May 3 Reading: I Chronicles 11-12 Commentary
“Therefore all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord. And they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord by Samuel.” (I Chronicles 11:3)
I Chronicles 11 – David Begins to Reign
After Saul’s death (I Chron. 10; I Sam. 31), all Israel came together and asked David to be their king (v. 1). Of course, David knew he had already been anointed by Samuel to be the next king (I Sam. 16). So this step by the people must have confirmed God’s word in his mind.
So “all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord. And they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord by Samuel” (v. 3).
David moved his capital from Hebron to Jerusalem. From that time forward, it was known as the city of David. He worked to rebuild and expand the city (v. 8). And “went on and became great, and the Lord of hosts was with him” (v. 9).
David’s Mighty Men
There is no doubt that David was a leader. He exhibited the character qualities of great leaders – things like kindness, courage, wisdom, charisma and loyalty. He was bold and confident in his own strength. Yet at the same time knew he couldn’t lead by himself. His writings through the Psalms show how much he relied on God. David’s leadership was truly inspirational, as evidenced by the so named “mighty men” who followed him.
The list of men in I Chron. 11 who followed David is a who’s-who of the mighty warriors of David’s day. All these men united under David’s banner of leadership. Many of them were with him in the dark hours of David’s wilderness travels when he was fleeing from King Saul. They literally risked their lives for David and did what needed to be done to secure the kingdom, defeat his enemies and rally others to his cause.
At times they wanted to rush God’s plan by killing King Saul. But David would not allow it saying, “I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed” (I Sam. 24:10). They respected him for that and never took matters into their own hands.
All of this speaks to how much they revered him as a leader and king that they would sacrificially give of themselves in this way.
For more on these men and their deeds, see our commentary on II Samuel 23.
I Chronicles 12 – David’s Army Grows
David was famously on the run from King Saul for many years. During that time, he gathered quite an army of fighting men. Ironically, the chronicler points out that some of the men who came to him were from the tribe of Benjamin (v. 2).
Why is that ironic? Because King Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin. So this shows the level of dissatisfaction with Saul’s reign even among some of his brethren.
Members from the tribe of Gad came to join him as well (v. 8). This is interesting because Gad’s territory was in the far north and central areas east of the Jordan (I Chron. 5:11-17). So for them to come that great of a distance to join forces with David, also speaks to the level of respect they had for him as a leader.
While David was staying at the stronghold of (cave of) Adullum, some members of the tribe of Benjamin and Judah came to meet him. David went out to meet them to determine if they were for him or were there to betray him to his enemies (vv. 16-17). The Spirit of the Lord came upon one of them and he said to David:
“We are yours, O David; We are on your side, O son of Jesse! Peace, peace to you, And peace to your helpers! For your God helps you” (v. 18).
So again, even members of Saul’s own tribe recognized that God was with David and they wanted to be a part of his team.
Lastly, some from the tribe of Manasseh defected to David. These men helped him fight against bands of Amalekite raiders who were attacking cities in the countryside (see also I Sam. 30).
David’s Army at Hebron
In the end, David ended up attracting so many recruits, the chronicler described it as “a great army, like the army of God” (v. 22).
“Now these were the numbers of the divisions that were equipped for war, and came to David at Hebron to turn over the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the Lord” (vv. 23-37):
1. Judah – 6,800
2. Simeon – 7,100
3. Levi – 4,600
4. Jehoiada, leader of the Aaronites – 3,700
5. Zadok – 22 captains
6. Benjamin – 3,000
7. Ephraim – 20,800
9. Manasseh (West) – 18,000
10. Sons of Issachar – 200 chiefs
11. Zebulun 50,000
12. Naphtali – 1,000 captains and 37,000 soldiers
13. Danites – 28,600
14. Asher – 40,000
15. Reubenites, Gadites and Manasseh (East) – 120,000
All these came to Hebron to make David their king. The chronicler lists it this way to demonstrate the unity behind the choice of David. They were “of one mind to make David king” (v. 38). Some initially resisted his appointment, especially from the tribe of Benjamin. But once in power, Israel became the dominant nation in the region and the people were blessed through David’s reign.
Questions and Thoughts to Consider from I Chronicles 11-12:
Is there someone in your life that you are inspired to follow? What leadership qualities does that person have that you admire?
Life was never meant to do alone. We were designed for relationships and community. Everyone needs a supporting cast.
King David thrived because of the support he had from a group of mighty men. Their exploits were legendary and David leaned on them for strength. We all need people in our lives who we can connect with and count on in times of need. Who is in your corner?
What other points would you want to know about in our I Chronicles 11-12 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.