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This chapter is retrospective, and the contents of it are not found elsewhere. It is occupied, first (1 Chronicles 12:1-22), 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 (1 Chronicles 12:23-40), with an enumeration of those representatives from the tribes who came (1 Chronicles 11:1, 1 Chronicles 11:3) 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: viz. 1 Chronicles 12:1-7; 8-18; 19-22; 1 Chronicles 23:1-32 -40.
1 Chronicles 12:1
To Ziklag. The occasion referred to is evidently that recorded in 1 Samuel 27:1, 1Sa 27:2, 1 Samuel 27:6, 1 Samuel 27:7; 1Sa 30:1, 1 Samuel 30:26; 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 rest-deuce (1 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 (1 Samuel 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, 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.
1 Chronicles 12:2
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 (1 Chronicles 12:29). 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 (1 Chronicles 11:12, 1Ch 11:29, 1 Chronicles 11:31, respectively). The Benjamites were noted both for their use of the bow, and of their own left hand (Judges 3:15, Judges 3:21; Judges 20:15, Judges 20:16; 1Ch 8:39, 1 Chronicles 8:40; 2 Chronicles 14:8).
1 Chronicles 12:3
The sons of Shemaah the Gibeathite. The Peshito-Syriac has בְּנוֹ instead of בֵּנֵי. 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 1 Chronicles 8:13, 1 Chronicles 8:36, as belonging to the Benjamite tribe. The name Jeziel is omitted in the Syriac Version, and the two names Pelet and Berachah appear as sons of Azmaveth (1 Chronicles 11:33; 2 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 18:1-28.; but it was a "priests' city" with "suburbs," belonging to Benjamin (1 Chronicles 11:28; Jos 21:18; 1 Kings 2:26; Jeremiah 1:1; Jeremiah 29:27).
1 Chronicles 12:4
Among the thirty, and over the thirty. Yet 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.
1 Chronicles 12:5
Jerimoth. This name is found also among Benjamites (1 Chronicles 7:8). Bealiah. This name comprises both the word Baal, and Jah! Haruphite. The Masoretic word is חחֲרִיפי (Nehemiah 7:34). The sons of Hariph (Nehemiah 7:24) may have belonged to the tribe of Benjamin.
1 Chronicles 12:6
Jashobeam. Possibly the same with him of 1 Chronicles 11:11; 1 Chronicles 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 (1 Chronicles 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.
1 Chronicles 12:7
Of Gedor. The place apparently here spoken of (yet see 1 Chronicles 8:31; 1 Chronicles 9:37) is unknown, and it is to be observed that in the Hebrew the article precedes the word (הַגְּדוֹר). If it be the Gedor in Judah (1 Chronicles 4:4), it is to be noted still that Jeroham is a name of a Benjamite (1 Chronicles 8:27).
1 Chronicles 12:8
As 1 Chronicles 12:1 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 (1 Chronicles 12:16 of last chapter), although the word here employed (לַמְצַד) for "hold" is a different form of the word (מְצוּדָה) found both there and in the parallel (2 Samuel 23:14). There is, however, nothing to negative the choice of other spots and occasions (1 Samuel 22:5; 1Sa 23:14, 1 Samuel 23:19, 1 Samuel 23:24, 1 Samuel 23:29, Authorized Version; 1 Samuel 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 (1 Chronicles 5:19-22; 2 Samuel 1:23; 2 Samuel 2:18).
1 Chronicles 12:9-13
The eleven names of these verses are all known elsewhere, but none of them as designating the same persons.
1 Chronicles 12:14
One of the least was over an hundred. 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."
1 Chronicles 12:15
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; Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44).
1 Chronicles 12:16
In addition to the Gadites, some others of Benjamin and Judah join David.
1 Chronicles 12:17
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 (1 Samuel 22:2).
1 Chronicles 12:18
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 (1 Chronicles 2:17), the son of Abigail (David's sister), wife of Jether (2 Samuel 17:25; 2Sa 18:6; 2 Samuel 19:13; 2 Samuel 20:10). Ewald discusses this point ('Genesis Int.,' 2:544). He was made captain of the host by Absalom, afterwards by David, and Joab put an end to his life. 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 (Genesis 2:7; Job 27:3), his intellectual work of various kinds (Genesis 41:38; Exodus 28:3; Numbers 24:2; Judges 9:29), we are led on to his highest spiritual functions.
1 Chronicles 12:19
And there fell… of Manasseh to David. Of this use of נָפַל עלא there are many other examples (2 Chronicles 15:9; Jeremiah 37:14; Jeremiah 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 hero spoken of is described in full in 1 Samuel 29:2-11.
1 Chronicles 12:20
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 (1 Samuel 30:1-6, 1 Samuel 30:11-25). Seven is the number also of Eastern Manasseh mentioned in 1 Chronicles 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 cap-talus of the thousands of Manasseh.
1 Chronicles 12:21
The band. The band referred to is evidently that of Amalek in 1 Samuel 30:8, 1 Samuel 30:9. Were captains; better, became captains.
1 Chronicles 12:22
The host of God. A forcible comment on the metaphorical use of this phrase is found in 1 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.
1 Chronicles 12:23
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, Judges 9:44, and Judges 5:30 for yet a third signification). There follow (1 Chronicles 12:24-37) 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." 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 1 Chronicles 10:14). The phrase is not a common one. According to the word of the Lord (so 1 Chronicles 11:3; 1 Samuel 16:1, 1 Samuel 16:12, 1 Samuel 16:13).
1 Chronicles 12:24, 1 Chronicles 12:25
David had already found friends and adherents in these two southern tribes of Judah and Simeon.
1 Chronicles 12:27
Jahoiada. He was probably the father of Benaiah (see 1Ch 11:22; 1 Chronicles 18:17; 1 Chronicles 27:5; 2 Samuel 8:18). The Aaronites. This is, of course, equivalent to saying "the priests," i.e. the priestly troops, of whom Jehoiada was leader.
1 Chronicles 12:28
Zadok. This is the first men. tion of Zadok. He was, no doubt, the chief priest, son of Ahitub, of 2 Samuel 8:17; 1Ki 1:8; 1 Chronicles 24:3; 1 Chronicles 29:22. He is leader of the Levites.
1 Chronicles 12:29
Had kept the ward; rather, had kept on the side of; the Hebrew, שֹׁמְרִים מִשְׁמֶרֶת; Vulgate, adhuc sequebatur. The proposed translation of זְעַדיחֵנָח 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.
1 Chronicles 12:31
West Manasseh is here treated of.
1 Chronicles 12:32
Had understanding of the times (2 Chronicles 2:12; Esther 1:13; Job 24:1). Compare Tacitus, "gnarus temporum" ('Agricola,' §6). 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, Genesis 49:15.
1 Chronicles 12:33
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.
1 Chronicles 12:34-36
Naphtali, Dan, and Asher all show to advantage, in number at all events.
1 Chronicles 12:37
The east of Jordan group muster a high number, and of well-equipped men.
1 Chronicles 12:39
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 (1 Chronicles 12:26-28). That grand total will not amount to the six hundred thousand of Exodus 12:37.
1 Chronicles 12:40
Moreover, they that were nigh them. The meaning is that not only the "brethren" of Judah and of the nearer neighbourhood of Hebron joined to entertain and to show hospitality to the immense throngs of visitors, but that others did so in ever-widening circles, even as far as the remoter Issachar, Zebulun, and Naphtali. 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.
1 Chronicles 12:17.-The suspicion that has power to propitiate favour.
There is very great distinction to be drawn between suspicion and suspiciousness. The latter describes the character, expresses a characteristic, and reveals a tendency or bias that can find no admirer, unless it be a man of taste the most vitiated and unlovely. The former may be easily enough the necessity of accident or circumstance, It may possibly mark out the person who on occasion manifests it as deserving and plaintively claiming sympathy and help. The fact of its being betrayed rather than stifled, and the manner in which it expresses itself when it does so, may set up additional pleas for kindly interpretation, nudge some way further than merely to extenuate it. Habitual suspiciousness, then, must be either the result of the badness of inborn quality—into the mysteries of which suggestion this is not the place to enter—or the outgrowth of a life and of circumstance in nothing more unhappily placed than in producing this as their natural fruit, While of She suspicion that may avail even to ingratiate a man with the best of his fellows, silently beseech kindness and fidelity and propitiate favour, we have a touching example in the history of the text. Notice the explaining, justifying, and redeeming features of this suspicion.
I. THE SUSPICION TO WHICH DAVID GIVES EXPRESSION AROSE IN THE MIDST OF CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH INVOLVED THE QUESTION OF LIFE OR DEATH. This question of life or death was that which actually caused the suspicion. He who felt it and spoke it was in supreme danger. The disposition of frankness, generosity, forgivingness, must be brought to think, calculate, be cautious under certain circumstances. If otherwise, that disposition is no longer entitled to its old honourable titles, but to titles of far less repute, not lovely, not of good report—such as recklessness, or at least heedlessness. The very perfection of the former will be tarnished if they are not answerable to certain kinds of consideration. Forgivingness in itself is ever one of the noblest dispositions, but it is not under all conceivable circumstances to be exercised and to become forgiveness. The highest teaching, that of the New Testament and of Jesus, runs counter to this, and the sternest and deepest facts of human condition in the presence of God, and placed under the light of Christ's atonement, disown it. For then forgiveness would both come of indifferent and insufficient estimate of the just and the right, and would be adapted to give fearful encouragement and incentive to the same. So in the same way, confidence is not to be reposed with an equal unhesitatingness in all cases, just because confidingness is an engaging quality and graces the character, while suspicion does the reverse. In the higher moral aspects and relations of our merely human life we constantly recognize this as a principle. And in the highest spiritual aspects and relations of our life its illustrations are inevitable and are arresting even to the point of admiration. There is a sense in which the supreme issues of life or death have been felt by the holiest men who have lived to warrant the expression, for the moment, of some doubt, until the tremblingness of the human heart and the feebleness of the human hand have really felt the force of the Divine presence and the comfort of the Shepherd's "crook and staff." Many of the supreme facts of our present life, if not all of them, bring us very near indeed to those of our spiritual "unseen" life. But even far within these limits human hearts ask large things of one another, and invoke an immensity of trust and repose an immensity of trust not unfrequently where it is little recognized, little honoured. One walks out with his life in his hand and a weight on his heart almost intolerable, to meet another whose mirth it may be to make mischief, and to hear his sentence and receive his destiny to all human intents from light lip and unthinking heart. This sobers human trust and checks the luxuriant growth of mutual confidence, and justifies David when he prefers to express, rather than seem to disdain, his already hard-bought experience of human compassions and" tender mercies," and finally, sometimes turns the action of suspicion toward men into the virtue of deeper trust toward God.
II. THE SUSPICION TO WHICH DAVID GIVES EXPRESSION WAS NOT ONE THAT GREW OUT OF A HEART THAT KNEW IT BECAUSE ITSELF DID THE DEEDS OF IT AND SCENTED ITS OWN REWARD, BUT FROM ONE CONSCIOUS OF INTEGRITY. David directly appeals to Heaven in attestation of his not having earned any faithless treatment at the hands of Saul, and of any such as might possibly be emissaries of Saul. It is a great thing to be able to make such an appeal honestly and with the firmness that comes of the inner answer of a good conscience. It would have been very different, it was very different, with Jacob. When, after an absence of twenty-one years from his father's house, he must now return and meet Esau, he met him with ill-suppressed suspicion and very natural distrust, and the worst misery of which was that they were self-inflicted and richly merited. A similar proneness to suspicion, a similar distrust of every unwonted whisper of the winds of providence, or unwonted sign of a fellow-creature's countenance or tone of his voice, evidently dogged the steps and days and very hours of those of Joseph's brethren who had been "verily guilty concerning" him. For all such suspicion there is no redeeming word to be spoken, except that it is of that retribution which, partial though its manifestations be at present, helps to establish thoughtful men's faith in the great throne of righteousness, justice, and judgment. But far otherwise is it now with David's suspicion. "If," says he, "ye be come to betray me to mine enemies"—there was the fear and the mistrust and the suspicion—"seeing there is no wrong in mine hands"—there is the fearless assertion of innocence—"the God of our fathers look thereon, and rebuke it." So does this sort of suspicion issue, in appealing to the omniscience of God, in leaving the matter of avenging and rebuking to God, and in committing his own cause and himself to the care and love of him that judgeth righteously.
III. THE SUSPICION TO WHICH DAVID GIVES EXPRESSION WAS ONE BORN OF A HEART THAT NEVERTHELESS YEARNED TO TRUST, TO REPOSE CONFIDENCE, TO LOVE WITH THOROUGH UNION. David any way incurs the risk of going forth to meet these volunteers. It would have been madness to do so had Saul himself been in the company. When Saul was most in David's hand and within his power, it is noticeable that, with all his generous and God-taught sparing of him, David does not neglect the manifestly necessary precaution as to himself and his own safety. The oft-aimed javelin, though it had missed its literal aim, had not missed mark altogether. It had fixed what might sometimes, what under other circumstances often has been worse than any javelin in the breast or heart, viz. a lifelong cause for caution and distrust. But let there be any justifiable doubt, any reasonable ground for hope in fair play and sincerity, and it is not David's heart that will be slow to respond to it, hazard its genuineness, and welcome its approach. What an honest speech his is! Nothing disguised, he acknowledges he needed "help." "To help me" is his humble confession, untinged by haughtiness. And nothing affected, warrior though he was, good with every weapon, the sling and stone upward, yet his heart's deepest desire is peace: "If ye be come peaceably." And nothing ungenuine; his own individuality is not sheltered under the cloak or behind the bulk of a big-sounding "cause" or "principle," or other professed issue at stake. No; he says, "If ye be come unto me." But what then? what of all this? Why, "Mine heart shall be knit unto you," my heart shall be one with you. There is no offer to make any other bargain. There is no condition of any sufficient credentials, and such as will bear searching and microscopic examination. He takes an honest face, an honest tone, an open offer, a loving heart, one that is prepared to trust and longs to trust—suspicion its strange and unwelcome work. And this constitutes for him the inner gift and discernment, to recognize their counterparts in others. And his gladdened ear hears the cheers of his own catchword, "peace," twice re-echoed for himself, and again "one cheer" for his "helpers." While God's Name and praise and faithful promise close the matter of the dialogue: "Thy God helpeth thee," Happy if every beginning of suspicion ended with such confidence!
1 Chronicles 12:18.-The Spirit that taught to speak and taught to hear aright.
The words of Amasai, the uttering of which is especially ascribed to the impulse of the Spirit, must be worthy of some particular notice. They may be depended upon for containing and being ready to convey some instructive lessons or illustrations of important principle. The caution or suspicion of David at a moment of such uncertainty for him has been accounted for and justified. Amasai's answer that moment to the doubting language and bearing of David should properly decide all either one way or the other, if he is to be depended on to speak truth and without dissembling. But how did David know this? Could he unerringly read the signs and trust his own power to discern? There are moments when honesty and truth may be said to be unable to do anything else than recognize honesty and truth; they know their own face as a man knows his own face in a mirror. Tone also tells the truth, that mere words may not be depended upon to tell, and certainly tone and look and manner all added are very reliable witnesses one way or the other, witnesses of sincerity or insincerity. Any way, it is scarcely open to us in any fairness to suppose that David would, by carelessness or by self-confidence, lose the second moment the very advantages which his caution and venial suspicion show that he was in quest of the former moment. So we may suppose at all events that the same Spirit who taught Amasai to speak aright taught David to hear aright. At the same time, that Spirit himself seldom moves without signs accompanying and following. Some evidences of this may be observable as we proceed. Notice —
I. SOME EVIDENCES OF SINCERITY STAMPED ON THE ANSWER OF AMASAI.
1. Its promptness. There was no hesitation, no casting about for words, no lingering to contrive safe words A falsehood is often boldly spoken, and the tongue of insincerity is practised in glibness and smoothness. But this will generally be in paths already well known, and not as now, when perhaps the last thing to have been expected from the lip of David was the boldness that was required for the outspeaking of suspicion.
2. Its unqualified frankness. No limping sentence, no lame engagement, no offer nor attempt at contract or bargain, but uncompromising self-surrender: "Thine are we, David, and on thy side, thou son of Jesse." Such is the style of these men and of zealous fidelity of service.
3. The absence of the slightest appearance of feeling offended. There might have seemed room in such a case, some plausible room, for betraying a sense of affrontedness. Honest men come up to offer their allegiance, love, and very life, and they are met with question sceptical of their honesty. This was a growingly good sign of their sincerity, for the affronted man often enough knows, as often as any bystander, that there is no affront; that that which may sound like affront or look like it is the necessity of wisdom and of the position, and he betrays himself in seeing the affront—betrays that he wishes to take it.
4. The discrimination shown in the selection of one word used in this reply. "Peace" is the key-word of their reply. David had said—had happened to say—no, had designed to say, "If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me." Everything lay really in that word "peaceably." And the men questioned, perceived, and felt it, and Amasai, led by the Spirit, answers both to the spirit and to the letter of the somewhat plaintive melancholy "if" of David. "Peace" is the burden of his response.
5. The heart and earnestness thrown into the reply, "Peace, peace be unto thee, and peace be to thine helpers." David's was a question of peace for himself, and of help for himself. But such is the confidence in their cause and in themselves as honest men, that those who come to him engage and assure "Peace, peace" for him and for those who should help him. This looks like men thoroughly conversant with their subject and thoroughly confident in it. They seem to want to say that there is no stint of peace; their persuasion of it is such that they are sure it is "enough" for him and "enough for all."
6. The piety and right sound practical theology thrown into it. The answer does not "heal slightly." It does not promise "peace" from a barren source. It does not rest its own confidence on man. "For thy God helpeth thee" is the assigned ground of Amasai's confidence, that peace dawning splendidly and surely now for David and for his cause. These men themselves had done right to wait till they were sure that the call was of God, and that God was with David, and that the cause of David was the cause of God. And as soon as they were convinced of this they came to David. And they came to help, nerve, and brace up his own faith, while they would say to him, "If God be with thee, who can be against thee?" "If God be with thee, what but peace can attend thy steps and those of all thy helpers?"
II. SOME EVIDENCE OF A GOOD TRUSTFUL HEART IN DAVID.
1. He also makes no delay. He receives them who had answered so well and so much to the point. He receives them "graciously." And became then and there a feeble, humble, but real type of him who "receives graciously' all who humbly and with the spirit of self-surrender and faithful service come to him.
2. He heartily trusts. As they had with heart replied to him, and with enthusiasm proffered to join him and his cause, he throws at once to the winds the last symptom of a suspicion, and reposes a hearty trust in the new-comers. "He made them captains of the band." There were trust and promotion at the same time. It is not one of the least interesting parts of the study of the manner of Jesus' miracles to observe how against those occasions on which for some good reason he saw fit to keep even an earnest supplicant waiting, there were others in which alike with signal promptness he blessed them, and with signal trust and condescension called them to his service. It now needed no condescension on the part of David, but it did need trust, and he finally acquits himself herein of any suspicion of possessing a heart that loves suspicion.
1 Chronicles 12:40.-The earnest of human joy.
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. Let us take note—.
I. OF SOME OF THE CAUSES OF THIS "JOY IN ISRAEL? The nearer causes are not doubtful. For:
1. The people were glad to have reached the termination of a period harassed by suspense. For some years now they had not lived under any certain satisfactory rule. If their armies had gone out best equipped and full of courage in their cause, they were still not confident that the cause was a safe one, a right one, one that would command the presence among them of the supreme Leader of their hosts, who taught their hands to war and their fingers to fight. And if they were awhile at peace at home, they had no guarantee that the time of peace was one of growth and sound healthy prosperity. The family, the business establishment, is ever in uncertainty, and there is an absence of satisfaction if the parent or the master is all uncertain in habit, in character, in principle.
2. They were glad to have a king who was introduced to them under far different and far better auspices than ever their former king had been. Some years had now elapsed since Saul took office, and though he was anointed by Divine command, yet the distinct announcement was made of a deep disapproval in one sense on the part of the only real King. Under dark omens their visible monarchy opened upon Israel. And the thoughtful and deeper-seeing of the wise and good, the "Israelites indeed" among them, will have early wakened to the process that was going on, and to that fulfilment of Divine forebodings that was transpiring in the overcast periods of Saul's defection. But now part of their punishment had already fallen, and for a time they had reason to think that fairer things were before them. They with reason thought that the king of their own enthusiastic choice this day was also "the man after God's own heart." They knew he was not an untried man. They knew rather how tried he had been and also bow he had been tried, and how he had borne and acquitted himself in the trial, so as to command the growing honour, esteem, and love of all the people. How tremendous the difference and the consequences of the difference between a good leader, parent, teacher, master, ruler, and a bad or indifferent one I No man is so obscure, so stripped of all surroundings, as to be absolutely bereft of influence and "to live to himself" alone, but they whose very life-place and life-business are to "lead" or "shepherd" in any way are in the very opposite extreme of such a supposition, and the consequences of just what they are, what they say, what they do, are incalculable in momentousness and in responsibility. And an unwilling people show now that they had become very fully alive to this fact.
3. All Israel were glad because all Israel were now again one and at one in the matter of their king and leader. One tabernacle and one court, one palace, one king, one administration of justice, now again they can call theirs. They do not feel the humiliation, the disgrace, the practical disadvantage of the contrary of these. One of the keenest reproaches which the enemies of Israel must have often flung in their face was their divided state under so much of Saul's nominal kingship and for a few years subsequently.
II. OF SOME OF THE DEEPER ELEMENTS FIXING THE CHARACTER OF THIS JOY. One of these did no doubt at this time play a considerable part, though the people were largely unconscious of it. For:
1. Even the mistaken aspiration and that which was counted to them as a sin, to have a visible king, did for all that mark an aspiration, and this also was counted to them and counted for good so far as ever they permitted it. The very language in which they originally worded their desire was remarkable, in this respect, though somewhat less so in that they quoted as some precedent the fashion of surrounding nations—no models for them. "Make us a king to judge us,… that we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles" (1 Samuel 8:5-20). The large multitude of people in different tribes sharply outlined, and in families surprisingly registered, were feeling for something the reverse of classification—the oneness of national life. And at present they found the spiritual effort by itself severe. They craved some embodiment of the ideas and feelings which were now strongly working within them. And their sin in desiring in aid hereof a visible judge, warrior, king, was in kind but like the sin of all those who do not rise to their opportunity and who do live below their time of day, their light, their revelation. God is ever, by providence and by word, pronouncing our human nature to be capable of doing better things than it does, and of rising to higher things than it consents to acknowledge by corresponding effort. However on the lower level this people may be beheld, and beheld with some sympathy, as they now yearned for a closer brotherhood, a more homogeneous development of national life, a semblance still of the perfect model, of which, however strangely, they "judged themselves unworthy." They took, or certainly seemed to themselves to take, a great step in advance in this respect when to-day they not only rejoiced around a king, one of their own choice and of God's distinctest choice as well, but when all of them were united thus to rejoice. There were no longer two kings, one nominal, the other real, nor a people divided into two at least, and an army in two camps, but when "all Israel" felt and showed and spoke the great joy with heartfelt, spontaneous unanimity.
2. Akin to this, less acknowledged but not less potent stimulus of a united nation's joy, may be ranged the various life, and character, and age, and condition, all fairly represented, which swelled the bulk of it. All classes of citizen life, and the priest and the warrior; all conditions of the life of that time, and the rich and the poor; all ages of lifetime, the man laden with memories and the young man, the strong and the weak;—none were shut out from this joy. And thus this multifarious composition of it helped to fix the joy.
III. OF SOME OF THE LASTING SUGGESTIONS OF IT.
1. May it not justly suggest the thought of the fulness and special bliss there is about unselfish joy. Our individual joy is often tainted with selfishness, or self-regard only. Our domestic joy is not unfrequently tarnished by it. Most of the organizations of which we form parts are open to fostering in some degree the same partial fellowship of joy. But a general national joy largely escapes this snare of partial measure.
2. Does it not opportunely suggest the large reserve of capacity of joy there must be at present in human nature? We have just enough, we may be thankful to believe, to supply to us the requisite light and heat in the history of most men, but there is more cloud and darkness, more rain and cold, than there is of the real experience and outburst of joy. We have no right to be unthankful for what our inner sky is, and for the amount of peace and serenity, warming betimes into cheerfulness and into genialness, granted to us. But where the most and the best of these are true, we can never mistake them for the surrender of our powers, susceptibility, and very self to the amplitude of joy, of which they are capable even here. But least of all is it common to find the maximum of joy spread at the same time over the maximum of people.
3. And does it not betoken something of the rapture of expectant humanity—humanity perfected, redeemed, sanctified? God is full of joy. We cannot dare, to form an idea of him antagonistic to such a principle. "Fallen short of his glory, as we now are, we have become almost too complacently reconciled to the forfeit paid, to the present toned-down temper of life, to its present strong admixture of sorrow, woe, darkness, and we may detect ourselves sometimes thinking this to be the essential condition instead of the severe rebuke rising gradually into the beneficial discipline of life. But no; "we look for new heavens and a new earth," in which, as surely as "righteousness shall dwell, so surely shall joy reign for ever and everse How universal, how impartial, how perfect in all highest elements of it, will be that harmony of human joy, when the kingdoms of this world shall have all merged in the kingdom of the one great King, eternal, immortal, invisible, and he shall have become the Chosen of all nations, of every tribe and family—"great David's greater Son!"
HOMILIES BY J.R. THOMSON
1 Chronicles 12:8-15.- The Gadites.
Like gathers to like—the brave to the brave, the good to the good. It is human nature at its best which recognizes and rejoices in superiority. Homage and obedience should be freely rendered where they are justly claimed and truly deserved. Observe the qualities and exploits of these sons of Gad who gathered to David and offered him their swords. They were men of might, bold as lions, swift as eagles; men skilful in the use of their weapons, apt for war, brave in danger, "good at need;" men whose deeds were in the lips of a nation, memorable and unforgotten. We may discern in the qualities of these valiant Gadites the qualities which (mutatis mutandis) should characterize Christians as the soldiers of Christ and combatants in the "holy war."
I. THE SOLDIERS OF THE CROSS ARE DEVOTEDLY ATTACHED TO THEIR COMMANDER. As the Gadites "separated themselves unto David," so Christians are drawn by the Divine Spirit to the standard of Immanuel. It is distinctive of Christianity that it involves personal attachment and allegiance to the Redeemer. Christ is "the Captain of our salvation." To him we owe our loyalty; at his summons we draw the spiritual sword; in his cause we fight.
II. THE SOLDIERS OF THE CROSS ARE DIVINELY QUALIFIED FOR THE CONFLICT. Their heavenly Leader alike provides them with weapons and breathes courage into their souls. When he enlists them in his spiritual host, he disciplines and trains them for the warfare. He imparts those moral qualities of endurance and boldness, promptness and devotion, by which alone they can be qualified to "fight the good fight of faith."
III. THE SOLDIERS OF THE CROSS ARE EXPECTED, BY DIVINE AID, TO ACHIEVE GREAT EXPLOITS. The enemy is indeed formidable, his opposition is fierce. "We wrestle with principalities and powers." Within and without we encounter a foe whose craft and power we must not under-estimate. Yet have the soldiers of Christ no reason for discouragement. The weapons of their warfare, though not carnal, are mighty. Their Leader has conquered, and has taken his seat upon his victorious throne; and thence he inspirits, directs, and helps them. The giant forms and mighty forces of error and ignorance, of superstition and infidelity, of vice, crime, and sin, are all destined to give way before the onset of the spiritual forces of Immanuel. It is a "holy war" to which Christians are summoned. Certain victory awaits the faithful combatant.
CONCLUDING APPEAL. Christ calls upon every hearer of the gospel to enlist under his banner.
The Son of God goes forth to war,
A kingly crown to gain;
His blood-red banner streams afar:
Who follows in his train?"
1 Chronicles 12:18.-Loyalty.
It was the suspicion and the adjuration of David that called forth this passionate language of devotion and loyalty on the part of Amasai, the spokesman of the men of Benjamin and Judah. When these men came forward, offering their swords to the valiant son of Jesse, he appears to have suspected them of treacherous designs. If language could prove their sincerity, the language recorded in the text must have had this effect: "Thine are we, David, and on thy side,… peace be unto thee, and… to thine helpers; for thy God helpeth thee." It is remarkable that this utterance is declared to have been prompted by "the Spirit," i.e. of God himself, who is the Author of truth, sincerity, and fidelity. If we take this language as appropriate, when addressed by Christians to their Divine Lord, it brings before our minds the nature and obligation of Christian loyalty.
I. CHRISTIANS RECOGNIZE IN THEIR SAVIOUR THE "HELP Or THE LORD." This is the literal meaning of the name "Jesus," i.e. "the Help or Salvation of Jehovah." David's Son and David's Lord is "mighty to save;" in him the Lord has indeed "laid help upon One who is mighty."
II. CHRISTIANS ACKNOWLEDGE THE ROYAL AUTHORITY OF CHRIST. He was King, even when Here upon earth m his humiliation, even when crowned with thorns, when his sceptre was a reed, when he wore the purple robe laid over his shoulders in mockery. How much more manifestly is he King, now that he is in glory! Every loyal subject of the Lord Christ delights to acknowledge his sovereignty, to do him homage, to offer him tribute, to obey his will.
III. CHRISTIANS OFFER TO CHRIST THEIR HEARTS AND THEIR SERVICE. "Thine are we." Such is the exclamation of the true soldiers of the cross. We are his by every bend. He has a right to our love, our life, our all. Let him be enthroned in our spirits; let him rule in our life; let his love inspire our devotion; let his law direct our active service.
IV. CHRISTIANS DESIRE AND PRAY FOR THE PROSPERITY OF CHRIST'S CAUSE. "Peace," said the Benjamite to David, "Peace be unto thee, and… to thine helpers!" If our hearts are given to Christ, nothing will be so dear to us as the progress of his kingdom, the prosperity of his cause, the honour of his gracious Name. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." "Prayer also shall be made for him continually, and daily shall he be praised."—T.
1 Chronicles 12:22.-A great work needs great help.
The way in which David was prepared for the sovereignty over Israel is very remarkable. He himself was disciplined by adversity for days of power and prosperity. And the people were gradually, during the later years of Saul's life and reign, made ready for the transfer of their allegiance to his nobler successor. His life as an outlaw was one of many dangers and perplexities and straits. But during this period many able and valiant men became acquainted with the daring and sagacious chief, learned to trust in him, attached themselves to his camp, and qualified themselves for posts of honour and authority in the kingdom that was to be founded by the son of Jesse. It was "at that time," that, "day by day, there came to David to help him, until it was a great host [or, 'camp'], like the camp of God."
I. IN ACCOMPLISHING A GREAT WORK, PROVIDENCE MAKES USE OF AN INDIVIDUAL AS THE CENTRE OF INFLUENCE AND AS THE LEADER OF OTHERS. Israel was to be consolidated into a mighty nation, and God chose David to do the work. He qualified him by his Spirit; gave him valour and prudence and the power of attracting others and attaching them to himself. And when God would restore humanity to its intended purpose, and establish his kingdom upon earth, he "set his King upon his holy hill of Zion." He chose to accomplish the great end by means of the Son of man, David's Son and David's Lord.
II. GOD GATHERS MEN AROUND THIS INDIVIDUAL BY THE ATTRACTION OF SYMPATHY AND FELLOWSHIP. David's fellow-countrymen recognized in him the qualifications necessary for a leader, a commander, a king. The valiant and capable, the flower of the youth, were drawn to him by the bends of a mighty attraction. He could never have done the work entrusted to him if he had been left alone. But he found lieutenants, counsellors, friends, with whose help everything became possible which was possible to man. This was an emblem of the power which Christ possesses to attach men's souls to himself. "I," said he, "if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto myself." It was so at the beginning. The apostles were Christ's lieutenants and captains in his holy war. The early history of the Church tells how capable and devoted men were raised up, to teach and preach, to organize and administer, to write and expound, to suffer, to witness, and to die. And from that time there has never been an era in which noble, brave, self-denying men have not been drawn to the Saviour by the magnetism of the Spirit's influence, and qualified to render service to the Church and to its Lord.
III. THESE HELPERS COME SUCCESSIVELY AND CONSTANTLY, AS NEED REQUIRES. David's confederates came in successive bands, as emergencies arose in which they were needed. His heart must have been cheered as they came, unexpectedly and yet most welcome, "day by day." A gradual and constant accession was thus made to his following, and to his power to rule when the right time came. It is the same in the kingdom of Christ, which "cometh not with observation," but the history of which is, nevertheless, one of incessant progress. In many ways God is bringing souls to the camp of his Son. And his warriors shall be numerous as the dewdrops of the morning, as the stars in the heavenly host of God.
IV. BY THE AGENCY OF NUMEROUS AND MIGHTY HELPERS THE GREAT WORK IS TO BE ACCOMPLISHED. The preparations made, according to the text, issued in the establish, ment of a throne and dominion. And Christ's kingdom is to come on earth, not by the agency of angels or by the instrumentality of miracles, but by the consecrated adhesion of devoted, fearless, and self-denying spirits. In every congregation may many come, day by day, to Christ, to help him in his kingdom and his warfare!—T.
1 Chronicles 12:32.-Men of understanding.
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. 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 them—they were "men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do."
I. THE GIVER OF WISDOM IS GOD. He is "the Father of lights." "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God." From him alone counsel and guidance proceed. By his Spirit he enlightens men. Hence the reasonableness and the importance of prayer.
II. THE MEANS OF GAINING WISDOM ARE WITHIN MEN'S 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."
III. PRACTICAL LIFE IS THE GREAT SPHERE OF WISDOM. The 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 king.
1. Remember that we are made for action; knowledge is valuable as qualifying for practical life.
2. Wisdom, qualifying for the duties of our several stations, is within all men's reach.
3. Statesmen especially should make it their study to know what the nation ought to do.—T.
1 Chronicles 12:33.-Singleness of heart
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."
I. DESCRIBE THE CHARACTER AND POSITION OF THE DOUBLE-HEARTED.
1. 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." It is a pitiable, weak, unhappy condition, and none should remain in it for a single day. "If the Lord be God, serve him; but if Baal, then serve him."
2. 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."
3. 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.
II. DESCRIBE THE GUILT AND MISCHIEF OF DOUBLE-HEARTEDNESS.
1. It is dishonouring 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."
2. 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 himself for us.
3. 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!
4. 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." 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.
1. Remind those of double heart of the fearful danger to which this sin exposes them.
2. Warn Christians against the temptations of sin and the world.
3. Encourage the young to give their whole heart to their God and Saviour.—T.
1 Chronicles 12:38.-Union.
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 co-operation. 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.
I. THE FOUNDATION OF CHRISTIAN UNITY. The unity to be desired is not nominal or formal, but real. This unity consists of:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
II. 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 labours for the world's enlightenment and salvation.
III. THE BLESSED RESULTS OF UNITY. These are:
1. Happiness. Discord is fruitful of misery; harmony of felicity and joy. A united Church is a happy Church.
2. Strength. L'union fait la force. 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.
3. 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… that the world may know that thou hast sent me." Oh that the whole world were "of one heart" in acknowledging Jesus as King of kings, in crowning him Lord of all!—T.
1 Chronicles 12:40.-Joy in Israel.
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 Israel' as emblematic of that which pervades Christendom in the acknowledgment of Christ's Divine and regal authority.
I. 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. He is the acknowledged and actual King of his ransomed Church. "He shall reign until he hath put every enemy under his feet." 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.
II. 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.
III. 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.
IV. 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 our strength;" we shall have some earnest of the higher and immortal joy which shall fill the courts of heaven.
1. A rebuke to gloomy Christians. Your faith, if you have any, must be feeble indeed if joy is a strange emotion to your heart.
2. An encouragement to rejoicing Christians to turn their joy into motive power, that they may aid in the culture of holiness and in the achievements of Christian service.—T.
HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON
1Ch 12:1-15, 1 Chronicles 12:19-22.-The service of the supreme King.
In the attitude of David and in the services rendered to him at this juncture in his history we have hints as to our true bearing toward the King of kings at all times.
I. THAT WE MAY SOMETIMES SERVE GOD BEST BY PATIENT WAITING. For some years after David knew that he was to be King of Israel, he had to "bide his time." His duty was to "keep himself close" (1 Chronicles 12:1). Any positive effort to acquire the royal seat would have been premature; it would have been disloyal, and would only have defeated his own end. There are times when we have to wait for opportunity to offer (e.g. the missionaries of Madagascar until the death of the cruel Ranavalona). Patience as well as zeal is a factor in the service of the Supreme. "All things come to him who knows how to wait." Our eagerness must not run into impatience; activity should be early, but not premature.
II. THAT IN THE ACTIVE SERVICE OF GOD WE SHOULD EMPLOY ALL OUR AVAILABLE RESOURCES. The men of Benjamin "could use both the fight hand and the left," etc. (1 Chronicles 12:2). "Of the Gadites there separated themselves… men of might, and men of war, fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler," etc. (1 Chronicles 12:8). These soldiers of the army of David were men that were thoroughly and perfectly equipped for their work. No mere "food for powder" were they; they were trained and skilled, competent to do all that was possible in the military achievements of the age. As soldiers in the nobler spiritual campaign for which we have enlisted, we are to be masters of the art of war; we are to be able to do all that is possible to skilled and faithful men. To be this we must:
1. Serve with all our spiritual faculties; cultivate strength and speed, be as the lion for one and as the roe for the other; we must summon all our mental and moral capabilities to the work—memory, reflection, reason, imagination, emotion, etc.; we must employ argument, wit, illustration, remonstrance, entreaty, etc.
2. Turn our physical as well as our spiritual faculties to account.
3. Know how to defend as well as to attack, how to use shield as well as sword (1 Chronicles 12:8).
4. Lay hold on favourable occasion (1 Chronicles 12:15, 1 Chronicles 12:19-21). And in thus putting out all our talents (Matthew 25:14-30) we must remember that
(1) only patient continuance in holy effort will make us skilful and serviceable; the Benjamites must have had to go through much discipline before they could shoot as well with one hand as with the other. We must not be daunted or discouraged by the crudeness or even the clumsiness of our first attempts.
(2) Faithful service will make its mark on ourselves as well as others (1 Chronicles 12:8); we shall acquire the lion-face, the countenance which will say, without words, "Let no man trouble me; for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Thus will the strength of our soul pass into our eye, and body and spirit will be allies in the cause of the King,
III. THAT WE MUST BE READY TO TAKE THE PLACE FOR WHICH GOD HAS FITTED US. "Of the sons of Gad, one of the least was over an hundred, and the greatest over a thousand" 1 Chronicles 12:14). It is in our human nature to covet the highest place; but we are to learn of Christ—of his example and of his Word—to take with cheerfulness the humbler seat. And we may do this, not only because it is essentially Christian, but also because
(1) it is right and reasonable that they who have the greater qualifications should occupy the more responsible posts; and because
(2) it will contribute to our own peace and joy of heart to have as much as, but no more than, we are able to execute placed in our hands.
IV. THAT THE CAUSE OF GOD IS ONE THAT GATHERS STRENGTH BY CONTINUAL ACCESSION. (1 Chronicles 12:22.) There may come times in the history of the great spiritual struggle in which the Church is occupied when large accessions are made to the ranks of God. But this triumph has been preceded by long, incessant toil; moreover, it is not the rule, but the exception. "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation;" it is "day by day" that souls come in, until the army of the great King is made and the "host of God" is complete.—C.
1 Chronicles 12:16-18.-The offer of the upright, etc.
These verses suggest —
I. THE OFFER OF THE UPRIGHT. (1 Chronicles 12:17.) David made this offer to the men of Benjamin and Judah in good faith. He did not mean one thing in the moment of danger, and another in the hour of security. He fully intended the thing he said; he was prepared, in the event of this band of men coming over to his side, to regard them with perfect favour and to give them a good place in his ranks. The maintenance of all our social activities depends on trustworthiness between man and man; therefore on honesty of thought arid integrity of word and deed in ordinary as well as extraordinary occasions. When uprightness is gone and confidence undermined, all security has vanished and everything is in confusion. The engagements of daily life, of trade and commerce, of all human industry, rest on morality and ultimately on religion.
