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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 11

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-47

CRITICAL NOTES.] The writer here passes by the 7½ years of David’s reign over Judah, at which he had glanced in his introductory section (chap. 1 Chronicles 3:4), and hastens to the glorious period of his inauguration as king over the whole people of Israel. This, as we learn from 2 Samuel 4:5, was at the death of Ish-bosheth, who succeeded Saul as king over all the tribes, except that of Judah [Speak. Com.].

1 Chronicles 11:1-4.—David made king. Hebron, chap. 1 Chronicles 3:4, an ancient royal and priestly city (Joshua 12:10; Joshua 21:11); most mountainous, safest part of Judah, and divinely selected (2 Samuel 2:1). 1 Chronicles 11:3. Covenant, “league” (2 Samuel 5:3). By Samuel, (cf. 1 Chronicles 11:10). added by writer to mark divine origin of Davidic Monarchy, which he had not previously declared [cf. Speak. Com.]—covenant, a solemn transaction before the Lord, united monarch and people in terms of government and obedience.

1 Chronicles 11:4-9.—Zion taken from Jebusites. Jebuz (cf. Joshua 15:8; Judges 19:10). 1 Chronicles 11:5 Said abbreviates; full speech 2 Samuel 5:6. Zion mentioned first in 2 Samuel 5:7, meaning lofty, bare, rocky top, exposed to sun; Heb. a fortified place. City extended northward and southward; the royal residence and stronghold. 1 Chronicles 11:6. Chief head of government. Captain command of army. Prowess of Joab on this occasion, and the part which he took in building city of David, known only from this passage—repaired breaches made in siege, rebuilt houses, demolished and reconstructed old part of city occupied by Jebus. David built a new town.

1 Chronicles 11:9.—Waxed. Literally, “went on and grew great,” as 2 Samuel 5:10. Hosts. Sept., the Lord Omnipotent.

1 Chronicles 11:10-47.—David’s mighty men (2 Samuel 23:8-39). Strengthened, exerted themselves; “assisted with all Israel in making David king”—margin, “held fast with him in affection and obedience. 1 Chronicles 11:11. Number. In Hebrew a plural pronoun (“these”, and a singular noun. Moreover, the number not given; therefore read, “These are the names” [Speak. Com.]. Jash., called son of Zabdiel (ch. 1 Chronicles 27:2); hence grandson or Hachmoni (cf. ch. 1 Chronicles 27:32). Three, 800 in 2 Samuel 23:8. One or other of these corrupt [Speak. Com.]. Some suppose he attacked 800 and slew 300 of them. 1 Chronicles 11:12. Eleazar and Jashobeam only two here; Shammah third in 2 Samuel 23:11. 1 Chronicles 11:13. Pas. Place where Goliath slain, between Shoehoh and Azekah (1 Samuel 17:1). 1 Chronicles 11:14. Parcel. This achievement given in detail (2 Samuel 23:9-11). Eleazar had given up from fatigue, and then Shammah helped by his prowess to keep the field. These feats performed when David acted as general of Saul against Philistines. 1 Chronicles 11:15-19. Feat of three men of the thirty mentioned in 1 Chronicles 11:26-40. Rock (cf. 2 Samuel 23:13). 1 Chronicles 11:17. Well (2 Samuel 23:15-17). This feat performed by a second three, Abishai chief (1 Chronicles 11:20); not the three in 1 Chronicles 11:15-19. 1 Chronicles 11:21. Hon., yet not on a par with first three. 1 Chronicles 11:22. Kab. South of Judah (Joshua 15:21; Nehemiah 11:25). Many, three daring deeds given as specimens. Lionlike, two Ariels; literally, lions of God, great lions, or champions in David’s war with Moab (2 Samuel 8:2). 1 Chronicles 11:23. Stature, i.e., measure, aspect, conspicuous for size. 1 Chronicles 11:24. Three mighties. The second three, of whom Benaiah held second place. 1 Chronicles 11:25. Guard. Ges. gives “David took him into his privy council,” as margin of 2 Samuel 23:23. He was captain over Kerethi and Pelethi, a body-guard of the king. 1 Chronicles 11:26-47. The 48 men of war. “Valiant men of the armies” (cf. list in 2 Samuel 23:24-38). Asahel (2 Samuel 2:18). 1 Chronicles 11:27. Haroite, Harodite, a native of Harod (Judges 7:1). Heles “the Paltite.” 1 Chronicles 11:28. Tekoite of Tekoa (2 Samuel 14:2). Antothite, of Anathoth (Joshua 21:18). 1 Chronicles 11:29. Sib., Mebunnai in Sam. Ilại, Zalmon. 1 Chronicles 11:30. Mah., chief of detachment of guards (ch. 1 Chronicles 27:13). 1 Chronicles 11:39. Nah., armour-bearer to Joab. 1 Chronicles 11:41-47. These sixteen are a supplement to Samuel. Uriah, well known (2 Samuel 11:0); the others associated with places unknown, or connected with cities and districts on east of Jordan.


