The Groups of Heroes (ch.11:10-12:40)


“These are the chief of the mighty men whom David had.” (ch. 11:10-12:40). 

This roll of ancient chivalry is worthy of a little notice. Men of valor consecrating that

valor to service of David and their country, emulating each other’s deeds and all

abounding in service to their land, their numbers, association, prowess, has charmed

many a reader and inspired through many generations a grand succession of heroic

souls. As courage is a constant requisite in all directions, let us study this singular

group of valiant men, and observe how:


  • HEROES COLLECT ABOUT A HERO. There are few qualities which

are not more or less contagious. Corruption corrupts, and strength

invigorates others. Honor sets its fashion, and vice finds many to copy it.

The bad man has to answer, not only for the harm he does, but for the

harm that he leads others to do. The good man has the reward of his

service, which is great, but of his example as well, which is greater still.

Here we see that one hero makes a multitude. After one man has fought

and slain a gigantic foe, Benaiah can do the same. And Jashobeam and

Eleazar can do their marvelous deeds, slaying foes by hundreds who come

against them. The nobility of David’s nature attracts and elevates

kindred spirits. It attracts them; for even when an outcast and exile,

they collect about him (ch. 12) in the cave of Adullam and in the land of the

Philistines. All Saul’s authority as king and kinsman does not prevent many

of the bravest of the Benjamites attaching themselves to David, even in

Saul’s lifetime. A Moabite, and an Ammonite were among his chief

captains; a Hittite, one of his thirty knights; from beyond Jordan many

gather to him; and later on, from every tribe of Israel some are attracted to

his standard. There is such an attraction about every great soul. The law of

gravitation, I suppose, is true of souls, that they attract each other in the

ratio of their masses; and if a nature be tenfold grander than another, it has

tenfold more attraction. Great men cannot help attracting, and men less

great from feeling the force of that attraction. And when the greatness is

the rounded greatness in which generosity of nature meets with courage

and with wisdom, there is no bound to the attraction exercised and the

devotion yielded. If God has made you a kingly spirit, you need not be

over-solicitous about the recognition of your claims. He whom God makes

to be master is master by a law of gravitation, and finds his level as

naturally as material things find theirs. Impatience to reach your throne

only delays it. Be still, and if God means you to rule, there is

nothing more certain than that you will. Meanwhile, as perhaps you

have not that part to play, attach yourself as a learner and a follower to

him whom you find better and wiser than yourself, and, sitting at his feet,

you will, in the practice of obedience, learn the secret of command. David

not only attracts, however, but elevates. Beneath the kindling inspiration

of his valor all hearts grow brave. Courage seems so easy and fear so

shameful that, with him as leader, each man is twice, ay, sometimes many

times himself. A Bruce, a Cromwell, a Nelson, or a Wellington, will never

lack brave following. “As iron sharpeneth iron, so does a man the

countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17).  Valor in one makes

 many valiant. King Arthur had his knights of the Round Table, and

David had his, and all brave men have theirs. Such a fact is worthy of

notice, for we are apt to think evil a stronger thing than good; the fact

being that good is the most powerful thing on earth, kindling similar

goodness in others’ lives. Be brave and good, and you will not long be

without companions.



did so because he recognized the validity of the principle we have just been

considering. His valor infused into the captains; theirs would be infused

into the men. In war an army wants brave leaders, not figure-heads.

“Take the kings away every man out of his place, and put captains in

their room,” said the sensible military critics of Benhadad, who had made his

first invasion of Israel with thirty-two kings as leaders of his troops (I Kings

20:24).  But it is not only in military matters, but in all others that courage is

wanted. From the teacher of a Sunday school to a prime minister, from a

minister of religion to a member on the town council, whoever is at the head

of his fellows should be brave; wise as well, but brave. Prudence without

some daring and enterprise will so shrink from difficulties and risks that it will

take often the most dangerous course of all — DOING NOTHING!

 There is always at hand, available for whoever can use it, abundance of

power to work reforms, to render needed service to mankind, if only there

be leaders for it. Are you in a position of influence of any sort, in Church or

state, with few or many? Remember that David would have none but heroic

men for leaders, and if you have not courage to lead men forward, you should

give place to those who have. (“Lead, follow, or get  out of the way!”

Thomas Paine) -  Happy the village Church, the Sunday school, the

school board, the city council, the land, whose leaders have brave hearts

that do not slacken with languor or shrink from danger! With such leading,

the community, like Israel, will find safety, prosperity, blessing, in richer

measure than languid hearts ever dare to dream of.