II. THE RESOURCE OF THE DEVOUT. (1 Chronicles 12:17.) When David "went out to meet" those men, he placed himself (as I read the story) in their power. He made them an offer which they might accept or not. Accepting it, they would reinforce his army and strengthen his position; refusing it, they might avail themselves of his venture and get him into their power. This latter alternative he vigorously deprecates; but if they should abuse his confidence he has one resource—the appeal to God. "If ye be come to betray me to mine enemies… the God of our fathers… rebuke it." In the last extremity the devout man can fall back on Divine interposition: "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us... and he will deliver us" (Daniel 3:17). Things can never be so bad with the servants of righteousness but they have one valuable resource—the appeal to God, his rebuke of the guilty, his succour of the upright. But it is only those who can say, "Seeing there is no wrong in mine hands," who have a consciousness of rectitude and reconciliation, that have this refuge in the hour of need.
III. THE DECISION, INVOCATION, AND ACQUISITION OF THE WISE. (1 Chronicles 12:18.)
1. The decision of the wise. Those who know what it is best to do will join themselves, not to the cause of the man who has forsaken God and whom he has forsaken—the party of Saul, but to the side of him who serves God and whom he helps—the party of David. He whom "his God helpeth" is the champion to whom we should attach ourselves and our interests.
2. The invocation of the wise. "Peace, peace be unto thee and… unto thine helpers." The thoughtless and "shallow-hearted' may wish for their friends the cup of pleasure, or a sceptre of power, or a wreath of glory; the wiser heart desires peace. There is no blessing so true, profound, abiding, as peace of mind, rest of heart, stillness of soul in God. 3 And this is the acquisition of the wise. "Peace be unto thee,... for thy God helpeth thee." If God be the Helper of our soul, as he is ready to be, as he will be to those who earnestly and perseveringly seek his aid; if he grant the helpful influence of his illumining, renewing, sanctifying, comforting Spirit, there will be peace, "great peace"—the "peace which passeth understanding," the peace of Christ himself (John 14:27).—C.
1Ch 12:23-31, 1 Chronicles 12:33-40.-Joy in (the) Israel (of God).
A right joyous scene was that described in the concluding verses of this chapter, Never, probably, in the three and thirty years of his subsequent life did David sit down to his table in the royal palace at Jerusalem with so much gladness of heart as he did this day at Hebron. Never, probably, did the thousands of Israel gather at such a jubilant assembly as when they met "to make David king," and were with him "three days eating and drinking" (1 Chronicles 12:38, 1 Chronicles 12:39). The event justified their joy. They had every promise of national peace, prosperity, security. They were on the eve of a new era, in which their race would take a position and enjoy a heritage to which it had long looked forward, which had been long delayed, but which should now meet and crown their brightest hopes. They had four elements of strength; four sources, therefore, of satisfaction.
1. Large numbers. (1 Chronicles 12:24-37.) "Six thousand eight hundred; seven thousand one hundred," etc.—in all more than three hundred and thirty thousand.
2. Discipline and equipment. The bands were "ready armed" (1 Chronicles 12:23, 1Ch 12:24, 1 Chronicles 12:37, 1 Chronicles 12:38); many were "mighty men of valour" (1 Chronicles 12:30); many were "expert in war" (1Ch 12:33, 1 Chronicles 12:35, 1 Chronicles 12:36).
3. Enthusiasm. "They were not of double heart;" they were undivided, single- minded, thorough (1 Chronicles 12:33, 1 Chronicles 12:38).
4. Wisdom. For they were doing the right thing for their country's we] fare; they were acting "according to the word of the Lord" (1 Chronicles 12:23). Here was the strongest of all reasons for congratulation and joy, the surest pledge of national prosperity. That there may be "joy in the Israel of God," in the Christian Church, that there may be a sense of assured victory and of security, there need be these four elements of strength; they are all of value, though not of equal worth.
I. THERE IS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS IN THE CAUSE OF CHRIST. A great multitude of men may be of very little account; a miscellaneous assembly is not an army. Nevertheless, it is better that the people of the Lord should be counted by thousands rather than by hundreds. There is more heart to praise God when the church is filled than when it is scantily attended. Many labourers are better than few in the harvest-field of Christian toil (Matthew 9:37, Matthew 9:38).
II. THERE IS GREATER STRENGTH IN DISCIPLINE AND CONSEQUENT PREPAREDNESS. Ten men well armed and "expert in war" will do more than ten times their number unarmed or ill armed and without knowledge of the way to strike; this is true in moral as well as in material contests, in Christian effort as well as in the "science of war." Christ has need, not only of those who, untrained, do the best they can at the moment, but of those also who, by careful discipline of mind and heart, have "bought up the opportunity," and can do well—can speak nobly, can devise skilfully, can execute admirably in the day of conflict.
III. THERE IS EQUAL STRENGTH IN ENTHUSIASM. Not to "have a heart and a heart", but to be of one undivided mind, one fixed, ardent, resolute soul; to be fired by an earnest purpose; to be eager for the work; to be inspired by an impelling, exalting devotion to the great King;—this is the source of power; this will carry everything before it. And yet is there one other element of more essential moment still.
IV. THE GREATEST SOURCE OF STRENGTH AND SECURITY IS IN A WISE OBEDIENCE, Everything will fail, however large the number, careful the culture, fervent the spirit, if there be not the "doing of the will of the Father who is in heaven"—if the commandment of Christ be disregarded. "Should it be according to his mind," it will be well; otherwise the brightest hopes will disappear in the darkness. In all our projects, methods, enterprises for the extension of his kingdom, we must proceed "according to the Word of the Lord" (1 Chronicles 12:23). Then will the issue be like that at Hebron on this gladsome occasion. We do not feast now as then, "three days eating and drinking," but we have, or may have, our joyous times, when the work and the will of the Lord are done, when a sense of unity and security is in the soul, and we look forward to a bright and victorious future in the service of the Son of David.—C.
1 Chronicles 12:32.-Spiritual sagacity.
It is a very high encomium which the sacred writer passes on these "children of Issachar," that they were men "that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do." They were men that had insight, who could see beneath the surface, who could look on beyond the events of the hour—men of sagacity and penetration. Such men are always needed.
I. THE SAGACITY THAT WAS NEEDED THEN. What was most urgently required of the leaders of the tribes in those early times was:
1. Which dynasty to support—whether the house of Saul or that of David. When so much hung on the will of the reigning monarch, that was a vital question.
2. What steps to take to establish the national unity. In presence of the unconquered Philistines and of other neighbouring powers, this unity of Israel was of immense, indeed of essential, importance.
3. What attitude to assume toward the national enemies—whether of submission, compromise, or unmitigated hostility.
4. What position to take up respecting non-Mosaic usages—whether to permit the adoption of any social, political, religious customs by Israel, or to abide with strict severity by the letter of the Sinaitic commandment. Such were the questions which then demanded a practical answer, and concerning which the men of Issachar "had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do."
II. THE SAGACITY THAT IS NECESSARY NOW. Those men of God, those servants of Jesus Christ, who can be said to deserve this eulogy are they who have the sagacity to discern:
1. What special perils are threatening the integrity or progress of the Church of Christ, and how they shall be averted.
2. What particular aspect of Christian truth needs to be insisted on and enforced at the hour to which the Church has come.
3. How to present the old and everlasting truth in the language, and how to accommodate the forms of Christian worship to the tastes, of the time without compromise and unfaithfulness.
4. What is the next citadel of error or evil which the tribes of Christian Israel shall attack.
5. How to apply Christian ethics to the domestic, social, commercial, political questions of the hour.
6. What is the relation which the Church of Christ shall assume or resume to the state—whether of government, alliance, or independence and separation.
7. What form the unity of the Church shall take—whether organic and visible or spiritual and invisible.
8. What are the best remedial measures that can be taken for the elevation of the ignorant and immoral, and for the ingathering of the heathen into the fold of Christ.—C.
HOMILIES BY F. WHITFIELD
1 Chronicles 12:1-22.-David's mighty men: the Gadites, Benjamites, and Judah.
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 honour of the court of Saul they gave up all for love to him. 1 Chronicles 12:1-15 give us the first list; 1 Chronicles 12:16-22 the second list; 1 Chronicles 12:23-40 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 favours from Saul and his favour 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 (1 Chronicles 12:16-18). The Spirit of God, speaking through Arousal, 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." 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" (1 Chronicles 12:18); yes, "perfect peace" (Isaiah 26:3) to all such.—W.
1 Chronicles 12:18.-David's mighty men: motive for service.
Let us now glance at the motive of these noble men who joined David's standard. Despising the court of Saul and all its honours, 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 honours of Saul as worthless. They esteemed David's reproach because they had respect to his future glory, 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." They "know whom they have believed." "The heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing." 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." 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."—W.
1 Chronicles 12:23-40.-David's mighty men: description and character.
What is the character of these followers of David? Are they mere followers? Nay, in very deed they are soldiers, warriors to the very death. They fight David's battles. They stand in the breach, in the forefront. They "loved not their lives to the death," "warring a good warfare" in the service of him who loved them and attachment to whom has drawn them out. Mark their character: "men of valour;" "ready armed;" "expert in war;" "famous in the house of their fathers;" not "double-hearted;" of "one heart;" of "perfect heart;" men who could "keep rank;" who could use "all instruments of war;" who "could use both hands;" who were "swift as roes"; who had "faces like lions;" and "men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do." Blessed and noble warriors gathered round the exiled David! No wonder it is called "a great host, like the host of God." It is such the true David seeks now. These are the men who do honour to our exiled "King of kings and Lord of lords." These are they who shall reign in glory with him ere long. They are men who sit not down at ease because they are just saved from hell. They do not make salvation from everlasting death their end, but their beginning—their motive, their power, their strength for the fight. They know what the Spirit meant when he said, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne." Thank God, we have such men in the Church now, though very few. Reader, are you one of them? Oh, rest not satisfied with being just saved! Aim at these features. Be not of "double heart." Aim at "one-heartedness"—at a perfect heart. Be "ready armed." Be able to "keep rank," to walk with those who walk with God. Use "both hands"—every affection, every desire, every aim, every pound. Let everything, little and great, in your hourly history be consecrated to God. Have a "face like a lion" against all evil, and stand up for Christ. Be as "swift as a roe" for everything that concerns your Saviour's glory and the blessing of others. "Run swiftly" the race set before you, "looking unto Jesus." And ask God that, when the Church is trembling, and truth is failing, and hearts on all sides are quaking, and the true Israel of God knoweth not what to do, you may have "understanding of the times, to know what you ought to do."—W.
HOMILIES BY R. TUCK
1 Chronicles 12:16-18.-Friends in adversity.
David appeared to have reached an extremity when he was compelled to escape from Gath and find shelter in the cave, hold, or possible fortress of Adullam. His fortunes then seemed to be at their lowest, and at first he must have felt utterly friendless and forsaken. Soon, however, his immediate relatives heard where he was, and presently those discontented with Saul's rule gathered to him. The verses on which we are now dwelling narrate an incident connected with this assembling of people round David, and the point of interest is that among them some Benjamites came, who should properly have belonged to the party of Saul, and David found it necessary to put their friendliness to some testing. The incident may introduce the subject of human friendship. We note —
I. TIMES OF ADVERSITY TAKE AWAY OUR SEEMING FRIENDS. Many so-called friends are but "fair-weather friends," sharers of our prosperity and success. Really friends for the sake of what they can get by it. Illustration may be found in the parable of the prodigal son. When his money was gone his friends had gone too.
II. TIMES OF ADVERSITY FIND OUT THE TRUE AMONG OUR FRIENDS, The test shows which are the faithful ones. They are not often the boastful and forward ones. Often they are those whom we have almost neglected. The true brother is "born for adversity," and only blossoms out in the shady night-times of calamity.
III. TIMES OF ADVERSITY SURPRISE US WITH THE FRIENDS THEY BRING TO US. Beyond proving who are our real friends, they actually bring us new and unexpected friends, such as are really concerned for us and are full of earnest purpose to help us. Often we say that it is worth while getting into trouble, if only for the sake of the friends we find and prove.
IV. TIMES OF ADVERSITY, ABOVE ALL THINGS ELSE, PROVE THE FAITHFULNESS OF OUR BEST FRIEND; he of whom it may truly be said, "He sticketh closer than a brother." He is indeed the Example of the man in adversity; and from his case we see how all forsook him and fled, even St. John not venturing to plead for him. And so Paul at the judgment-seat was alone, but he found the faithfulness of the best Friend: "Nevertheless the Lord stood by me."—R.T.
1 Chronicles 12:22, 1 Chronicles 12:23.-One increasing, another decreasing.
So constant and so extensive were the accessions to David's party, that any observer would have said, "It is evident that Saul is going down and David is going up. This David is the man of the future." When it is seen in which direction the tide is flowing, every one hurries to take advantage of it, hoping to float on it to his own fortune. But this very common process, which may be observed in the various spheres of life any day, is here connected with the Divine purposes and promises. Silently, it may even be said naturally, the nation was coming round to the acceptance of God's arrangement for it. Men may say that the political change was sufficiently accounted for by political considerations. Scripture shows us in all the outworkings of the Divine will (1 Samuel 16:13). The instance in which the rising of one and the decline of another was piously and submissively accepted by the declining one, is that of our Lord and John the Baptist. It is John himself who, clearly seeing the preparatory character of his own work, and the permanent glory of the mission of the Lamb of God, says, "He must increase, but I must decrease." This success of one and failure of another, this success of one resting upon the very failure of another, is one of the most ordinary facts of life. It may be painful and oppressive, or it may become a cause of submissive joy, according to the side from which we view it.
I. IT WILL BE PAINFUL TO US IF WE ARE MORE CONCERNED FOR SELF THAN FOR GOD. If a man limits his vision to his own immediate and personal interests, anything like failure must be to him unmitigated distress. He knows no side whence relief can come. Failure can take on no gracious shapes; it can be nothing but miserable failure. Yet is "success for self" the end of life? Can we isolate ourselves from the Divine plan for all? Would it really be well for the individual if he could? And may not God's great plan for the whole involve, in its outworking, some disabilities for the few?—especially if he counts the highest good, the only real good, to be good of character, not of circumstances? If we are more anxious for God than for self, then it need never be hard for us, at his bidding and under his lead, to step down into seeming failure, second places, and disabilities. We may see others go on before us to places of honour, quietly assured that our God knows they may serve him up there better than we could do.
II. IT WILL BE PAINFUL TO US IF WE FAIL TO RECOGNIZE THAT ONE MAN'S WORK PREPARES FOR ANOTHER. And so that which seems low down, simple, and humble in character, may be truly honourable and important, because of its preparatory character. David was humbled by God's refusal to allow him to build his temple; but David could prepare for, and so have a true part in, the success of Solomon. The same may be said of John the Baptist. It did not matter that his particular mission failed when its work was done, and it had prepared the way for the Messiah. Those who only do preparing work must fully accept the fact that, in the world's eye, their life will seem to be a failure; it may even be so to their own view, but God "soeth not as man seeth," and has his gracious ways of setting "last ones first."
III. IT WILL BE PAINFUL TO US IF WE FAIL TO REALIZE THAT REWARDS COME FOR WHAT A MAN IS, AND NOT MERELY FOR WHAT HE DOES. Herein Divine rewards so materially differ from human ones. Man can only recognize what is done, or attained, and he gives his rewards for achievement. God searches into the motive and the character, and gives his rewards for what the man is proved to be in the doing. Success is not necessary to the best character; finer qualities gain expression and culture in failure, disappointment and trouble. Results may be reached under conditions that involve no nobility of character. It is still very largely true that "deep in the valleys rest, the Spirit's gifts most holy," and heaven may have its welcome rather for poor disabled Lazarus at the gate than for prosperous and luxurious Dives on the silken couch at the sumptuous board. God sets some of us low down and keeps us there, because he puts faithfulness far above success.
IV. IT WILL BE PAINFUL TO US IF WE REFUSE TO ADMIT THAT DIVINE JUDGMENTS COME IN THE REMOVAL OF MEN FROM PLACES OF HONOUR AND TRUST; as was the case with King Saul. So now, God deals with his people; sickness sets them aside from the path of ambition. Their best efforts again and again end in failure. And true hearts will not fail to see in such things Divine judgments; solemn recognitions of failings in motive and spirit; holy callings back to the humble and trustful reliances; awakenings to the conviction that a man prospers only "as his soul prospers." Then, when others go on past us to wealth, position, and honour, when they increase and we decrease, may we even rejoice? Yes; if we really care more for God than for self, and more for others than for self. We should be ever ready to stand in the chiefest places, if God would have us stand in them. But we should be quite as willing to stand down and let another take our place, if God would set him up. The disabilities of life may involve our "decreasing;" but the time must come when from our hands the tools and the weapons must fall, and, empty handed, we pass into the eternal world. Then others must step into our places, and it will be well for us if, when our works are burned up, we ourselves are saved, "yet so as by fire." Of this we may be sure, if we failed to win or to keep what we thought our right place in this world, in the next God will put us just where we should be in view of what, in character and spirit, we have been able to win through the failures or successes of our human life.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 12:23-40.-The hearts of all men are in God's hands.
When the proper time came for the promise made to David to be fulfilled, no efforts were needed to secure the throne. One difficulty after another faded away. One section after another of the people came to offer their allegiance. And the signs of God's gracious moving of men's hearts towards David in due time were seen, in the devotion of themselves and their wealth and property to his service. The men of might came, and offered him their weapons, their skill, and their lives. The men of understanding came, and offered him their counsel and powers of rule and magistracy. The men of wealth came, and offered abundant provisions for the host thus gathering round David (1 Chronicles 12:40). Compare the consecration of property in the early Pentecostal days. Often in life we are made to feel that the circumstances of life are in God's hands, and we recognize his wonder-working in the removal of our difficulties and the opening of our path; but even when we seem to be hindered by the action of our fellow-men, we do not see that their hearts are in God's hands, and that, in answer to our prayer and in fulfilment of his purposes, he can move men's feelings and sway them as he may please. Yet this is the fuller and truer view of life; until we can worthily realize this we do not truly say, "Our times are in thy hands." "He maketh the wrath of man praise him, and the remainder of wrath he can restrain."
I. A MAN'S HEART CONTROLS HIS USE OF HIS THINGS. TO the Divine view, "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." By the term "heart" is included a man's plans, purposes, and feelings. It may stand for his disposition. Then illustrate how all conduct, relations, and uses of property, etc; are toned by the heart of the covetous, the selfish, the prejudiced, the envious, the suspicious, or the unforgiving man. It is hopeless work to try and change the fixed habits of any man's life. Our hope lies in change of heart, and that will ensure the needed change in the outward relations. Therefore our Lord proposes, in his redemptive work, to recover and set fight the very heart of men. His law is thus expressed: "Ye must be born again."
II. A MAN'S HEART IS OPEN TO DIVINE INFLUENCES. We often feel how difficult it is, as we say, to get at a man. Do what we will, we seem to be outride him. Now, the heart is just the sphere that is always open to Divine influence. It may please God to withdraw and hold himself aloof from a man; but if he pleases to enter, no man can shut his heart's door against him. He may enter for conviction and for judgment, as well as for persuasion and guidance. If men's attitude towards us is a cause of trouble, we may be comforted by the assurance that the Master of all human hearts, who is our God, permits it only as long as he pleases, and will change it when he thinks best. With this assurance, no wrong-doing of our fellow-men need unduly distress us.
III. A MAN IS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS DEALING WITH GOD'S INWARD LEADINGS. This, indeed, is his deepest responsibility. He has an inward voice; he is hound to heed it above all. He has Divine impulses; does he crush them or follow them? Heart-hardening chiefly comes in one way, by resisting the Divine lead; or, in New Testament phraseology, "quenching the Spirit;" "resisting the Holy
(2) covered over with self-interests;
(3) neglected; or
(4) watched for; and
IV. HEART-IMPULSES, DULY FOLLOWED, FIND EXPRESSION IN CONDUCT; as all these men came, bringing themselves and all they had to David, when they were under Divine constrainings. So we shall be ready to give self and wealth to all holy uses, if we are inwardly moved of God. Illustrate from the Lord Jesus: "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up." St. Paul's "The love of Christ constraineth us." Learn what is the sphere of our prayer for others—viz, that God would move their hearts; and what is our hope in doing Christian work, it is "touched hearts."—R.T.
1 Chronicles 12:32.-Understanding of the times.
It is remarked as peculiarly the characteristic of the men of Issachar, that they had "understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do." We should call them "men of political sagacity." "They excelled in moral and political prudence and wisdom, so as to know what, in any season of emergency, the particular posture of affairs required to be done." We are to understand that these wise men approved of the elevation of David to the throne. The whole of human capacity is for Divine uses. Every faculty and power should be laid on the Divine altar. Some powers are natural, others are developed by the circumstances and experiences of life; but all may be and should be cultivated into the highest practical efficiency. No man has the right to withhold from the service of his fellow-men, and so from the service of God, any talent, faculty, capacity, or power of influence that he may possess. Among the Divine trusts are the gifts and insight of the statesman, and these find spheres in the lesser scenes of local government and. social order, as well as in the state. Men are fitted in the lesser places for the greater. And their influence in every sphere bears directly on the moral and social, and often also upon the religious, good of the people. The work of the statesman may be thus defined, and each point may be illustrated from times and men taken from ancient and modem history.
1. To see below the surface-appearances and the loud outcries of partisans, what is the real want of the times.
2. To devise the schemes which will hopefully meet both the present necessity and demands, and also provide for possible, but at present unforeseen, developments.
3. To choose the time for action which may prove most efficient, and to wisely delay, even at the peril of being misrepresented.
4. To estimate fairly the wholes, not the parts, of a subject; and so to act for all parties and above party. Such men are raised up in every age. Their service fits into the Divine plan for the race. This gift is also from the Lord, and what the world so greatly needs is its use in full loyalty to him.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 12:33-38.-Single-mindedness.
Two significant expressions, are used:
(1) "They were not of double heart;"
(2) "Came with a perfect heart.
Scripture ever makes much of sincerity, whole-heartedness. The prophet complains of the people that . "their heart is divided." This is a most searching reproach, "They feared the Lord, and served other gods." Our Lord pleaded with men on the impossibility of "serving God and Mammon." And the Apostle James has severe reproaches for the "double- minded man" Practical life supports Scripture in its commendation of single-minded-ness. The men who do one thing, and put their hearts rote the doing, are the men f influence and success; the kind of men we are always looking for in every department of life; the good servants and the good masters in every sphere. Those who under- take too much, and are ever skipping from one thing to another, make nothing successful, and fail to win and hold our confidence. The point of excellence in the men introduced in these verses is that "they would set the battle in array with no double heart;" and, in respect of allegiance to David, never permitted the slightest suspicion of their integrity to arise. The word "perfect" is often used in Scripture as the equivalent of "whole," "entire," "complete." "Mark the perfect man;" "Be ye therefore perfect;" "As many as be perfect."
I. SINGLE-MINDEDNESS IS A GREAT SECRET OF SUCCESS IN LIFE, More so now than ever it was, seeing that advanced civilization demands division of labour, and a man can only hope to reach efficiency in one department. Remarkable instances of success achieved on single lines and in particular departments are constantly being given. In science men gain the power of efficiency and exactness by keeping to one branch of a subject; and whatever may be the line in which a young man begins his business or studious life, he should be encouraged to keep on in it and achieve success in it. The law of triumph is—This one thing; and this earnestly.
II. SINGLE-MINDEDNESS IS THE CONDITION OF ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD, Illustrate by Elijah's appeal, "How long halt ye between two opinions?" Or, "How long will ye be like a restless bird, hopping from twig to twig?" Or from Balaam, who wanted to obey God, but wanted also the offered rewards. Or from Ananias and Sapphira, who wanted the credit of unusually devoted disciples, but wanted also to keep their property. Sincerity assures the Divine regard. This is the first condition of acceptance. Recognizing this, David prayed, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me." And the apostle has a striking Greek term for the proper attitude of a Christian: he is one who does not fear to be judged standing out in the sunlight (eilikrineis). But this sincerity costs the earnest man his gravest anxieties, because
(1) of the peril of self-deception;
(2) the subtleties of the temptations offered by the self; and
(3) the constant discovery of mixed motives even in the holiest things.
Impress that the unity of our whole being in the love and service of One so worthy, and able so thoroughly to absorb all, as the Lord Jesus Christ, ensures this single-mindedness as nothing else can. It should not be difficult for any of us to be wholly his, and accept our life as the sphere of a single-minded and sincere obedience to him. Remember Wellington's answer to the officer who attempted to argue a point with him, "Sir, we do not wish you to argue, but to obey." He had one thing to do,—enough if he did it well. Compare St. Paul's "To me to live is Christ."—R.T.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany