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This chapter, continuing the general subject of David's arrangements of all the leading departments, sacred and civil, of the kingdom, which he was so soon to yield into the hands of his son Solomon, proceeds in the first fifteen verses to the enumeration of the military courses of his people, month by month. These were twelve in number, each containing twenty,four thousand men; and the captain, or chief, or chief father, of each is specially mentioned.
1 Chronicles 27:1
It is impossible to feel fully satisfied with any translation which the words of this verse offer. Yet there can scarcely he any doubt of the meaning of the verse, viz. that the writer would speak of the children of Israel, including the chief fathers and captains of thousands and hundreds, as regards their courses and their number in their courses, as they succeeded one another, month by month, including also all those officers who served the king in any relation to these courses—the courses were twelve, and each course was numbered twenty-four thousand. Meantime, when we turn to the list, we do not find any full complement of chiefs, captains, and officers specified, but apparently only the chief of each course, with somewhat ambiguous additions in 1 Chronicles 27:4 (Mikloth), 6 (Ammizabad), 7 (Zebadiah); while what seems an unnecessary stress repeats the number each time. This, however, in fact, tallies with the clause "respecting their number" in the first verse, and may constitute the explanation of the apparent inconsistency in question. Milman says on this military portion of David's preparations, that he "organized an immense disposable force; every month twenty-four thousand men, furnished in rotation by the tribes, appeared in arms, and were trained as the standing militia of the country. At the head of his army were officers of consummate experience and, what was more highly esteemed in the warfare of the time, extraordinary personal activity, strength, and valour. His heroes remind us of those of Arthuror Charlemagne, excepting that the armour of the feudal chieftains constituted their superiority; here, main strength of body and dauntless fortitude of mind." Which came in and went out month by month; i.e. exchanged places in rotation (2 Kings 11:5-7, 2 Kings 11:9; 2 Chronicles 23:8).
1 Chronicles 27:2
Jashobeam is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 12:11 as son of Hachmoni, and as one of those "three mighties" of David, of whom the other two were Eleazar and Shammah (see also 1 Chronicles 12:6); he is again referred to (2 Samuel 23:8) in a verse of which the text is corrupt, as "the Tachmonite," or more correctly "the Tahh-cemonite." The tau in this word is probably an error for the article. Kennicott ('Dies.,' 72, 82) confirms this supposition by noting that the Book of Samuel constantly replaces by the definite article what appears in Chronicles as "son of." He has also shown reason for believing that the words in this passage, "that sat in the seat, are a corruption of the Hebrew text for characters that would spell our name "Jashobeam." We know nothing of this name "Hachmon," which may be the name of an earlier forefather, while Zabdiel, thence named "the Hach-monite," appears to Be the name of the actual father of Jashobeam. Jashobeam was of Judah.
1 Chronicles 27:3
This verse tells us that Jasho-beam belonged to the tribe of Judah, through Perez, the fourth son of Judah (1 Chronicles 2:4).
1 Chronicles 27:4
Before the name Dodai we must supply "Eleazar the son of," on the authority of 1 Chronicles 11:12; 2 Samuel 23:9. The allusion to Mikloth (of the tribe of Benjamin, according to 1 Chronicles 8:32; 1 Chronicles 9:37) in this verse is not plain. The translation may possibly be the same which our Authorized Version gives, And over the course of the second month was (Eleazar, the son of) Dodai the Ahohite, and (over) his (or, its) course also Mikloth was ruler. The appearances of the Hebrew text, however, favour the supposition of an inaccurate text. A somewhat similar con. struction and position of words in 2 Samuel 23:6 is less difficult by the absence of a conjunction before Ammizabad.
1 Chronicles 27:5
Benaiah (1 Chronicles 11:22-25; 2 Samuel 23:20-23). To this name Keil thinks the word chief (ראֹשׁ), in the succeeding expression, chief priest, belongs. Thus Jehoiada would be named here only priest. Yet see 1 Chronicles 12:27, where Jehoiada is called לְאַהֲרֹן חַגָּגִיד; and 2 Kings 25:18; where כֹּהֵן הָראֹשׁ stands for our הכֹּהֵן ראֹשׁ, as applied to Seraiah. Benaiah was manifestly a Aaronite.