    I Chronicles 12


This chapter is retrospective, and the contents of it are not found elsewhere. It is

occupied, first (vs. 1-22), with the names and some accounts of those who had come

to the help of David in three great crises in time past, to join themselves to him and his

cause. And afterwards (vs. 23-40), with an enumeration of those representatives from

the tribes who came (ch.11:1, 3) to support the proceedings of the occasion when he

was being made king of the whole people. Thus the chapter would divide really into

four parts, to which the following sections will be found sufficiently to answer:


o       vs. 1-7;

o       vs. 8-18;

o       vs. 19-22;

o       vs. 23-40.


1 “Now these are they that came to David to Ziklag,” - The occasion referred to

is evidently that recorded in I Samuel 27:1-2, 6-7; 30:1, 26; and generally in those and

the intermediate chapters. David stayed at Ziklag a year and four months, a period

which closed for him with the death of Saul. Ziklag, in Joshus’s original allotment,

was the possession of Simeon (Joshua 19:5). It was situated south of Judah, and came

into the hands of Judah when Achish made it a gift to David for a residence (I Samuel

27:5-7). The site of it has not been identified in later times. It witnessed one of the

narrowest and most remarkable of the escapes of David, on an occasion which

brought danger, not so much from acknowledged foes, as from the maddened grief

and despair of his own friends and people (Ibid. ch.30:3-6). The whole scene of the

broken-hearted grief of David and his people, when, on discovering the successful

raid of the Amalekites upon Ziklag, “they lifted up their voice and wept, until

 they had no more power to weep,” is one of the most dramatic on record. The

rapid reverse to good fortune, when David turns away their heedless anger against

himself and proposal to stone him, by pursuing and overcoming the enemy, and

recovering their captives and their goods near the brook Besor, completes

the effectiveness of the scene. The middle voice form of expression in this

verse, - “while he yet kept himself close” - means to say that David was, by

fear of Saul and by force of his enemies, more or less hemmed up in Ziklag

because of Saul the son of Kish: and they were among the mighty men,

helpers of the war.”


2 “They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and

the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow, even of

Saul’s brethren of Benjamin.”  Of Saul’s brethren of Benjamin. It would be

better to read these words as the commencement of the next verse. Prominence is

given to the fact that this set of helpers of David, counting in all twenty-three,

comprised Benjamites — men of the same tribe with Saul (v. 29). They had seen

and been impressed by the wrongness and cruelty of Saul, and found themselves

unable to keep in sympathy with him. Of such were Eleazar, Ilai, and Ithai, mentioned

in the preceding chapter vs.12, 29, 31, respectively).  The Benjamites were noted

both for their use of the bow, and of their own left hand (Judges 3:15, 21; 20:15-16;

ch. 8:39-40; II Chronicles 14:8).


3 “The chief was Ahiezer, then Joash, the sons of Shemaah the Gibeathite;” - 

The Peshito-Syriac has wOnB] instead of yneBe. This has the effect of making Joash the

son of Ahiezer, and it makes Shemaah a third name in the list. This name has in the

Hebrew the form for the article before it, and should appear in our version either as

Has-Shemaah,” or “the Shemaah.” The name, together with that of Azmaveth, is

found in ch. 8:13, 36, as belonging to the tribe of Benjamin -“and Jeziel, and Pelet,

the sons of Azmaveth; and Berachah, and Jehu the Antothite.”  The name

Jeziel is omitted in the Syriac Version, and the two names Pelet and Berachah

appear as sons of Azmaveth (ch.11:33; II Samuel 23:31, where the Baharmite

means the Baharumite, i.e. the man of Bahurim, in Benjamin). The Antothite; that is,

native of Anathoth. The place is not given in Joshua 18.; but it was a “priests’ city”

withsuburbs,” belonging to Benjamin (ch.11:28; Joshua 21:18; I Kings 2:26;

Jeremiah 1:1; 29:27).


4 “And Ismaiah the Gibeonite, a mighty man among the thirty, and

over the thirty; and Jeremiah, and Jahaziel, and Johanan, and

Josabad the Gederathite,” The name of Ismaiah does not appear in the list

of the preceding chapter, nor in its parallel; nor is it possible to identify it with

any that does appear there. The suggested explanation is that he was in the first

 edition of that list, and died early. The expression, “among the thirty, and over

the thirty,” may possibly mean that, from distinction as one of them, he was

promoted above them to be leader of them. Josabad the Gederathite. The name

should be spelt Jozabad. The Gederah here suggested cannot to all appearance be

that of Joshua 15:36, in the Shephelah of Judah, as Jozabad was a Benjamite.

