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The course of last chapter's parallel is continued here, and answers closely to 2 Samuel 8:1-18. The present chapter contains the wars and victories of David (2 Samuel 8:1-13), with the arrangements consequent upon them; and (2 Samuel 8:14-17) an enumeration of some of his chief officers.
1 Chronicles 18:1
Took Gath and her towns out of the hand of the Philistines; literally, her daughters. The compiler of Chronicles gives us this plain statement where, in the parallel place, we find, "took Metheg-ammah," or more exactly, Metheg-ha-ammah, the explanation of which word (see 2 Samuel 8:1) is not yet ascertained. Its literal signification is "the bridle or curb of the mother city," and may mark a special strong position which commanded Gath, or it may describe Gath as owning itself to such a position. Gesenius understands it to mean that David "subjected the metropolis of the Philistines to himself," quoting the Arabian proverb, To give one s bridle to any one, as equivalent to submitting to him. He quotes also Job 30:11. It may be noted that Ammah is spoken of (2 Samuel 2:24) as the name of a hill, otherwise unknown, however. Although David subdued so many places, he reigned over them, i.e, over many of them, still by "their own kings" (1 Kings 4:24; 2 Chronicles 9:26). Hence we find Gath with a king still in 1 Kings 2:39.
1 Chronicles 18:2
Brought gifts; i.e. in the light of tribute and of acknowledgment of subjection. There are curious additions to this passage in the parallel place, telling the punishment inflicted on Moab: "He smote Moab, and measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground [i.e. causing them to lie prostrate]; even with two lines measured he to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive." This appears to mean that he put to death two parts of them, and kept the third part alive. The reason of this deliberate and severe punishment is not stated. Once David and the Moabites had been on very different terms (1Sa 22:3, 1 Samuel 22:4; but see also Psalms 60:8).
1 Chronicles 18:3
Hadarezer; in the parallel places, Hadadezer; though our present form is found both in Samuel (e.g. 2 Samuel 10:16) and in other places in Chronicles, yet in all these places some manuscripts show Hadadezer (see Gesenius, 'Lexicon,' sub voce). Zobah. Part of Syria, east of Hamath, and for the most part of Coelo-Syria, north of Damascus, and stretching in the direction of the Euphrates. Possibly it is one with Ptolemy's Zake (1Sa 14:47; 2 Samuel 8:3-10; 2 Samuel 10:9; 1 Kings 11:23-25). Hamath. In the valley of the Orontes, the northern boundary of the Holy Land. It is traceable from the time of the Exodus (Genesis 10:18; Numbers 13:21; Numbers 34:8) to that of the Prophet Amos (Amos 6:12). Though in Zobah, it is probably not the Hamath-Zobah of 2 Samuel 8:3. To stablish his dominion. In the parallel place, "to restore," i.e; no doubt, to endeavour to do so, and that against the growing force of David. He had already suffered at the hand of Saul (1 Samuel 14:47, 1 Samuel 14:48).
1 Chronicles 18:4
The parallel place (2 Samuel 8:4) omits, probably by error merely, the word "chariots," and reads for our seven thousand, "seven hundred." As the form of expression in the last two clauses of our present verse is the same in both cases, it is more natural to render, David houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved a hundred, i.e. a hundred horses unhoughed; he houghed all but a hundred. Our Authorized Version, in the parallel, gets over the difficulty by inserting "for," i.e. enough for, "a hundred chariots."
1 Chronicles 18:5
The Hebrew text of Damascus, here, next verse, and also 2 Chronicles 28:5, spells the word with a resh, omitting the dagesh forte in the mere following, which Gesenius instances (see his 'Lexicon') as the Syriac orthography.
1 Chronicles 18:6
The word "garrisons" appears in the text in the parallel place, and would be justly supplied in our Hebrew text here.
1 Chronicles 18:7
The shields; Hebrew שֶׁלֶט. Much doubt has been entertained as to the meaning of this word. Its etymology is uncertain. Gesenius derives it from a root signifying "hardness." For the most part, however, the context of the seven places of its occurrence which he instances (2 Samuel 8:7; 2Ki 11:10; 1 Chronicles 18:7; 2 Chronicles 23:9; So 2 Chronicles 4:4; Jeremiah 51:11; Ezekiel 27:11) favour the rendering "shields," though the quotation from Jeremiah 51:11 (literally, "fill ye the shields") is not so satisfactory. The wealth of Zobah is, of course, illustrated by these shields of gold.
