corner graphic   Hi,    
Facebook image
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to

Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Chronicles 12:32

Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Children of Issachar - According to the Targum they were all astronomers and astrologers: "and the sons of Issachar, who had understanding to know the times, and were skilled in fixing the beginnings of years, the commencement of months, and the intercalation of months and years; skillful in the changes of the moon, and in fixing the lunar solemnities to their proper times; skillful also in the doctrine of the solar periods; astrologers in signs and stars, that they might show Israel what to do; and their teachers were two hundred chiefs of the Sanhedrin: and all their brethren excelled in the words of the law, and were endued with wisdom, and were obedient to their command." - T. It appears that in their wisdom, experience, and skill, their brethren had the fullest confidence; and nothing was done but by their direction and advice.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12:32". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https: 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Men that had understanding of the times - This is best interpreted politically. Compare the marginal reference

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12:32". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". https: 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

1 Chronicles 12:32

Men that had understanding of the times.

Wants of the time

It is an important thing to understand the times in which we live, and to know what those times require (Esther 1:13; Matthew 16:3; Luke 19:44). Next to our Bibles and our own hearts our Lord would have us study our own times.

I. The times require of us a bold and unflinching maintenance of the entire truth of Christianity, and the Divine authority of the bible. Our lot is cast in an age of abounding unbelief, but when sceptics have said all they can, there are three broad facts which they have never explained away.

1. Jesus Christ Himself. How is it that there never has been one like Him, neither before nor after, since the beginning of historical times?

2. The Bible itself. How is it that this book stands entirely alone, for high views of God, true views of man, solemnity of thought, grandeur of doctrine, and purity of morality?

3. The effect which Christianity has produced on the world.

II. The times require at our hands distinct and decided views of Christian doctrine. The victories of Christianity, wherever they have been won, have been won by distinct doctrinal theology. Christianity without distinct doctrine is a powerless thing.

III. The times require of us an awakened and livelier sense of the unscriptural and soul-ruining character of Romanism.

IV. The times require of us a higher standard of personal holiness, and an increased attention to practical religion in daily life.

V. The times require of us more regular and steady perseverance in the old ways of getting good for our souls.

1. Private prayer.

2. Private Bible-reading.

3. Private meditation and communion with Christ.

Conclusion: Consider what the times require in reference--

1. To your own souls.

2. To the souls of others.

3. To the Church. (Bp. Ryle.)

The characteristics and duties of the times

Such was the character ascribed to the children of Issachar, at a remarkably interesting crisis in the circumstances of the nation to which they belonged. The period was that, when, by the death of Saul and his more worthy son in battle, the minds of the Jewish people were divided on the question whether the royalty was to be continued in the family of the departed monarch, or was to be transferred to the hands of the anointed David. The historian enumerates the individuals and the classes who were induced to announce their adherence to the latter; and amongst them are mentioned the persons whose names are recorded in our text. It may be considered as the duty of men, as the subjects of civil government, always to cherish an accurate acquaintance with the characteristics of the times in which they live, in order accurately to fulfil their ordinary duties, and those duties of a more peculiar nature, which the occurrence of seasons of exigency may sometimes impose upon them. We propose--

I. To state some of the characteristics by which the present times appear to be prominently distinguished.

1. Flagrant indulgence of iniquity on the part of ungodly men.

2. A heavy and extended pressure of national distress and perplexity.

3. A wide diffusion of the influence of knowledge and of freedom.

4. Extraordinary and delightful facilities for the dissemination of the gospel of Christ.

5. An awakened and an increasing concern among the people of the Saviour as to the progress and final triumphs of His cause.

II. The duties which the characteristics of the present times impose upon professing Christians.

1. Distinctly and always to recognise the providence of God.

2. To compare all that is apparent with the predictions of Divine truth.

3. To cultivate uncompromising decision in the exemplification of personal religion.

4. Diligently to labour in all the spheres of exertion by which they may advance the gospel of Christ.

5. To engage in fervent and continued prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (James Parsons.)

The men of Issachar, an example to British citizens

These were men who knew what it was best for the nation to carry out in the great crisis which had now arisen. It was important that Israel should wisely decide what ruler to select; it is of equal importance that we as a country should decide under what rule--whether that of strong drink, or that of unqualified temperance--we should abide. There are certain things that are needful in order to a good result in this matter.