If otherwise, it must be supposed to have come in some way into the possession

of Benjamin.


5 Eluzai, and Jerimoth, and Bealiah, and Shemariah, and Shephatiah

the Haruphite,”  Jerimoth. This name is found also among Benjamites (ch.7:8).

Bealiah. This name comprises both the word Baal, and Jah! Haruphite. The

Masoretic word is ypyrij}j (Nehemiah 7:34). The sons of Hariph (Ibid v.24)

may have belonged to the tribe of Benjamin.


6 Elkanah, and Jesiah, and Azareel, and Joezer, and Jashobeam, the

Korhites,” Jashobeam. Possibly the same with him of ch.11:11; 27:2.

Korhites. Some authorities are as positive that this name designates Levitic

Korahites, as others are sceptical about it. Bertheau explains the name as

meaning descendants of Korah of Judah (ch.2:43). Others surmise that a

Benjamite Korah, otherwise unknown to us, is pointed to. There does not

seem any intrinsic difficulty in supposing that these were some of the Levite

Korahites, whose proper and allotted abode was in Benjamin, or perhaps

in Judah.


7 “And Joelah, and Zebadiah, the sons of Jeroham of Gedor.”  Of Gedor.

The place apparently here spoken of (yet see ch.8:31; 9:37) is unknown, and it

is to be observed that in the Hebrew the article precedes the word (rwOdG]h").

If it be the Gedor in Judah (ch.4:4), it is to be noted still that Jeroham is a name

of a Benjamite (ch.8:27).


8 “And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the

hold to the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that

could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions,

and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains;”  As v. 1 is introduced by

the description of those who came together “to David to Ziklag at a certain time,

so it seems evident that this verse introduces the mention of certain others who

befriended David at another time, by coming to him into the hold to the wilderness.

These others were Gadites in part, and the hold none more likely than that of

Adullam (v. 16 of last chapter), although the word here employed

(dx"m]l") for “hold” is a different form of the word (hd;Wxm]) found both

there and in the parallel (II Samuel 23:14). There is, however, nothing to

negate the choice of other spots and occasions (I Samuel 22:5; 23:14,19,24,29,

Authorized Version; 24:1, Authorized Version). This graphic description of the

military and indeed native qualities of these Gadites, is in harmony with many other

glimpses we get of them and their character (ch.5:19-22; II Samuel 1:23; 2:18).


9 Ezer the first, Obadiah the second, Eliab the third,

10 Mishmannah the fourth, Jeremiah the fifth,

11 Attai the sixth, Eliel the seventh,

12 Johanan the eighth, Elzabad the ninth,

13 Jeremiah the tenth, Machbanai the eleventh.”

The eleven names of these verses are all known elsewhere, but none of them as

designating the same persons.


14 “These were of the sons of Gad, captains of the host: one of the

least was over an hundred, and the greatest over a thousand.”

This, evidently an incorrect translation, is easily superseded by the correct

literal version, One to a hundred the little one, and the great one one to

 a thousand. The preposition lamed prefixed to the two numerals, “hundred”

and “thousand,” will signify either that the “little one was as good as a hundred,

and the great one as good as a thousand;” or that the “little one was rare

as one of a hundred, and the great one rare as one of a thousand.”


15 “These are they that went over Jordan in the first month,” -  This

corresponds with our end of March.  The interesting incident of this verse is

unrecorded in detail elsewhere (Joshua 3:15; Jeremiah 12:5; 49:19; 50:44) -

 when it had overflown all his banks; and they put to flight all them of

the valleys, both toward the east, and toward the west.”


16 “And there came of the children of Benjamin and Judah to the hold

unto David.”  In addition to the Gadites, some others of Benjamin and

Judah join David.


17 “And David went out to meet them, and answered and said unto them,

If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me, mine heart shall be knit unto

you: but if ye be come to betray me to mine enemies, seeing there is no

wrong in mine hands, the God of our fathers look thereon, and rebuke it.”

The solemn tone of David’s language recorded here, and the beautiful pathos and

religious appeal of the last two sentences of the verse, bespeak sufferings and

disappointments experienced by David heretofore through deception. It is, however,

noticeable that there is no direct testimony of anything of this kind, least of all of any

flagrant instance of it, on the part of such detachments of friends as had come to him;

and that, though they had occasionally been contributed from sources not the most

desirable (I Samuel 22:2).