1 Chronicles 27:7
With this verse, as Keil observes, the description of the successive courses is given with the greatest brevity. Zebadiah was of Judah. Inasmuch as Asahel (1 Chronicles 11:26; 2 Samuel 23:24) was killed by Abner (2 Samuel 2:23) before this division of military courses was made, it is evident that his name in this place marks, not the individual, but the family. Possibly he and his name were held in all the greater regard, and his son Zebadiah best known for the sake of his father.
1 Chronicles 27:8
Shamhuth. For variations in the form of this name, see 1Ch 11:27; 2 Samuel 23:25. In the former of these passages also we have Harorite in place of our Izrahite, and in the latter Harodite. The Izrahite probably means of the family of Zerah (1 Chronicles 2:4, 1 Chronicles 2:6), and of course marks one of the tribe of Judah. The Hebrew הַיִּזְרָחevidently does not justify the form as translated "Izrahite."
1 Chronicles 27:9
For Ira, see 1 Chronicles 11:28; 2 Samuel 23:26. He was of Tekoa, belonging to Judah.
1 Chronicles 27:10
For Helez, see 1 Chronicles 11:27; 2 Samuel 23:26. He belonged to Ephraim.
1 Chronicles 27:11
For Sibbecai, see 1Ch 11:29; 1 Chronicles 20:4; 2 Samuel 21:18; 2 Samuel 23:27, where by a corruption the name Mebunnai is found for Sibbechai, a corruption all the easier to account for in the similarity of the characters that form the names. He was a Zarhite, and belonged to the tribe of Judah.
1 Chronicles 27:12
For Abiezer, of the tribe of Benjamin, see 1 Chronicles 11:28; 2 Samuel 23:27. For Anetothite (Anathoth) see 1 Chronicles 6:60 (45); Joshua 21:18; Jeremiah 1:1; Jeremiah 11:21; Jeremiah 32:7-9.
1 Chronicles 27:13
For Maharai, of the tribe of Judah, see 1Ch 11:30; 2 Samuel 23:28. The Netophathite. Though the name of the town Netophah happens to occur only after the Captivity (e.g. Ezra 2:22; Nehemiah 7:26), yet the name of the people, as in this passage, was evidently a name existing before the Captivity (see also 2Sa 2:1-32 :54; 9:16).
1 Chronicles 27:14
For this Benaiah, who was of Ephraim, see 1 Chronicles 11:31; 2 Samuel 23:30. For Pirathon, see Judges 12:15, where alone the place is mentioned.
1 Chronicles 27:15
For Heldai, who belonged to Judah, see 1 Chronicles 11:30, where the name appears as Heled, and 2 Samuel 23:29, where it appears as Heleb. For Othniel (who was nephew and son-in-law of Caleb, and first deliverer of the people after Joshua), see Joshua 15:17; Judges 3:9. These twelve captains then come—from Judah seven, from Benjamin and Ephraim two each, and from Levi one.
1 Chronicles 27:16-22
These verses give the names of the rulers (1 Chronicles 27:16), or princes (1 Chronicles 27:22), of ten out of the twelve tribes of Israel. The tribes not mentioned are Gad and Asher, an omission which reminds of that of the two tribes Dan and Zebulon from the genealogies contained in 1 Chronicles 4:1-43.-7; and equally unexplained. These designations ruler (נָגִיד) and prince (שַׂר) are the same as are found in the list of 1 Chronicles 4:1-15—the former in 1 Chronicles 4:4, and translated also as here "ruler;" and the latter in 1 Chronicles 4:1, 1 Chronicles 4:3, 1 Chronicles 4:5, 1 Chronicles 4:8, under the Authorized Version word of" captains." This rehearsal of the rulers or captains of the tribes stands evidently in no special relation to the preceding military enumeration, but it forms naturally enough one of four lists in this chapter that purport to set forth David's complete arrangement of the affairs of the kingdom. So far as the enumeration goes, it appears to aim at fulness and no omission, for the "Aaronites" (1 Chronicles 4:17) are given, and Ephraim and the two halves of Manasseh separately (verses 20, 21).
1 Chronicles 27:17
It is, perhaps, remarkable that Hashabiah—presumably a Gershonite—is not distinguished from the Hebronite (i.e. Kohathite) of the same name (1 Chronicles 26:30); some, however, think that our Hasha-biah is the Kohathite. For Zadok, see 1 Chronicles 6:4, 1 Chronicles 6:12. He was of the line of Eleazar.
1 Chronicles 27:18
David's eldest brother Eliab is no doubt intended here by the name Elihu. The Septuagint gives Eliab. For Michael, see 1 Chronicles 7:3.
1 Chronicles 27:21
There is no reason to doubt that Jaasiel is the son of the Abner who was Saul's own cousin (1 Chronicles 9:36; 1 Samuel 14:50).
1 Chronicles 27:22
These thirteen princes of the tribes of Israel were presumably in each case those who represented the tribe according to lineal descent in David's time. Though Gad and Asher are left out, the thirteen are filled up by the allowance of two for Levi, viz. one for the Levites and one for the priests; and three for Joseph, viz. one for Ephraim and two for the divided tribe of Manasseh.
1 Chronicles 27:23
The contents of this and the following verse may be supposed to be suggested by the distinct reference to the matter of number in the first verse of the chapter, and in the latter halves of the following fourteen verses, contrasting with the utter absence of any allusion to the same matter, when the whole body of the tribes and their princes are the subject, in 1 Chronicles 27:16-22. The deeper significance of the latter part of this verse probably comes to this; that God had already given his people the proudest name for their numbers, in saying that they should be numberless, like to the stars of the heavens, and perpetually on the increase.
1 Chronicles 27:24
It seems a little surprising to read of Joab, fixed on the page of history as the person who began to number, but… finished not, when we have been already particularly told that it was he to whom King David's command to number was "abominable" (1 Chronicles 21:6). However differently enough from the method of either nature or mankind, the antidote has here preceded the evil. For because there fell wrath for it, read the Hebrew, and there was for this wrath upon Israel. The last sentence of the verse purports to say that such numbering as had been done before the point at which Joab stopped was not honoured by a place, where other numbers were found, in the register of the chronicles of King David.
1 Chronicles 27:25-31
These verses have for their primary object, not to give an exhaustive summary of the wealth of David and the sources thereof, but to give the names of those persons who were charged with the care, or the management and care, of' it. The classification, however, is interesting, and may be naturally expected to be tolerably complete. We do not find any distinction made between such property as might have belonged to David as private property, and such as belonged to him as king—probably because there was none worth making.
1 Chronicles 27:25
For storehouses, read, as in former clause, treasures. The suggestion of the second half of this verse in comparison with the first is that Azmaveth's charge was over treasures in Jerusalem. For the castles, see 2 Chronicles 17:12; 2 Chronicles 27:4. The word אוֹצָר, though the same in both clauses, may probably enough cover precious treasure, as of gold, silver, costly raiment, etc. (1 Kings 14:26; 1 Kings 15:18), more particularly in the first clause, and grain, fruit, etc. (2 Chronicles 11:11), in the latter, for the word has distinctly this double application. (See for some illustration of this verse also, Sallust; 'De Belle Jugurth.,' 12.)
1 Chronicles 27:26
This verse appears to give the name, not (as in the former verse) of the person who had charge of the stored grain, fruits, etc, but of the chief superintendent and manager of the labour and labourers of the field.
1 Chronicles 27:27
This verse specifies the officer who had the management of the vineyards, and also the officer who had charge over the wine-cellars. The description of Ramathite does not assist us to identify Shimei, though the choice of place is ample (Joshua 13:26; Joshua 18:25; Joshua 19:29, Joshua 19:36; Judges 15:17). For Shiphmite, see Numbers 34:10, Numbers 34:11; to the place Shepham, mentioned in which passage, the reference here may be. For over the increase, read over that which in the vineyards, etc; where the initial שׁ stands for אֲשֶׁר.
1 Chronicles 27:28
A similar couple of officers to those of the last verse are described here. By the low plains here in the Authorized Version is translated what had been better left untranslated, i.e. the Shephelah, one of the five divisions of Judaea. It comprised the low-lying tract of land on the coast and, roughly speaking, stretching from Joppa to Gaza. The sycamore tree (הַשִּׁקְמִוֹם, a plural masculine, and once שִׁקְמוֹת, a plural feminine, Psa 78:1-72 :87) is to be distinguished from the sycamine, being that kind of mulberry tree called fig mulberry. The Septuagint, however, does not observe the distinction, and always translates συκάμινος. It was a common tree, and useful to the poor. It is the same with the black mulberry of Egypt, and abounded in Palestine (1 Kings 10:27). Its fruit was eatable, and its wood, though soft, yet valuable for enduringness. The name Baal-hanan comes first before us as that of a King of Edom (Genesis 36:38, Genesis 36:39; 1 Chronicles 1:49). The place Gederah (Joshua 15:36), or Beth-gader (1 Chronicles 2:51), attached to the name of the present Baal-hanan, renders it not less probable that he was of similar extraction.
1 Chronicles 27:29
Sharon (see 1 Chronicles 5:16, 1 Chronicles 5:21). It means with the article, which, with one exception, always accompanies it, "the level laud," and on the west of the Jordan exactly corresponds with the Mishor on the east, a word of identical signification with Sharon. The tract of pasture-land which it designated stretched from Carmel to Joppa. The valleys here intended are not specified.
1 Chronicles 27:30
Whether the word Obil (אוֹבִיל), is a proper name or not, it signifies "a tender of camels" by derivation. The task suited the Ishmaelite, no doubt! Nothing is known of the Meronothite, nor of the situation of the place called Meronoth, unless anything may be conjectured from Nehemiah 3:7.
1 Chronicles 27:31
For the Hagerite tribe, see 1 Chronicles 5:10, 1 Chronicles 5:18-22. For the rulers of the substance, the Hebrew words are שָׂרֵי הָרְכּוּשׁ. The number of them adds up again to twelve; Keil justly supposes that the two named in 1 Chronicles 5:25 were those principal officers to whom the other ten delivered the proceeds of their respective charges.
1 Chronicles 27:32-34
These verses contain the names of seven men of high position, and who were, at all events, important enough, in one respect or another, for this closing special mention.
1. Jonathan and Ahithophel are singled out as counsellors (יוֹעֵץ) of the king.
2. Hushai the Archite is mentioned as the companion (רֵעַ) of the king.
3. Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar are mentioned as standing in a similar relation of counsellors to the king with Ahithophel, but after him.
4. The great general of the whole army of the king (שַׂראצָבָא), Joab, has a place found for his name.
5. And the name of Jehiel is mentioned as of one with the king's sons. The first thing which may be observed as to this enumeration is that it is not one whole belonging to the later portion of David's time. Ahithophel had brag before put an end to his own life (2 Samuel 17:21-23; also see 2 Samuel 15:12, 2Sa 15:31, 2 Samuel 15:34; 2 Samuel 16:20-23). Secondly, that out of the seven names, four or five are already well known to us in some other capacity; for see the lists of 1 Chronicles 18:14-17; 2 Samuel 8:16-18; 2 Samuel 20:23-26. And thirdly, that in one or two instances, a different or additional part is assigned to the names mentioned. The impression left with us is rather of honourable or special mention made of seven who had been distinguished helpers of the king or the kingdom at one time or another.
1 Chronicles 27:32
Nothing is known of any uncle to David, named Jonathan, but special mention is made, in 1 Chronicles 20:7 and 2 Samuel 21:21, of a nephew, son of Shimea, who rendered valuable service, and u-hose name was Jonathan. It is possible that the Hebrew דּוֹר may mean "nephew," as simply meaning "relative.'' It must be admitted, however, as very remarkable, that in Leviticus, Numbers, the historical books, Jeremiah, and Amos, to the number of sixteen times in all, the word confessedly means "uncle;" while this seventeenth time, it would appear to mean "nephew." On the other hand, in Proverbs, Canticles, Isaiah, Ezekiel, to the number of thirty-six times in all, the word follows its other branch of signification of "love," and in particular "one beloved." Nothing certain can be said of the Jehiel of this verse, but, if a son of Hachmoni, we may presume him to have been related to Jashobeam of verse 2 and 1 Chronicles 11:11.
1 Chronicles 27:33
For Hushai the Archite, see 2 Samuel 15:32, 2Sa 15:37; 2 Samuel 16:16; 2 Samuel 17:14, 2 Samuel 17:15.
1 Chronicles 27:34
The after of this verse may possibly be the after of time, i.e. after the death of Ahithophel, instead of the after of place, i.e. subordinate. Jehoiada the son of Benaiah. Either the individual of 1 Chronicles 27:5; 1Ch 18:17; 2 Samuel 8:18; 2 Samuel 20:23, is not the person here intended, or we have here the names accidently reversed. There seems no sufficient reason to doubt that the high priest of the Ithamar branch is here meant.
HOMILIES BY J.R. THOMSON
1 Chronicles 27:23.-The increase of Israel.
A devout mind will ever acknowledge that not only individual, but also national, prosperity is from God. It was a conviction with all the pious Hebrews that their nation had been selected by a special decree and appointed to a special purpose. This conviction came to their minds to sober them in times of national prosperity, and to comfort and fortify them in periods of affliction, disaster, and captivity.