1 Chronicles 18:8
Tibhath, and… Chun. These names replace Betah and Berothai in the parallel place, in the former case with possibility of orthographic explanation, but not in the latter. The purpose for which David was glad to take their brass is not mentioned in Samuel, but only here. The brazen sea, and the pillars, and the vessels of brass (see 1 Kings 7:14-47; 2 Chronicles 4:1-18). In this latter place these subjects will be found treated more fully. This so-called "brazen sea" (אתֵ־יָם הַגְּחשֶׁת) took the place in Solomon's temple of (he earlier brazen laver (כִּיּוֹר גְחשֶׁת) of the Mosaic ritual (Exodus 30:17-21; Le Exodus 8:10, Exodus 8:11; 1 Kings 7:38). It is now called a sea, because of its large size. The use of the original laver is plainly told, for the priests to wash at it their hands and feet before offering sacrifices. It stood in the court of the tabernacle, between the altar and the door. The ten lavers of Solomon's temple were used for washing the sacrificial victims themselves (2 Chronicles 4:6). The brazen sea (which was rather of copper than brass, however) rested upon twelve standing oxen, three turning their faces to each quarter of the heavens. Its height was five cubits, its diameter ten cubits, the thickness of its metal a handbreadth, and its capacity variously given at two thousand baths (1 Kings 7:26) or three thousand (2 Chronicles 4:5). It was removed from its supports of oxen by Ahaz (2 Kings 16:17), and placed on a pedestal of stone. And it was eventually destroyed by the Assyrians (2 Kings 25:13). And the pillars. (For these pillars of the porch, named Jachin and Boaz, see 1Ki 7:15-22; 2 Chronicles 3:15-17.) And the vessels of brass. (For these, see 1Ki 7:40-51; 2 Chronicles 4:16-18.)
1 Chronicles 18:9
Tou. In the parallel place, spelt Toi. Nothing else is known of this King of Hamath, who now proffers his congratulations to David.
1 Chronicles 18:10
Hadoram. In the parallel place written Joram. The Septuagint has the name spelt with d in both places, which has led to the suggestion that possibly the real name was Jedorum. Josephus suggests that Tou had been brought into subjection by Hadadezer, and wished by his present congratulations and valuable gifts to ingratiate himself with David for a purpose. Had war; literally, was a man of war; i.e. he had shown his addictedness to war, or had warred abundantly with Tou. It is evident that Tou had generally fared the worst in their encounters.
1 Chronicles 18:11
From Edom. This is probably the correct reading, and not, as in the parallel, "from Aram," unless, as some think, both places were named in the original authority. From the children of Ammon. Perhaps the events narrated in our succeeding chapter are here referred to by the compiler. From Amalek (see 1 Samuel 30:1-20, 1 Samuel 30:26-31).
1 Chronicles 18:12
Abishai… slew of the Edomites. The parallel place omits to say that it was by aid of Abishai that David slew these eighteen thousand Edomites. They are there called Syrians, which reading is at all events in keeping with the Aram of the previous verse. Abishai, here named son of Zeruiah, possibly served under "Joab son of Zeruiah" (1 Chronicles 18:15), who is spoken of (1 Kings 11:15, 1 Kings 11:16) as very trenchant in this Edomite war, without any mention being made of Abishai. Psalms 60:1-12. (title) probably speaks of an instalment of the eighteen thousand spoken of here, as the nation now suffered all but extermination. The valley of salt. Situate in Edom (1 Kings 11:14-17; 2 Kings 14:7; 2 Chronicles 25:11). The word here used for "valley" is גֵּיא (Psalms 23:4), not the more generic word עֵמֶק, and signifies rather "ravine." The phrase occurs twice with the article expressed, גֵיא חַמֶּלָח. The place is celebrated also for the achievements of Amaziah (in references just given), who proceeded hence with ten thousand prisoners, to precipitate them down the cliff, i.e. Petra (הַסֶּלַע, 2 Chronicles 25:12). The real situation of this place is still doubtful. Since the time of the German traveller Geethen ('Reisen,' 2:356), and of Robinson ('Bibl. Res.,' 2:109), it has been generally assumed to be a tract of land extending some six miles south of the Dead Sea, and bounded at that distance by the range of hills which there runs across the country; but beside the consideration that the word "ravine" could not describe that tract of country, there are others very unfavourable to the supposition.
1 Chronicles 18:15
Recorder. The word is of the same root with that in 1 Chronicles 16:4, "to record." The exact duties and position of this officer are not stated in any one place, but may be gathered from 2 Samuel 8:16; 2Sa 20:24; 1 Kings 4:3; 2 Kings 18:18, 2Ki 18:37; 2 Chronicles 34:8. From these notices, belonging to somewhat separate times, we may gather the dignity and responsibility and trust of the office which the recorder filled, altogether in excess of his duty as mere historical secretary.
1 Chronicles 18:16
Abimelech the son of Abiathar. The reading in the parallel place is, "Abimelech the son of Abiathar," as also in 1 Chronicles 24:6; but comparison of 1 Samuel 22:20; 2 Samuel 20:25; 1Ki 1:7, 1 Kings 1:8, suggests that the right reading would be "Abiathar the son of Ahimelech." With this Mark 2:26 agrees, and tells of a correct manuscript, from which, indirectly, the quotation came. Shavsha. The parallel place reads Seraiaha; 2 Samuel 20:25 reads Sheva; and 1 Kings 4:3 reads Shisha. The differences are probably due simply to errors of transcription. Scribe. The historical development of this title is obscure, and not easy to trace. The use of some form or other of the root is abundantly frequent from the times of the earliest parts of Scripture, in the sense of "numbering," or "declaring," or "recording." Perhaps our title of "secretary" would answer sufficiently to it, and all the better, because the Old Testament scribes were also of different leading kinds, like in some degree to our various secretaries of state. There was the kind of scribe of Judges 5:14—where our Authorized Version is far from the mark, and should rather read "the staff of the scribe," in place of "the pen of the writer"—a military officer, whose duty it was to keep the muster-roll. There was the scribe of 2 Kings 25:19—a passage which throws light on the former (see also Isaiah 33:18; Jeremiah 52:25). There were the scribes of a more literary, lawyer-like, or clerk-like kind, as here, and in the parallel place, and in 2 Samuel 20:25; 1 Kings 4:3; 1 Chronicles 2:55. In the time of Hezekiah, if not before, the scribes became distinctly a class of men (Proverbs 25:1; Jeremiah 8:8); and the times of the Captivity greatly enlarged their importance. Their exact duties in the best times of the monarchy are not laid down, but the dignified place the king's scribe held is evident from the company in which he is placed here and in the parallel passage.