18 “Then the spirit came upon Amasai, who was chief of the captains, and he

said, Thine are we, David, and on thy side, thou son of Jesse: peace, peace

be unto thee, and peace be to thine helpers; for thy God helpeth thee. Then

David received them, and made them captains of the band.”  The response of

the band, by the mouth of Amasai was worthy of the character of the appeal that

David made, both in its heartiness and its high tone. Amasai. Possibly the same with

Amasa (ch.2:17), the son of Abigail (David’s sister), wife of Jether (II Samuel 17:25;

19:13; 20:10).  He was made captain of the host by Absalom, afterwards by

David, and Joab put an end to his life (II Samuel 20:9-10). The Spirit (see Numbers

11:26; Nehemiah 9:30). The more literal translation of the verb came upon is

clothed. Most interesting and instructive is the subject of the gradually

developing manifestation of the agency of the eternal Spirit from the

beginning of the world. Through the ascending illustrations of His natural

work in creation (Genesis 1:2), His relation to human bodily life

(Ibid. 2:7; Job 27:3), His intellectual work of various kinds

(Genesis 41:38; Exodus 28:3; Numbers 24:2; Judges 13:25), we are led on to

His highest spiritual functions.


19 “And there fell some of Manasseh to David, when he came with the

Philistines against Saul to battle: but they helped them not: for the

lords of the Philistines upon advisement sent him away, saying, He

will fall to his master Saul to the jeopardy of our heads.”  And there fell… of

Manasseh to David. Of this use of Al[ lp"n; there are many other examples

(II Chronicles 15:9; Jeremiah 37:14; 39:9). The phrase does not correspond

with our own idiom of “falling to” one’s lot, but with that of” falling away”

from the service or love of one to another, i.e. deserting. The occasion here

spoken of is described in full in I Samuel 29:2-11.


20 “As he went to Ziklag, there fell to him of Manasseh, Adnah, and

Jozabad, and Jediael, and Michael, and Jozabad, and Elihu, and

Zilthai, captains of the thousands that were of Manasseh.”

Although those of Manasseh who wished to ally themselves

with David did not — most providentially for David and his Ziklag people

— have the opportunity of aiding him when, on the eve of Gilboa, he was

about to aid Achish the prince of the Philistines against the Israelites and

Saul, yet their help must have come in useful when, on his return “to Ziklag

on the third day,” he found what the Amalekites had done, and pursued

them (I Samuel 30:1-6, 11-25). Seven is the number also of Eastern

Manasseh mentioned in ch. 5:24. Nothing is now said of the

men belonging to them joining with them. Jozabad. One manuscript

quoted by Kennicott has for this name on its first occurrence Jechabar. It is

scarcely likely that the same name should appear twice in this short list,

without some qualifying mark being put to one of the two. Nothing else is

known of these seven captains of the thousands of Manasseh.


21 “And they helped David against the band of the rovers: for they

were all mighty men of valor, and were captains in the host.”

The band referred to is evidently that of Amalek in I Samuel 30:8-9.

Were captains; better, became captains.


22 “For at that time day by day there came to David to help him, until it

was a great host, like the host of God.”  The host of God. A forcible comment

on the metaphorical use of this phrase is found in I Samuel 14:15; Authorized

Version, “a very great trembling” is the translation of Hebrew “trembling of God.”

The for with which this verse commences probably explains the call there was for

many and able “captains” for a host becoming daily larger.



    David’s Mighty Men: the Gadites, Benjamites, and Judah (vs. 1-22)


