I Chronicles 27



This chapter, continuing the general subject of David’s arrangements of all

the leading departments, sacred and civil, of the kingdom, which he was so

soon to yield into the hands of his son Solomon, proceeds in the first

fifteen verses to the enumeration of the military courses of his people,

month by month. These were twelve in number, each containing

twenty,four thousand men; and the captain, or chief, or chief father, of

each is specially mentioned.


1 “Now the children of Israel after their number, to wit, the chief

fathers and captains of thousands and hundreds, and their officers

that served the king in any matter of the courses, which came in

and went out month by month throughout all the months of the

year, of every course were twenty and four thousand.”  It difficult to

feel fully satisfied with any translation which the words of this verse offer.

Yet there can scarcely be any doubt of the meaning of the verse, viz. that the

writer would speak of the children of Israel, including the chief fathers and

captains of thousands and hundreds, as regards their courses and their number

in their courses, as they succeeded one another, month by month, including

also all those officers who served the king in any relation to these courses —

the courses were twelve, and each course was numbered twenty-four

thousand. Meantime, when we turn to the list, we do not find any full

complement of chiefs, captains, and officers specified, but apparently only

the chief of each course, with somewhat ambiguous additions in vs. 4

(Mikloth), 6 (Ammizabad), 7 (Zebadiah); while what seems an unnecessary

stress repeats the number each time. This, however, in fact, tallies with the

clause “respecting their number” in the first verse, and may constitute the

explanation of the apparent inconsistency in question. Milman (‘Hist. of the

Jews,’ 1:251, edit. 1830) says on this military portion of David’s

preparations, that he “organized an immense disposable force; every month

twenty-four thousand men, furnished in rotation by the tribes, appeared in

arms, and were trained as the standing militia of the country. At the head of

his army were officers of consummate experience and, what was more

highly esteemed in the warfare of the time, extraordinary personal activity,

strength, and valor. His heroes remind us of those of  King Arthur or

Charlemagne, excepting that the armor of the feudal chieftains constituted

their superiority; here, main strength of body and dauntless fortitude of

mind.” Which came in and went out month by month; i.e. exchanged

places in rotation (II Kings 11:5-7, 9; II Chronicles 23:8).


2 “Over the first course for the first month was Jashobeam the son of

Zabdiel: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.”  Jashobeam

is mentioned in ch. 11:11 as son of Hachmoni, and as one of those

“three mighties” of David, of whom the other two were Eleazar and Shammah

(see also ch.12:6); he is again referred to (II Samuel 23:8) in a verse of which

the text is corrupt, as “the Tachmonite,” or more correctly “the Tahh-cemonite.”

The tau in this word is probably an error for the article. Kennicott (‘Dies.,’ 72, 82)

confirms this supposition by noting that the Book of Samuel constantly

replaces by the definite article what appears in Chronicles as “son of.” He

has also shown reason for believing that the words in this passage, “that sat

in the seat”, are a corruption of the Hebrew text for characters that would

spell our name “Jashobeam.” We know nothing of this name “Hachmon,”

which may be the name of an earlier forefather, while Zabdiel, thence

named “the Hachmonite,” appears to Be the name of the actual father of

Jashobeam. Jashobeam was of Judah.


3 “Of the children of Perez was the chief of all the captains of the host

for the first month.”  This verse tells us that Jashobeam belonged to the tribe of

Judah, through Perez, the fourth son of Judah (ch.2:4).


4 “And over the course of the second month was Dodai an Ahohite,

and of his course was Mikloth also the ruler: in his course likewise

were twenty and four thousand.”   Before the name Dodai we must supply

Eleazar the son of,” on the authority of ch.11:12; II Samuel 23:9. The allusion

to Mikloth (of the tribe of Benjamin, according to ch.8:32; 9:37) in this verse is

not plain. The translation may possibly be the same which our Authorized Version

gives, And over the course of the second month was (Eleazar, the son of) Dodai

the Ahohite, and (over) his (or, its) course also Mikloth was ruler. The appearances

of the Hebrew text, however, favor the supposition of an inaccurate text. A

somewhat similar construction and position of words in v. 6 is less difficult by

the absence of a conjunction before Ammizabad.