1 Chronicles 18:17
Benaiah the son of Jehoiada (see 1 Chronicles 11:22-25; 1 Chronicles 12:27; 2 Samuel 23:20-23). The Cherethites and the Pelethites. Two tribes of Philistines whom David attached. The meaning and derivation of these two names leave it possible to translate them at once, and to read, "the public executioners, and the public couriers," not treating them as proper names, and to this course Geseuius (see 'Lexicon') gives his sanction. On the other hand, a comparison of 1 Samuel 30:14 and 2 Samuel 15:18 would lead us to treat them as the names of people, although the Pelethites are net as identifiable in this sense as the Cherethites and Gittites. Anyway, it is evident they were the special guard of the king, and were faithful to David and to Solomon after him. Their duties included those of the executioner or lictor, and the courier. They are frequently mentioned on special occasions of the king's moving, and of danger (2 Samuel 15:18; 2Sa 20:7, 2 Samuel 20:23; 1 Kings 1:38, 1 Kings 1:44). Chief about the king. The Hebrew text here is הָרִאשֹׁגִים. The word used in the parallel place is כֹּחֲנִים, which signifies strictly "priests," but sometimes more generally" princes." This is, without doubt, the meaning of our text.
1 Chronicles 18:1-17.-The chapter that offers the sermons of facts with fewest words.
The chapter which to indifferent reading might seem most bare of religious instruction will yield to careful attention the most forcible lessons. Facts bring the most impressive lessons to our lives. Facts teach the most impressive aspects of the Divine character to our present power of apprehending that character. For all we read and memory retains it, for all we hear and faith believes it, for all we think, and think we see it well and clearly, that which we feel and experience from the hard facts of life or the joyful facts of life performs a thousand times over the largest and most valuable part in our education. This chapter is a narration of facts—almost exclusively this and nothing else. But they were facts full of personal interest to David, and full of illustration of Divine goodness and faithfulness. The chapter tells indeed the simplest tale of events that made the joy of a human life, strengthened the faith of a Divine life, rewarded the endurance and preparation of years past of a suffering and painful life, and gives God the praise that was his due. To notice well such facts is to listen well to God's own sermons. Let us notice how they part here so very naturally into those which illustrate the gracious attributes of the Teacher God, and those which illustrate the better qualities of the learner David. We have here —
I. THE GOD "FAITHFUL AND JUST" TO BRING ON THE TIME OF THE "RECOMPENSE OF REWARD." That time is not always to be expected in the present world. There are sometimes manifest reasons why this cannot be, or why it should not be likely, or why it were even to be deprecated. It is also one of the chiefest distinctions, nay, even the differentiae of the Christian temper and essential quality, "to seek for glory and honour and immortality by patient continuance in well-doing," with the eye fixed on one thing alone as the reward—"eternal life." Yet sometimes it is the case that a manifest, ample, revealed recompense of reward comes after trial and sorrow borne, and work earnestly done, even before the partial scene of this present has passed. It is so now. Long had been the discipline of David, frequent the strokes by which heart and life had been smitten, keen and agonizing the misconceptions from which he had suffered, and the misconstructions put upon his generous conduct, and sharply had the iron of disappointment entered into his susceptible nature. But now, 'tis no longer the chapter of accidents; it is the chapter of victories. A series of joyful successes, of triumphs, of honours, came to him. And it was because God "remembered" him and "visited" him and blessed him—no longer with the more hidden mercies proper to the time of preparation and discipline, but with these manifest, published mercies proper to one who had" borne the yoke in his youth," and who had in his measure "seen affliction by the rod of his wrath."
II. THE GOD WHO LENGTHENS OUT HIS PROVIDENTIAL PROTECTION OF HIS SERVANT. How true it is that "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance"! He has never forsaken David. He does not weary of him. He does not change for caprice' sake his servant, to use a younger, a fresher, a choicer. No, he keeps by him, and "preserves him whithersoever he" goes. He is his Shield and Buckler and Defence. He guides him by day and guards him by night. He makes his enemies either fall before him or flee before him. He counsels him and surrounds him with faithful counsellors, captains of his armies, priests of the Church. This is the time that, through the goodness of a faithful Providence, his corn and his wine, and his gold and silver, are increased, and a "table is spread before him, e'en in the presence of his enemies."! Not a day just now but David feels what a glory it is to be the servant of God, and what safety there is with him.