This chapter contains three lists of those who joined the standard while he

yet kept himself close because of the jealousy of Saul. While he was in the

Philistine town of Ziklag these joined him in rapid succession, and they

afterwards contributed so much to the glory of his reign. Preferring the

exile and reproach of David to the honor of the court of Saul they gave

up all for love to him. Vs. 1-15 give us the first list; vs. 16-22 the

second list; vs. 23-40 the third list. The children of Benjamin joining his

standard must have been peculiarly grateful to David. These were of the

kindred of Saul, and included probably many of his relatives. They could

only have joined David’s standard under the influence of the Spirit of God,

perceiving the evident withdrawal of God’s favors from Saul and His

favor to David. It was a public and emphatic protest by those who had

means of knowing David better than others of the excellence of his

character and the grievous wrong done by outlawing one who had

rendered such eminent services. We see how David was naturally

suspicious of these Benjamites joining him. In order to remove David’s

suspicion of their being traitors from the house of Saul, they had probably

asked the children of Judah to accompany them (vs. 16-18). The Spirit of

God, speaking through Amasai, removed all fears. David’s confidence in

God in an extremity which might have been fatal to his life and the

existence of his kingdom, is instructive. He casts himself upon God. A

good conscience” enables him to do this, “seeing there is no wrong in

mine hands” (v. 17).  With a “good conscience” towards God, men may

never fear in any emergency, however trying. The Spirit of the Lord will

always lead the way. Though the cloud may hang very long and look very

dark, the result is as certain as the most certain thing in the world. To such

a soul there will be one final issue — “peace peace (v. 18); yes, “perfect

peace (Isaiah 26:3) to all such.


David’s Mighty Men: Motive for Service (v. 18)


Let us now glance at the motive of these noble men who joined David’s

standard. Despising the court of Saul and all its honors, they were drawn

to David. His exile and reproach were dearer to them than it all. And why?

Instructed by the Spirit of God, they recognized the Lord’s anointed. They

looked not at the present, but forward to that hour when the king should

reign. For this they counted all the honors of Saul as worthless. They

esteemed David’s reproach because they had respect to his future glory

(Hebrews 11:26).  Need I say what this teaches? The people of God now are

gathered round Jesus, the rejected One, the Exile from this world. They

esteem the reproach of Christ, for they have respect to the recompense of the

reward.  “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to

enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season”  (Ibid. v. 25).  They “know whom they

have believed”  (II Timothy 1:12).  “The heathen rage, and the people imagine

a vain thing” (Psalm 2:1).  The world has set itself against Christ. Yet they

know, notwithstanding all this, that “the Lord hath set his King on his holy hill

of Zion (Ibid. v.6)  JESUS IS THAT KING! And His love has drawn them

out from this world’s ruler and god, and with joy they move onward under the

“Captain of their salvation.”


23 “And these are the numbers of the bands that were ready armed to

the war, and came to David to Hebron,” – The bands; rather, the chief  men,

or captains, by one or the other of which words this same term has been several

times hitherto rendered in the immediate context (yet see Judges 9:37, 44, and

5:30 for yet a third signification).  Here follow (vs. 24-37) the numbers of each

tribe (the full thirteen being enumerated) who “came with a perfect heart to

Hebron, to make David king over all Israel (v. 38).  The large numbers of

some of the joyful pilgrims to Hebron, as for instance of the trans-Jordanic tribes,

the very small number that came of the tribe of Judah (in fact, lowest but one,

i.e. Benjamin, and yet nearest home), and of some others, help to invest with

doubt the numerals of this passage, although it is not at all difficult to suggest

some very passable explanations of these phenomena. This doubt is not lessened

by the total, which, according to this list, must make a figure between three hundred

and forty thousand and three hundred and fifty thousand men. To the host have to

be added, as we are expressly told, the “asses, camels, mules, and oxen,” which

carried the“bread, meat, meal, cakes of figs and bunches of raisins, and wine, and

 oil, and oxen, and sheep in abundance,” for the consumption of the host during

their “three days’ “stay “with David,” and their journeys to and fro. In the

presence of such numbers, and the celebration of such an occasion, Hebron

must indeed have beheld the reflection of its own probable meaning, of the

fellowship” or “community” of society – “to turn the kingdom of Saul

to him,”- (so ch.10:14).  The phrase is not a common one - “according to

the word of the LORD”   (so ch.11:3; I Samuel 16:1,12-13).


24 “The children of Judah that bare shield and spear were six thousand

and eight hundred, ready armed to the war.  25 Of the children of Simeon,

mighty men of valour for the war, seven thousand and one hundred.”

David had already found friends and adherents in these two southern tribes of

Judah and Simeon.


26 “Of the children of Levi four thousand and six hundred.  27  And Jehoiada

was the leader of the Aaronites, and with him were three thousand and seven

hundred;”  Jahoiada. He was probably the father of Benaiah (see ch.11:22; 18:17;

27:5; II Samuel 8:18). The Aaronites. This is, of course, equivalent to saying

the priests,” i.e. the priestly troops, of whom Jehoiada was leader.


28 “And Zadok, a young man mighty of valor, and of his father’s

house twenty and two captains.”  This is the first mention of Zadok. He

was, no doubt, the chief priest, son of Ahitub, of II Samuel 8:17; I Kings 1:8;

ch. 24:3; 29:22. He is leader of the Levites.


29  And of the children of Benjamin, the kindred of Saul, three

thousand: for hitherto the greatest part of them had kept the ward” -

rather, had kept on the side of; the Hebrew, tr,m,v]mi μyrim]vo; Vulgate,

 adhuc sequebatur. The proposedtranslation of jn;jeyd["z] by “still”

(‘Speaker’s Commentary,’ in loc.) is very doubtful. The for hitherto

 of this verse explains the reason of the comparatively small number of

the Benjamites - “of the house of Saul.”


30 “And of the children of Ephraim twenty thousand and eight

hundred, mighty men of valor, famous throughout the house of

their fathers. 31 And of the half tribe of Manasseh (west Manasseh)

 eighteen thousand, which were expressed by name, to come and

make David king.”


32 And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had

understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the

heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at

their commandment.”   Had understanding of the times (II Chronicles 2:12;

Esther 1:13; Job 24:1).  This verse does not tell the number of the “children,”

but only of the “heads” of Issachar. It is possible that the number has slipped

out. The description of the characteristics of Issachar here seems an advance

upon that of Genesis 49:14-15.



Men of Understanding (v. 32)


The position of Issachar among the tribes was one central and desirable.  Some of

the richest land in Palestine fell to their lot, and they seem to have enjoyed material

prosperity. The strong ass crouched between burdens is emblematical alike of plenty

and of toil (Genesis 49:14).  How to connect Issachar’s prosperity in husbandry with

the characteristics of the text is by no means easy, perhaps not possible. But it is high

praise which the chronicler accords to this tribe, or to “the heads” or leaders among

themthey were “men that had understanding of the times, to know what

 Israel ought to do.”


  • THE GIVER OF WISDOM IS GOD. He is “the Father of lights”

(James 1:17).  “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God.”

(Ibid. v. 5)  From HIM ALONE  counsel and guidance proceed.

 By His Spirit He enlightens men. Hence the reasonableness and

the importance of prayer.



REACH. No doubt there are certain natural qualifications; yet these may

either be left undeveloped, or may be cultivated. Observation, conversation

with the learned, the wise, and the experienced, reading, practical conduct

of affairs, — all these are means of acquiring wisdom, Nor must we

overlook one potent agency — “Years, that bring the philosophic mind.”

(tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and

Experience, hope  - Romans 5:4).



text alludes to present necessities. Issachar had “understanding of the

times.” True wisdom does not lie in comprehending past states of society,

so much as in realizing the characteristics and needs of our own days. The

text alludes also to action. Historical and scientific and speculative

knowledge are all good. But knowledge reduced to practice is wisdom.

What Israel ought to do; this was what the wise men of this tribe were

competent to decide. We may set aside all the explanations of this passage

which represent the men of Issachar as versed in astronomy, chronology,

or other studies. There can be no doubt the reference is to political

sagacity, military promptness, and practical habits. These men recognized

in David a faculty for ruling, strongly, justly, and religiously; and

accordingly they were forward to give in their adhesion to the son of Jesse,

to repair to Hebron, and take part in the election and installation of the new



33 “Of Zebulun, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, with all

instruments of war, fifty thousand, which could keep rank: they

were not of double heart.”   This phrase should be connected closely

with the preceding clause, of which it is the termination, the sense being

that they were the men to face battle with no doubtful heart.




Singleness of Heart (v. 33)


Several of the tribes who joined in electing David king are characterized by

the chronicler in a few graphic words. It was good testimony which was

borne to the warriors of Zebulun, that “they were not of double heart.” Not

in war only, but in all the affairs of life, and especially in religion, it is a

weakness to be double-hearted; it is strength to have a single heart — to

be, as in the Hebrew, “without a heart and heart.”




Ø      Those may be assigned to this class who are undecided whether to

serve God or the world. As a matter of fact, those who are in such a

state of mind are decided, for the present, against God. “He that is

not with me is against me” (Matthew 12;30).  It is a pitiable, weak,

unhappy condition, and NONE SHOULD REMAININ IT FOR A

SINGLE DAY!   “If the Lord be God, serve Him; but if Baal,

then serve him.”  (I Kings 18:21).


Ø      Those also may be termed double-hearted who are attempting to

serve both God and the world. There are misguided persons who

flatter themselves that they can rank with both the opposing

forces.  Christ has spoken very plainly upon this matter, saying,

“Ye cannot serve God and mammon,” “No man can serve two

 masters, for… he will love the one and hate the other.”

