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CRITICAL NOTES.] This chapter runs parallel with 2 Samuel 5:11-25, and presents a general verbal identity, which is insufficiently represented by the Authorised Version. The only important variations from 2 Samuel 5:0 are in 1 Chronicles 14:4-7; 1 Chronicles 14:12, in the former of which passages the sons of David are given somewhat differently, while in the latter the fact is added that the idols taken from the Philistines were burned [Speak. Com.].
1 Chronicles 14:1-2.—David’s house. H. elsewhere Huram (2 Chronicles 2:3; 2 Chronicles 8:18; 2 Chronicles 9:10; cf. 2 Samuel 5:11). A Phœnician, a Canaanite, speaking the language of David, and sovereign of a city trading in cedars and abounding with craftsmen in stone and wood [cf. Murphy]. 1 Chronicles 14:2. Confirmed in contrast to his former state and the fate of Saul’s kingdom.
1 Chronicles 14:3-7.—David’s family (cf. 2 Samuel 3:5). Concubines in ch. 1 Chronicles 3:9; a list of children 1 Chronicles 14:5-8; those born in Jerusalem, 2 Samuel 5:14-16. But names of Eliphalet and Nogah not found, and Beeliada appears the same as Eliada.
1 Chronicles 14:8-17.—David’s victories. Seek to ruin him before consolidated in kingdom. 1 Chronicles 14:9. Rephaim (1 Chronicles 11:15) south east of Jerusalem, near capital of David. 1 Chronicles 14:10. Enquired for high priest to give tone to his reign. 1 Chronicles 14:11. Smote in the engagement at Mount Perazim (Isaiah 38:21), in valley of Rephaim. This first victory. 1 Chronicles 14:12. God’s images carried into battlefields (1 Samuel 4:4-11; 2 Samuel 5:21).
1 Chronicles 14:13-17.—Second victory. Again in next season campaign renewed. 1 Chronicles 14:14. Not up to meet them directly; come upon them by stratagem in the rear. 1 Chronicles 14:15. Sound, the rustling of leaves by strong breeze, the appointed sign and moment for attack. 1 Chronicles 14:16. Gibeon, now Yefa, in Judah. 1 Chronicles 14:17. Fane in all the surrounding nations. This verse an appropriate conclusion, not found in Samuel.
THE BUILDING OF THE ROYAL HOUSE.—1 Chronicles 14:1-2
David had conquered Jebusites; made Zion capital; had now wisely made a treaty with a neighbouring prince. Magnanimous and godfearing. In Hiram’s conduct notice—
I. An instance of true friendship. History gives noble examples of love and friendship.
1. This was genuine. Real and excellent. David need of artisans. War and disorder had depopulated. “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”
“Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates and men decay.”
2. This was lasting. Friends often change with change of principles and circumstances; vary with temperature and desert in meanness. Hiram did to the son what he had done to the father (2 Chronicles 2:3); “for Hiram was ever a lover of David” (1 Kings 5:1).
II. An illustration of human agency in the service of God. None independent. All require friends and help. Rich to give to poor; wise to teach the ignorant, and kings to rule subjects. All may communicate, interchange stores of thought, knowledge, and substance.
1. Agency in men. Tyrian workmen renowned and skilful; helped David to build a city, so splendid in cedar structures that Jeremiah exclaimed, “Thou dwellest on Lebanon and makest thy nest in the cedars” (Jeremiah 22:23).
2. Agency in materials. Israel agricultural, furnished corn and oil; Tyre commercial, gave its manufactures and foreign produce. Thus mutually helpful. All the treasures of art and materials of nature subserve man’s highest interests and God’s work.
III. A proof of God’s providence. David more than “fortunate in having a friend in Hiram at this time.”
1. Providence in Hiram’s conduct. God disposed him to render help. The God of infinite wisdom has a purpose in the rise and fall of empires, in all events of life, obscure or illustrious. As a gardener directs rills of water through different parts of his ground, so “the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will” (Proverbs 21:1).
2. Providence in David’s accession to the throne. “David perceived that the Lord had established him king over Israel.” By internal unity, external peace, and friendly connection with Hiram.
3. Providence in the honour and extension of David’s kingdom. “And that his kingdom was exalted on high.” Respected at home and abroad among nations; elevated as the people of God above others in knowledge, privilege, and destiny. In building characters, churches, and societies rely upon God, not too much upon human friendship and human instrumentality, wealth, eloquent preachers and active evangelists. Recognition, consciousness of God, gives strength and success. “David perceived,” &c.
HIRAM AND DAVID
The treaty between these two kings illustrates—
I. The providence of God in the exaltation of a good man. “Confirmed him king.” Scholars, ministers, statesmen, fitted and exalted from obscurity to honour. Joseph from prison to prime minister; Garfield from log cabin to White House; Livingstone from Blantyre to Westminster Abbey. “The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.”
II. The influence of a good man upon others when thus exalted. David’s influence far and near. Men pay homage to moral worth and holy life. This power every Christian may possess and wield. The secret is, “The Lord was with him.”
III. The design for which God exalts a good man. “For his people Israel’s sake” (2 Samuel 5:12). Not for themselves, but for others are men enriched and honoured. Great interests often sacrificed for selfish ends. Kings, popes, and emperors forget that others are as dear to God as they. Elevation should never separate. Kings created for the people, not the people for kings.
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
1 Chronicles 14:1; 1 Chronicles 2:1. David’s house built. Fit for his court and homage. Workmen of a wealthy prince helped to rear it. “The sons of strangers shall build up” the walls of the spiritual house, “and their kings shall minister unto thee” (Isaiah 60:10).
2. David’s kingdom established. Saul not established. Nothing to shake or disturb possession. Exalted before friend and foe. “Higher than the kings of the earth.”
3. God’s hand recognised in this. Many blessed and honoured do not perceive this, will not acknowledge God, talk about their “fortune,” “star,” and “chance.” “David perceived,” &c. “By this I know that thou favourest me” (Psalms 41:1).
1 Chronicles 14:2. Lifted up. Man throws down. God lifts up persons, societies, and nations; lifts up above distress, opposition, and danger. “A good man in great prosperity.
1. He ascribes it all to the Lord.
2. He regards it as given him for the benefit of his fellow-men” [Lange].
THE EXTENSION OF THE ROYAL FAMILY.—1 Chronicles 14:3-7
When the palace was built and the kingdom established, David’s family multiplied and increased. Of his sons, see 1 Chronicles 3:1-9; and his concubines, 2 Samuel 15:16; 2 Samuel 16:22; 2 Samuel 19:5. This—
I. In worldly policy. Always thought to be politic to have many children; marry them into powerful families, and thus strengthen interest and gain support. The custom of Oriental monarchs to gather a numerous harem. This an essential part of court-state, and a symbol of royal power. But David overstepped the mark and went astray. “Men who have once broken the fence will wander carelessly.”
II. In disobedience to God’s command. Multiplication of wives expressly forbidden to the kings of Israel. “Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away” (Deuteronomy 17:17). Worldly policy often contradictory to God’s design. Expediency never safe. Divine wisdom the only preservative and redemptive force in life. “When wisdom entereth into thine heart and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul, discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee.”
That which before us lies in daily life
Is the prime wisdom” [Milton].
FAMOUS BATTLES.—1 Chronicles 14:8-17
Philistines afraid of David’s growing power—that he would wipe away the national dishonour of Gilboa, and that his knowledge of the country would give superior advantage in war—resolve to attack, surprise, and ruin him. Went up to seek, with intention to crush him before consolidated in his kingdom (cf. 1 Samuel 23:15; 1 Samuel 24:2), but were overcome in two famous battles.
I. The counsel by which they were undertaken. “David enquired of God” (1 Chronicles 14:10); “David enquired again of God” (1 Chronicles 14:13). In all affairs look to God for direction. Have his will and word for your guide. Means always at hand to discover his will. Submit thoughts, plans, and ways to God’s approval—to check if wrong, to perfect if right. If depressed by their weight, “commit” (literally, roll as a burden which you cannot bear) “thy way unto the Lord” (Psalms 27:5). “Roll thy works” (thy undertakings) “upon the Lord” (Proverbs 16:3).
II. The help by which they were fought. This from above.
1. In divine direction. “The Lord said unto him, go up.” Never stir without this.
2. In hearty co-operation. David did not entrench himself in Zion, nor act merely on the defensive, but made the attack and conquered. “To serve the gods was to reign,” said a heathen writer.
III. The victories which they gained. Brilliant and complete.
1. The enemy overcome. “David smote them”—like rising waters, overflowing their banks and sweeping everything before them.
2. Their false confidence destroyed. Philistines carried their gods into battle, with the belief, common in ancient nations, that they would grant success. Their owners left them helpless on the field; the victors carried them as trophies to the capital, and consumed them in the flames. “They were burned with fire.”
3. David became, famous. “The fame of David went out unto all lands” (1 Chronicles 14:17). As a great warrior, a powerful monarch, and a good man.
4. God was honoured. Acknowledged as the source of victory—“God hath broken in” (1 Chronicles 14:11)—praised for his gift and presence, and feared above all the gods of the earth. Give to him the glory due to his name.
SIGNALS FOR DUTY.—1 Chronicles 14:15-16
In the responses to David’s inquiries we not simply have commands in words, and symbols in sound, but signals for duty or action.
I. God’s answer to man’s prayer. Given twice, in terms direct and explicit.
1. Prayer for knowledge of duty. “Shall I go?”
2. Prayer for assurance of success. “Wilt thou deliver them into my hand?” David often defeated. For his own encouragement and that of his army, he desires grounds of confidence. True prayer will give knowledge, hope, and strength.
II. God’s help in man’s circumstances. These often strange and apparently against us; render powerless and insufficient. God’s help adequate to feeble men and scanty resources. In his service never left without indications of his presence. “God is gone forth before thee.”
III. God’s signal for man’s action. We need not only to know and strength to obey God’s will, but the call to duty—the signal to “go” at the exact time. A detachment on one occasion waited for orders, longed to join their comrades in battle, instead of standing in silence, exposed to danger. At length Wellington gave the command, and the attack was successful. “They serve who stand and wait.” A time to “stand still” and to “go forward,” but God must give the signal. Wait for his salvation. “The vision shall come and not tarry.”
THE BATTLE OF BAAL-PERAZIM.—1 Chronicles 14:8-12
Here the Philistines marched from Rephaim, pitched their tent, and offered battle (2 Samuel 5:18-20).
I. The spirit in which it was fought. Most commendable and advantageous.
1. A spirit of reliance upon God. “Shall I go?” An attitude of conscious danger and helplessness.
2. A spirit of humility. David talks of his “hand,” not his sword. God is the giver, he only receives with the hand. None fit to be great but those who can stoop lowest. “Before honour is humility.”
3. A spirit of obedience. “They came up.” Wise to listen to and obey law—to be convinced of its divine authority and justice. Men ever ready to order, to modify and repeal, in danger and doubt. But “the wise in heart will receive commandments.”
4. A spirit of courage. Victory promised by God, hence bravery and enthusiasm. “A good cause makes a stout heart.”
“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].
II. The scenes by which it was characterised. Battlefields never pleasant to inspect. Great soldiers have often wept on them.
1. Shameful defeat. “David smote them,” and like an impetuous flood carried all before him. The defeat terrible, and perpetuated in name of place. “Baal-perazim water-breach” (cf. Isaiah 28:21).
2. National disgrace. The gods were forsaken, lost, and destroyed. The disgrace of the Philistine’s capture of the ark was wiped away, and the idolatrous people dishonoured. God makes men weary of things they love, and compels them to desert what they worship. “In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats” (Isaiah 2:20).
THE BATTLE OF GIBEON.—1 Chronicles 14:14-17
Again the enemy renewed hostile attempt with greater force. God interposes in a peculiar way, caused a sound to be heard, and David suddenly attacked from behind the mulberry-trees. Notice—
I. A special change in tactics. Much depends upon methods in war. David not permitted to act as in first battle, though successful. This would have been natural. But God alone must be followed; not rules of earthly warfare, not past experience, nor past success must guide. God does “a new thing.” “Thou shalt not go up; fetch a compass behind them.”
II. A special sign by which these tactics are carried out. “When thou shalt hear a sound of going, &c.”
1. A supernatural sign. “Sound of going”—viz., of God. Soldiers must look to the commander for orders. This, many think, was a noise made by angels, who came to help (cf. 2 Kings 7:6).
2. A disciplinary sign. Requiring an upward look, an open eye to see, an attentive ear to hear. Duty of soldiers to wait and watch in readiness and order.
3. A typical sign. In the setting up of Christ’s kingdom, disciples waited to be equipped for work. The Spirit “came with a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind.” When they heard and felt that, they bestirred themselves, and went forth to conquer.
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
1 Chronicles 14:8.
1. A vigilant foe. “Philistines heard.”
2. An army on guard. “David heard.”
3. An army prepared to meet the foe. “Went out against them.” A Christian’s duty like that of a soldier. He does not attempt to meet temptation, to fight the enemy in his own strength. His watchfulness lies in observing its approach, telling God of it in prayer, and being prepared in God’s strength.
1 Chronicles 14:10.
1. The thing to ascertain. Is it God’s will?
2. The power required to perform it when known. Many wish for God’s favour and help without doing God’s will. The order can never be reversed; first God’s will, then God’s help. No answer and no power, if not in right attitude and relation to him.
1 Chronicles 14:11. God hath broken asunder or through mine enemies as a breach of waters, i.e., as a violent torrent makes a rift or breach. Philistines scattered suddenly, unexpectedly and violently. God’s terrors awful. “Thy fierce anger goeth over me (as waves of the sea); thy terrors have cut me off. They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together” (Psalms 88:16-17).
1 Chronicles 14:9 to 1 Chronicles 11:1. An instance of self-conquest. David conquered self, and then consulted God.
2. A lesson of dependence upon God. Pray, look up, and expect.
3. An instance of success through obedience.
“God fights the battles of a will resigned.”
1 Chronicles 14:15. Sound of going applies figuratively to us also in our spiritual conflict with the children of unbelief in the world. There, too, it comes to nothing that one should make war with his own prowess and merely in the human equipment of reason and science. Success can only be reckoned on when the conflict is waged amid the blowing of the Holy Spirit’s breath and with the immediate presence of the Lord and of the truth of his word [Krummacher]. God before thee.
1. In the pledge of success.
2. By confounding the enemy. Sound something amazing, like the noise of a mighty host. Hence panic and flight.
1 Chronicles 14:15. Before thee.
1. A word of consolation in sore distress.
2. A word of encouragement amid inward conflict.
3. A word of exhortation to unconditional obedience of faith.
4. A word of assurance of the victory which the Lord gives [Lange]. The rustling of the Lord’s approaching help in the tops of the trees.
1. Dost thou wait for it at his bidding?
2. Dost thou hear it with the right heed?
3. Dost thou understand it in the right sense?
4. Dost thou follow it without delay? [Idem]. Victory comes from the Lord.
1. When it is beforehand humbly asked for according to the Lord’s will and word.
2. When the battle is undertaken in the Lord’s name and for His cause.
3. When it is fought with obedient observation of the Lord’s directions and guidance [Idem].
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 14
1 Chronicles 14:1-2. Hiram and David.
“A generous friendship no cold medium knows,
Burns with one love, with one resentment glows” [Pope’s Homer].
It was reckoned a crime among the Romans to be without a friend. “Friends,” says one, “are to be inventoried as well as goods.”
1 Chronicles 14:8. David heard of it. “Set double guard on that point to-night,” was an officer’s command when an attack was expected.
1 Chronicles 14:10. Shall I go up? The English Ambassador to the Court of Prussia sat at a table of Frederick the Great, then meditating a war whose sinews were to be mainly formed of English subsidies. Round the table sat infidel French wits, and they and the king made merry over decadent superstitions, the follies of the ancient faith. Suddenly the talk changed to war. Said the Ambassador, “England would, by the help of God, stand by Prussia.” “Ah!” said the infidel Frederick, “I did not know you had an ally of that name,” and the infidel wits smirked applause. “So, please your Majesty,” was the swift retort, “He is the only ally to whom we do not send subsidies” [Baxendale].
1 Chronicles 14:14-16. Luther’s strength lay in the way in which he laid the burden of the Reformation upon the Lord. Continually in prayer he pleaded, “Lord, this is thy cause, not mine. Therefore, do thine own work; for if this gospel do not prosper, it will not be Luther alone who will be a loser, but thine own name will be dishonoured” [Spurgeon].
1 Chronicles 14:17. Fame of David. “Begin with modesty, if you would end with honour.”
“Some men are raised to station and command,
When Providence means mercy to a land.
He speaks, and they appear; to him they owe
Skill to direct, and strength to strike the blow,
To manage with address, to seize with power
The crisis of a decisive hour” [Cowper].
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 14". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany