who are all for self, and do not mind who they trample down as they go up. "His character was ambitious, daring, unscrupulous, yet with an occasional show of piety" (2 Samuel 10:12). Wordsworth says, "Joab is the personification of worldly policy and secular expediency, and temporal ambition eager for its own personal aggrandizement, and especially for the maintenance of its own political ascendancy, and practising on the weaknesses of princes for its own self-interests; but at last the victim of its own Machiavellian shrewdness."
II. JOAB'S INFLUENCE ON DAVID. Sometimes it was good. He skilfully aided in the restoration of the banished Absalom; and he properly roused the king from the excessive grief he felt at the death of his favourite son. Again and again, with statesmanlike genius, he enabled David promptly to seize the occasions that promised success; and he had religion enough, or insight enough, to see where David was wrong in the matter of the census. But, as a whole, Joab's influence was bad. His unscrupulousness led David into crimes, and his masterfulness prevented David from properly punishing crimes. When conflict came between state necessity and religious duty, Joab gained the victory for mere policy, and so made David act in ways that were unworthy of one who was only Jehovah's vicegerent. It is never good for us to come into the power of any fellow-man. We should be ever in God's lead, but refuse any fellow-man's bonds. And no undue influence exerted by a fellow-man can ever relieve our responsibility before God. Craft, guile, policy, are no forces of blessing in any human spheres.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 11:9.-Success is guaranteed if God be with us.
It is stated that David "waxed greater and greater," but we are not left in any uncertainty as to the real source of his prosperities. We are not permitted to limit our vision to merely favourable circumstances or unusual talents. The secret will go into a sentence: "The Lord of hosts was with him." The introduction may be an account of the importance to David of securing the naturally impregnable city of Jebus for his capital; and of the energy with which both he and Joab set about fortifying and building and firmly consolidating the kingdom. There was an abundance of human energy.
I. THE OPEN AND APPARENT REASONS FOR HUMAN SUCCESS. We can so easily see—or fancy that we see—how they are due to human forces, such as exceptional talents; marvellous energy, such as that of the tradesman in Chicago, who raised a hut of the singed logs from his burnt warehouse, and put on it this sign, "All gone, save wife, children, and energy;" or a perseverance that will not yield to any hindrances or difficulties, that glories in triumphing over obstacles. Sometimes we say that success is due to a happy combination of circumstances, or good luck. And it does seem as if circumstances could favour individuals. Asaph, in the olden time, puzzled over the prosperity that seems to come so freely to bad men. And we may, with perfect propriety and full consistency with right religious feelings, recognize that human success is, as a rule, the appropriate reward of talent, and faculty, and perseverance, and good judgment. Success cannot be guaranteed as' the response to these; but it is their ordinary and natural result, the proper issue toward which they tend. And even from our Christian standpoint, we properly urge a careful attention to all those ordinary conditions on which the prosperity of life depends. It is quite true that "the blessing of the Lord maketh rich; but it is also true that the blessing comes as a gracious using and sanctifying of all right and worthy human endeavour. God will give his best to no man unless the man will do his best. God blesses no man's idleness and no man's thoughtlessness. We may lay on God's altar for acceptance only our best possible.
II. THE SECRET AND REAL REASONS FOR HUMAN SUCCESS.
1. Divine permission. God may withhold success. He may know that, in particular cases, it would not be the best thing; so "if the Lord will" must tone our very desire to win earthly prosperities.
2. Divine presence and blessing. "The Lord of hosts was with him," not only in the sense of giving his presence and gracious help, but in the further sense of approving his schemes and aiding in their accomplishment. Of the first kind of Divine presence we may be always assured. Of the second kind we can be assured only when we so fully hold ourselves open to the Divine love and lead that what we plan and purpose is only and exactly what the Lord would have us do. Still, we must realize that, for us, our true life-success may not be that which we fashion for ourselves; it can only be that which God fashions for us. We may be a long time finding out what God's success for us is. And it is so often difficult for us to read it aright and under- stand it worthily, because it often has this subtlety in it—God holds within it a design of personal culture, and that he counts to be the very highest form of life- success. The great thing to win is the "holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."—R.T.
1 Chronicles 11:17-19.-David's drink offering.
This incident is narrated also in 2 Samuel 23:13-17. The "hold" that is mentioned is probably the frontier fortress of Adullam, on the Philistine border, "which, from its strength and position and the neighbourhood of the caverns, was judged by David to be the best place of defence against the invasions of the Philistines." Robinson says, "There is no well of living water in or near the town of Bethlehem." "There is, however, a cistern of 'deep, clear, cool water,' called by the monks David's well, about three-quarters of a mile to the north of Bethlehem. Possibly the old well has been filled up since the town was supplied with water by the aqueduct." Josephus speaks of the well as being near the gate. David would not drink of the water when it was brought him, for this reason—he looked upon it, not as water, but as blood, seeing that it had been procured at the hazard of men's lives; and, knowing that it was forbidden by the Law to drink blood (Le 2 Samuel 17:11, 2 Samuel 17:12), he poured it out upon the ground as a solemn offering unto the Lord, and as a thanksgiving for the preservation of their lives.
I. DAVID'S HOME FEELINGS. In him there was strong family affection. This is seen in his relations with his grown-up sons. There was also strong attachment to his early home, the place of his youthful associations. Strong home feeling is usually found in the inhabitants of hilly and mountainous countries; as may be illustrated from the mal-du-pays, the characteristic sickness of the Swiss when away from their mountains. It does not appear that David did more than give utterance to a suddenly conceived wish. It was an impulsive utterance, which he did not mean should be taken as a command. Herein is given us a lesson on the importance of guarding carefully our speech, watching the door of our lips. He is not wise who utters all he feels. It is a great grace to be enabled to keep silence.
II. THE DEVOTION OF DAVID'S FOLLOWERS. This is one of the most interesting features of the incident. It brings to view the relations between David and his men, and helps us to realize the fascination which David exerted. Some men have this power over their fellows—a gracious power, if they use it to lead their fellow-men to higher and holier things; a fatal power, if they make it the means of dragging others down to their own doom. It may be pointed out that special gifts ensure this kind of leadership. Of these, grace of body, generosity of disposition, a skill of getting on others' level, an absence of stir-assertive pride, and a winning geniality of manner, are important. If God gives grace of natural disposition, such as wins for us general favour, let us remember that this brings its holy burden of responsibility.
III. THE PROWESS IN WHICH DEVOTION FOUND EXPRESSION. Estimate it from a military point of view. It could but be regarded as a "foolhardy" enterprise; and yet the very suddenness and dash of it almost guaranteed its success. To gratify a wish these men would imperil their lives.
IV. THE PIOUS ESTIMATE OF THE VALUE OF LIFE. This tended to bind David's followers yet more closely to him. Such considerateness for them showed his loving and thoughtful and pious character. It was worth while serving one who eared for them so tenderly. Compare Wellington's personal interest in his soldiers, and the personal enthusiasm which he created. The sense of the value of human life is the very foundation of social morality, it stays man's hand from being lifted up against his fellow-man. And respect for man's best treasure—his life—finds varied expression in respect for all his other treasures and possessions. We will not injure him, in his life, nor in taking anything that is his. Lead on to show how the value of life is enhanced when we add to it two considerations —
(1) Man's immortality;
(2) man's salvation, through a sacrifice of infinite value.—R.T.