(Matthew 6:24)


Ø      There are those who profess to serve God, but, in reality and in their

heart of hearts, are serving the world. These profess a single eye to

God’s glory; but in truth they are ever seeking, as the great aim of their

life, their own glory, or wealth, or pleasure, or ease. These are

hypocrites; against such the censure and condemnation of Christ are stern

and unmistakable.




Ø      It is dishonoring to God, who has a just claim upon a perfect allegiance

and service, By every claim we are His, and His only, and to withhold from

Him aught .that is ours is an infringement upon His rights. His demand is a

just and unvarying one: “My son, give me thine heart” (Proverbs 23:26).

We want to encourage ALL to give their whole heart to their God and



Ø      It is evidence of ingratitude towards Christ. When the Lord Jesus

undertook our redemption, He did not leave His work half finished,

for He did not undertake it with half a heart, with a divided purpose,

a distracted love. Shall we give a divided heart to HIM WHO GAVE



Ø      It is disastrous in its effect upon those who witness its exhibition. How

many young minds have been prejudiced against religion by the double-

heartedness of its professors! And what mischief has been wrought in

society by such a spectacle! How often has it shaken the confidence and

deterred the progress of inquirers into Christianity!


Ø      It is deteriorating to the character of those who are tempted into it.

What more contemptible than vacillation? “A double-minded man is

unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).  The longer the habit is

persevered in, the more mischievous are its consequences to its victim.

He cannot but sink in his own esteem and lose the strength which is

imparted by self-respect.


34 “And of Naphtali a thousand captains, and with them with shield

and spear thirty and seven thousand.  35 And of the Danites expert in war

twenty and eight thousand and six hundred.  36 And of Asher, such as

went forth to battle, expert in war, forty thousand.”  Naphtali, Dan, and

Asher all show to advantage, in number at all events.


38 “And on the other side of Jordan, of the Reubenites, and the

Gadites, and of the half tribe of Manasseh, with all manner of

instruments of war for the battle, an hundred and twenty thousand.

38 All these men of war, that could keep rank, came with a perfect

heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel: and all the rest

also of Israel were of one heart to make David king.”  The east of Jordan

group muster a high number, and of well equipped men.



Union (v. 38)


Too often the counsels of Israel were divided, and their true interest

frustrated by party spirit, by envy, by faction. The occasion before us was

one of national harmony and cooperation. To make David king the people

were of one heart. A lesson this as to the spirit and the attitude becoming

in the Church of Christ.




Ø      Submission to one Lord. As Israel did homage and rendered

obedience to one king, David, so we, as Christians, are bound to

be subject to the authority of our rightful Prince, even Christ,

David’s Son and David’s Lord.


Ø      Acknowledgment of one faith. The unity of the faith is real.

All who are Christ’s receive the truth of Christ, and hold it fast for His

sake. A common principle, a common sympathy, a common aim, impart

unity to those who cherish them.


Ø      Reception of one baptism. The same Spirit descends, in copious

showers, upon all the followers of Jesus Christ, making them partakers

of the same purity and the same spiritual life.


  • THE PROOFS AND SIGNS OF UNITY. Unity consists in one

attitude towards Heaven, but it declares itself by certain palpable

manifestations amongst Christians. Especially mutual love, confidence,

and helpfulness, and common sacrifices of prayer and praise, and

common labors for the world’s enlightenment and salvation.




Ø      Happiness. Discord is fruitful of misery; harmony of felicity and joy. A

united Church is a happy Church.


Ø      Strength.  Israel under David was powerful, because all were of one

mind and heart,  so in the Church of the living God.  A united

Church is a strong Church. Its enemies cannot reproach or despise it.


Ø      Efficiency. Christ, the great Head and High Priest of the Church, saw

this. Hence the language of his prayer: “That they all may be one; as

thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one

in us:  that the world may know that thou hast sent me” (John 17:21).

Oh that the whole world were “OF ONE HEART” in acknowledging



39 “And there they were with David three days, eating and drinking:

for their brethren had prepared for them.”  The supplies for eating and

drinking were no doubt found chiefly in kind. To sum the number of the

men here described, we should require to allow for those of Issachar and

of the Aaronites and Zadokites added to the Levites (vs. 26-28). That grand

total will not amount to the six hundred thousand of Exodus 12:37.


40 “Moreover they that were nigh them,” – The meaning is that

not only the “brethren” of Judah and of the nearer neighborhood of

Hebron joined to entertain and to show hospitality to the immense throngs

of visitors -  “even unto Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali,” – but that

others did so in ever-widening circles, even as far as the remoter Issachar,

Zebulun, and Naphtali -   “brought bread on asses, and on camels, and

on mules, and on oxen, and meat, meal, cakes of figs, and bunches

of raisins, and wine, and oil, and oxen, and sheep abundantly:  “for

there was joy in Israel.”  The joy must have been largely enhanced by the

national consciousness of divided rule coming to an end, and of the cloud

and frown of the Divine countenance having cleared mercifully away.

All now could join to show loyalty and to feel it towards one king, of whom

they had reason to believe that he was the chosen of God as of themselves.



Joy in Israel (v. 40)


After the reign of Saul, with all its caprice, violence, and irreligiousness, it

was with something more than a feeling of relief that Israel welcomed the

accession of his successor. The unity of the people was manifested in the

large and representative assembly that gathered together at Hebron, and

the cordial sympathy of the absent in the presents and tribute forwarded

from all parts of the land. The feasting was prolonged for three days; for

the tables were abundantly furnished by the contributions of the several

tribes, even from those in the northern districts of Palestine. Let us regard

the “joy in Israelas emblematic of that which pervades Christendom

 in the acknowledgment of Christ’s Divine and regal authority.


  • THE OCCASION of this joy. It is the sovereignty of the Messiah,

“I have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion.” Christ is the

rightful King of humanity. (“THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS!”

(Haggai 2:7).  He is the acknowledged and actual King of His ransomed

Church. “He shall reign until He hath put every enemy under His

 feet (I Corinthians 15:25).   Surely a race, distracted by lawlessness

and rebellion, may well rejoice when assured that a King so mighty

and so wise ascends His rightful throne.


  • THE SUBJECTS of this joy. “Let Israel be glad.” They who own

Jesus as King are the proper persons to offer the sacrifices of rejoicing.

How many are the admonitions we find in Scripture to rejoice in the reign

of Immanuel! “Let all the children of Judah be joyful in their king!”

With shouts of acclaim and songs of welcome do Christ’s people exalt

Him to the throne of their loyal hearts.


  • THE MANIFESTATIONS of this joy. Joy is not wont to be silent.

The elders and chief captains of Israel held high festival because David

accepted the crown. And Christ’s true subjects cannot do other than

speak forth His praise and celebrate His exploits.


  • THE RESULTS of this joy. If we feel the gladness which Christ’s

kingship is fitted to awaken, we shall find it easy to submit and to obey; we

shall learn that “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

We shall have some earnest (down payment) of the higher and immortal joy

which shall fill the courts of heaven.



When the joy of a vast number of people finds expression in unison it must needs be

exceedingly impressive. Were it possible to hear at once that consentaneous volume

of sound  of gladness, it would be nothing less than overpowering in its effect. Or,

if it were possible to see at a glance all the signs and all the manifestations of the

sparkling gladness, no scene of outer nature could be supposed so dazzling, so

bewildering. But in the known harmonious joy of a vast multitude of people, it is

not the mere effect upon our sense of the expression of it or the manifestation of it

that would invest it with its most real and in fact most solemn force. This would

rather be due to the suggestions thickly, richly clustering round about it. Whence it

grew, what it had intrinsically in it, and to what it was promising to grow,

would assuredly be some of the first of the thought which we should

thereupon think. And these deeper, less visible feeders of our own joy

would prove the more lasting and the more significant account of the deep

feeling wrought within us. The point of Scripture narrative at which we are

now arrived reveals to us A WHOLE NATION IN THE CRISIS OF ITS

JOY.   There are peculiarities about that joy very possibly of a merely temporary

character, but there are others that are good for study, as permanent in their nature

and as having the efficacy of principles.


(I hope that you, Dear Reader, experience the JOY OF JOYS  when we all

get to heaven and are a part of that multitude which no man can number - And I

beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels  round about the throne and

the beasts and the elders: and the number of  them was ten thousand times

 ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice,

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom,

and strength, and honor, and glory, and  blessing.  And every creature which

is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea,

 and all that are in them,  heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory,

and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb

 for ever and ever.  And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty

elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever.” 

(Revelation 5:11-14 – I highly recommend Michael W. Smith’s rendition on

You Tube – for the spirit of which I am talking – over three million views – CY – 2012)  


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