I. There should re a right understanding of our own times. Our own times are--

1. Times of much evil from strong drink.

2. Times of much good.

3. Times of much hopefulness.

II. A right understanding of our own times ought to lead to proper action. They understood the times, to know what Israel ought to do. Right action must--

1. Be directed by intelligence.

2. Be inspired by Christian philanthropy.

3. Be embodied in practical forms.

4. Be animated by a self-denying enthusiasm.

III. In order that this right action may fully accomplish its ends there are certain requirements.

1. Individualisation. God invites us one by one, saying to each of us, “Do the work I give thee to do.”

2. Organisation. Combination multiplies force. In the moral world, one and one make a good deal more than two; they often make four, and three and three often make thirty.

3. Consecration. (Dawson Burns, D. D.)

The state of the times and the corresponding duties of the Church

The peculiar tribute which is thus paid to the tribe of Issachar--a tribute which distinguishes them most honourably from all the other classes of their countrymen, will appear the more remarkable when we took at the smallness of their number and the comparative seclusion in which they lived. In point of numerical strength they were by far the least considerable of all the tribes of Israel. While the rest could muster their hundreds of thousands, the children of Issachar, though “all their brethren were at their commandment,” could only furnish a body of two hundred men. But their lack of numbers was more than counterbalanced by their pre-eminent zeal, sagacity, and discipline--qualities which rendered them the ablest advisers in the council, as well as the best soldiers in the camp. But how, it may be asked, did they come to acquire this superior wisdom and intelligence? Were they more favourably circumstanced for obtaining information, and for observing the signs and duties of the times, than the general body of their fellow-subjects? Had they access to the private circles of the capital, or to the secret conferences of the court? On the contrary, they lived remote from cities--buried amid the tranquil retreats of the rural provinces, away from the sordid cares and the sickening crowds and the unquiet rumours of the metropolis, breathing the air of freshness and of freedom among their native mountains. From their peaceful solitudes they looked forth with a calm and dispassionate eye on the various movements that took place; and having leisure to reflect on the nature o! these movements, to compare them with the past transactions of their history, and to test them by the principles of the Divine Word, they were in a better condition for forming a sound judgment regarding them than those who might have an opportunity of seeing them through a closer, but, for that very reason, a more contracted and clouded medium. In this matter the children of Issachar have left an example which is well worthy of our thoughtful regard. We are required, by the authority of our Lord Himself, “to mark the signs of the times”--to keep a wide and wakeful eye on the revolving events of Providence, with the view of discovering their bearing on the position and prospects of the Church. It is, no doubt, generally supposed that religious men are very incompetent judges of public affairs. Like the tribe spoken of in the text, they are, as a distinctive party, the smallest in the state; and like them, too, they live in comparative seclusion from the cabals and contentions of the world; and it is, therefore, presumed that they can have but little acquaintance with the movements which are going on around them. Let it be admitted that they are not, as a body, so conversant with the details of public transactions as those who are directly engaged about them, yet still we hesitate not to say that they may be, and that they generally are, even better fitted than these for apprehending the great moral principles which such transactions carry in their bosom, and the manner in which they are likely to affect the welfare of the community. We need not remind you that religious men are accustomed to view questions of this kind in a very different light from the men of the world. The latter look upon them as they stand related to the opinions and interests of their fellow-creatures. It is in this respect that religious men--men of enlarged and enlightened piety--have the advantage of mere worldly politicians. They form their estimate of passing events not as they influence the temporary interests either of one party or another, nor as they are reflected through the fluctuating medium of public opinion. They judge of them by a far higher and more comprehensive standard. They view them in connection with the great chain of Providence. They compare them with the fixed purposes of the Divine administration, and with the unalterable rules of the Divine Word; and, by examining therein the light of these clear and all-controlling principles, they are enabled to group in the disjointed and fragmentary measures of public men under distinct moral classifications, to analyse the impulses and the agencies from whence they proceed; and, by means of these testing and discriminating processes, they are led to an “understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do.” It is important to mark the connection between the two separate members of the passage before us. It is stated, regarding the Children of Issachar, that they had “understanding of the times.” They comprehended the circumstances in which their country was placed; they marked the spirit which prevailed among the people. It was not from any motives of mere curiosity that they studied the movements of the day, nor was it with the view of descanting upon them in private meetings or in popular assemblies; far less was it their object to busy themselves with public matters for personal ends or for party purposes. The welfare of their country was the subject of their concern and the source of their inquiries. For the same reason it is incumbent upon us, not merely as subjects of the State, but as office-bearers and members of the Church of Christ, to study the phenomena of the age in which we live--to watch the moral forces that are operating upon the mass of society, swaying the tide of public opinion, and influencing the measures of public men.

