As though picking up where a previous story left off, the Chronicler slides into narrative about Saul’s death and David’s ascent in chapter 10. Now the Philistines fought against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa... You’ve learned about Saul’s family in the genealogies, and about David’s membership in the tribe of Judah and his long line of successors. Now you hear, briefly, about when their lines intersected.
You also learn why Saul was displaced by David: So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the LORD in that he did not keep the command of the LORD, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the LORD. Therefore the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse. Commentary can be scarce in narratives, so when an author offers it, we pay attention.
Another way the author subtly reveals perspective is by what he includes, and especially what he excludes. Chronicles offers the unique opportunity to follow its distinct story in light of what you’ve read in Samuel and Kings. Review, if you must, the lengthy dynastic transition in 2 Samuel, then look at the pieces the author gathers for display here. Also notice how often the LORD’s name is invoked as David is crowned, Israel rallies around him, and he establishes his capital in Jerusalem.
Once David is established in Zion, however, the Chronicler returns to the rolls, this time recounting the names and impressive accomplishments of David’s mighty men. Many of these names and events were recorded as an epilogue to David’s story in 2 Samuel, but are inserted at the front of the story here. One of the purposes they serve here could be to anchor David’s kingdom – at this point six-centuries gone – within the scope of history.
Another purpose is offered at the very end of today’s reading. Listen to what is emphasized in the account of David’s coronation: Israel’s singlemindedness to make David king; the allegiance of the Northern tribes; and the sense of celebration and joy in all of Israel.
Our verse for this week is Matthew 5:16: In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
1 Chronicles 10 through 12. Now let’s read it!
1 Chronicles 10 - 12
10:1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul. The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and mistreat me.” But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died. Thus Saul died; he and his three sons and all his house died together. And when all the men of Israel who were in the valley saw that the army had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled, and the Philistines came and lived in them.
The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. And they stripped him and took his head and his armor, and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to carry the good news to their idols and to the people. And they put his armor in the temple of their gods and fastened his head in the temple of Dagon. But when all Jabesh-gilead heard all that the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and took away the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons, and brought them to Jabesh. And they buried their bones under the oak in Jabesh and fasted seven days.
So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the LORD in that he did not keep the command of the LORD, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the LORD. Therefore the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.
11:1 Then all Israel gathered together to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh. In times past, even when Saul was king, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the LORD your God said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over my people Israel.’” 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.
And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, that is, Jebus, where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. The inhabitants of Jebus said to David, “You will not come in here.” Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David. David said, “Whoever strikes the Jebusites first shall be chief and commander.” And Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, so he became chief. And David lived in the stronghold; therefore it was called the city of David. And he built the city all around from the Millo in complete circuit, and Joab repaired the rest of the city. And David became greater and greater, for the LORD of hosts was with him.
Now these are the chiefs of David's mighty men, who gave him strong support in his kingdom, together with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the LORD concerning Israel. This is an account of David's mighty men: Jashobeam, a Hachmonite, was chief of the three. He wielded his spear against 300 whom he killed at one time.
And next to him among the three mighty men was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite. He was with David at Pas-dammim when the Philistines were gathered there for battle. There was a plot of ground full of barley, and the men fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and killed the Philistines. And the LORD saved them by a great victory.
Three of the thirty chief men went down to the rock to David at the cave of Adullam, when the army of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. And David said longingly, “Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!” Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and took it and brought it to David. But David would not drink it. He poured it out to the LORD and said, “Far be it from me before my God that I should do this. Shall I drink the lifeblood of these men? For at the risk of their lives they brought it.” Therefore he would not drink it. These things did the three mighty men.
Now Abishai, the brother of Joab, was chief of the thirty. And he wielded his spear against 300 men and killed them and won a name beside the three. He was the most renowned of the thirty and became their commander, but he did not attain to the three.
And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two heroes of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen. And he struck down an Egyptian, a man of great stature, five cubits tall. The Egyptian had in his hand a spear like a weaver's beam, but Benaiah went down to him with a staff and snatched the spear out of the Egyptian's hand and killed him with his own spear. These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada and won a name beside the three mighty men. He was renowned among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three. And David set him over his bodyguard.
The mighty men were Asahel the brother of Joab, Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem, Shammoth of Harod, Helez the Pelonite, Ira the son of Ikkesh of Tekoa, Abiezer of Anathoth, Sibbecai the Hushathite, Ilai the Ahohite, Maharai of Netophah, Heled the son of Baanah of Netophah, Ithai the son of Ribai of Gibeah of the people of Benjamin, Benaiah of Pirathon, Hurai of the brooks of Gaash, Abiel the Arbathite, Azmaveth of Baharum, Eliahba the Shaalbonite, Hashem the Gizonite, Jonathan the son of Shagee the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sachar the Hararite, Eliphal the son of Ur, Hepher the Mecherathite, Ahijah the Pelonite, Hezro of Carmel, Naarai the son of Ezbai, Joel the brother of Nathan, Mibhar the son of Hagri, Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai of Beeroth, the armor-bearer of Joab the son of Zeruiah, Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite, Uriah the Hittite, Zabad the son of Ahlai, Adina the son of Shiza the Reubenite, a leader of the Reubenites, and thirty with him, Hanan the son of Maacah, and Joshaphat the Mithnite, Uzzia the Ashterathite, Shama and Jeiel the sons of Hotham the Aroerite, Jediael the son of Shimri, and Joha his brother, the Tizite, Eliel the Mahavite, and Jeribai, and Joshaviah, the sons of Elnaam, and Ithmah the Moabite, Eliel, and Obed, and Jaasiel the Mezobaite.
12:1 Now these are the men who came to David at Ziklag, while he could not move about freely because of Saul the son of Kish. And they were among the mighty men who helped him in war. They were bowmen and could shoot arrows and sling stones with either the right or the left hand; they were Benjaminites, Saul's kinsmen. The chief was Ahiezer, then Joash, both sons of Shemaah of Gibeah; also Jeziel and Pelet, the sons of Azmaveth; Beracah, Jehu of Anathoth, Ishmaiah of Gibeon, a mighty man among the thirty and a leader over the thirty; Jeremiah, Jahaziel, Johanan, Jozabad of Gederah, Eluzai, Jerimoth, Bealiah, Shemariah, Shephatiah the Haruphite; Elkanah, Isshiah, Azarel, Joezer, and Jashobeam, the Korahites; And Joelah and Zebadiah, the sons of Jeroham of Gedor.
From the Gadites there went over to David at the stronghold in the wilderness mighty and experienced warriors, expert with shield and spear, whose faces were like the faces of lions and who were swift as gazelles upon the mountains: Ezer the chief, Obadiah second, Eliab third, Mishmannah fourth, Jeremiah fifth, Attai sixth, Eliel seventh, Johanan eighth, Elzabad ninth, Jeremiah tenth, Machbannai eleventh. These Gadites were officers of the army; the least was a match for a hundred men and the greatest for a thousand. These are the men who crossed the Jordan in the first month, when it was overflowing all its banks, and put to flight all those in the valleys, to the east and to the west.
And some of the men of Benjamin and Judah came to the stronghold to David. David went out to meet them and said to them, “If you have come to me in friendship to help me, my heart will be joined to you; but if to betray me to my adversaries, although there is no wrong in my hands, then may the God of our fathers see and rebuke you.” Then the Spirit clothed Amasai, chief of the thirty, and he said,
“We are yours, O David,
and with you, O son of Jesse!
Peace, peace to you,
and peace to your helpers!
For your God helps you.”
Then David received them and made them officers of his troops.
Some of the men of Manasseh deserted to David when he came with the Philistines for the battle against Saul. (Yet he did not help them, for the rulers of the Philistines took counsel and sent him away, saying, “At peril to our heads he will desert to his master Saul.”) As he went to Ziklag, these men of Manasseh deserted to him: Adnah, Jozabad, Jediael, Michael, Jozabad, Elihu, and Zillethai, chiefs of thousands in Manasseh. They helped David against the band of raiders, for they were all mighty men of valor and were commanders in the army. For from day to day men came to David to help him, until there was a great army, like an army of God.
These are the numbers of the divisions of the armed troops who came to David in Hebron to turn the kingdom of Saul over to him, according to the word of the LORD. The men of Judah bearing shield and spear were 6,800 armed troops. Of the Simeonites, mighty men of valor for war, 7,100. Of the Levites 4,600. The prince Jehoiada, of the house of Aaron, and with him 3,700. Zadok, a young man mighty in valor, and twenty-two commanders from his own fathers' house. Of the Benjaminites, the kinsmen of Saul, 3,000, of whom the majority had to that point kept their allegiance to the house of Saul. Of the Ephraimites 20,800, mighty men of valor, famous men in their fathers' houses. Of the half-tribe of Manasseh 18,000, who were expressly named to come and make David king. Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 200 chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command. Of Zebulun 50,000 seasoned troops, equipped for battle with all the weapons of war, to help David with singleness of purpose. Of Naphtali 1,000 commanders with whom were 37,000 men armed with shield and spear. Of the Danites 28,600 men equipped for battle. Of Asher 40,000 seasoned troops ready for battle. Of the Reubenites and Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh from beyond the Jordan, 120,000 men armed with all the weapons of war.
All these, men of war, arrayed in battle order, came to Hebron with a whole heart to make David king over all Israel. Likewise, all the rest of Israel were of a single mind to make David king. And they were there with David for three days, eating and drinking, for their brothers had made preparation for them. And also their relatives, from as far as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, came bringing food on donkeys and on camels and on mules and on oxen, abundant provisions of flour, cakes of figs, clusters of raisins, and wine and oil, oxen and sheep, for there was joy in Israel.