III. THE CONTINUED FAITHFUL DEVOTION ON THE PART OF THE SERVANT OF LIFE AND POWER TO HIS GREAT MASTER. His wars are against the enemies of God and the people of God. There is no sign of personal and ambitious objects in what David is doing. He "reigns over all Israel," and thus reigning he "executes judgment and justice among all his people." He does not forget his responsibilities in the time of rank, dignity, luxury, nor surrender himself to indulgence. It is evident he holds himself, still the servant of God, the willing, conscious, intelligent instrument for his use. In undoubted "authority," his conduct is not that, his bearing is not that, that ever exposes him to the finger of just satire or ridicule—as one who is dressed in a "little brief authority," and for reality and true dignity satisfies himself with display. The reaction from poverty, persecution, subordination, and grief is not what many bear well. Thus far David has come through the trial well. He bears the burden nobly, even as bravely he lifted it to his shoulders; and if God has not forgotten his servant, neither does David show any sign of forgetting that he is God's servant.
IV. THE UNDIMINISHED INTEREST OF A GREAT RELIGIOUS DEVOTION STILL POSSESSING THE THOUGHT AND HEART OF DAVID. There were no doubt considerations which we may suppose to nave been present to the mind of David, in the destined promotion and dignity of Solomon, ancillary to his own continued deep interest in the projected temple. Yet we should not be justified in putting all his sustained devotion down to this source. The project had been a native of ms own heart. And he does not mean to disown "the better part" of faith because he is disappointed in sight. David was now one of the honoured rank of those "kings and prophets who desired to see a certain sight, but died without seeing it. The Pisgah-glimpse possible to him is that which could come of faith indeed, but of faith only. Yet his disappointment has not soured him, his refusal has not turned him sulky. He loves to think of that "habitation of God's house" still. He can't envy his own son; and to console nevertheless his disappointment that he shall not see the glorious stones laid one upon another, towering aloft, and the picked cedars, and the gold flashing again in the sun, his thoughts fill the time with collecting, and getting, and giving, and dedicating for these ends. It was always now in David's thought. The shields of gold and the brass and the silver are all sacred at once in his thought to one purpose. This is some of the noblest of the Divine working in the heart and life that are but human after all. The eye of David shall not see the reared temple, but his thought and purpose and love are laid with its foundations, and reach to its highest pinnacle. And the most magnificent block of its stone, the finest timber of all its cedar, the gold that reflected most brilliantly the light, of all that was in it, may have been those which the eye and the hand too of David did surely and literally touch. Such confidence may all the servants of God entertain.
HOMILIES BY J.R. THOMSON
1 Chronicles 18:6.-Preservation.
The contrast between the God of the Bible and the gods of the heathen, in respect to moral character, is of the most thorough and striking kind. Amongst other noticeable points of contrast, observe this: the imaginary deities of the superstitious idolaters are usually famed and feared for their destructive qualities, whilst the Lord is ever represented as a God of salvation, delighting to preserve his people. The bloodthirsty Shiva, one of the most widely worshipped gods of the Hindus, is the destroyer. Jehovah, it is recorded, "preserved David whithersoever he went."
I. THE DANGERS of ordinary human life are many. It is not only kings and warriors who are exposed to peril, though the position of monarchs exposes them to the violence of the assassin, and the occupation of the soldier is in itself a challenge to the dart of death; but in every position of life, at every age and in every clime, we walk encompassed by dangers seen and unseen.
II. DIVINE PROTECTION is a truth supported by revelation. Not by reason of favouritism and caprice, not in response to any superstitious observances or entreaties, but in virtue of his own attributes, God is a Protector. He is not satisfied to create, and then to abandon what he has made. His universal providence, general and particular, is the joy and comfort of his people. It is equally shown in their prosperity and their adversity.
III. Hence THE PRESERVATION OF GOD'S PEOPLE FROM HARM. He is their Shield, and Buckler, their Defence, and Fortress. He delivers their eyes from tears, their souls from death, their feet from falling. The confidence of the psalmist was signal and most instructive (see Psalms 91:1-16.). It is a source of security and consolation to know that our times are in God's hands.
"An earthquake may be bid to spare
The man that's strangled with a hair."
And when Christians fall victims to the hate and hostility of sinners, or are slain by the operation of natural laws, they still have the assurance that no real evil can befall them.
"Angel-guards from thee surround us;
We are safe, for thou art nigh."
Well may the friend of Jesus exclaim, "I will trust and not be afraid."
IV. The obligation is plain, GRATEFULLY TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE PRESERVING MERCY OF GOD. The royal psalmist was not backward in recording with adoring gratitude the delivering and upholding mercy of a faithful God. Never should we forget that he that is our God is the God of salvation.—T.
1 Chronicles 18:11.-Dedication of gifts.
David was a generous giver. In his many campaigns he won great spoils from his enemies. We need not approve his conduct in all these military expeditions. But we cannot do other than commend the princely generosity which he displayed in the disposal of his booty. Though not himself permitted to build the temple, he was allowed to accumulate treasures to be used by his son and successor in the construction of the sacred edifice. He freely parted with his wealth for this purpose, and for the maintenance of Divine worship in suitable dignity and splendour. His example in thus dedicating gifts to the service of Jehovah is one which all Christians should follow; the more so, as their motives to consecration are more powerful, and their opportunities of service are more numerous.
I. ALL GIFTS ARE OF AND FROM THE LORD. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof;" "The silver and the gold are the Lord's;" his are "the cattle upon a thousand hills." We can, accordingly, only offer unto the Lord of what is really his. "Of his own" we give unto him.