I. The grand capital characteristic feature of these times consists in the general prevalence of national indifferentism or negative infidelity.

a general want of faith on all subjects, whether moral, political, or religious.

II. The duty of the Church requires--

1. That she should maintain a clear and decided testimony on behalf of the great fundamental principles of Divine truth.

2. A determined effort to resuscitate the sinking power of principle, and also a vigorous and combined movement to repel the creeping invasions--the subtle but forceful and successful encroachments of error. (Walter M’Gilvray.)

Understanding the times:--Some of the chapters of this book look as though they were so many of the newspapers of the period, that had been preserved; and there would be no history like that of a collection of newspapers, supposing there had been such things, successively issued, day by day, by different parties, affording a general view of events and transactions. We have here a very minute account of the political, military, and religious position of things at this time. We find different persons resorting to David, in larger or lesser numbers, and welcomed as they came. And among the rest there came a number of persons peculiar and distinct in character from all others. Instead of being told of their physical strength and vigour, their prowess and skill in using swords and spears, their incomparableness in war, we are told that they were “men who had understanding of the times, and knew what Israel ought to do”--men of political intelligence and sagacity, who could look about and see into things, who could interpret the prediction written upon a circumstance, who could tell what was the line marked out by such and such an event. They were not antiquarian men, who could tell you of the past; nor dreaming, poetical, prophetic men, talking about the future; but men who understood their own times--men who felt the great realities that were stirring about them. It was a great matter to have this understanding; for the consequence of having it was, they deduced “what Israel ought to do”--the movements that should be made, the things that the nation should determine upon. The accession of these men to David was, perhaps, of greater value than that of the thousands of fighting men; for wisdom and valour strengthen more than weapons of war. The wise man is strong. And these men, as a consequence of their understanding, ruled; “their brethren were at their commandment”; they had influence; other men and other minds recognised them as regal men, for, after all, I suppose, in the long run, it will always come to that--those that ought to rule, because they can do it, ultimately will do it. It is a blessed thing for a people, and for the world, when those who rule understand things, and really know what ought to be done, and every other body is at their command; for after all, the world wants guiding and ruling, and it is willing to be guided when it has confidence in the wisdom of those who are doing it, and knows it is being governed well. Well, we live in very stirring times; it is a great blessing to the world--though the world does not think of it or believe it--that God has an Israel in the world; an Israel mighty with God in prayer. And this Israel that is in the world ought always to remember that it is in the world; that it has not got to heaven yet. It belongs to earth, and to the movements of nations, political convulsions, and all things that are going on around it. The Israel of God has relations to them all, and is to look at them through that blessed atmosphere--the light of God’s truth, and God’s love--in which it lives. Let us, then, endeavour to understand our times, that we may know “what Israel ought to do.”

I. Religious men naturally look--

1. At the religious movements.

2. At the national and political movements of the times.

II. What Israel ought to do.

1. It is the privilege of the Church to be making intercession and prayer, that God may guide and superintend the movements of politicians and the masses of men.

2. They should observe the bearings upon the Church of all the movements of peoples and countries.

3. They should remember that all times, of all sorts are hastening us on to eternity. Let us not forget that while it is very proper for us to have certain relations to the times that are passing over us, the great business of all times is, to save our souls, to be at peace with God through Christ, and be prepared for the everlasting glory of heaven. (Thomas Binney.)