THE CHOSEN KING.—1 Chronicles 11:1-4

After the death of Saul, country on east of Jordan, and in short time west also, with exception of province of Judah, over which David ruled in Hebron, was brought, by skilful generalship of Abner, to acknowledge Ishbosheth as king (2 Samuel 2:8 seq.). Not till Abner and Ishbosheth were dead, and no one left belonging to house of Saul, but lame Meribosheth, who was then only twelve years old, that all the Israelites resolved to make David king. These verses an account of the assembly in which the resolution was carried into effect [Keil].

I. The reasons for the choice of a king. Not a rash, blind, and imprudent choice.

1. Blood relationship. “We are thy bone and thy flesh.” Close and affectionate relationship, which ensured deep interest and patriotism.

2. Military leadership. “Thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in.” Past services of value, who so likely in future to rule? Qualifications for leadership, inborn, called out by circumstances and cultured under a sense of responsibility. Prove men before you choose them for office. “Let these also first be proved.”

3. Divine appointment. “The Lord thy God said.” Samuel the seer, who anointed Saul, nominated his successor. David often designated, now chosen by the nation. Trial and patient waiting now rewarded. Time fulfilled, all things ready, and “they anointed David king over Israel according to the word of the Lord.”

II. The duties of the chosen king. “Thou shalt feed my people Israel, &c.” This first time, the king called pastor. The servant described as the master; the under-shepherd’s duty like that of chief-shepherd.

1. To rule. Not in pride and tyranny, but in love and humility; respecting liberty, property, and human life. “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (2 Samuel 23:3).

2. To feed. The true king a real shepherd to his people, watching over their interests, providing for them and defending them. This picture of a theocratic king invested with moral grandeur; should be copied by every servant of God, high or low in position; but only completely realised in Messiah. “A Governor who shall rule (shepherd) my people Israel” (Matthew 2:6).

III. The allegiance given to the chosen king. All Israel were assembled, united and represented by elders. For once vox populi vox Dei. In this ceremony king reminded of solemn responsibility and people of implicit obedience. In form a covenant, mutual agreement on both sides to be true and helpful one to another. Notice—

1. Unity in the covenant. The unity introduced by Samuel, weakened by Saul, restored internally and externally on the theocratic basis. “All Israel” represented in the choice.

2. Loyalty in the covenant. Attachment to the person of the king, adhesion to his cause and determination to obey his word. Service is poor and cold in warmest subject without the glow of loyalty. Our Master deserves and seeks it in every servant. “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.”

3. Solemnity in the covenant. “Before the Lord,” acting in his sight. People and king jointly render unconditional obedience to the Invisible Ruler. “King David made a league with them before the Lord; and they anointed David king over Israel” (2 Samuel 5:3).


David now begins to act, seeks to establish his throne, and subdue his enemies. Zion the centre, chief stronghold, and boast of the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5:6).

I. The taking of the city. The south and middle of Palestine unsafe, as long as this citadel unconquered. Its siege and capture a daring Acts 1:0. Taken against great opposition. Its natural position very strong. Built on a precipice, waterfalls and gorges round about. Thought to be impregnable. “David cannot come in hither. “Its defenders very courageous. Quarters very close; a matter of life or death; but except the Lord keep the city, builders and watchmen in vain.

