May 5 Reading: I Chronicles 17-19 Commentary
“Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?” (I Chronicles 17:16)
I Chronicles 17 – God’s Covenant With David
In I Chronicles 17, the writer recounts God’s covenant with David. This was first discussed in I Sam. 7.
David actually wanted to build a house (temple) for the Lord (v. 1). Initially, Nathan gave him God’s blessing to do that (v. 2). But later that night, God appeared to Nathan with a different message.
What was the message God wanted Nathan to deliver to David? For starters, God wasn’t too concerned about dwelling in the tabernacle (vv. 5-6). And what God wanted David to know was a much bigger issue than building a temple. In essence, Nathan told David that greater things were in store for his family.
Scholars call what follows the Davidic Covenant. They were promises of God to David. The message Nathan gave him included these components:
1) God would establish a permanent place for his people to live (now modern day Israel) (vv. 9-10).
2) David’s son would inherit his kingdom (v. 11).
3) The son (Solomon) who inherited the kingdom would be the one to build a special house (temple) for the Lord (v. 12).
4) David’s throne would be established forever (ultimately through Jesus Christ, but David had no way of knowing this at the time)(vv. 12-15).
Needless to say, when he hears these words, David is overwhelmed by these promises. He exclaims, “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?” (v. 16). In a beautiful prayer in the following verses, he continued to express his feelings of humility, gratitude and wonder towards God. What a blessing it must have been for him to know that God was on his side and using him according to his master plan.
I Chronicles 18 – David’s Military Victories
David wasn’t going to build a house for the Lord. But he was sure going to clear the land of the Lord’s enemies. Even with his tenderness of spirit, musical and literary ability, and humble shepherding heritage, there can be no doubt about it – David was a warrior.
I Chronicles 18 lists some of David’s major military victories. They include:
1. Attacking and subduing the Philistines (v. 1).
2. Defeating the Moabites, who then brought David tribute (v. 2).
3. Conquering king Hadadezer of Zobah near the Euphrates River (v. 3).
4. Killing an additional 22,000 Syrians who came to help Hadadezer (v. 5).
5. His servant Abishai killed 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt (v. 12).
From these people groups, David took their valuables (gold, silver, bronze, other valuable articles) or made them pay regular tribute. But through it all, “the Lord Preserved David wherever he went” (v. 13).
I Chronicles 19 – David Defeats the Ammonites and Syrians
The content of I Chronicles 19 may be connected to the campaign mentioned in I Chron. 18:3-8 because Hadadezer is mentioned in both places. The original text for this incident is found in II Sam. 10:1-19.
David wanted to show kindness to a non-Israelite leader, Hanun, when his father, king of the Ammonites died. Some time in the past, Hanun’s father had shown kindness to David, for what we do not know. So now, David wanted to repay that kindness with a gift of condolence for Hanun. He let his servants take that by hand to Hanun (v. 2).
However, Hanun’s advisors did not accept the gift. They thought David was trying to have his servants spy out the land (v. 3), not to honor the dead king. So they turned Hanun’s heart against David.
But even worse, they “took David’s servants, shaved off half of their beards, cut off their garments in the middle, at their buttocks, and sent them away” (v. 4). This was a significant gesture because in Jewish culture, the beard was an honored feature of one’s appearance. To shave it half off was a complete humiliation for these men. The humiliation ran deeper because they were also indecently exposed. David encouraged his men and told them to stay at Jericho until their beards grew back (v. 5).
At some point, the people of Ammon found out how upset David was over their rejection of his gift and subsequent action against his servants. They “had made themselves repulsive to David” (v. 6). So, to bolster their own army, they hired 33,000 mercenary soldiers – 20,000 Syrian foot soldiers, 1,000 men from the king of Maacah and 12,000 men from Ish-Tob. They came out “in battle array” against David (vv. 6-8 and II Sam. 10:6-8).
The Battle Results
It’s a massive fighting force coming against David and Joab, the commander of his army. But Joab told his soldiers this, “Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the Lord do what is good in His sight.” (v. 13). It just shows how much David and his men relied on and trusted in the Lord for their salvation and well-being.
In the end, the battle was a complete success for David. Basically, all the armies fled, starting with the people of Ammon (vv. 14-15). When the Syrians saw the Ammonites flee, they had no choice but to fight David. Ultimately, his army killed 7,000 charioteers (II Sam. 10:18 says 700), 40,000 foot soldiers and Shophach, the commander of the Syrian army (v. 18).
This defeat resulted in the Syrians making peace with Israel and refusing to help the Ammonites any more (v. 19).
Questions and Thoughts to Consider from I Chronicles 17-19:
How has God used you to some end? How do you think you fit into his master plan?
If you pause and honestly reflect on all that God has done for you, you cannot help but be humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude.
In I Chron. 17, David’s prayer reflects his wonder at how God’s promises were fulfilled in his life. David knows that he is nothing apart from God working in his life. Do you live trying to control your own life? Or do you recognize that it is through God that you can do anything at all?
What other points would you want to know about in our I Chronicles 17-19 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.