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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 18

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-17

CRITICAL NOTES.] This chapter, parallel with 2 Samuel 8:0, gives an account of David’s wars (1 Chronicles 18:1-13); and a list of his chief officers.

1 Chronicles 18:1-2.—Gath, “the arm bridle,” so called (2 Samuel 8:1) for its supremacy, as capital of Philistia, over other towns, or because in its capture and dependencies, David gained complete control of his restless neighbours. Moab. Severities by which they were treated, and probable reason for such retribution, given in Sam. Gifts, i.e., became tributary to Israel.

1 Chronicles 18:3-8.—Zobah conquered. Had., “derived from Hadad, a Syrian deity. It seems to have become the official and hereditary title of the rulers of that kingdom” [Jam.]. 1 Chronicles 18:4. Chariots. Great discrepancy between this and 2 Samuel 8:3-14. Houghed, i.e., cut the sinews, lamed the horses, and made chariots useless. 1 Chronicles 18:6. Garrisons, not in text, rightly restored from Sam. [Speak. Com.]. 1 Chronicles 18:7. Shields, indicative of wealth. 1 Chronicles 18:8. These places specially given on account of brass or copper obtained there.

1 Chronicles 18:9-11.—Congratulations from Tou (Toi in Sam.). 1 Chronicles 18:10. Had., Joram. Enquire, “to greet him and congratulate him.” Had war, lit. was a man of wars (cf. Isaiah 41:12). 1 Chronicles 18:11. Edom, from Aram; more fully in 2 Samuel 8:0.

1 Chronicles 18:12-13.—Edomites, having provoked David, he sent an army, subdued and made their country a tributary province. Valley of Salt south of Salt Sea. This annexation of Edom enlarged Israel on south-east to Red Sea, fulfilled divine prediction (Exodus 23:31), and gave command of its ports.

1 Chronicles 18:14-17.—Officers of the King. Joab, supreme command, minister of war. Jehos., not keeper of records merely; but referee on internal affairs, the chancellor, who drew up and issued royal decrees. Zadok, became high-priest after David’s accession, through his father Ahitub, a descendant of Aaron’s son Eleazar. Abim., Ahimelech, through Abiathar from Ithamar, younger son of Aaron (1 Chronicles 24:3-6). Shavsha, a variant from “Shisha” (1 Kings 4:3); the “Sheva” of 2 Samuel 22:25, and the “Seraiah” of 2 Samuel 8:17, are probably corrupt readings [Speak. Com.]. Scribe, State Secretary. 1 Chronicles 18:17. Ben., a mighty warrior of Kabzeel (2 Samuel 23:20-23). Cher. and the Pel., the royal body-guard attached to the king’s court and person. Chief, heads or princes, officers in the palace.


DAVID’S WARS.—1 Chronicles 18:1-8

A short time elapsed between events of last chapter and events of this, but David ready for active service. Wonderful promises stirred up to brave deeds.

I. The Philistines are subdued (1 Chronicles 18:1). Ancient inveterate enemies, finally smitten, bereft of their capital and their towns. “David smote the Philistines and subdued (humbled) them” (2 Samuel 8:1). All must fall before the authority of Christ.

II. The Moabites are smitten. Why Moab was at enmity with David not known, formerly on friendly terms (1 Samuel 22:3-4). The severe punishment inflicted upon them implies some grave offence. They became servants and paid tribute for a long time. Balaam’s prediction now fulfilled (Numbers 24:17).

III. Hadarezer, king of Zobah, defeated. A powerful king, reigned over a country central and convenient for help.

1. Defeated when trying to enlarge his kingdom. “He went to stablish his dominion” shaken by Saul and to confirm after regaining it. One thing lost by grasping at another. Worldly possessions uncertain. Wealth, power, and empire often taken when possessors seek to stablish them.

2. Defeated when allied with Syrians. Allies in vain when God is opposed. Hand may join hand, enemies of God’s people may contribute their men and their stores, but they often combine to ruin themselves. Their wealth aid up for the just, and the spoils of nations help to adorn the house and kingdom of God.

IV. The Edomites are conquered (1 Chronicles 18:13). David’s splendour increased by another victory. Edomites fancied that David’s wars in north would give them quiet possession of the southern part of Israelitish territory. But returning from the conquest of Aramœans and Ammonites he engaged Edomites in Valley of Salt, slew eighteen thousand, and garrisoned the country. Thus, from north to south, Israel’s enemies were overcome. David’s wars were wars of God. He overcame, as we must overcome, by God’s presence and help. “He causeth us to triumph.”


Toi heard of the decisive victory over Hadarezer, sent an embassy to greet David and congratulate him on success. Look at this—

I. As an Eastern custom. “Who in the East has not witnessed similar things? Has a man gained a case in a court of law; has he been blessed by the birth of a son; has he given his daughter in marriage; has he gained a situation under government; has he returned from a voyage or a journey, or finished a successful speculation; then his friends and neighbours send messengers to congratulate him—to express the joy they feel in his prosperity; so much so that had it come to themselves their pleasure could not have been greater” [Roberts].

II. As a stroke of policy. Had carried on constant war with Toi. Hence joy at deliverance from an enemy and anxiety to be friendly with the conqueror. It is our interest to be on terms with God and his people. “Kiss the son (be subject to him and reverance him), lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way when his wrath is kindled but a little” (Psalms 2:12).

III. As an expression of friendship. Toi sent his son to seek friendly alliance. The rich presents an expression of respect and submission. Friendship with God procured by dedication of heart and life to him.

CONSECRATED SPOILS.—1 Chronicles 18:11

Need not approve of all David’s actions in war, but may commend his spirit and example in the disposal of his booty.

I. As an evidence of loyalty to God. Many princes adorned their palaces, beautified the arms of their soldiers, or preserved the spoils of the enemy for their own aggrandisement. David set them apart from profane to sacred use, put them into the treasury of the sanctuary. An instance of gratitude to God, by whose aid he had gained them, seldom imitated by victorious kings. Men not always faithful in prosperity. If we are successful in studies, business, and pursuits, let us devote our spoils, our knowledge, wealth, and influence to him from whom comes every gift.

II. As a help to the furtherance of God’s cause. David gained subjects, territories, and political alliance; received gifts of horses and chariots, gold and brass, but all consecrated to lawful use. Presents of friends and spoils of enemies devoted to the Lord, and helped to rear and adorn the temple. Many refuse gifts from worldly men for religious purposes, disparage liberality on the ground that God cares not for material wealth. But God connects the wealth with the work of men. Christ regards whatever is done to his people as done to himself, and heathens will turn and bring presents to him (Isaiah 60:6).


Besides military exploits and activity, a description of internal government with its officials and their duties.

I. David’s government was righteous government. One or two qualities chronicled. “He executed judgment and justice among all the people.” Right and purity not always connected with authority. Society is maintained and its advantages consolidated by justice. Just rulers make contented and united people. Justice in the court, on the bench, and in the ranks exalts a nation, and gives it a sacred mission to the world.

II. David’s officers were eminent men. The most eminent of the age composed his cabinet. The commander-in-chief, clever, courageous, and renowned for military achievements. Faithful to the king, not always to principle. The chancellor correctly published royal decrees and registered events in the State archives. The body-guard round the king and priests before the altar, each in his place and work, gave influence to the reign, and felt honoured in the service. Thus David’s rule not only associated with military prowess, but poetic genius and personal piety. Remarkable for men of rank and administrative ability, and did more for Israel than Charlemagne did for Europe or Alfred for England.


1 Chronicles 18:1 to 1 Chronicles 3:1. How trying the life of David! Its wars, toils, hardships, and perils great and numerous.

2. Yet how happy the life of David! God preserved him, gave honour and success. He rendered true service; never separated any part from God to keep for self. This severs from divine care. If we take our lives wilfully into our hands, and devote them to our own selfish pursuits, God withdraws special grace, we fall into the enemy’s hands, and fail to accomplish the work we might have done.

1 Chronicles 18:13. The Lord preserved David.

1. From spiritual pride. In exaltation, power and success in battle.
2. From personal injury in war. Often in danger, but an unseen hand sustained him.
3. From disgraceful defeat. Many commanders lost their lives, and kings their crowns.
4. From unjust government. He began with no fatal blunder, levied no unjust taxes, introduced no unwise policy, nor created any disloyalty. He reigned in the affections of the people, gave the glory to God, and was preserved in honour and prosperity.

1 Chronicles 18:9-13. Lessons from David’s years of warfare.

1. A pious man may have many enemies.
2. A pious man may be required to spend much of his life in war.
3. A pious man may be compelled to inflict severe punishments.
4. A pious man, even though not always prospered or preserved, is always guided and blessed.
5. A pious man will rejoice to consecrate the richest results of his struggles and toils to God [Lange. 2 Samuel 8:0].


1 Chronicles 18:4. Houghed. The reason of this mutilation was that, horses being forbidden by the Mosaic constitution to the Hebrews, both in war and in agriculture, it was of no use to keep them; and their neighbours placing much dependence on cavalry, but having, for want of a native breed, to procure them by purchase, the greatest damage that could be done to such enemies was to render their horses unserviceable in war (cf. Genesis 49:6; Joshua 11:6-9) [Jamieson].

1 Chronicles 18:11. Dedicate. Eastern princes have always been accustomed to hoard up vast quantities of gold [see Layard, “Nineveh and its Remains,” II., p. 344]. This is the first instance of a practice uniformly followed by David, of reserving, after defraying expenses and bestowing suitable rewards upon his soldiers, the remainder of the spoil taken in war, to accumulate for the grand project of his life—the erection of a national temple at Jerusalem [Ibid.].

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 18". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/1-chronicles-18.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
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