2. Taken by personal valour. Joab scaled the rocks, led the assault, and captured the city. For this act of bravery he was promoted, confirmed in position, and increased in influence.

3. Taken in God’s strength. Valour, numbers, and resources avail not without this. Victory only when God vouchsafes it. “All this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s” (1 Samuel 17:47).

II. The repairing of the city. “David built round about from the Millo (the mound) and inward” (2 Samuel 5:9); and “Joab restored (revived) the rest of the city” (cf. Neh. 3:34). Houses restored, fortifications reared, rebuilding regarded as restoration to life. No longer a dry, barren rock, but a place of beauty and strength. “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion.”

III. The royal residence in the city. David took up his abode, “therefore it is called the City of David.” It becomes the seat of government, the centre of festivities, the memorial of its founder’s name. Mount Zion becomes “the city of the great king,” a type of the royal seat and the dominion of Messiah. “I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” “Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”

DAVID’S PROSPERITY.—1 Chronicles 11:9

The words, then David went, &c., indicate the point of time from which his becoming great first dates; then (from the conquest of Jerusalem) David became continually greater and greater [Keil]. Learn—

I. God is the true source of prosperity. “The Lord of Hosts was with him.” Not fleets and armies, skill of captains and valour of soldiers; but from presence of God. “Ascribe (by word and conduct, give) ye greatness unto our God” (Deuteronomy 32:3). “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty.”

II. God determines the real nature of prosperity. Temporal, spiritual, or both. Regal qualities, prudent counsellors, faithful friends, and devoted subjects; crowns, capitals, and thrones; personal influence, religious privileges, gifts of any kind, progress of any degree, bestowed by God.

III. God fixes the exact time of prosperity. From conquest of Zion a turning-point in David’s fortunes. His life a series of successive stages and positions in which one prepared for the other. “Even when Saul was king, David led out and brought in Israel.” After he was anointed, “he waxed greater and greater,” “went on growing and growing.” Our life’s work fashioned by God, not by ourselves, may be long time and go through strange discipline in its attainment; but God appoints means and fixes seasons. “My times are in Thy hands.” Use the means, wait in faith and seek the aid of God for progress and position here and hereafter.


1 Chronicles 11:1-2. Then.

1. Great honours often preceded by great trials. Through suffering to glory. II. Great trials often end with unexpected relief; or,
1. Men divinely designated, specially trained for position.
2. When specially trained, God’s providence fulfils God’s word in placing them in position.
3. When so placed by God’s providence, often an epoch in their own, and a blessing in history of others. Feed my people. The shepherd king. Evil rulers termed roaring lions, devouring wolves, &c. (Ezekiel 19:2). Teachers and prophets pastors of people (Ezekiel 34:23), to feed “by procuring for them the wholesome food of the word, by going before them in good example, by driving away the wolf, by tending them, and tendering their good every way” [Trapp].

1 Chronicles 11:3. David king. How he reached the throne.

1. By aspiring to it only because divinely appointed.
2. By deserving it (a) in what he did; (b) in what he refused to do.

3. By waiting for it: (a) continuing patient through a long course of trials; (b) using all lawful means in his power to gain it (e.g., 2 Samuel 2:5; 2 Samuel 3:20-36); (c) preparing for it consciously and unconsciously; learning how to rule men, and to overcome difficulties [Lange].

1 Chronicles 11:5. The Castle of Zion. Like the human heart, harder to take and keep for Christ than Khartoum. Pride, selfishness, and envy must be driven out. Like heaven, only gained by violence (Matthew 11:12), and under the leadership of the Captain of salvation. David dwelt (1 Chronicles 11:7). A type of Christ, who subdueth all our enemies, and openeth unto us the heavenly Jerusalem [Trapp]. 1 Chronicles 11:8. Joab repaired. Heb. revived vivificavit vel sanavit, as 2 Chronicles 24:13. City of David, as Constantine called Bizantium Constantinople after his own name; making it also the metropolis and seat of the empire [Trapp].


FAMOUS EXPLOITS.—1 Chronicles 11:10-47

These are the heads, chiefs of David’s heroes, heroes among heroes, attached to his person, with whom he carried on the Lord’s war, and whose deeds are “works” of “great deliverance.”

I. The two mighties (1 Chronicles 11:10-14). The third, Shammah (2 Samuel 23:11), not given here.

1. Exploit of Jashobeam (1 Chronicles 11:11). Chief of captains, riders (or knights, Sam.), bodyguard of king. He lifted up, brandished his spear time after time in strength and courage, and slew 300. In Sam. 800 given—attacked 800 and slew 300, or slew 300 at one time and 800 at another.

2. Exploit of Eleazar. A fugitive in the wilderness with David. (a) Stood when others fled in fear and disgrace. (b) Weary, yet would not quit the work; hand cramped round hilt of sword, but held the weapon. Faint, yet pursuing (Judges 8:4). (c) Advantage followed up, and victory gained. “A great victory that day.” Heb. in theocratic form of deliverance, salvation from God. Aided by Shammah (“they set themselves”) the parcel of ground preserved. (d) Then people returned for spoil and share honour. Many quit the field in danger, and hasten back for gain, willing to share the victory, not the fight. The men of Ephraim (Judges 8:1).

II. The three captains (1 Chronicles 11:15-19).

1. The chivalrous act they performed evinces enthusiasm and readiness for humblest wish of the king.

(1) A dangerous act. To force passage through garrison of the enemy at risk of life.

(2) A brave act. Fearless of results, glad to defy Philistines, and ambitious to serve their king. Be you ready, like Jesus, to comply with every intimation of God by his word and providence.

(3) An unselfish act. No thought for themselves, all for their sovereign and their fellows.

(4) A loyal act. Indicative of affection and loyalty. No command, no request; perhaps a wish overheard, and they spring into action. Service free and spontaneous, not pressed nor constrained. First; a willing mind, then it is accepted to what we can do.

2. The generous estimation of the act. The water refused, gained at peril of life, and too sacred to gratify a wish foolishly expressed. Poured it out as a libation (Genesis 35:14; Exodus 30:9; Judges 6:20). A practical acknowledgment of his error, an expression of sympathy with the bravery and devotion of the men; a check to impulse and rashness in future. The sacrifice to God of what we most desire gives the strength and earnest of future success.

III. The second couple (1 Chronicles 11:20-25).

1. Abishai, “a man of repute,” had a name, and renowned for valour; held high position, chief leader of his company; slew 300; but was excelled in heroic conduct by the three in 1 Chronicles 11:11 to 1 Chronicles 14:2. Benaiah, a valiant man, accustomed to danger, “had done many acts” (great of acts, lit.); commander of bodyguard (marg., privy councillor). (a) Slew three heroes. An Egyptian, terrible in height and appearance, well armed; thus displayed courage (only a staff), dexterity, strength, and skill by snatching the spear out of the giant’s hand and killing him with it (David and Goliath). Slew two lion-like mem, “two sons of Ariel of Moab” [Keil]. Ariel a title of honour given to King of Moab. A feat performed probably in war between David and Moabites (2 Samuel 8:2). (b) Slew a lion (1 Chronicles 11:22), “probably in a cave in which he took refuge from a snowstorm, and in which a savage lion would have its lair. This far greater achievement than if the monster had been previously snared in a pit.” On a snowy day, when greater courage and hardship would be required. Benaiah’s influence and fidelity known in Solomon’s time (1 Kings 1:8; 1 Kings 1:10; 1 Kings 1:44).

3. Ashael, chief of men historically unknown (2 Samuel 23:24); captain of 4th division (1 Chronicles 27:7); slain by Abner (2 Samuel 2:0). After him, names in Samuel are thirty, and one over Uriah the Hittite. Some of the list are Gentiles, who cast their lot with Israel, and reminds of that service in which is neither Greek nor Jew, bond nor free, but all one.


I. An act of great unselfishness. Thought of others, not himself; appreciated the deed of the noble three, and felt that he had no right to claim the blood of others. Men do not exist for us, but we exist for them. Sir P. Sidney took the cup from his thirsty lips to give to the poor.

II. An expression of profound humility. He bowed before the Lord, laid the cup at his feet, through whom it was gained and to whom it belonged. None so fit to rule as those who stoop. “Before honour is humility.”

III. An estimate of the value of human life. Great regard for the worth of men. Soldiers not made for powder and shot. Blood, sacred and inestimable. Human life an opportunity, a power for service, must not be thrown away. Wellington valued the life of his men. “Of every man will I require the life of man.” Life is

“No trifle, however short it seem;
And howsoever shadowy, no dream;
Its value what no thought can ascertain,
Nor all an angel’s eloquence explain” [Cowper].

TRUE HEROISM.—1 Chronicles 11:10-47

I. In its real nature. Not mere physical vigour and exuberant spirit. Not foolhardiness nor reckless waste of strength and life, but self-sacrificing love, which shuns no duty and braves all danger. Often seen in forbearance, in provocation, patience, in trial, tenderness towards others, and self-control in adversity and prosperity. It is the stuff of which martyrs are made, who refuse wealth, honours, and applause for conscience sake. Seen in Eliot—“Lion Eliot, that great Englishman”—who refused the bribes and defied the tyranny of Charles I.; in Savonarola, the Italian monk, “a Reformer before the Reformation”; in Luther, before the Diet at Worms; and in all “brave men of old.”

II. In its hidden source. Love to God, “strengthened themselves with him” (1 Chronicles 11:10). Acquaintance with David, loyalty to him prompted to arms and conflict. Great men attract and excite to enthusiasm. King Arthur had his knights, Cromwell his Ironsides, and David his heroes. Jesus Christ has followers devoted to him, led to victory by him. “Through God we shall do valiantly.”

III. In its noble achievements. Enterprises full of risks; leading a forlorn hope; a successful skirmish; a dashing charge and a splendid capture. In our hearts and lives, in the Christian church and the world, what have we done for God? “Quit yourselves like men.”

“Let us go forth, and resolutely dare
With sweat of brow to toil our little day” [Lord Houghton].


1 Chronicles 11:15. Cave of Adullam.

1. A place of exile.
2. A centre of attraction—“a great host, as the host of God,” gathers round David.
3. A picture of Christ’s reign. Rejected, yet gathering those in spiritual debt and distress unto himself. “Every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was bitter of soul, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them.”

1 Chronicles 11:41. Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 2:3). The mention of this name in list suggests

(1) a man of distinguished merit;
(2) an aggravation of David’s guilt towards him. He was a foreigner, a Hittite. But his name and manner of speech indicate that he adopted the Jewish religion.

Happy the people that has heroes who

(1) advance in God’s strength,
(2) courageously stake their life for God’s honour and the people’s welfare, and
(3) are counted worthy by God to work great deliverance for their people.

Hail to the throne that is encompassed by heroes who

(1) find their highest nobility in the real knighthood that roots itself in the true fear of God,
(2) with humble heroism defend altar and throne,
(3) seek their highest honour in being God’s instruments for the aims of his kingdom and for the revelation of his power and righteousness, and
(4) set the whole people an example of self-devoting love and fidelity and of unterrified courage [Lange].


1 Chronicles 11:4-8. During the wars of Nassau a council of officers debated whether to attack a certain town. A Dutch general had so much to say about the formidable guns mounted on the defences of the place that many grew discouraged and advised giving up the dangerous job. “My lords,” said Sir Horace Vere, a stout English baron, “if you fear the mouth of a cannon you must never come into the field.” Without the Christian’s courage it is useless to enter the Christian’s fight.

1 Chronicles 11:11. Lifted up. “Courage mounteth with occasion” [Shakespeare].

‘Do not for one repulse forego the purpose
That you resolve to effect.”

1 Chronicles 11:18. Brake through the host.

“He holds no parley with unmanly fears;
Where duty bids, he confidently steers;
Faces a thousand dangers at her call,
And, trusting in his God, surmounts them all” [Cowper].

1 Chronicles 11:19. God forbid. That which especially distinguishes a high order of man from a low order of man—that which constitutes human goodness, human nobleness—is surely not the degree of enlightenment with which men pursue their own advantage; but it is self-forgetfulness, it is self-sacrifice, it is the disregard of personal pleasure and personal indulgence, personal advantages remote or present [Froude].

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 11". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/1-chronicles-11.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
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