The propriety of considering times and circumstances

From the character given of the men of Issachar we shall show--

I. That our conduct must often re affected by times and circumstances of whatever nature.

1. Civil.

2. Social.

3. Personal.

II. How far it may be properly affected by them in the concerns of religion.

1. That we may attend to times, etc., is certain (example of Christ and apostles).

2. But how far is not easy to determine.

III. What there is in the times, etc., of the present day to affect our conduct. Application:

1. Guard against yielding to any corrupt bias.

2. The future judgment will be according to motives.

3. Seek for wisdom that is profitable to direct. (C. Simeon, M. A.)

Adaptation to conditions

How important it is that men should study the times in which they live, and adapt their work to the conditions which constitute their opportunity. He is the wise man who considers all the features of a case and adapts the treasure of which he is possessed to meet new desires and new demands. There may be change without change; in other words, the change may be but superficial, whilst the immutable may be within, giving order and dignity and energy to all that is attempted from without. Love is eternal, but its expression consists of continual variety. Prayer never changes aa to its spirit and intent, yet every day may find it laden with new expressions, because human history has revealed wants which had not before been even suspected. He who understands every time but his own, will do no permanent work for society. He is like a man who knows every language but his own native tongue, and is therefore unable to speak to the person standing at his side. (J. Parker, D. D.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Chronicles 12:32". The Biblical Illustrator. https: 1905-1909. New York.

Geneva Study Bible

And of the children of Issachar, [which were men] that had understanding of the l times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them [were] two hundred; and all their brethren [were] at their commandment.

(l) Men of good experience, who knew at all times what was to be done.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12:32". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https: 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

children of Issachar, … that had understanding of the times, etc. — Jewish writers say that the people of this tribe were eminent for their acquirements in astronomical and physical science; and the object of the remark was probably to show that the intelligent and learned classes were united with the military, and had declared for David.

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12:32". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https: 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

The times - They understood public affairs, the temper of the nation, and the tendencies of the present events. And they shewed their wisdom at this time; for as they had adhered to Saul while he lived, as knowing the time was not yet come for David to take possession of the kingdom: and as they could not join David, while Abner lived, and had the command of the other tribes wherewith they were encompassed, so as soon as he was dead, and they had opportunity to declare themselves, they owned David for their king.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12:32". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https: 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Chronicles 12:32 And of the children of Issachar, [which were men] that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them [were] two hundred; and all their brethren [were] at their commandment.

Ver. 32. That had understanding of the times.] Noscentes scite tempora, (a) such as well knew what was to be done, and when to do it, by a singular sagacity, gotten by long experience, rather than by skill in astrology. See Esther 1:13. David set a high price upon these; so doth God on such as regard and use the season of well-doing.

Were at their commandment.] They were looked upon as oracular men; and obeyed accordingly.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12:32". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https: 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Chronicles 12:32. Children of Issachar—that had understanding of the times See Genesis 49:15. To know what Israel ought to do; that is, says Houbigant, when the passover, the feast of pentecost, and the new moons were to be celebrated; a meaning plainly to be inferred from the foregoing words, and agreeable to Jacob's prediction concerning Issachar.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, As the time drew nearer for David's accession to the throne, God, in whose hand are the hearts of all men, appears here inclining them towards his anointed. Some of these joined him before Saul's death, but the most of them, it is probable, immediately after it.

1. Some of Saul's relations of Benjamin, men of great dexterity and valour, came to him in Ziklag.

2. Of the Gadites, some of most distinguished courage joined him in the wilderness; men who had afterwards great commands in their tribe, like lions for strength and boldness, and swift as roes to pursue their enemies. Not deterred by the overflowings of Jordan, they plunged into the rapid stream, and swam through; and on their way to the hold, meeting some plundering bands of Philistines or Moabites, they fell upon them, and routed them. Note; (1.) When we are in the way to Jesus, no difficulties must discourage us. (2.) As swift to fly from evil, and as bold in the cause of truth, ought every follower of the Son of David to be.

