Bible Commentaries

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

1 Chronicles 18

Verses 1-17

1 Chronicles 18:1-12

[The Speakers Commentary points out that this chapter is closely parallel with2Samuel8, differing from it only in a few passages. It contains an account of David"s chief wars ( 1 Chronicles 18:1-13), and a list of his principal officers ( 1 Chronicles 18:15-17).]

1. Now after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them, and took Gath and her towns out of the hand of the Philistines.

2. And he smote Moab; and the Moabites became David"s servants, and brought gifts.

3. And David smote Hadarezer [or, Hadadezer ( 2 Samuel 8:3). This is a corrupt form of the name which is given correctly in 2 Samuel 8:3-12, and 1 Kings 11:23, as Hadadezer. It means "The Sun-God helps" or "has helped"] king of Zobah unto Hamath, as he went to stablish his dominion by the river Euphrates.

4. And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven thousand horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen: David also houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved of them an hundred chariots.

5. And when the Syrians of Damascus came to help Hadarezer king of Zobah, David slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men.

6. Then David put garrisons in Syria-damascus; and the Syrians became David"s servants, and brought gifts. Thus the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went.

7. And David took the shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadarezer, and brought them to Jerusalem.

8. Likewise from Tibhath, and from Chun, cities of Hadarezer, brought David very much brass, wherewith Solomon made the brasen sea, and the pillars, and the vessels of brass.

9. Now when Tou [this king is called Toi in 2 Samuel 8:9. It is impossible to say which is the right reading] king of Hamath heard how David had smitten all the host of Hadarezer king of Zobah;

10. He sent Hadoram [in Samuel "Joram;" but "Hadoram" is preferable, since it is not likely that the Syrians would employ a name of which one element is "Jehovah"] his son to king David, to inquire of his welfare, and to congratulate him [the words are the same here and in Samuel, where the A.V. has "to salute him and to bless him." "To greet him and congratulate him" would perhaps best represent the original], because he had fought against Hadarezer, and smitten him; (for Hadarezer had war with Tou;) and with him all manner of vessels [the purchase of foreign aid by means of gold and silver vessels, rather than by specie, receives illustration from the later Jewish history, where we find Ahaz bribing Tiglath-pileser with "the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord" ( 2 Kings 16:8), as well as from the Assyrian records, which speak of a Babylonian monarch as procuring the help of the Elamites in the same way] of gold and silver and brass.

11. Them also king David dedicated unto the Lord, with the silver and the gold that he brought from all these nations; from Edom, and from Moab, and from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines, and from Amalek.

12. Moreover Abishai the son of Zeruiah slew of the Edomites in the valley of salt eighteen thousand. [This is no doubt the victory assigned in 2 Samuel 8:13 to David, and there wrongly described as a victory over the Syrians. That the "valley of salt" was in Edom appears from 2 Kings 14:7; 2 Chronicles 25:11. That Abishai was the general who gained the victory for David we learn from this passage only. Other incidents of the Edomite war are related in 1 Kings 11:14-17.]

Spoils From Edom

IT would appear from the opening of this chapter that David was called to war rather than to building. We are not to suppose that we are necessarily in direct chronological sequence; but we are face to face with the fact that the man who proposed to build a tabernacle for the ark was called upon to do the work of a warrior, which he could better do than his son Solomon. Who so mighty as David in battle? Who but himself could have taken Gath and her daughters, or outlying dependencies? At the same time we are entitled to reason that though David was prevented from entering upon the actual occupation of building, yet even in war he was contributing to the rearing of the tabernacle. Properly considered, righteous war means building it is not the act of building, but it prepares for the work of edification. Until the work of subjugation has been completed, the building cannot be settled upon proper foundations. Alas, there is always an immense destructive work to be done before the work of construction can be properly begun. In reading these ancient records we must remember that at the time war was the only power that could be understood. We are not entitled to take back Christian ethics to pre-Christian times, and to judge those ages by the higher standards of apostolic morality. Did verses of this kind occur in the New Testament, we should hesitate to regard them as expressing the divine will, but should rather say, "an enemy hath done this." But when David lived, the sword appeared to be indispensable; war was a tremendous but necessary evil, and issues had to be wrought out which it would seem were impossible apart from the deadly action of the soldier. The moral meaning of this is clear enough: whilst we are destroying evil we are building the altar; whilst we are closing springs of evil we are opening the fountains of God; whilst we are causing men, by argument and example, to cease to do evil; we are also by so much teaching them to do well.

"Them also king David dedicated unto the Lord, with the silver and the gold that he brought from all these nations; from Edom, and from Moab, and from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines, and from Amalek" ( 1 Chronicles 18:11).

The spoils which we take in war are not ours but God"s. Nothing that David took was to be used tor the decoration of his own house, or the increase of his own ostentation in the eyes of his people: all that his right hand plucked from the enemy was to be set up in the house of the Lord. So it is in the Christian warfare. If we have conquered an enemy we must hold the conquest as an illustration of the power of God rather than of the skill of our own might or hand. The idols which we bring away from the lands of darkness are to be set up in God"s house, and are to mark points in the progress of Christian civilisation. They are not to be laughed at or mocked; they are to be solemnly regarded as indications of a universal conquest which Christ has yet to win over the nations of the whole world. If we have brought back spoils—such as art, music, or any form of pleasure by which the popular mind can be reached and moved in an upward direction—we are to remember that in all these spoils we are to see the divine power and not proofs of our own military genius. Where Music has been abused, let the Church go forth and rescue the angel from the hands of those who have ill-treated her, and let that angel come and sing within the shadow of the altar; if Art has been prostituted so as to minister to the lustful eye or the degenerate heart, let her be rescued from her tormentors, and be brought into the Church to add some new beauty to all that is rare and choice and delicate in the treasures of the sanctuary. The whole object of the Christian life should be to enlarge the Church in the best sense; to increase its treasures, to add to its spoils, to prove its energies, and to uphold and vindicate the claim that the Church has within herself all that is needful to release men from the burden of sin, and give them all the joy of the highest service and all the comfort of the truest and deepest consolation. The Church of God should be the richest of all institutions, the very focus of all light, the very home of all goodness.

Prayer

Almighty God, we would be thy sons and daughters. Thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us. Our Father in heaven; hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come. Be pleased to work within us all the good pleasure of thy will and the work of faith with power. Accomplish thy purpose in our hearts, and make our lives beautiful as a palace built for God. We thank thee that we have yearnings towards thee—outgoings of the soul strong and ardent—which cannot be satisfied but by the living God and by the fountains which spring and flow in heaven. This is the miracle of grace; this is the marvel of the Holy Ghost; this is the pledge that we have not been left unto ourselves, but are still cared for by the eye of heavenly pity. Thou hast called us thy sons, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be. Thou hast hidden a promise in our hearts. Thou hast set up the spirit of prophecy in the Church. We dwell not only in history, so full of thy presence and so gracious by thy providences, but we dwell in the future, in the morning of purity and peace and liberty; and already we feel upon our lives the warm sun-blaze of the coming time, and we rejoice in the dawn of the brighter day, and look onward with honest hearts and ever-enlarging faith—both the miracles of thy Holy Spirit—to the realisation of opportunities fast hastening. We bless thee for thy house. We run into it and are safe; we sit down within it and are conscious of a Father"s blessing; we look forward to it, and it is as the rising of the sun. Pity us in our littlenesses and weaknesses, in our infirmities of every kind; and let thy pity grow into pardon when it fixes the eyes filled with tears upon our guilt and iniquity; cover it up we beseech thee; bless us with a sense of forgiveness, and dry the tears of our penitence with the assurance of divine pardon. The Lord"s mercy be the secret of our life, the spring of our consolation, the pledge of our immortality in heaven. And to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, Three in One, One in Three, be the kingdom and the power and the glory, world without end. Amen.

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Bibliographical Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 18". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://pro.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jpb/1-chronicles-18.html. 1885-95.