II. ALL THAT CHRISTIANS CAN OFFER TO GOD IS THE PURCHASE OF CHRIST'S BLOOD. When our Saviour redeemed us, he ransomed all our powers and possessions. "Body, soul, and spirit" are his of right. It is the Christian's privilege to feel that nothing which he has is his own; all is his Lord's.
III. The gifts of Christians are THE EXPRESSION OF THEIR GRATEFUL LOVE. They do not give to the cause of their Redeemer merely because they feel that they ought to do so, but because they delight in any opportunity of showing their affection. The most costly, lavish gifts are poor and worthless, if not the expression of the heart's love and loyalty. When the heart is offered, the meanest gifts are sufficient to represent its love. The "two mites" of the widow were accepted and approved; for they cost her much to give, and yet she gave them with a willing mind.
IV. DEDICATED GIFTS MAY SERVE TO WORK OUT THE SPIRITUAL PLAN'S OF GOD. Some professing Christians disparage expenditure for religious objects, on the ground that God cannot care for such trifles as our material wealth. But they forget that, in the order of Divine providence, God's kingdom upon earth is mysteriously bound up with both the wealth and the work of men. And they forget that Christ regards what is given to his people and to his cause as given to himself. It is, therefore, an honour to be permitted to dedicate of our substance to ends so lofty, to a Master so gracious.
V. GIFTS OFFERED IN A RIGHT SPIRIT ARE ACCEPTABLE TO GOD. There is much in Scripture which proves that this is so. "The Lord loveth a cheerful giver;" "It is accepted according to that a man hath;" "He that soweth bountifully shall reap bountifully." If our offerings be dedicated from Christian motives, and to wise and scriptural objects, we need be under no apprehension lest our Lord should despise the givers or reject their gifts.—T.
1 Chronicles 18:14.-A righteous ruler.
David's work as a warrior was preparatory to his as a king. He defeated enemies and vanquished conspirators, in order that there might be peace and tranquillity in the land, in order that the pursuits and arts of peace might take the place of violence, disorder, and turbulence. It is still sometimes necessary that the sword should be drawn for the protection of liberty and for the preservation of order. There could not be a worthier, a nobler outcome of David's campaigns and victories than that recorded in the text: "So David reigned over all Israel, and executed judgment and justice among all his people."
I. CIVIL SOCIETY INVOLVES THE EXERCISE OF AUTHORITY. This need not reside in a king; it may be a president, or other chief magistrate. But in some person or persons must be deposited the right and power to rule. Unless men are to live in the condition of savages or brutes, civil authority must be constituted, recognized, and supported. Checks to arbitrary power, limitations to all personal action, there must be; but not to the destruction of a right to reign and to require obedience.
II. CIVIL SOCIETY INVOLVES THE MAINTENANCE OF JUSTICE BETWEEN MAN AND MALE. Power is good when rightly used. Right and might should go together. Rulers are not entrusted with authority for the indulgence of their own caprice, or the enhancement of their own glory. They are bound to act, "not for their own, but for their people's good." In Oriental countries it was and is the custom for princes themselves to sit in the gate and to administer justice. It was so with David and Solomon, and with other kings of Israel. In modern society, where law is more complex, the administration of justice is confided to a profession—to judges and magistrates. In any case, well-ordered society requires both judicial and legislative functions, in whomsoever centred. "The powers that be are ordained of God."
III. CIVIL SOCIETY IS CONSOLIDATED AND PERFECTED BY JUSTICE, "David reigned over all Israel." This was undoubtedly the consequence of the impartial administration of justice among all classes. Civil rulers have often been slow to learn the lesson, that there is no foundation for general content like unswerving justice. Just rulers make contented and united peoples.
IV. CIVIL SOCIETY IS DESTINED TO EXTEND ITS ADVANTAGES TO ALL MANKIND. Every community where kings and rulers reign with justice, every nation which is exalted by righteousness, is a beacon to the world. Peoples so favoured have a sacred mission to fulfil, and upon them is laid a responsibility from which there is no escape.—T.
HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON
1 Chronicles 18:1-12.-The Christian campaign.
As "David smote the Philistines and subdued them," so we, engaged in a holy warfare, must live to smite and to subdue the enemies of God. Our Christian life cannot be fully represented under any one image, but if it can be said to be one thing more than another, it is a long spiritual campaign. We ask what are —
I. THE ENEMIES WHOM WE HAVE TO SLAY. These are not visible Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, such as presented themselves against David, sword in hand. The adversaries of our souls and of God are:
1. Invisible spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:12).
2. Evil things embodied in the outer world. In
(1) ungodly men, who deliberately tempt us to depart from rectitude; and
(2) unfaithful Christian men, whose tone or type of character is lower than our own, and who, unwittingly to themselves and imperceptibly to us, draw us down towards their own spiritual level;
(3) unchristian institutions.
3. Evil forces within our own soul. A man's worst foes are those of the household of his own heart—his own tendencies to pride, to self-will, to indulgence, to worldliness.
II. THE WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE. David's weapons on his fields of battle were sword and shield, spear and bow, war-chariots and horses. "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty… to the pulling down of strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:4). They are:
1. The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
2. The force of Christian sympathy and zeal.
3. The co-operation of single-minded, earnest men.
III. OUR HOPE OF SUCCESS. David looked to
(1) his own generalship;
(2) the support of his "mighty men;"
(3) the valour and discipline of his troops; but especially and mainly to
(4) the presence and power of the living god.
