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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 19

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-5


This chapter is devoted to a separate description of David’s war against the Ammonites and the Arameans, or Syrians, nations already mentioned in the previous chapter (cf. 2 Samuel 10:1-Psalms :).

The Messengers of David Humiliated

A proof of kindness of David is the reason for the war with the Ammonites is. Nahash, the king of the Ammonites, dies. David wants to console his son and successor, Hanun. This proof of kindness is misunderstood. The reaction to David’s condolences (1 Chronicles 19:4) is a straightforward declaration of war.

Hanun shows in this chapter a very different attitude to David’s kindness than Mephibosheth has shown (2 Samuel 9:1-Ruth :). There is suspicion that David’s true intentions are not of a peaceful nature. The princes of the Ammonites suggest that he tries to subdue them to himself by a feigned condolences. Hanun shows that he does not know David. What David does is seen by him as hypocrisy.

The messengers of David are being treated unjustly and sent away. For an Easterner, shaving the beard is a deep humiliation. Sending the half-naked on the street is also an unprecedented humiliation. A more deeply hurtful treatment is hardly conceivable. When David hears the humiliation, he realizes that what is done to his messengers is in fact directed against him. Yet his first reaction is not to seek retaliation for himself, but his first concern are his humiliated messengers. He lets them say they have to take time to recover.

David is an example of the Lord Jesus in this. His attention always goes first and foremost to his own suffering for Him and not to retaliation for those who cause this suffering to His own. At His time comes also the retribution.

Like Hanun there are many people in the world. If you talk to them about the love of God and the Lord Jesus, they don't want to hear anything about it. They do not allow Him to come into their lives. They see Him as an intruder, as One Who has not good intentions, but bad intention with them.

Whoever bears witness of his Lord out of love for the lost man, may come across the same treatment as the messengers of David and, what is more, the same treatment as the Lord Jesus received: “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). By the way, it suits us to be good and compassionate neighbors and also to be grateful for all the kindness that is shown to us.

Verses 6-19

The Ammonites and Syrians Defeated

The enemies now realize that David cannot simply let their insults pass by (1 Chronicles 19:6-Judges :). They strengthen themselves and join together, a part near the city and a part in the field. Then Joab is sent to battle by David (1 Chronicles 19:8). The enemies then draw up in battle array (1 Chronicles 19:9). Joab oversees the situation and notices that he is enclosed. That doesn’t cause him to panic. As an experienced general with great military insight he determines a tactic, together with Abshai, in which they divide the forces (1 Chronicles 19:10-2 Kings :). They agree to help each other when the other gets into trouble.

Joab encourages Abshai, and himself, and encourages to be strong and show themselves courageous (1 Chronicles 19:13). These are not things of feeling or circumstances, but a choice to be strong and courageous. He points out that it is about “our people and … the cities of our God”. The people, their people, and God’s cities are at stake. That is the challenge of the fight. With the words “may the LORD do what is good in His sight” he further puts the matter in the hands of the LORD. We see here that besides the appeal to the responsibility to be strong and to take courage (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:13) there is also the awareness that everything depends on what the LORD does (cf. Philippians 2:12-1 Chronicles :).

The enemy allies are contested by Joab with wisdom, while we also hear from his mouth a certain faith. In this book, Joab’s actual attitude – that he ultimately puts his own interests higher than David’s – does not come to the fore. His real motives, his going after his own interest, we see more in 2 Samuel. After determining the tactics and inspiring words, Joab fights with the Syrians, who flee before him (1 Chronicles 19:14).

His victory has a positive effect on his brother Abshai, who is fighting with the Ammonites. When the Ammonites see that their allies have been defeated and have fled, they no longer have the courage to fight on. They also flee (1 Chronicles 19:15). Every victory we achieve weakens the enemy and often also means a victory for our fellow fighters over their enemies. After the battle Joab goes to Jerusalem, probably to report to David.

After their defeat, the Syrians regrouped and strengthened themselves with other fellow countrymen (1 Chronicles 19:16). When David hears about it, he himself goes to war. He gathers “all Israel” and defeats the enemy. All Israel is under the authority of David and he is acknowledged by them as king. This unity is important in view of the building of the temple. For the building of the temple, in addition to the already mentioned materials, the factors of peace and safety and the unity of the people are of great importance.

After David’s punishment, the Syrians make peace with him and surrender to him. The Syrians also do no longer establish a connection with Israel’s other enemy, Ammon.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Chronicles 19". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/1-chronicles-19.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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