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Sunday, June 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 19

The Pulpit CommentariesThe Pulpit Commentaries

Verses 1-19


This chapter runs very closely parallel with 2 Samuel 10:1-19; a chapter also of nineteen verses. The slight differences between them avail to make one or the other narrative a little clearer or a little fuller. The time is only marked, as in the first verse of the preceding chapter, by the too general formula, "after this." Between the last verse of the preceding chapter and the first of this, we find interposed, in the Book of Samuel, the account of David's thoughts and deeds of kindness "for Jonathan's sake" to Mephibosheth "of the house of Saul," who was a son of Jonathan, though apparently not personally known at present to David.

The chapter gives an account of David's war with Ammon and Aram allied temporarily, and the ungracious cause of the war—the insult put upon David's messengers, when sent on a mission of kindly and sincere condolence, on occasion of the death of Nahash, King of Ammon. Some think that the contents of this chapter are in reality a narration at greater length and in fuller detail, belonging to the space occupied by 2 Samuel 10:3-13 of last chapter. They would, in like manner, identify 2 Samuel 10:1-19 with 2 Samuel 8:3-13.

1 Chronicles 19:1

Nahash. It is possible that this may be the Nahash of 1 Samuel 11:1, 1 Samuel 11:2 and 1 Samuel 12:12, who, being signally defeated by Saul, may have been the more inclined to show partiality to David. But it would appear that nearly sixty years had elapsed, and if so, it must be held very unlikely, and would point to the conclusion that it was his son whose death is here in question. With this the statement of Josephus ('Ant.,' 1 Samuel 6:5, § 3), would tally, which says that the Nahash of 1 Samuel 11:1-15. was killed in the destruction of the Ammonite army then wrought by Saul. Possibly the word "Nahash" was the official title of kings of the Ammonites (and, though considering its signification, i.e. serpent, scarcely a flattering one from a modern point of view, yet this is overruled by the association of the attribute of wisdom with the serpent in olden time, of which we have more than a trace in Matthew 10:16), as "Pharaoh" of kings of Egypt, etc.

1 Chronicles 19:2

Because his father showed kindness to me. The instance of kindness here alluded to is not recorded. There may have been many opportunities and calls for it during David's persecuted life, and when the Ammonite king would feel a motive beyond any intrinsic goodness of heart to "show kindness" to the youth who was Saul's object of hatred. It is, however, very remarkable that we find a genuine kindliness towards David still cleaving to the succession of Ammonite kings, even after the events of this chapter (2 Samuel 17:27-29). Hanna. Nothing else is known of this Hanun. Though here the name of an Ammonite king, we find it in Nehemiah 3:13, Nehemiah 3:30, the name of two of those who helped repair the city. The Assyrian Inscriptions contain the name as that of a Philistine king, tributary to Tiglath-pileser (see 'Speaker's Commentary').

1 Chronicles 19:3

Thinkest thou that David, etc.? The Hebrew is, "In thine eyes doth David?" The order of to overthrow, and to spy out is reversed in Samuel.

1 Chronicles 19:4

The classical scholar will not fail to be reminded, so far as the shaving here spoken of is concerned, of the account contained in Herodotus, 2:121. The parallel place makes the resemblance close, in that it tells us that "one-half of their beards" was shaved. To shave them was an affront to their customs, dignity, and religion: to shave them half added mockery; and to cut off half their garments completed the tale of ignominious and contemptuous insult (Isaiah 20:4). The beard was held almost in reverence by Easterns.

1 Chronicles 19:6

Made themselves odious. The Hebrew root of very strong force, בָּאשׁ, is here employed, and which our Authorized Version translates, both in the parallel place and elsewhere, far more uncompromisingly than here. A thousand talents. Not stated in Samuel. This talent was of three thousand shekels, believed to be equivalent to f342. Mesopotamia. The parallel place has Aram-beth-rehob, instead of our Aram-naharaim ("Syria of the Two Rivers," i.e. Tigris and Euphrates; Authorized Version, "Mesopotamia"). From comparing this verso with 1 Chronicles 19:16, it may seem probable that those strictly called "of Mesopotamia" lent either no aid at first or but very partial. It is observable that the numbers of men supplied by Beth-rehob, Zobah, and Ishtob in the parallel place (viz. thirty-two thousand) agree with the numbers of this verse, from which we may conclude that, whatever Aram-beth-rehob (probably either Reho-both on the Euphrates, or Rehob last of Lebanon) and Aram-naharaim may strictly stand for respectively, they here substantially mean the same. It is possible that the difference is that of a corrupt text or careless copying. The Aram-naharaim (Mesopotamia), which comes before us first in Genesis 24:10, passes out of Scripture language after the defeats of this chapter—the tract of country which it designated (some seven hundred miles by twenty to two hundred and fifty) being absorbed, first by Assyria, and afterwards by Babylon. The Assyrian Inscriptions reveal the fact that Mesopotamia was the prey of a largo number of small separate tribes at the period of the judges and the early Jewish monarchy, which is quite consistent with the glimpses we hero get of it and its people. Aram-maachah probably designates the tract of country north of East Manasseh, bordering on Palestine, and bounded by the Jordan, Mount Hermon, and on its east, Salcah. Zobah (see 1 Chronicles 18:3, note; 1 Samuel 14:47). The parallel place adds also "the men of Ishtob."

1 Chronicles 19:7

Thirty and two thousand chariots. The reading in the parallel place is evidently what is intended. Clearly a stop should follow the numeral, which designates the number of the men under arms. Medeba. Some four miles south-cast of Heshbon (Numbers 21:30; Joshua 13:9, Joshua 13:16; Isaiah 15:2), or others give it as nine miles. It is not given in Samuel.

1 Chronicles 19:9

The kings. Compare this and 1 Chronicles 19:19 with 1 Chronicles 19:19 of the parallel chapter, and also with 1 Chronicles 19:8 (2 Samuel 10:19, 2 Samuel 10:8).

1 Chronicles 19:10

The meaning in brief of this Terse is that, as Joab found there were practically two enemies, and two armies to face, he avoided the mistake of being shut up between them more than necessary, and divided his own hosts. He took the flower of all, under his own command, to face the Syrians in the field, who were the most formidable of the enemy. The rest he put under his brother Abishai, to face the Ammonites at the gate, i.e. of the city Medeba. The plan succeeded, for if Abishai had only done as much as hold back the Ammonites awhile, so soon as they saw the Syrians break and flee they knew that Joab and his army would be free to "help" Abishai.

1 Chronicles 19:15

Then Joab came to Jerusalem. This is equivalent to saying that, for what he deemed sufficient reasons, Joab did not stay to besiege the Ammonites in the city, within the wails of which they had taken refuge, nor to pursue the Syrians. Hence we find these latter soon made bold to rally and to get additional aid.

1 Chronicles 19:16

Beyond the river; i.e. the river Euphrates. Shophach. In the parallel place spelt Shobach. Of him nothing else is known except his death, as recorded in 1 Chronicles 19:18 and in 2 Samuel 10:18.

1 Chronicles 19:17

Came upon them. The reading of the parallel passage is probably correct, i.e. they "came to Helam," inasmuch as the place is repeated, both in 1 Chronicles 19:16 and 1 Chronicles 19:17. Nothing else, however, is known of Helam. The Septuagint has Αἱλάμ.

1 Chronicles 19:18

Seven thousand men which fought in chariots. The parallel passage has the men of seven hundred chariots. There could not be ton fighting men to a chariot. The reading of Samuel is more likely to be correct than our present reading. Forty thousand footmen. The parallel place shows "horsemen."

1 Chronicles 19:19

Became his servants; i.e. his tributaries and vassals.


1 Chronicles 19:1-19.-The ill work of suspiciousness.

Even when the history and the biography which we come across in Scripture are of a repulsive character, we manifestly have no room to blame the historians, who certainly did not make that history nor invent their biographies, but who did faithfully record in both the manifestations of human nature. On the other hand, we have much for which to be thankful in the comparison of Scripture history and biography with other. Human hearts, human life, make history; and according as these are willingly or unwillingly beneath the strong overruling control of Divine providence do they make history that gladdens the heart to read, or that makes ashamed. But for instructiveness much will depend on the selection and the disposition of the material of history. And Scripture follows, we doubt not, a perfect rule and wisest guidance in these respects. The sensational is not its guiding principle; certainly the prurient is not; nor that which would affect or even heartily "strive to wind" it

"… too high
For mortal man beneath the sky."

It courts not extremes for extremes' sake, nor gives prominence to the more unusual rather than to that which, by reason of its frequency, would be likely to be the more useful. It cannot be told for how much civilized society has to be thankful that it possesses such models as the biography and history of Scripture afford, and mankind that it is offered such wealth of wisest and most needed instruction. The present chapter is notable for a very simple tale of the weaving of unmitigated mischief by the swift play of that little shuttle, the shuttle of suspicion. Kindness and goodness and wisdom—the works of these are for it miserably unravelled; and neither does it do itself any good, it incurs swift destruction. This portion of history teaches —

I. THE VITALITY OF THE SEED OF KINDNESS. Whoever Nahash was, some time had elapsed since his kindness to David. For that kindness will have belonged to the time of David's need. All this is reversed now. Ingratitude would have all the sooner forgotten it, now that David's circumstances were so altered, had the heart of David been of the bad, ungrateful sort. But this was not so, and the kindness of Nahash had dropped a good seed in the good soil of David's heart. It was not a mere memory. It was not an action eagerly accepted in the pressing hour, but disparaged, depreciated, discounted in selfish thought after that hour had passed. It was not turned into a reason for avoiding the sight of the person to whom debt was due, or for dropping communication with him. Kindnesses rendered often get treatment of this sort—i.e. no return or ill return. But this is not the fault of the kindness. It lies at the door of the bad, ungrateful heart of the person to whom it has been shown. Otherwise seeds of kindness possess great vitality.

II. THE VITALITY OF THE SEED OF KINDNESS AMID CIRCUMSTANCES UNFAVOURABLE TO IT. Strongest affections often grow in most untoward clime and place. They throng their roots down with vigorous determination, in stony, rocky places. The little soil they find in groove, chink, fissure, is often good and rich, however, and they use it well, and ere long make the rift larger, and acquire thereby more moisture and more deposit of soil. And it is so with kindness. The most diverse nature will appreciate it most. Sometimes just because it is unexpectedly offered to the foreigner, the outcast, the despised, the undeserving, the notorious sinner, the man whom a thousand give up as a hardened hopeless man, for one who entertains a contrary thought, it takes amazingly to the soil, and becomes ere long a vast and fruitful growth. And now, what had impressed David much was, that when his father and mother, and king and people, had "forsaken" him (not all of choice by any means), an Ammonite had "taken him up," and shown kindness to him.

III. THE LENGTH OF VITALITY OF THE SEED OF KINDNESS. As has been said, we do not know the exact length in this case. But a considerable number of years had probably passed. And they were years which had been crowded with the kind of events which would drive many and many a thing out of the mind, and alter the proportions and the look of things, and correct man. y an exaggerated estimate, and naturally help a man to forget how hungry he once was, and how unsheltered, and how friendless, and how downcast in heart.

IV. THE LIABILITY TO DESTRUCTIVE BLIGHT OF THE KINDLIEST FRUITS OF HUMAN NATURE. Here was the kindness of Nahash about to show its remoter and its higher description of good result. It had fulfilled its first office of real, practical, perhaps saving service to David. But now its offspring, its scion of generous kind, was to become apparent to God and to men. It was wishful to make its returns. It was going to show the reproductive nature. No fault of its own, it is baulked, injured, cruelly blighted. It is a testimony that good things in this world are not secure of their good influence, that goodness postulates not unfrequently a good sphere. Once Goodness itself "came to its own," but its own "knew it not," refused it, put it to open shame, crucified it!

V. THAT THIS KIND OF BLIGHT IS NOT ALWAYS A MYSTERY. No; in this case, for instance, it is only too explicable. Of the blights of nature, it may be said, that they are free of blame to men, though not free of disaster to them. They are borne on the winds of heaven, and in a sense must be said to come of the will of heaven, much as those winds themselves. No earthly power can stay them, or do more than partially provide against their incursion—partially undo and recover their mischief. But not so is it with the moral and spiritual blights we know and see in our own life, in the larger area of human history. Here it is manifestly due to two conspiring causes,

1. To the bad advisers of suspicion. The princes of the children of Ammon, round Hanun, are wise above what was written, above what was true. They were bad advisers, not because they meant ill to their master, not because they were false to him, not because, like Job's comforters, they were hard and unsympathetic, and their theology as shallow as it was presumptuous; but because they were feeding on suspicion. Their philosophy of human nature was to fault. They had experience, had had doubtless much experience of human life and character, but they had not had enough. Their induction of instances was insufficient, and thinking "themselves to be wise, they became fools."

2. To the weakness of the ruling head. Hanun himself had to make the decision; he was answerable for the verdict; he presumably had more material than his advisers within the compass of his knowledge, and he might have overruled them and their suspicion. "In the multitude of counsellors there is safety," but the multitude must be large enough, and varied enough, and representative enough, and it was not so now. How many a ruler, from Rehoboam down to our present age, has ruined himself and his nation, and involved them both in utterest curse of most devastating murderous war, because of his individual lack of sound judgment, of wise and understanding heart, of prayer and piety unfeigned I Suspicion has its use, with every other power of our nature, but now it was misused. Suspicion is ever a faculty to be suspected of the wise man. Suspiciousness is one of the unhappiest of all tendencies of the disposition. It should be jealously used and scrupulously guarded.

VI. THE VAST GROWTH OF STRIFE, INIQUITY, UTTER MISERY, THAT MAY COME OF THE ONE FALSE STEP, OF ONE MAN ILL-ADVISED OF HIS FELLOWS AND UNADVISED OF GOD. Hence now came wars, and those who did the mischief were the first to fly to the thought of war, and to prepare for battle. Their foolishness and iniquity returned upon their own pate. But not there alone. How many thousands of others were involved in the common slaughter!

VII. LAST OF ALL, THE DIVINE UTILIZATION OF HUMAN ERROR, HUMAN SIN. David's enemies, after all, are they who are exterminated or nearly so. And some, who had "halted between two opinions," repented of their indecision. They "made peace with David." They "became his servants." But, in addition to this, they learned not to "help the children of Ammon any more." The victory was won for God. Strength was gained for his chosen people, and confidence wrought afresh in them in their Divine Captain. And withal surrounding nations learnt something of the truth, and with whom peace were best to seek, surest to find.


1 Chronicles 19:2.-Kindness and sympathy.

Stern warrior though David was, and capable of severe and even cruel actions, he nevertheless had a warm and tender heart. So much might be gathered from the story of his youthful affection for Jonathan, and from that of his subsequent forbearance towards Saul. In maturer years he retained the warm sensibilities of humanity. Thus, when the King of Ammon died, David felt sincerely for his son and successor, and, that he might give expression to his kindly sympathy, "sent messengers to comfort him concerning his father." His compassionate feelings, and his courteous and graceful expression of them, are suggestive of some reflections upon human kindness and sympathy.

I. Consider THE GROUND AND ORIGIN of these feelings. They lie deep in human nature, and are, in fact (as Bishop Butler has so well shown), as much natural social principles, as self-love is a principle of individual action. They are implanted by God, and are akin to his own gracious and benevolent disposition. He is a God of "love and kindness;" "in all our afflictions he is afflicted." Especially is this apparent in redemption. It was compassion that animated the Divine Father in his purpose to save our sinful race. It was love that actuated the incarnation and sacrifice of Immanuel. The dispositions, then, of which we are treating have their deep foundation in the character, the attributes, of our Creator. So far from being signs of human weakness, they are an honour and ornament of humanity.

II. Regard THE OCCASION of the manifestation of these dispositions. Human life is such as to call them forth. No man, no woman, can go through life without abundant opportunity for the display of these qualities. In times of health and prosperity there is comparatively little occasion for sympathy and tender kindness. But times of trouble, sickness, suffering, adversity, bereavement, must come to all men. Such times are the providentially appointed opportunities for kindly sympathy. Then the friend will "show himself friendly." David's heart was touched by the tidings of his friend's death, and he was drawn to show kindness to the living son for the sake of the deceased father. A sense of gratitude naturally and properly gave acuteness to these feelings. David had in former days received kindness from Nahash, and on this account he all the more felt the claim of the fatherless son upon his friendly sympathy.

III. Observe THE OUTWARD FORMS which these feelings assume. These must be determined by circumstances, according to relative age, social position, and character. Sometimes by sympathizing expression of countenance and manner, sometimes by words spoken or written, sometimes by services, sometimes by appropriate and seasonable gifts, we may show our cordial sympathy, and thus rivet the sacred bonds of humanity and of friendship. David on this occasion sent envoys to his friend's son, to condole with him and to assure him of his good feeling and his good wishes. Such action must in the circumstances have proved gratifying and strengthening. Wisdom and tact will discern the most suitable way of acting in the several cases which may arise.

IV. Reflect upon THE VALUE of these dispositions. To underestimate, still more to despise kindness, is the sign of an unjust and an ignoble mind. Shall we leave out of sight, in reckoning life's riches, the precious sympathy, the dear kindness, of our kindred and our friends? These dispositions have a value which only the heats can appraise; they are in themselves precious, and no just mind would barter them for diamonds and gold. They have also a practical and substantial worth. When one friend is taken from us for a season, it is no mean advantage to have another friend, upon whose counsel we may lean, and upon whose sympathy and faithfulness we may count. Human kindness is a poor substitute for Divine compassion, but it may well prove one of its fairest flowers, its richest fruits.—T.

1 Chronicles 19:13.-True valour.

The annals of the human race are, alas! filled with the records of war, and the happily unwritten annals of innumerable tribes would have consisted of little else. Israel is no exception. Joab, as one of David's mighty men, shared his chief's warlike prowess without sharing all the higher excellences of his character. Yet on this occasion Joab gave utterance to language the nobility and beauty of which cannot but be acknowledged. The words are an expression and a description of true valour.

I. THE HEART OF THE VALIANT. "Be of good courage." Action needs motive. The heart within is the explanation of the outer life. In modern warfare, science, skill, command of material, are far more important than in ancient times, when the individual qualities of the hero were almost everything in the conduct and results of war. But, if a country is to be defended or delivered, the people and their leaders must have a brave, a dauntless heart.

II. THE CONDUCT OF THE VALIANT. A brave heart must find its expression in brave deeds. "Let us behave ourselves valiantly!" "Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow." It is so in all departments of life. It is not the dreamer or the sage, but the man of resolution and of energy, who conquers in the strife.

III. THE MOTIVE OF THE VALIANT. "For our people, and for the cities of our God." Remark the power of unselfishness to raise the moral quality of actions. It was not with aggressive, ambitious purposes that the Israelites drew the sword —

"But chief were those who not for empire sought,
But with their toils their people's safety bought."

Many wars doubtless have been undertaken in a misguided, mistaken spirit of patriotism. Still, it is a good element so far in any enterprise, that the motive animating it is our country's good.

IV. THE CONFIDENCE OF THE VALIANT. "Let the Lord do that which is good in his sight." Here was faith in Providence; a reference of all to the wisdom of the Most High; a resolve to leave the issues in the hands of the God of hosts. Fatalism has sometimes been regarded as favourable to valour; but far more stimulating to courage is confidence in an all-wise Ruler and Disposer of events. The soldier will go bravely to battle, the labourer to work, the martyr to suffering, when the heart is inspired with the assurance of the Divine presence and favour and support. "They that trust in the Lord shall never be ashamed or confounded, world without end."—T.


1 Chronicles 19:1-19.-A bundle of mistakes.

This is a chapter of mistakes. Everything goes wrong; except, indeed, that the wrong is righted inasmuch as the wrong-doers are worsted, and made to pay a heavy penalty for their folly. David may be said to have erred in acting as if it were true —

I. THAT KINDNESS IS APPRECIATED BY THE FROWARD. He meant well; his spirit is much to be commended. Gratitude for past kindnesses is a virtue which can hardly be overpraised; it is too often absent from those in whom we have a right to look for it. But the Hebrew king did not reckon on the churlishness of the Ammonite court. The princes of Ammon were men of a low and froward type, and were incapable of crediting a neighbouring power with simple and genuine good will. Hence an act of ingenuous goodness was entirely thrown away; indeed, it acted as a spark to a magazine; it brought about an explosion of national wrath. It is always well to wish to show kindness to any and every one, but it is not always well to put our wish into practice. There is no need to "cast pearls before swine." Only we must take care that this injunction of our Lord does not hinder us from deeds of courageous kindness. Judgment and generosity must go together in the path of good will.

II. THAT THERE IS NECESSARILY WISDOM IN A NUMBER OF COUNSELLORS. (1 Chronicles 19:3.) Hanun himself was probably inclined to accept David's overture of condolence, but he allowed himself to be overruled by his "princes." It is wise to take counsel with others, but it is to be remembered that there is often truth in the strong and bitter saying, "Twelve wise men in counsel make one fool." Experience shows that where one man sees his way clearly, a number of men will often confuse one another and come to an unsound conclusion. We are not to allow a number of men to override a strong conviction, especially when that conviction is reached after prayer and consultation of God's Word, and when it is on the side of generosity.

III. THAT SUSPICION IS NEARER THE TRUTH THAN CHARITY. Doubtless these princes who ascribed David's action to a sinister desire "to spy out the land" (1 Chronicles 19:3) considered themselves remarkably astute, and believed that they had hit upon the truth. We know that they were utterly wrong. If they had accepted the ostensible object of the mission as the real one, if they had shown the smallest charity in their spirit and credited David with kindliness of heart, they would have been in the right. As it was, their suspicions only led them directly away from the truth. Be charitable, and you will far more often be just than if you are habitually suspicious.

IV. THAT ANYTHING IS GAINED BY INSULT. The shameful insult, amounting to outrage in all international codes, that was perpetrated When "Hanun took David's servants," etc. (1 Chronicles 19:4), wrought no good, and did an immensity of harm to its authors. It led to disastrous defeat in war (1 Chronicles 19:15), and to a strong exasperation of feeling against them on the part of a powerful neighbouring people. Insult never answers. It hardens the heart which indulges it; it rankles in the breast of him against whom it is levelled; and, sooner or later, it brings down retaliation and penalty. Moreover, it provokes Divine condemnation (Matthew 5:22).

V. THAT WE CAN MEASURE THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR TRANSACTIONS WITH OUR FELLOWS. How little did these Ammonites think that this act of bravery and provocation would be followed by the train of bitter consequences which ensued (1 Chronicles 19:6-15; 1 Chronicles 20:1-3)! How little did the Syrians, when they hired themselves to the Ammonites (1 Chronicles 19:6, 1 Chronicles 19:7), imagine that that mercenary militarism of theirs would end in the double overthrow inflicted on them at the hand of David (1 Chronicles 19:14, 1 Chronicles 19:16, 1 Chronicles 19:18)! We can never see how far our transactions will extend; there may be the largest and longest issues latent in very humble beginnings. Of nothing is this more true than strife (Proverbs 17:14; James 3:5; Matthew 5:25, Matthew 5:26).

VI. THAT PERSISTENCY PREVAILS WHEN WE FIGHT AGAINST GOD. In vain did Syrians draw forth Syrians "beyond the river" (1 Chronicles 19:16) to fight against Israel. The Lord was with David, "preserving him whithersoever he went" (1 Chronicles 18:13), and to persist in an endeavour to overcome him was only to "fight against God" (Acts 5:39). When we are seeking to crush truth, righteousness, piety, Christian earnestness and zeal, we are bound to be beaten. However persistent we may be, we shall surely be overcome in the end. It is hard to kick against the goads of God (Acts 9:5).—C.

1 Chronicles 19:10-14.-The conditions of success in the battle of life.

When the time shall come that "devout men carry us to our burial," when good men will be forming an estimate of the life we have lived on the earth, will they be able to say of us that we were victors in the strife, or will they have sorrowfully to acknowledge that we were beaten in the battle of life? That will depend on how we are conducting ourselves now. There are three conditions of success.

I. FIGHTING ON THE RIGHT SIDE. "Let the Lord do that which is good in his sight," said Joab. Whether we shall win or not depends on whether or not we have God upon our side. If he be for us, who or what can be successful against us? (Romans 8:31; Psalms 118:6). And he will be with us if we are on the side of truth, righteousness, freedom, love.

II. HAVING A GOOD HEART FOR THE BATTLE. (1 Chronicles 19:13.) Joab sought to infuse heart into the soldiers he was leading. "Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly." He appealed to their patriotism ("for our people") and to their piety ("for the cities of our God"). He could not have touched two more responsive chords than these. We must summon one another, and call upon ourselves to be courageous in the strife before us, mindful of the many reasons we have to do valiantly and well.

(1) The presence and the promised help of God;

(2) the approval of our own conscience, the enjoyment of self-respect;

(3) the crown of joy we shall win if we are able to save souls from death, or lead many along the path of life;

(4) the urgent want of a sin-stricken world that every brave and true man should do his best. The world sorely needs all the witness we can bear, all the help we can bring.

III. MAKING A WISE DISPOSITION OF OUR FORCES. Joab owed his victory in part to sagacious generalship. He selected the best soldiers of his army to encounter the strongest troops of the enemy, the Syrians (1 Chronicles 19:10), hoping to be able to repel the less formidable Ammonites by the less soldierly of his own forces (1 Chronicles 19:11). Moreover, he took care to have a reserve in case of need, by arranging that whoever should be first victorious, whether his brother or himself, instead of continuing the pursuit of the flying enemy, should come at once to strengthen the hands of the still-struggling division (1 Chronicles 19:12). This was a most wise arrangement. Many a battle has been decided by the presence or absence of a reserve force. At Naseby the battle was lost to the king because the royalist leader pursued too far, and was gained for the Parliament because its leader returned in time from following the retreating enemy to fall on the rear of the wing which was still engaged. In the battle of life, the event may turn on a wise disposition of our forces. We are so to expend our physical powers and our mental resources that we shall direct our strength to the most difficult tasks, leaving the less serious ones to our weakness, and that we shall always have something in reserve for the critical hour. Especially should we see to it that we have friends to fall back upon in the trying ordeal. "Woe unto him that is alone when he falleth!" happy he who, when he is hard pressed, has the voice and grasp of friendship to sustain him! By

(1) excellency and admirableness of character, by

(2) beauty and attractiveness of spirit, by

(3) generosity of heart and hand, let us secure the sympathy and the support of friends in the hour when victory or defeat is trembling in the balances.—C.


1 Chronicles 19:1-5.-David and Hanun.

Between Nahash the King of the Ammonites and David, there subsisted a very friendly relation, which had been commenced during the exile of the latter, and was deepened by their mutual hostility to Saul. Nahash had died, and David was anxious to show his son Hanun kindness in remembrance of his deceased father. The princes of Hanun persuaded the young king that another motive actuated David, in fact, that this show of kindness concealed the spy. David's messengers were disgracefully treated; and, never reflecting for a moment the consequences of such conduct, they were sent away with the marks of shame and disgrace. This inconsiderate act on the part of Hanun led to a terrible war and great slaughter, and eventually to the almost utter annihilation of the kingdom of Ammon. What terrible results follow from the misinterpretation of motives! Yea, wars in families, in the Church, in nations, and among individuals have arisen times without number from the false construction our hearts put upon the motives and conduct of others. We may depend upon it that in all such cases the "charity that thinketh no evil" comes off best in the end not only temporally but spiritually, besides obviating an amount of evil to ourselves and others of which we have not the smallest conception when we act unguardedly, or under the impulse of the moment.—W.

1 Chronicles 19:6-19.-Joab and Abishai, and the battle between the Israelites and the allied armies of the Ammonites and Syrians.

One sin always leads to another, and the insult of Hanun's princes led on to a bloody war. No doubt the inconsiderate act of Hanun to David's messengers was regretted shortly after it was committed. But it was too late. It is a law of God's moral government that though the sin of our acts may be forgiven, the consequences of them must be reaped. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." A little time sufficed to make the princes of Hanun aware that sooner or later there would be a terrible reprisal. David felt the indignity keenly. Yet the retribution did not proceed from him, but from those who had so grossly insulted him. This is invariably the case. A dread of retribution and a guilty conscience go together. The inconsiderate act of a moment, it is foreseen, will lead to consequences which must be averted; and so another is resolved on, and then follows a collapse or utter ruin. Thus it was here. The consequence of a momentary impulse are the destruction and ruin of a kingdom and nation. But notice, when the armies stood face to face with each other, Joab's conduct. The Ammonites and the Syrians beset Israel behind and before. Joab was in straits. He evidently saw his danger. In the emergency he does his best, and then casts himself and his cause upon God. He asks not for victory. He does better. He makes the battle not a matter between the Ammonites and Israel, but between the Ammonites and God. He asks not for victory, but simply says, "Let the Lord do that which is good in his sight." This is faith of a high order. Herein he is an example for all believers. In every perplexity, difficulty, danger, or whatever the emergency may be, let us, as Joab did, devise the very best plans, use all means, and, having done all, leave the result calmly and confidently with God, feeling sure that whatever may be the result "all must be well." Such confidence will always sooner or later meet with its reward. And so it was here. Joab's faith and trust in God. was crowned with a great victory.—W.


1 Chronicles 19:2.-Religious courtesy.

True religion of necessity involves the culture of the beautiful, the gracious, the considerate, and the sympathetic in human character. Its plea is effectively expressed by St. Paul: "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." This verse presents an instance of the courtesy which piety prompts. It is intended to point out that there was more in this matter than court formality; David bore a grateful sense of kindness shown him by Nahash, and found what seemed a most fitting time for acknowledging it. Illustrations may be given of the practical importance of the "polite" in human society; but better than formal politeness is the considerate courtesy of the good man. The counsel to all Christians is, "Be pitiful, be courteous."

I. THE GOOD MAN IS SENSITIVE TO KINDNESS THAT MAY BE SHOWN HIM. As David cherished the memory of the kindness of Nahash. Some people take things done for them as their rights, and haughtily treat them as even below their rights. Those who are made sensible of the mercy of God to them in redemption, are always made sensitive to human kindnesses, which seem to them shadows of the Divine.

II. THE GOOD MAN IS QUICK TO OBSERVE OPPORTUNITIES FOR SHOWING KINDNESS. Knowing how good it is to receive, he is ever ready to give. The sympathizing word is not restrained. The kindly and helpful deed is not postponed. The good man cherishes kind thoughts, but he will not rest without giving expression to them. The weak man tries to satisfy himself with cherishing good feelings. The large-hearted man is ever keenly observant, and nobly anxious, to find out the best forms and times for pressing good feeling into kindly word and deed. Our Master said, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." Loyalty to truth is fully consistent with Christian courtesy, and with the most tender considerateness for the feelings of others.—R.T.

1 Chronicles 19:3.-The evil of the suspicious mind.

Shown by the counsellors of Hanun. Observe the difficulty men find when they attempt to estimate motives; and the sad tendency of depraved human nature to light upon, and to prefer, the evil motive as the explanation of conduct. These points may be readily illustrated by instances within the experience of every preacher. It may be shown that —


II. THERE IS ALWAYS NEED OF DUE CAUTION LEST WE SHOULD BE DECEIVED. But it should be carefully shown and impressed —


Then it may be shown that the suspicious habit is only a reflection of a man's own conscious untrustworthiness or badness. We suspect in others what we know there would have been in the act if we ourselves had done it. These mean and low-natured counsellors of Hanun measured David by the measure of their own meanness. They would have taken such an opportunity to spy out a neighbour's land; so they felt sure that David had a deceptive and hostile intention. When we do not go this length, we sometimes assume evil by establishing some general principle, by which we force an explanation to everything; without being prepared to allow exceptions in individual cases. The mischief of the suspicious temper in society and in the Church may be fully illustrated; especially its influence in starting jealousy and creating enmity, and separating "very friends." From the incident connected with the verse show how it may even lead to terrible miseries for many. Press that the suspicious temper grows on a man, dwarfing and crushing out the trustfulness which, toned by wisdom, is man's true dignity and blessedness, and the basis of good social relations.—R.T.

1 Chronicles 19:13.-Skill and trust ensuring victory.

In one or two forms this subject has already been dealt with; so, under this heading, we propose to give here only a brief outline, as the filling up of it must of necessity involve some repetition of thought. A new outline may suggest some freshness of form. The principle expressed in the familiar words, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you," finds illustration in every age, and in every sphere of our life. Give the illustrative incident connected with this verse. Joab skilfully planned, as a good general; but he called for a full trust in God, and committal of the matter to him, as became the good man.



III. GOD GIVES A BLESSING WHICH CROWNS BOTH THE WORKING AND THE WAITING. This is the Divine recognition of the whole man: the acceptance of the offering of a man's whole self, including both the active and the passive sides of his nature.

APPLY. Our fellow-man can see only our working, and so our success may seem to be the natural fruitage of our own work. But we know, and God sees, that our successes are the Divine benedictions that rest upon the life-toil and the heart-trust, when these are fully and lovingly blended together.—R.T.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 19". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tpc/1-chronicles-19.html. 1897.
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