We look to
(1) the perfect fitness of the truth we preach for the hearts and wants of men;
(2) the presence and power of the Almighty Spirit of our God. He it is who "causeth us to triumph."
IV. THE SPOILS OF VICTORY. These in David's wars were towns (1 Chronicles 18:1), subjects (1 Chronicles 18:2, 1 Chronicles 18:6), gifts (1 Chronicles 18:2, 1 Chronicles 18:6), chariots and horses (1 Chronicles 18:4), gold and brass (1 Chronicles 18:7, 1 Chronicles 18:8), political alliance (1 Chronicles 18:9, 1 Chronicles 18:10). Other spoils than these are the reward of victory in the Christian strife. They are:
1. Regenerated human souls. "He that converteth a sinner," etc. (James 5:20). "What is our crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye," etc.? (1 Corinthians 2:1-19). Those whom we have been the means of enlightening and redeeming are the spoils we "bring home," the crown we wear.
2. Faculties and forces restored to their rightful use. David took "very much brass wherewith Solomon made the brazen sea," etc. (1 Chronicles 18:8), for the house of the Lord (1Ch 18:11; 2 Chronicles 4:12, 2 Chronicles 4:15, 2 Chronicles 4:16). Thus were the possessions of the enemy made to contribute to the service of Jehovah. It is the truest of all triumphs when we succeed in so changing the spirit of men that the time, the thought, the money, the energy which they had given to the service of sin they now devote to the cause of Christ and to the well-being of the world.—C.
1 Chronicles 18:11-17.-God's preserving kindness.
The key-note of this chapter is the passage, "Thus the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went" (1 Chronicles 18:6, 1 Chronicles 18:13). We may let the other verses of the text take their tone from this.
I. GOD'S PRESERVING KINDNESS TO DAVID. This was manifested in various ways: God preserved him from:
1. Injury in battle. He was neither slain nor wounded by the darts that must have been levelled at him by many a foe.
2. Defeat in war. He was never beaten by any enemy he encountered, and, finally, all his foes submitted to his rule.
3. Serious mistakes in public policy. Solomon, his brilliant son, committed a most serious error in overtaxing his people; and Rehoboam, his grandson, started on his royal career with a fatal blunder (2 Chronicles 10:1-19.). But David had been thus far preserved from taking any step which endangered his own position or enfeebled his kingdom; hence he was delivered from:
4. Disloyalty on the part of his subjects. "Executing judgment and justice among all his people" (1 Chronicles 18:14), placing competent men at the head of the different departments of the state (1 Chronicles 18:15-17), he was secure of the attachment of his people, and "reigned over all Israel" without (at this time) any danger of rivalry or disturbance.
5. Special spiritual perils. David was exposed to the peculiar danger of kings, and very particularly to the peril of complacency and self-glorification. He had risen from the sheepcote to the throne, had enlarged and magnified the Hebrew kingdom, had attained to considerable distinction in the world (so far as it was known to him), and he must, as a fallible man, have been under a strong temptation to glorify himself and take great credit for enterprise and sagacity. From this "the Lord preserved David." The human sovereign laid his victorious position at the feet of the Divine King. He did not apply the spoils of war to the embellishment of his own house, but "dedicated them unto the Lord" (1 Chronicles 18:11). But he did something more and better than this: he ascribed his successful career—witness his psalms of thanksgiving—to the good hand of his God upon him. He gave God the glory. Thus "the Lord preserved him whithersoever he went," even when he went far along that "slippery place"—prominence, power, success in battle.
II. GOD'S PRESERVING KINDNESS TO US. We have to bless God as our Creator, Provider, Father, Redeemer; we have also to magnify him as our continual Preserver. He preserves us.
1. In life; both in the retention of our being (Job 10:12), and in the continuance of our existence on earth.
2. In health; in freedom from disease, in deliverance from mental failure, in the possession of "heart and hope."
3. In favourable circumstance; saving from overwhelming loss and from crushing disappointment, and (often for very long periods together) from saddening bereavement.
4. In spiritual integrity. When other things had gone, David could find unspeakable consolation in the thought, "As for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity" (Psalms 41:12). And whatever may betide; though God should remove health, treasure, kindred, friends, from the path on which we walk, yet if he is maintaining us in his fear and in the love of our Redeemer, if he is delivering us from the shipwreck of the soul (1 Timothy 1:19), and sustaining us by the upholding power of his Holy Spirit (Psalms 51:12), then may we exclaim, not in the accents of despondency like the broken patriarch (Job 7:20), but in the joyous and thankful tones of a successful spiritual warrior," What shall I do unto thee, O thou Preserver of men?"—C.
HOMILIES BY F. WHITFIELD
1 Chronicles 18:1-5, 1 Chronicles 18:12, 1 Chronicles 18:13.-David's wars.
This chapter opens with an account of David's wars, followed by a succession of brilliant victories. Following on the previous chapter, though separated from it by a considerable length of time, it brings before us much spiritual instruction. The previous chapter contains an account of the many "exceeding great and precious promises" made to David, his confidence in them, and also that which invariably flows out of such grace—his communion with God. Communion with God is the outcome of grace received. But out of realized grace and communion with God flow warfare and victory. This is the opening record of this chapter. The former supplies strength for the latter, and he who goes forth from his knees to fight the good fight of faith will, in every battle, be "more than conqueror'' through him that loves him. And mark how David is single-handed among many foes, and all of diverse character. "Edom, Moab, the children of Ammon, the Philistines, Amalek, and the Syrians. What a host, and how diverse! Yet God's eye follows the single-handed servant amid all these foes. A "wall of fire" is round about him—"the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went." So is it with every servant of God who goes forth to fight the Lord's battles direct from communion. "Victory!" is inscribed on his banner. He is invincible, because "strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." He may be single-handed, and his foes may be legion and of every character, but he triumphs over all and, like David here, lays all the trophies of victory at the Saviour's feet.—W.
1 Chronicles 18:4, 1 Chronicles 18:9-11.-David, Hadarezer, and Tou.
The Spirit of God is a faithful Biographer. If he records the good features of character in God's children, he is no less faithful in describing the dark side of their character. In this the Word of God is a striking contrast to all human biography. David's cruel conduct in "houghing the chariot-horses" is in keeping with the imperfect light of that dispensation, and is not recorded for our imitation any more than the records of crime in our daily press. It teaches us that there is only One perfect. There is a blot on every escutcheon except that of the Lord Jesus; and they are recorded by the Spirit of God in order that the eye of the soul should be ever turning from the best of earth's heroes to him who is the "chief of ten thousand, and the altogether lovely." Let us be warned by the cruelties of David's time and mark his graces, and follow him so far as he followed Christ. Hadarezer's spoils and every other are consecrated to God. Not a trophy falls into David's hands but is laid there. Hadarezer's spoils and Tou's gifts are all alike—the Lord's. May we follow him here, and cast every crown at the feet of Jesus!—W.
HOMILIES BY R. TUCK
1 Chronicles 18:6, 1 Chronicles 18:13.-Divine preservations in work and war.
In the record given of David's expeditions and wars, one thing stands out prominently and impressively; it is twice repeated here, as if to it attention was to be particularly drawn: "The Lord preserved David whithersoever he went;" or, in the quaint language of Nehemiah, "The good hand of his God was upon him for good." It may be noted—
I. THAT DAVID WAS IN ALL THINGS GOD'S SERVANT, This relation set him in an especial manner under God's care. As his creatures, we come under his providences. As his children, we come into the grace of his fatherly tending. And as his servants, we are assured of his safe keeping while engaged in his mission. The fuller and nearer are our relations with God, the more complete may be our security and our rest in the Divine hands. Compare the expression, "Man is immortal till his work is done." Our Lord Jesus knew that no harm could come to him while he was about "his Father's business."
II. THAT DAVID'S WHOLE LIFE WAS IN GOD'S KEEPING. Because he never broke free of the idea of service. He never wanted to isolate any part of his life, and keep it for self. It is this which alone severs a man from Divine keeping. A man's wilfully taking his life into his own hand involves the withdrawing of special Divine grace, and then the man learns the evil of his own waywardness by the unrelieved troubles into which he falls. This is the permanent lesson for the ages taught by Eve's wilfulness in the garden of Eden. The man who can say, "We serve the Lord Christ," and apply it to his whole time and powers and spheres, may be sure that he is altogether safe in "the secret place of the Most High, abiding under the shadow of the Almighty." The angels have charge concerning him, to keep him in all his ways. They will be so near that they shall even bear him up lest he "dash his foot against a stone."
III. THIS IN NO WAY INTERFERED WITH HIS SHOWING ENERGY AND ENTERPRISE, It might seem that such assurance of Divine preservation would give a sense of security that would lead to indolence and indifference. But it never does do so, because such a temptation is resisted and overcome by the impulse to faithfulness. To look at, the good man's life should in these respects be the same as the worldly man's. On the surface there should be the energy, enterprise, perseverance, and skill, which are the conditions of success in worldly undertakings. The difference lies below. The good man lives and labours for God, and in his strength. The worldly man has no other end than his own fancied good. It may be fully proved and illustrated, from Bible examples, and from those of the Christian history, that full consecration to the service of God has ever been the impulse to a nobler living than any other motive can inspire men to reach. God's servants always strive to be the best possible in every sphere where they are set.
IV. IT BROUGHT DAVID STRENGTH FOR DUTY, AND BEST FOR THE HEART, TO BE ASSURED THAT GOD'S SHADOW WAS OVER HIM. Compare such expressions as, "I will both lay me down in peace and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety;" "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?" And compare such experiences of strength as when fighting the lion and bear, or the giant Goliath; and such experiences of preservation as when hunted by King Saul upon the mountains. All new undertakings were entered upon with the quiet heart. God hath kept; he has promised to keep. "He that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps."
Here meet the ever-recurring difficulty of practically fitting together man's energy and God's inspirations; man's enterprise and God's preservations; man's free-will and God's absolute will. Show that to the man who fully trusts, the difficulty fades away; and that, in a most real and practical sense, God's care and preservation and grace are the sanctifying shadow under which noble lives are now lived.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 18:11.-Loyalty to God in the time of success.
It is noted that the best of the spoils of David's wars he loyally "dedicated unto the Lord," thus proving himself as faithful in the time of prosperity and success as he had proved himself in the time of failure and trouble. The testing power of adversity is often considered, and D, indeed, one of the familiar topics of public teaching; but the testing power of prosperity is not worthily estimated or efficiently treated. Yet God works by both, and the second provides the more searching and severe forms of testing. Many a man's root-weakness of character has been discovered by success. It is harder work to go up in life, keeping hold of God's hand, than it is to go down. And it says much for David, and little for Solomon, that under God's temporal blessings David held fast his integrity, and Solomon virtually forsook the God of his fathers. In the instance now before us, David had a grand present from Tou, the King of Hamath. Such a present would seem to be his own exclusive property, and no man could have blamed him if he had added it to his private estate. But, in pious loyalty to God, he looked upon it as a part of the success .with which God had attended his labours, so he dedicated it to the honour and service of God, and gained a far richer blessing out of the gift than if he had kept it for himself.
I. SUCCESS IN LIFE MAY SEPARATE US FROM GOD. It may, by filling our life with fresh interests, and crowding out God. It may, by nourishing pride, and destroying the conditions on which alone God can dwell with us. It may, by making the real god of our worship to be self, and so dethroning the living God. It may, by declaring our unfaithfulness as we use the success for self, and not for God, and so bring ourselves under Divine judgments. Or it may, by nourishing carnal security, and bringing us into a spiritual condition that must grieve and quench the Holy Spirit.
II. SUCCESS IN LIFE MAY BIND US CLOSELY TO GOD. It will, if we fully recognize the Source whence all success comes. It will, if we are watchful over our spiritual culture, through the means of grace, while the success is growing. It will, if we are fully resolved to consecrate to God's use any success we may gain. It will, if we carefully reproportion our gifts, to God's house and service, as our success advances. Compare Jacob's early vow at Bethel (Genesis 28:22), "Of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give a tenth to thee." And illustrate David's sacrifices for the tabernacle and temple during his reign, culminating in his splendid gift out of his "own proper good," his own private property, just at the close of his career (1 Chronicles 29:3-5). We may be directly helped in maintaining the right spirit, under advancing prosperities, by the devotement of portions of our success to pious uses. Making the gift of portions testify that we hold the whole as God's, and only entrusted to our stewardship in the mystery of the Divine grace. "What have we that we have not received?" Offer what we may to God's service, of it we must say but this, "Of thine own have we given thee.'—R.T.
1 Chronicles 18:14.-King's justice.
Of all the features of royalty the chronicler selects one, or apparently two, as special characteristics of David's reign. "He executed judgment and justice among all his people." Magistracy, the deciding of disputes, and the punishment of criminals, are always prominent parts of kingly duty. They are less, apparently, in our times, because our sovereign does not preside in person in our law-courts, but delegates her duty to her judges. They were more, apparently, kingly work in ancient times, and under Eastern conceptions of royalty. When Solomon entered on the responsibilities of kingship, the thing that seemed most serious to him was his duty as a judge. He felt the need of judicial insight, seeing that, as a young man, he had no treasured stores of experience. His request of wisdom chiefly referred to this necessary gift of Eastern kingship. Kitto says, "The wisdom which he craved was that of which he had already enough to be able to appreciate the value of its increase—practical wisdom, sagacity, clearness of judgment and intellect in the administration of justice and in the conduct of public affairs." The administration of justice may well be set thus prominently forward, for probably nothing bears so directly upon the well-being of a nation as the wisdom and the purity of its judges. The terms used in this verse are, however, intended to include more than court-justice, and we may see that —
I. KINGLY JUSTICE IS THE EXPRESSION IN THE NATION OF THE PATERNAL RULE. The family is the first aggregation of human individuals, and its head and ruler is the father. The next aggregation of men is that of the tribe; a number of families uniting their interests, and dwelling together, and at the head of the tribe, as ruler and judge, is the patriarch, or tribal father. The larger aggregation of men is the union of tribes in the nation, but the same idea is preserved, and the recognized head and ruler is the king-father, or the fatherly king. The associations of these two terms need to be carefully given; and it should be shown how the one tones the other. This distinction being set prominently forward,—The king seeks to do the absolutely right without any more than a general knowledge of and interest in his people; a king cannot be expected to know individuals. But exactly this is of the very essence of fatherhood. The father is as loyal to the right as the king, but he seeks to apply the claims of right to the actual condition of individuals, whom he knows with precision, and in whom he feels a direct and personal interest. And so it may be said that the perfect idea of a king is expressed in the term father, and that a true father must have all that is essential to a king. It is always said of the good king, "He is the father of his people."
II. KINGLY JUSTICE IS THE REVELATION TO MEN OF THE DIVINE JUSTICE. No one word can suffice to present the relations of God with men. And that because no words contain an absolute and necessary meaning. Their connotation differs for different individuals. Show that neither king nor father are sufficient alone. We want for God a word which shall bring home to our hearts the conviction that he is dominated by the sense of right; but we as certainly want a word which shall assure us that all his ways with us are toned with personal interest in us, perfect knowledge of us, and the gentlest consideration for our weaknesses and wants. So the justice of God must be to us both kingly and fatherly.
This subject opens up the discussion of the true basis of the "atonement." Only by fully estimating Divine justice as both kingly and fatherly can we discern the "needs be" for a satisfaction of eternal law, and a persuasive manifestation of eternal love.—R.T.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 18". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany