The first two chapters today provide stories that reflect political intrigues and cultural mores of the ancient Middle East. In chapter 19, a team of emissaries is disgraced by the king of Ammon, a nation directly east of the Transjordan tribes. Pay attention to the method of humiliation and David’s sensitivity to it, as well as the military response.
In chapter 20 the confrontation with Ammon continues, and its second Act is introduced with this curious observation: In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, Joab led out the army and ravaged the country of the Ammonites and came and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem... In the first assault on Ammon, the author relates that David sent out Joab and all the army of his mighty men… Here, he’s even more explicit about David remaining behind. Is something being implied?
I want to point out something else fascinating in these first two accounts. In the first 9 chapters of the David story, the words “God” and “LORD” appear over 130 times – seemingly every other verse. In chapters 19 and 20, they appear but once apiece, and there only in the words of Joab. David’s army continues to achieve success over Israel’s enemies; David’s kingdom grows and prospers; but out of nowhere there is a silence – perhaps deafening – about David’s relationship with the LORD.
Now this might mean nothing, a purely arbitrary coincidence. But you’re allowed to notice these things. Is the LORD’s silence in the literary record simply a lack of reporting, or is there more to it? Given the author’s efforts to emphasize the LORD’s with-Davidness through chapter 18, this could point to a growing pride or decadence within David. Maybe David’s communion with the LORD during this time simply went unreported…but perhaps there was nothing to report.
I leave you to consider this as you read today, and especially as you enter the story of chapter 21, which begins, “Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David…”
Our verse for this week is Psalm 119:11: I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
1 Chronicles 19 through 21. Now let’s read it!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.