1 Chronicles 11 – David’s Reign and Mighty Men
A. David becomes king over Israel.
1. (1-3) The elders declare David king at Hebron.
Then all Israel came together to David at Hebron, saying, “Indeed we are your bone and your flesh. Also, in time past, even when Saul was king, you were the one who led Israel out and brought them in; and the LORD your God said to you, ‘You shall shepherd My people Israel, and be ruler over My people Israel.’” 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.
a. Then all Israel came together to David: Prior to this, only one of the tribes of Israel recognized David as king. The other tribes recognized the pretended king Ishbosheth, a son of Saul. Ishbosheth was murdered (2 Samuel 4) so now the tribes turned to David.
i. “It is significant that the chronicler makes no reference to the seven years in which David reigned over Judah. He begins with the crowning at Hebron, when all Israel acknowledged his kingship.” (Morgan)
ii. This was actually David’s third anointing. The first was before his family and Samuel when David was very young (1 Samuel 16:1-13). The second was an anointing and recognition by the tribe of Judah after the death of Saul (2 Samuel 2:4). This third anointing was after the defeat of Ishbosheth, a son of Saul who claimed the right to the throne.
iii. It is sad that the tribes only turned to David when their previous choice (Ishbosheth, a son of Saul) was taken away. On the same principle, it’s sad when Christians only really recognize Jesus as king when other choices crumble. We should choose Jesus outright, not just when other options fail.
b. We are your bone and your flesh: The elders of Israel received David’s leadership because he was an Israelite himself. This was significant because for a period of time David lived as a Philistine among the Philistines. The elders of Israel put that away and embrace David as one of their own.
c. You were the one who led Israel out and brought them in: The elders of Israel received David’s leadership because he had already displayed his ability to lead.
d. The LORD your God said to you, “You shall shepherd My people Israel, and be ruler over Israel”: The elders of Israel received David’s leadership because it was evident God called him to lead.
i. These three characteristics should mark anyone who leads God’s people.
· A leader must belong to God’s people in heritage and heart.
· A leader must demonstrate the capability to lead.
· A leader must have an evident call from God.
ii. The elders of Israel received David’s leadership when they saw these things in David. When we see these same things in leaders we should also receive their leadership.
iii. “The image of the shepherd, who in ancient times was normally an employee or a dependent, also confirms that David as king was answerable to Yahweh for his flock.” (Selman)
e. According to the word of the LORD by Samuel: This was prophesied by Samuel in passages like 1 Samuel 13:14 and 16:11-13.
2. (4-9) David takes control of Jerusalem, making it his capital city.
And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus, where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. But the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, “You shall not come in here!” Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David). Now David said, “Whoever attacks the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain.” And Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, and became chief. Then David dwelt in the stronghold; therefore they called it the City of David. And he built the city around it, from the Millo to the surrounding area. Joab repaired the rest of the city. Then David went on and became great, and the LORD of hosts was with him.
a. David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus: To this point, Jerusalem was a small Canaanite city in the center of Israel. Some 400 years after God commanded Israel to take the whole land, this city was still in Canaanite hands.
b. You shall not come in here: Because of its location, Jerusalem was an easily defended city. This made the Jebusites overconfident and quick to mock David and his troops. Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion: Despite the difficulty, David and his men took the city.
i. At this time Joab the son of Zeruiah was captain of David’s armies, yet David said that whoever led the charge into Jerusalem’s walls shall be chief and captain. It may be that David hoped that someone would replace Joab, but the stubborn Joab successfully broke into Jerusalem first and retained his position.
c. David dwelt in the stronghold: Jerusalem became the capital city of David’s kingdom. It was a good choice because:
· It had no prior tribal association and was therefore good for a unified Israel.
· The geography of the city made it easy to defend against a hostile army.
d. Then David went on and became great: David knew greatness, but he was by no means an “overnight success.” David was long prepared for the greatness he later enjoyed, and he came to the place of greatness because the LORD of hosts was with him.
i. In God’s plan, there is almost always a hidden price of greatness. Often those who become great among God’s people experience much pain and difficulty in God’s training process.
B. David’s mighty men.
1. (10) David needed these faithful men for his success.
Now these were the heads of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom, with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the LORD concerning Israel.
a. Now these were the heads of the mighty men whom David had: It’s important to understand that David was nothing without his mighty men, and they were nothing without him. He was their leader, but a leader is nothing without followers – and David had the mighty men to follow him. These men didn’t necessarily start as mighty men; many were the distressed, indebted, and discontented people who followed David at Adullam Cave (1 Samuel 22:1-2).
2. (11-14) Two of David’s mighty men.
And this is the number of the mighty men whom David had: Jashobeam the son of a Hachmonite, chief of the captains; he had lifted up his spear against three hundred, killed by him at one time. After him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who was one of the three mighty men. He was with David at Pasdammim. Now there the Philistines were gathered for battle, and there was a piece of ground full of barley. So the people fled from the Philistines. But they stationed themselves in the middle of that field, defended it, and killed the Philistines. So the LORD brought about a great victory.
a. Jashobeam the son of a Hachmonite, chief of the captains: This man is also mentioned in 2 Samuel 23:8 which records a slightly different name for him, and records that he killed 800 instead of three hundred here in 1 Chronicles. The difference is probably due to scribal error in copying.
i. The fact that Jashobeam was a chief of the captains shows that he was a leader among leaders. This means that even leaders need leaders. Also, his victory alone was counted, showing that numbers are important, but they are not the only measure.
b. After him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite: This man led a singular battle against a far more numerous foe, so much so that his hand was stuck to his sword (2 Samuel 23:10).
3. (15-19) David’s mighty men and the mission of the water of Bethlehem.
Now three of the thirty chief men went down to the rock to David, into the cave of Adullam; and the army of the Philistines encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. And David said with longing, “Oh, that someone would give me a drink of water from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!” So the three broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless David would not drink it, but poured it out to the LORD. And he said, “Far be it from me, O my God, that I should do this! Shall I drink the blood of these men who have put their lives in jeopardy? For at the risk of their lives they brought it.” Therefore he would not drink it. These things were done by the three mighty men.
a. Into the cave of Adullam: David spent time in this cave when those who would become his mighty men first came to him in 1 Samuel 22:1-2. This passage describes something that happened either during that time or a later time of battle against the Philistines when David went back to the cave of Adullam.
b. The garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem: This shows how extensively the Philistines had invaded Israel in the days of Saul.
c. And David said with longing: Hiding in Adullam Cave, David nostalgically remembered the taste of the water from his boyhood village. He probably longed for it all the more because it seemed that he couldn’t have it.
i. We can be caught in the trap of these wistful longings. “Sometimes longings like his take possession of us. We desire to drink again the waters of comparative innocence, of childlike trust and joy; to drink again of the fountains of human love; to have the bright, fresh rapture in God, and nature, and home. But it is a mistake to look back. Here and now, within us, Jesus is waiting to open the well of living water which springs up to eternal life, of which if we drink we never thirst.” (Meyer)
ii. Instead, we should look to the Lord right now with confidence for the future instead of dreaming about the past. “Purity is better than innocence; the blessedness which comes through suffering is richer than the gladsomeness of childhood; the peace of the heart is more than peace of circumstances.” (Meyer)
d. So the three broke through the camp of the Philistines: In response to David’s longing – which wasn’t a command or even a request, just a vocalized longing – three of David’s mighty men decided to give him what he was longing for. They had to break through the garrison of the Philistines to do it, and to bring the water all the way back to Adullam Cave. It was a dangerous and difficult mission, but the courage and persistence of the mighty men made it happen.
e. Nevertheless David would not drink it, but poured it out to the LORD: David was so honored by the self-sacrifice of these three mighty men he felt that the water was too good for him – and worthy to be poured out in sacrifice to the LORD. He believed that the great sacrifice of these men could only be honored by giving the water to the LORD.
i. “The point of David’s pouring Bethlehem’s precious water on the ground is threefold. It highlights a great act of Israelite bravery, it exalts David’s ability to inspire extraordinary loyalty, and it was recognized as an act of worship.” (Selman)
4. (20-25) Other accomplishments of David’s mighty men.
Abishai the brother of Joab was chief of another three. He had lifted up his spear against three hundred men, killed them, and won a name among these three. Of the three he was more honored than the other two men. Therefore he became their captain. However he did not attain to the first three. Benaiah was the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man from Kabzeel, who had done many deeds. He had killed two lion-like heroes of Moab. He also had gone down and killed a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day. And he killed an Egyptian, a man of great height, five cubits tall. In the Egyptian’s hand there was a spear like a weaver’s beam; and he went down to him with a staff, wrested the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and killed him with his own spear. These things Benaiah the son of Jehoiada did, and won a name among three mighty men. Indeed he was more honored than the thirty, but he did not attain to the first three. And David appointed him over his guard.
a. Abishai the brother of Joab: This leader among David’s mighty men was famous for his battle against three hundred men. His leadership is also recorded in passages like 1 Samuel 26:6-9, 2 Samuel 3:30 and 2 Samuel 10:10-14.
b. Benaiah the son of Jehoiada: This leader among David’s mighty men was famous for his battles against both men (two lion-like heroes of Moab…an Egyptian, a spectacular man) and beasts (a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day).
5. (26-47) The honor roll of David’s mighty men.
Also the mighty warriors were Asahel the brother of Joab, Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem, Shammoth the Harorite, Helez the Pelonite, Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite, Abiezer the Anathothite, Sibbechai the Hushathite, Ilai the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite, Heled the son of Baanah the Netophathite, Ithai the son of Ribai of Gibeah, of the sons of Benjamin, Benaiah the Pirathonite, Hurai of the brooks of Gaash, Abiel the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Baharumite, Eliahba the Shaalbonite, the sons of Hashem the Gizonite, Jonathan the son of Shageh the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sacar the Hararite, Eliphal the son of Ur, Hepher the Mecherathite, Ahijah the Pelonite, Hezro the Carmelite, Naarai the son of Ezbai, Joel the brother of Nathan, Mibhar the son of Hagri, Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Berothite (the armorbearer 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 chief of the Reubenites) and thirty with him, Hanan the son of Maachah, 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, Jeribai and Joshaviah the sons of Elnaam, Ithmah the Moabite, Eliel, Obed, and Jaasiel the Mezobaite.
a. Also the mighty warriors were: These remarkable men were the foundation of the greatness of David’s reign. They did not come to David as great men. But God used David’s leadership to transform them from the men who met David back at Adullam Cave; men who were in distress, in debt and discontented (1 Samuel 22:1-2).
i. “More than all his victories against outside foes, the influence of his life and character on the men nearest to him testify to his essential greatness.” (Morgan)
b. Asahel the brother of Joab: As recorded in 2 Samuel 2:18-23, Asahel was tragically killed in battle by Abner, who was the commander of Ishbosheth’s armies (this was the son of Saul who tried to follow him on the throne of Israel).
c. Uriah the Hittite: He is notable among the mighty men because he was the husband of Bathsheba. When David heard of Bathsheba’s relation to Uriah and Eliam and Ahithophel (2 Samuel 11:3) he should have put away every idea of adultery.
i. The list of David’s mighty men recorded in 2 Samuel 23 ends with the mention of Uriah the Hittite. This list adds a few more names. “But here some others are added to the number, because though they were not of the thirty, yet they were men of great valour and renown amongst David’s commanders.” (Poole)