5 “The third captain of the host for the third month was Benaiah the

son of Jehoiada, a chief priest: and in his course were twenty and

four thousand.  6 This is that Benaiah, who was mighty among the thirty,

and above the thirty: and in his course was Ammizabad his son.”

Benaiah (ch.11:22-25; II Samuel 23:20-23). To this name Keil thinks the

word chief (vaOr), in the succeeding expression, chief priest, belongs.

Thus Jehoiada would be named here only priest. Yet see ch.12:27, where

Jehoiada is called dygiG;j" ˆroh}a"l]; and II Kings 25:18; where vaOrh;

ˆheKo stands for our vaOr ˆheKoh, as applied to Seraiah. Benaiah was

manifestly a Aaronite.


7 “The fourth captain for the fourth month was Asahel the brother of

Joab, and Zebadiah his son after him: and in his course were twenty and

four thousand.”  With this verse, as Keil observes, the description of the

successive courses is given with the greatest brevity. Zebadiah was of

Judah. Inasmuch as Asahel (ch.11:26; II Samuel 23:24) was killed by Abner

(II Samuel 2:23) before this division of military courses was made, it is evident

that his name in this place marks, not the individual, but the family. Possibly

he and his name were held in all the greater regard, and his son Zebadiah

best known for the sake of his father.


8 “The fifth captain for the fifth month was Shamhuth the Izrahite:

and in his course were twenty and four thousand.”  Shamhuth. For

variations in the form of this name, see ch.11:27; II Samuel 23:25. In the

former of these passages also we have Harorite in place of our Izrahite,

and in the latter Harodite. The Izrahite probably means of the family of

Zerah (ch. 2:4, 6), and of course marks one of the tribe of Judah. The

Hebrew jr;z]Yih"evidently does not justify the form as translated “Izrahite.”


9 “The sixth captain for the sixth month was Ira the son of Ikkesh the

Tekoite: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.” For Ira,

See ch.11:28; II Samuel 23:26. He was of Tekoa, belonging to Judah.


10 “The seventh captain for the seventh month was Helez the Pelonite,

of the children of Ephraim: and in his course were twenty and four

thousand.”  For Helez, see ch.11:27; II Samuel 23:26. He belonged to Ephraim.


11“The eighth captain for the eighth month was Sibbecai the

Hushathite, of the Zarhites: and in his course were twenty and four

thousand.”  For Sibbecai, see ch.11:29; 20:4; II Samuel 21:18; 23:27, where

by a corruption the name Mebunnai is found for Sibbechai, a corruption all the

easier to account for in the similarity of the characters that form the names. He

was a Zarhite, and belonged to the tribe of Judah.


12 “The ninth captain for the ninth month was Abiezer the Anetothite,

of the Benjamites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.”

For Abiezer, of the tribe of Benjamin, see ch.11:28; II Samuel  23:27. For

Anetothite (Anathoth) see ch.6:60; Joshua 21:18; Jeremiah 1:1; 11:21; 32:7-9.


13 “The tenth captain for the tenth month was Maharai the Netophathite,

of the Zarhites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.”

For Maharai, of the tribe of Judah, see ch.11:30; II Samuel 23:28. The

Netophathite. Though the name of the town Netophah happens to occur only

after the Captivity (e.g. Ezra 2:22; Nehemiah 7:26), yet the name of the people,

as in this passage, was evidently a name existing before the Captivity (see also

ch. 2:54; 9:16).


14 “The eleventh captain for the eleventh month was Benaiah the

Pirathonite, of the children of Ephraim: and in his course were

twenty and four thousand.” For this Benaiah, who was of Ephraim, see

ch.11:31; II Samuel 23:30. For Pirathon, see Judges 12:15, where alone

the place is mentioned.


15 “The twelfth captain for the twelfth month was Heldai the

Netophathite, of Othniel: and in his course were twenty and four

thousand.”  For Heldai, who belonged to Judah, see ch.11:30, where the

name appears as Heled, and II Samuel 23:29, where it appears as Heleb.