I. WHEN THIS PROMISE WAS GIVEN. It was given at the very commencement of Israel's life; it was given to Abraham, the father of the faithful. The Lord showed Abraham the stars of heaven, and assured him that so numerous should be his seed.
II. HOW THIS PROMISE WAS REGARDED. It was not likely that an assurance so inspiriting, so glorious, should be forgotten; it was embodied in national tradition; it was enshrined in sacred literature; it was fitted to dignify their conception of their calling as a people; and it was a rebuke to their national pride. As on the occasion referred to in the text, it was designed to lead them to place their hopes, not so much in their own strength or fortune, as in the purpose and the promises of the God of Israel, the God of all the nations of the earth.
III. IN WHAT WAY THIS PROMISE WAS, AND IS YET TO BE, FULFILLED. Under Solomon the nation of Israel reached its highest pitch of fame and power. But it is pleasant and encouraging to believe that the promise recorded in the text will be fulfilled in a deeper sense than that which appears on the surface. There is a true Israel, composed of all who, sharing Abraham's faith, are Abraham's spiritual children. These are destined to be numerous as the sands of the desert, as the leaves of the forest, as the dew-drops of the morning, as the stars of heaven. This is a kingdom whose subjects shall ever multiply, whose glory shall know no limit and no end.—T.
1 Chronicles 27:25-31.-Earth's produce.
David was a man of war, and it is not surprising that these historical books are largely occupied with an enumeration of his armies, catalogues of his mighty men of valour, and records of his military exploits. But it is interesting and instructive to observe that the chronicler does not pass unnoticed matters which give an aspect of peace and prosperity to David's reign. The king was not only a commander and a judge, but also an administrator and an economist. The chronicler, in referring as he does in this place to the accumulation of wealth and to material prosperity generally, indicates that in his judgment a nation's greatness does not consist simply in the number of its warriors or the brilliance of its feats of arms.
I. THE PRODUCE OF THE EARTH IS FROM THE LORD. There are here enumerated the stores of corn, the vineyards and the oliveyards, the flocks, the camels, and the herds which largely constituted David's wealth. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof."
II. THE GIFTS OF GOD'S BOUNTY ARE TO BE RECEIVED WITH GRATITUDE. The Creator has made all things for man's use and comfort. "He hath put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, all beasts of the field." To him daily thanks are due.
III. THE GIFTS OF GOD ARE TO BE ENJOYED WITH TEMPERANCE AND SOBRIETY. When the creature is abused, the Creator is dishonoured; but a just and temperate use of material wealth is improving to man and honourable to God.
IV. THE POSSESSOR OF MATERIAL WEALTH SHOULD CONSECRATE ALL TO THE GIVER. Christians especially, who are "not their own," are bound to regard and to use all their property as God's. So used, it will not minister to pride, but will become a means of grace. In this certainly David has set us an example worthy of imitation.—T.
HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON
1 Chronicles 27:1-34.-Wisdom, kindness, and folly.
In reading this chapter we are struck with three features of David's rule.
1. The presence of royal wisdom in:
(1) Securing the safety of his kingdom by a sufficient militia without sustaining a burdensome standing army. One month's practice in the year would suffice to maintain their soldierly qualities without seriously interfering with their civil pursuits (1 Chronicles 27:1).
(2) Adopting the system of promotion by merit. In the list of captains (1 Chronicles 27:2-15) we meet with names of men that had distinguished themselves by their courage and capacity, and who had "earned their promotion." Favouritism is a ruinous policy, and fatal to kings and ministers.
(3) Limiting his own personal requirements to a moderate demand. David lived as became such a king as he was, but he did not indulge in a costly and oppressive "civil list" (see 1 Chronicles 27:25-31).
(4) Choosing so sagacious a counsellor as Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:1-3, 2 Samuel 17:14), and so true and brave a friend as Hushai (2 Samuel 17:7-14).
2. The presence of personal kindness. Although David acted, most wisely, on the principle that the highest pests should be reserved for the most capable men and those who "deserved well of their country," yet he did not neglect his own kindred in the hour of his opportunity. We find, amongst others of the foremost men, the names of his relatives, Asahel (1 Chronicles 27:7); Jonathan, his uncle (1 Chronicles 27:32); Joab (1 Chronicles 27:34).
3. The presence of royal folly. We are reminded here of the grievous error, the disastrous departure from rectitude, when, notwithstanding the wise counsel and somewhat strenuous opposition of Joab, he insisted on numbering the people (1 Chronicles 27:23, 1 Chronicles 27:24). Regarding the folly of the king, we learn —
I. THAT HUMAN NATURE, EVEN AT ITS BEST, BEARS THE STAIN OF IMPERFECTION. Devout and humble as David was, prosperous and beneficent as was his reign, he yet fell, more than once, into sin; and on this occasion (of the numbering) he involved the nation in a terrible calamity. He resembled all other good men of every age. Human excellency is a beautiful but a blemished thing; it has admirable qualities, but is never without defects; it halts somewhere. Therefore:
1. Let us conclude that there is certain to be something in ourselves which needs to be corrected; we also, though we possess the mens conscia recti, have faults which others see and which they regret to see in us.
2. Let us not be hasty in estimating the character of others; if we judge men by the first thing we see in them, it may be that we shall apprise them by the one pardonable fault behind, which, unrecognized by us, hide a hundred virtues. We should not like to be judged by the first action our neighbours chanced to witness in us.
3. Let us make all kindly allowance for men when we know them; and placing their many solid graces against their few superficial failings, let us not withhold our esteem, or our confidence, or our affection. Regarding David's kindness, we learn —
II. THAT WE DO WELL TO USE OUR OWN ELEVATION TO SERVE OUR KINDRED. Nepotism is a crime as well as a sin, but, when other things are equal and when opportunity offers, we should surely remember those whom, by the ties of affinity, God commends to our kindness, and those whom, by profession of friendship in earlier and humbler days, we promised to assist. And in view of the king's wisdom, we may learn —
III. THAT GOODNESS AND WISDOM TOGETHER ARE A SOURCE OF INCALCULABLE BENEFIT. David without his devoutness would have been nothing to his country or his kind; without his wisdom he would have been little more. Piety and prudence together are a power for God and man.—C.
HOMILIES BY F. WHITFIELD
1 Chronicles 27:1-34 -The army, tribal princes, royal possessions, and chief counsellors of the king.
This chapter brings before us the organization of the army, and also the public administration (1 Chronicles 27:1-15); next we have a list of the princes of the twelve tribes (1 Chronicles 27:16-24); then we have the managers of the domains and royal possessions rots. 25-31); and lastly, the chief counsellors of the king (1 Chronicles 27:32-34). These subjects follow the arrangement of the Levites' service, because it was David's earnest desire before his death to give the constitution of his kingdom a more stable form. David's object in numbering the people, as we may gather from the twenty-third verse, was to leave his kingdom, strong within and without, to his son. There were twelve divisions of the army, consisting of twenty-four thousand men in each. In the enumeration of the tribal princes, the tribes of Gad and Asher are omitted without any reason being assigned for the omission. With regard to David's domains and possessions, the property and income of the king were divided into treasures of the king. treasures in the country, in the cities, the villages, and the castles. The treasures of the king were the treasures of the royal palace in Jerusalem. The remaining treasures were fields, vineyards, plantations, cattle, camels, asses, and sheep. Officers were set over these various departments. With reference to David's counsellors (1 Chronicles 27:32-34), we have here enumerated three catalogues, and the mention of Joab as the commander-in-chief of the army.—W.
HOMILIES BY R. TUCK
1 Chronicles 27:23.-God's promises checking man's wilfulness.
The impulse on David leading him to number Israel has never been adequately explained. Probably there were some peculiar national conditions which are not detailed. The connection of the reference to the "numbering," which is made in this verse, intimates that it was a part of some military arrangements which the king was advised to make. Possibly in order to fix the amount of his standing army, he desired to know the number of men in his kingdom who were above the age of twenty, the age from which military service was required. Eastern writers give curious illustrations of the Oriental prejudice against numbering possessions. "The apprehension of a Nemesis on any overweening display of prosperity, if not consistent with the highest revelations of the Divine nature in the Gospels, pervaded all ancient, especially all Oriental religions. David's act implied a confidence and pride alien to the spirit inculcated on the kings of the chosen people." What does come prominently out in the narrative is that David was wilful in the matter, but that God kept his very wilfulness under some limitations and restraints. David was kept from taking a complete census, because he felt it irreverent to attempt to count what God was understood to have promised should be countless. David's own heart, as well as Divine judgments, brought to him the conviction of his wilfulness and sin. Apply to modern phases of religious life and religious work. In both we are so keen to observe, and so anxious to reckon up and boast of, the results of our work. The individual Christian wants to count and value the steps of his personal spiritual growth; and the Christian worker, in his varied spheres, despairs if he cannot show the actual fruitage of his toil, thinking there will be no harvest from his seeding if his own hand does not bind the sheaves. Much may be said, and much may be said severely, of the almost mania that possesses some Churches for "numbering the people," and counting up the net gains of Christian work. In both spheres God's promises should check this desire to count.
I. APPLY TO PERSONAL RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE. God has promised to "bring us off more than conquerors;" to "perfect that which concerns us;" to give us "more grace;" to ensure us "all sufficiency in all good things;" and to be "with us always;" so there is no need for constantly testing our own spiritual state, and trying to gain assurance by counting the steps upward which we may have made. Our best help is the
(1) faith that daily keeps "looking off" unto Jesus;
(2) the prayer that keeps us mindful of, and ever pleading, the promises; and
(3) the "work" for Christ which so thoroughly absorbs us that we have no time to think about our own feelings.
II. APPLY TO CHRISTIAN LABOURS IN THE CHURCH AND IN THE WORLD. God has promised abundant fruitage as the result of faithful Christian toil: a wondrous harvest-home, and not one sheaf missing. It is enough. Why should we trouble about results, and count up converts? Let them be as many as ever God wills, and let us be satisfied with the joy of our working, and the smile of our Master which surely rests upon us in the doing.
Still, as in the older days of David, there is grave reason to fear that numbering results tends to nourish human pride and conceit, and sets men upon boasting of the "great Babylon which they have builded." The most essential quality of Christian work is the meekness of self-forgetfulness, that will be wholly amazed if, one wondrous day, God should point to sheaves safe in his garner, and say, "These were gathered in by thee." True and humble hearts learn to leave all the "numbering" work to God, and to the great revealing day.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 27:25-31.-The trust of riches,
In these verses some of David's wealth is enumerated, especially that portion which consisted in estates, herds, and flocks. Accepting life on the earth as the sphere of our "probation," or "moral training," we need to see that all things which bear their influence upon us may be, and indeed are, used by God as agencies in this gracious work over which he presides. Riches, therefore, may be a Divine trust committed to some men with a distinct view to their culture through this trust; and it is precise]y this view of riches which needs to be more generally taught and apprehended, so that it may become a most solemn thing for any man to have this trust, and all who have it may be much more impressed with the responsibility of it than with the advantage and privilege of it. We easily take up with two imperfect notions.
1. We say that riches are tokens of Divine favour. But this may not be assumed as a universal fact. Riches may be a token of Divine wrath and judgment, and the very agency of a man's punishment. And riches may be a sign of God's anxiety about our moral state, and the need for subjecting us to some severe moral testing. To some natures no more searching test could be found than the trust of prosperity and wealth.
2. Or we say that riches are the rewards of virtue, and assume that men must be acceptable to God because they are rich, and that others must be out of acceptance, seeing that they are poor. But then we must face the difficulty which the Psalmist Asaph felt so bitterly (Psalms 73:1-28.)—the wicked are often the rich, and the righteous are among the down-trodden poor. It is evident that no general rule will fit all cases, and that, in wise Divine orderings, wealth and poverty are arranged for the highest good of the individual and the permanent good of the whole. Did we know all, we should never envy those to whom God entrusts the riches. Neither of these conceptions is sufficiently true to be accepted without due consideration of certain other and important representations, such as
(1) that riches may be Divine judgments;
(2) that riches may be Divine trials;
(3) that riches always are Divine trusts, of which due account will presently be required.
Then attention needs to be directed to three things in relation to our riches:
(1) The wise care of them, as not ours, but God's;
(2) the faithful use of them, as not given to us for our sake, but for the sake of others, whom we may bless by means of them; and
(3) the watchful culture of the soul's life while in the enjoyment of them, seeing that the precise peril of them is that they tend to nourish a self-confidence which is fatally injurious to the soul's health and life.
Illustrate from the parable of the farmer who was getting over-rich, and had no storehouses large enough for his harvests, but who was not rich toward God. And see the counsels given to the rich by the Apostle James.—R.T.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 27". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20