For Othniel (who was nephew and son-in-law of Caleb, and first deliverer

of the people after Joshua), see Joshua 15:17; Judges 3:9. These twelve

captains then come — from Judah seven, from Benjamin and Ephraim two

each, and from Levi one.


In vs. 16-22 are given the names of the rulers (v. 16), or princes (v. 22),

of ten out of the twelve tribes of Israel. The tribes not mentioned are Gad and

Asher, an omission which reminds of that of the two tribes Dan and Zebulon

from the genealogies contained in chapters  4 to 7., and equally unexplained.

These designations ruler (dygin;) and prince (rc") are the same as are found

in the list of vs.1-15 — the former in v. 4, and translated also as here “ruler;”

and the latter in vs. 1, 3, 5, 8, under the Authorized Version word of “captains.”

This rehearsal of the rulers or captains of the tribes stands evidently in no special

relation to the preceding military enumeration, but it forms naturally enough one

of four lists in this chapter that purport to set forth David’s complete arrangement

of the affairs of the kingdom. So far as the enumeration goes, it appears to

aim at fulness and no omission, for the “Aaronites” (v. 17) are given, and

Ephraim and the two halves of Manasseh separately (vs. 20-21).


16 “Furthermore over the tribes of Israel: the ruler of the Reubenites

was Eliezer the son of Zichri: of the Simeonites, Shephatiah the son of

Maachah:  17  Of the Levites, Hashabiah the son of Kemuel: of the

Aaronites, Zadok:”  It is, perhaps, remarkable that Hashabiah — presumably a

Gershonite — is not distinguished from the Hebronite (i.e. Kohathite) of the same

name (ch.26:30); some, however, think that our Hashabiah is the Kohathite

(see Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’ 1:759 b). For Zadok, see ch. 6:4,12. He was

of the line of Eleazar.


18 “Of Judah, Elihu, one of the brethren of David: of Issachar, Omri

the son of Michael:  19 Of Zebulun, Ishmaiah the son of Obadiah: of

Naphtali, Jerimoth the son of Azriel:”  20 Of the children of Ephraim,

Hoshea the son of Azaziah: of the half tribe of Manasseh, Joel the son

of Pedaiah:  David’s eldest brother Eliab is no doubt intended here by the

name Elihu. The Septuagint gives Eliab. For Michael, see ch. 7:3.


21 “Of the half tribe of Manasseh in Gilead, Iddo the son of Zechariah:  of

Benjamin, Jaasiel the son of Abner:” There is no reason to doubt that Jaasiel

is the son of the Abner who was Saul’s own cousin (I Samuel 14:50).


22 “Of Dan, Azareel the son of Jeroham. These were the princes of the

tribes of Israel.”  These thirteen princes of the tribes of Israel were presumably

in each case those who represented the tribe according to lineal descent in David’s

time. Though Gad and Asher are left out, the thirteen are filled up by the allowance

of two for Levi, viz. one for the Levites and one for the priests; and three for Joseph,

viz. one for Ephraim and two for the divided tribe of Manasseh.


23 “ But David took not the number of them from twenty years old and

under: because the LORD had said he would increase Israel like to

the stars of the heavens.”  The contents of this and the following verse may

be supposed to be suggested by the distinct reference to the matter of number in

the first verse of the chapter, and in the latter halves of the following fourteen

verses, contrasting with the utter absence of any allusion to the same

matter, when the whole body of the tribes and their princes are the

subject, in vs. 16-22. The deeper significance of the latter part of this

verse probably comes to this; that God had already given His people the

proudest name for their numbers, in saying that they should be numberless,

like to the stars of the heavens, and perpetually on the increase.



The Increase of Israel (v.23)


A devout mind will ever acknowledge that not only individual, but also

national, prosperity is FROM GOD!   It was a conviction with all the pious

Hebrews that their nation had been selected by a special decree and

appointed to a special purpose. This conviction came to their minds to

sober them in times of national prosperity, and to comfort and fortify them

in periods of affliction, disaster, and captivity.


  • WHEN THIS PROMISE WAS GIVEN. It was given at the very

commencement of Israel’s life; it was given to Abraham, the father of the

faithful. The Lord showed Abraham the stars of heaven, and assured him

that so numerous should be his seed.  (Genesis 15:5; 22:17; 26:4)


  • HOW THIS PROMISE WAS REGARDED. It was not likely that an

assurance so inspiriting, so glorious, should be forgotten; it was embodied

in national tradition; it was enshrined in sacred literature; it was fitted to

dignify their conception of their calling as a people; and it was a rebuke to

their national pride. As on the occasion referred to in the text, it was

designed to lead them to place their hopes, not so much in their own

strength or fortune, as in the purpose and the promises of the God

 of Israel, the God of all the nations of the earth.



FULFILLED. Under Solomon the nation of Israel reached its highest pitch

of fame and power. But it is pleasant and encouraging to believe that the

promise recorded in the text will be fulfilled in a deeper sense than that

which appears on the surface. There is a true Israel, composed of all

 who, sharing Abraham’s faith, are Abraham’s spiritual children

(Romans 2:28-29).  These are destined to be numerous as the sands of

the desert, as the leaves of the forest, as the dew-drops of the morning,

as the stars of heaven. This is a kingdom whose subjects shall ever

multiply, whose glory shall know no limit and no end.  (“After this I

beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number,

of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood

before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their

hands;  And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our

God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.”

Revelation 7:9-10)



God’s Promises Checking Man’s Wilfulness (v.23)


The impulse on David leading him to number Israel has never been

adequately explained. Probably there were some peculiar national

conditions which are not detailed. The connection of the reference to the

“numbering,” which is made in this verse, intimates that it was a part of

some military arrangements which the king was advised to make. Possibly

in order to fix the amount of his standing army, he desired to know the

number of men in his kingdom who were above the age of twenty, the age

from which military service was required. Eastern writers give curious

illustrations of the Oriental prejudice against numbering possessions. “The

apprehension of a Nemesis on any overweening display of prosperity, if not

consistent with the highest revelations of the Divine nature in the Gospels,

pervaded all ancient, especially all Oriental religions. David’s act implied a

confidence and pride alien to the spirit inculcated on the kings of the

chosen people.” What does come prominently out in the narrative is that

David was willful in the matter, but that God kept his very wilfulness under

some limitations and restraints. David was kept from taking a complete

census, because he felt it irreverent to attempt to count what God was

understood to have promised should be countless. David’s own heart, as

well as Divine judgments, brought to him the conviction of his willfulness

and sin. In religious life and religious work often anxious to reckon up and boast of,

the results of our work. The individual Christian wants to count and value

the steps of his personal spiritual growth; and the Christian worker, in his

varied spheres, despairs if he cannot show the actual fruitage of his toil,

thinking there will be no harvest from his seeding if his own hand does not

bind the sheaves. Much may be said, and much may be said severely, of the

almost mania that possesses some Churches for “numbering the people,”

and counting up the net gains of Christian work. In both spheres God’s

promises should check this desire to count.


God has promised to bring us off  more than conquerors”  (Romans 8:370;

to “perfect that which concerns us;” (Psalm 138:8); to give us “more grace”

(James 4:6); to ensure us “all sufficiency in all things” (II Corinthians 9:8);

and to be “with us always” (Matthew 28:200; so there is no need for constantly

testing our own spiritual state, and trying to gain assurance by counting the

steps upward which we may have made. Our best help is the”


  • faith that daily keeps “looking to” unto Jesus (Hebrews 12:2);
  • the prayer that keeps us mindful of, and ever pleading, the promises; and
  • the “work” for Christ which so thoroughly absorbs us that we have no

time to think about our own feelings.


God has promised abundant fruitage as the result of faithful Christian toil:

 a wondrous harvest-home, and not one sheaf missing. It is enough. Why should

we trouble about results, and count up converts? Let them be as many as ever God

wills, and let us be satisfied with the joy of our working, and the smile of our Master

which surely rests upon us in the doing.  Still, as in the older days of David, there is

grave reason to fear that numbering results tends to nourish human pride and conceit,

and sets men upon boasting of the “great Babylon which they have builded.” The

most essential quality of Christian work is the meekness of self-forgetfulness,

that will be wholly amazed if, one wondrous day, God should point to sheaves safe in

His garner, and say, “These were gathered in by thee.” True and humble hearts

 learn to leave all the “numbering work”  TO GOD AND TO THE GREAT



24 Joab the son of Zeruiah began to number, but he finished not,

because there fell wrath for it against Israel; neither was the

number put in the account of the chronicles of king David.”

It seems a little surprising to read of Joab, fixed on the page of

history as the person who began to number, but… finished not, when we

have been already particularly told that it was he to whom King David’s

command to number was “abominable” (ch. 21:6). However

differently enough from the method of either nature or mankind, the

antidote has here preceded the evil. For because there fell wrath for it,

read the Hebrew, and there was for this wrath upon Israel. The last

sentence of the verse purports to say that such numbering as had been done

before the point at which Joab stopped was not honored by a place, where

other numbers were found, in the register of the chronicles of King David.


Verses 25-31 have for their primary object, not to give an exhaustive summary

of the wealth of David and the sources thereof, but to give the names of those

persons who were charged with the care, or the management and care, of’ it.

The classification, however, is interesting, and may be naturally expected to be

tolerably complete. We do not find any distinction made between such property

as might have belonged to David as private property, and such as belonged to

him as king — probably because there was none worth making.


25 “And over the king’s treasures was Azmaveth the son of Adiel: and

over the storehouses in the fields, in the cities, and in the villages,

and in the castles, was Jehonathan the son of Uzziah:”  For storehouses,

read, as in former clause, treasures.  The suggestion of the second half of this

verse in comparison with the first is that Azmaveth’s charge was over treasures

in Jerusalem. For the castles, see II Chronicles 17:12; 27:4. The word rx;wOa,

though the same in both clauses, may probably enough cover precious treasure,

as of gold, silver, costly raiment, etc. (I Kings 14:26; 15:18), more particularly in

the first clause, and grain, fruit, etc. (II Chronicles 11:11), in the latter, for the

word has distinctly this double application.


26 “And over them that did the work of the field for tillage of the

ground was Ezri the son of Chelub:”  This verse appears to give the name,

not (as in the former verse) of the person who had charge of the stored grain,

fruits, etc, but of the chief superintendent and manager of the labor and laborers

of the field.


27 “And over the vineyards was Shimei the Ramathite: over the increase

of the vineyards for the wine cellars was Zabdi the Shiphmite:”   This verse

specifies the officer who had the management of the vineyards, and also the officer

who had charge over the wine-cellars. The description of Ramathite does not assist

us to identify Shimei, though the choice of place is ample (Joshua 13:26; 18:25;

19:29, 36; Judges 15:17). For Shiphmite, see Numbers 34:10-11; to the place

Shepham, mentioned in which passage, the reference here may be. For over the

increase, read over that which in the vineyards, etc., where the initial v

stands for rv,a}.


28 “And over the olive trees and the sycomore trees that were in the

low plains was Baalhanan the Gederite: and over the cellars of oil

was Joash:”  A similar couple of officers to those of the last verse are

described here. By the low plains here in the Authorized Version is

translated what had been better left untranslated, i.e. the Shephelah, one of

the five divisions of Judaea. It comprised the low-lying tract of land on the

coast and, roughly speaking, stretching from Joppa to Gaza. The sycamore tree

(μwOmiq]Vih", a plural masculine, and once twOmq]vi, a plural feminine, Psalm 78:47)

is to be distinguished from the sycamine, being that kind of mulberry tree

called fig mulberry. The Septuagint, however, does not observe the

distinction, and always translates suka>minov sukaminossycamore.

 It was a common tree, and useful to the poor. It is the same with the black

mulberry of Egypt, and abounded in Palestine (I Kings 10:27). Its fruit was

eatable, and its wood, though soft, yet endurable.  The name Baal-hanan

comes first before us as that of a King of Edom (Genesis 36:38-39; ch.1:49).

The place Gederah (Joshua 15:36), or Beth-gader (ch.2:51), attached to the

name of the present Baal-hanan, renders it not less probable that he was of

similar extraction.


29 “And over the herds that fed in Sharon was Shitrai the Sharonite:

and over the herds that were in the valleys was Shaphat the son of

Adlai:”  Sharon (see ch.5:16, 21). It means with the article, which, with one

exception, always accompanies it, “the level land,” and on the west of the Jordan

exactly corresponds with the Mishor on the east, a word of identical signification

with Sharon. The tract of pastureland which it designated stretched from Carmel

to Joppa. The valleys here intended are not specified.


30 “Over the camels also was Obil the Ishmaelite: and over the asses

was Jehdeiah the Meronothite:”  Whether the word Obil (lybiwOa), is a

proper name or not, it signifies “a tender of camels” by derivation. The task

suited the Ishmaelite, no doubt! Nothing is known of the Meronothite, nor of

the situation of the place called Meronoth, unless anything may be conjectured

from Nehemiah 3:7.


31 “And over the flocks was Jaziz the Hagerite. All these were the

rulers of the substance which was king David’s.”  For the Hagerite tribe,

see  ch. 5:10,18-22. For the rulers of the substance, the Hebrew words are

vWKr]h; yrec;. The number of them adds up again to twelve; Keil justly supposes

that the two named in v. 25 were those principal officers to whom the other ten

delivered the proceeds of their respective charges.



Earth’s Produce (vs. 25-31)


David was a man of war, and it is not surprising that these historical books

are largely occupied with an enumeration of his armies, catalogues of his

mighty men of valor, and records of his military exploits. But it is

interesting and instructive to observe that the chronicler does not pass

unnoticed matters which give an aspect of peace and prosperity to David’s

reign. The king was not only a commander and a judge, but also an

administrator and an economist. The chronicler, in referring as he does in

this place to the accumulation of wealth and to material prosperity generally,

indicates that in his judgment a nation’s greatness does not consist simply

in the number of its warriors or the brilliance of its feats of arms.



There are here enumerated the stores of corn, the vineyards and the

oliveyards, the flocks, the camels, and the herds which largely constituted

David’s wealth.  “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.”

(Psalm 24:1)



GRATITUDE. The Creator has made all things for man’s use and comfort.

“He hath put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, all beasts

of the field” (Psalm 8:6-7).  To Him daily thanks are due!



TEMPERANCE AND SOBRIETY. When the creature is abused, the

Creator is dishonored; but a just and temperate use of material wealth is

improving to man and honorable to God.  (“For every creature of God

is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:

For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”  (I Timothy 4:4)



CONSECRATE ALL TO THE GIVER. Christians especially, who are

“not their own”  (I Corinthians 6:19-20), are bound to regard and to use

all their property as God’s.  So used, it will not minister to pride, but will

become a means of grace. In this certainly David has set us an example

worthy of imitation.



The Trust of Riches (vs. 25-31)


In these verses some of David’s wealth is enumerated, especially that portion

which consisted in estates, herds, and flocks. Accepting life on the earth as the

sphere of our “probation,” or “moral training,” we need to see that all things which

bear their influence upon us may be, and indeed are, used by God as agencies in

this gracious work over which He presides.  Riches, therefore, may be a Divine trust

committed to some men with a distinct view to their culture through this trust; and it is

precisely this view of riches which needs to be more generally taught and apprehended,

so that it may become a most solemn thing for any man to have this trust, and all

who have it may be much more impressed with the responsibility of it than with the

advantage and privilege of it. We easily take up with two imperfect notions.


  • We say that riches are tokens of Divine favor. But this may not be

assumed as a universal fact. Riches may be a token of Divine wrath and

judgment, and the very agency of a man’s punishment. And riches may be a

sign of God’s anxiety about our moral state, and the need for subjecting us

to some severe moral testing. To some natures no more searching test

could be found than the trust of prosperity and wealth.


  • Or we say that riches are the rewards of virtue, and assume that men

must be acceptable to God because they are rich, and that others must be

out of acceptance, seeing that they are poor. But then we must face the

difficulty which the Psalmist Asaph felt so bitterly (Psalm 73.) — the

wicked are often the rich, and the righteous are among the down-trodden

poor. It is evident that no general rule will fit all cases, and that, in wise

Divine orderings, wealth and poverty are arranged for the highest good

 Of the individual and THE PERMANENT GOOD OF THE WHOLE!

 Did we know all, we should never envy those to whom God entrusts the riches.

Neither of these conceptions is sufficiently true to be accepted without due

consideration of certain other and important representations, such as:


Ø      that riches may be Divine judgments;

Ø      that riches may be Divine trials;

Ø      that riches always are Divine trusts, of which due account will

presently be required.


Then attention needs to be directed to three things in relation to our riches:


Ø      The wise care of them, as not ours, BUT GOD’S!

Ø      the faithful use of them, as not given to us for our sake, but for the

sake of others, whom we may bless by means of them; and

Ø      the watchful culture of the souls life while in the enjoyment of

 them, seeing that the precise peril of them is that they tend to nourish

a sel-fconfidence which is fatally injurious to the soul’s health and life.


Remember Jesus’ parable of the farmer who was getting over-rich, and had no storehouses

large enough for his harvests, but who was not rich toward God.  (Luke 12:16-21)


Verses 32-34 contain the names of seven men of high position, and who were,

at all events, important enough, in one respect or another, for this closing special



  • Jonathan and Ahithophel are singled out as counselors (x[ewOy) of the


  • Hushai the Archite is mentioned as the companion (["re) of the king.
  • Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar are mentioned as standing

in a similar relation of counselors to the king with Ahithophel, but after him.

  • The great general of the whole army of the king (ab;x;Arc"), Joab, has a

place found for his name.

  • And the name of Jehiel is mentioned as of one with the king’s sons.


The first thing which may be observed as to this enumeration is that it is

not one whole belonging to the later portion of David’s time. Ahithophel

had long before put an end to his own life (II Samuel 17:21-23; also see

15:12,31,34; 16:20-23). Secondly, that out of the seven names, four or

five are already well known to us in some other capacity; for see the lists of

ch.18:14-17; II Samuel 8:16-18; 20:23-26. And thirdly, that in one or two

instances, a different or additional part is assigned to the names mentioned.

The impression left with us is rather of honorable or special mention made of

seven who had been distinguished helpers of the king or the kingdom at one

time or another.


32 “Also Jonathan David’s uncle was a counsellor, a wise man, and a

scribe: and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni was with the king’s sons:”

Nothing is known of any uncle to David, named Jonathan, but special mention

is made, in ch.20:7 and II Samuel 21:21, of a nephew, son of Shimea, who

rendered valuable service, and whose name was Jonathan. It is possible that the

Hebrew rwOD may mean “nephew,” as simply meaning “relative.’’ It must be

admitted, however, as very remarkable, that in Leviticus, Numbers, the historical

books, Jeremiah, and Amos, to the number of sixteen times in all, the word

confessedly means “uncle;” while this seventeenth time, it would appear to

mean “nephew.” On the other hand, in Proverbs, Canticles, Isaiah, Ezekiel,

to the number of thirty-six times in all, the word follows its other branch of

signification of “love,” and in particular “one beloved.” Nothing certain can

be said of the Jehiel of this verse, but, if a son of Hachmoni, we may

presume him to have been related to Jashobeam of v. 2 and ch.11:11.


33“And Ahithophel was the king’s counsellor: and Hushai the Archite

was the king’s companion:”  For Hushai the Archite, see II Samuel 15:32,37;

16:16; 17:14-15.


34 “And after Ahithophel was Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and

Abiathar: and the general of the king’s army was Joab.”

The after of this verse may possibly be the after of time, i.e.

after the death of Ahithophel, instead of the after of place, i.e. subordinate.

Jehoiada the son of Benaiah. Either the individual of v. 5;   ch.18:17;

II Samuel 8:18; 20:23, is not the person here intended, or we have here the

names accidently reversed. There seems no sufficient reason to doubt that

the high priest of the Ithamar branch is here meant.



The Army, Tribal Princes, Royal Possessions,

  and Chief Counselors of the King (vs. 1-34)


This chapter brings before us the organization of the army, and also the

public administration (vs. 1-15); next we have a list of the princes of the

twelve tribes (vs. 16-24); then we have the managers of the domains and

royal possessions (vs. 25-31); and lastly, the chief counselors of the king

(vs. 32-34). These subjects follow the arrangement of the Levites’

service, because it was David’s earnest desire before his death to give the

constitution of his kingdom a more stable form. David’s object in

numbering the people, as we may gather from the twenty-third verse, was

to leave his kingdom, strong within and without, to his son. There were

twelve divisions of the army, consisting of twenty-four thousand men in

each. In the enumeration of the tribal princes, the tribes of Gad and Asher

are omitted without any reason being assigned for the omission. With

regard to David’s domains and possessions, the property and income of the

king were divided into treasures of the king, treasures in the country, in the

cities, the villages, and the castles. The treasures of the king were the

treasures of the royal palace in Jerusalem. The remaining treasures were

fields, vineyards, plantations, cattle, camels, asses, and sheep. Officers

were set over these various departments. With reference to David’s

counselors (vs. 32-34), we have here enumerated three catalogues, and

the mention of Joab as the commander-in-chief of the army.



Wisdom, Kindness, and Folly (vs. 1-34)


In reading this chapter we are struck with three features of David’s rule.


  • The presence of royal wisdom in:


Ø      Securing the safety of his kingdom by a sufficient militia without

sustaining a burdensome standing army. One month’s practice in the

year would suffice to maintain their soldierly qualities without seriously

interfering with their civil pursuits (v. 1).


Ø      Adopting the system of promotion by merit. In the list of captains

(vs.2-15) we meet with names of men that had distinguished themselves

By their courage and capacity, and who had “earned their promotion.”

Favoritism is a ruinous policy, and fatal to kings and ministers.


Ø      Limiting his own personal requirements to a moderate demand. David

lived as became such a king as he was, but he did not indulge in a costly

and oppressive “civil list” (see vs.25-31).


Ø      Choosing so sagacious a counselor as Ahithophel (II Samuel 17:1-3,14),

and so true and brave a friend as Hushai ( Ibid. vs.7-14).


  • The presence of personal kindness. Although David acted, most wisely,

on the principle that the highest posts should be reserved for the most

capable men and those who “deserved well of their country,” yet he did not

neglect his own kindred in the hour of his opportunity. We find, amongst

others of the foremost men, the names of his relatives, Asahel (v. 7);

Jonathan, his uncle (v. 32); Joab (v. 34).


  • The presence of royal folly. We are reminded here of the grievous error,

the disastrous departure from rectitude, when, notwithstanding the wise

counsel and somewhat strenuous opposition of Joab, he insisted on

numbering the people (vs. 23-24). Regarding the folly of the king, we




IMPERFECTION. Devout and humble as David was, prosperous and beneficent

as was his reign, he yet fell, more than once, into sin; and on this occasion (of the

numbering) he involved the nation in a terrible calamity. He resembled all other good

men of every age. Human excellency is a beautiful but a blemished thing; it has

admirable qualities, but is never without defects; it halts somewhere. Therefore:


  • Let us conclude that there is certain to be something in ourselves which

needs to be corrected!  We have faults which others see and which they

regret to see in us.


  • Let us not be hasty in estimating the character of others; if we judge men

by the first thing we see in them, it may be that we shall apprise them by

the one pardonable fault behind, which, unrecognized by us, hide a hundred

virtues. We should not like to be judged by the first action our neighbors

chanced to witness in us.


  • Let us make all kindly allowance for men when we know them; and

placing their many solid graces against their few superficial failings, let us

not withhold our esteem, or our confidence, or our affection. Regarding

David’s kindness, we learn:



KINDRED. Nepotism is a crime as well as a sin, but, when other things are equal

and when opportunity offers, we should surely remember those whom, by the ties of

affinity, God commends to our kindness, and those whom, by profession of friendship

in earlier and humbler days, we promised to assist. And in view of the king’s wisdom,

we may learn:



INCALCULABLE BENEFIT. David without his devoutness would have been

nothing to his country or his kind; without his wisdom he would have been little more.

Piety and prudence together are a power for God and man.



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