3. Many of Judah and Benjamin, besides those under the conduct of Amasai or Amasa, David's nephew, came to him; till, becoming a numerous body, David had suspicion that they might have some ill design. They who have been once endangered by false friends, have need to be somewhat jealous of future professions. [1.] He questions them, therefore, on their intentions: If they came peaceably, as real friends to assist him, his heart would be knit unto them; he would love them affectionately, and they should share his future welfare: if, under colour of friendship, to betray him, then he refers himself to God, as the avenger of the perfidious and deceitful. Note; (1.) There is one who seeth and judgeth, and upon whom lying lips and a deceitful tongue cannot impose. (2.) They who come to us in friendship, with professions of real regard, are entitled to a warm return of equal affection. (3.) They who have a good cause, and a good conscience, can comfortably leave their all in God's hands. [2.] Amasai, as the mouth of the company, with a spirit of wisdom and genuine affection, silences David's fears; assuring him of their fidelity; praying for his peace, and for all his friends; and professing a full confidence, that God would strengthen him to overcome all his enemies. Such a frank and zealous good wish removed David's suspicions: he received them, and preferred them, probably, when he came to the crown. Note; (1.) It is prudence to seek those for our friends who have God for their helper. (2.) He who is under the divine protection shall be kept in peace in the midst of trouble. (3.) It is our duty thus to make an unreserved surrender of ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to spend and be spent to his hourable service. (4.) Whatever strength spent in diligence, God has blessed us with for his work, we must never forget to be importunate for his blessing; else we shall labour in vain, and spend our strength for nought.

4. Of Manasseh, several chief men joined him as he went to battle with the Philistines, and in his return to Ziklag, who, being all valiant warriors, assisted him greatly in the pursuit and conquest of the Amalekites. Note; God will often, just at the critical moment, raise us up those very friends that we want.

5. After the defeat of Saul, multitudes flocked to him from every side, till his little band became a vast army. Note; They who patiently wait by faith on the promise, shall assuredly see at last the salvation of God.

2nd, During the life of Ish-bosheth the cause of the house of Saul daily weakened; on his death, all the tribes, convinced of the divine appointment of David, with joint consent assembled to make him king; and they brought with them such a force as would enable him to maintain his pretentions against all opposers. Near 350,000 valiant men met on this occasion, and, among the rest,

1. The priests and Levites shewed great zeal for David. Note; A faithful minister of God cannot but be a loyal subject to his prince.

2. The men of Issachar sent a deputation of two hundred of their chiefs, men of deep understanding, able counsellors, who knew what was for Israel's advantage, and therefore gladly welcomed David to the throne; and men of great influence, the whole tribe being under their sway. Note; A wise and able head is of greater weight to a cause, than the sword of the mighty.

3. All these are said to have a perfect heart. It was the result of conviction, that David ought, and the wish of their hearts that he might reign over them. He is truly a great king, whom his subjects obey, not only from a consciousness of duty, but from real love of his person and government.

4. So great a camp required vast provision; and so liberally did the country supply them, that they were not only fed, but feasted, while Israel rang for joy to see upon the throne the man after God's own heart. Note; When Jesus erects his throne in the heart, he gives present joy in believing; and when he comes at last to reign over his saints, then shall we be for ever filled with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12:32". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https: 1801-1803.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



1 Chronicles 12:32. The children of Issachar were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.

THE doctrine of expediency is of difficult investigation: but it is highly deserving of our attention; Because the greater part of our conduct in every situation of life depends upon it: and it is no small honour to the tribe of Issachar, that they were distinguished above all the other tribes of Israel in practical acquaintance with this important branch of human knowledge. In the account given of the other tribes who came to David to Hebron, we are merely told, how many they brought with them to place David on the throne of Israel: but in relation to the tribe of Issachar we are informed, that they acted from a dispassionate consideration of David’s claims, as compared with those of the house of Saul, and from a full conviction, that, in supporting David, they performed an acceptable service to God himself.

From the character here given of them we shall take occasion to shew,

I. That our conduct must often be affected by times and circumstances—

We are in the midst of a world changing every moment, ourselves also changing with the things around us. Hence arises a necessity of attending to times and circumstances in our concerns, of whatever nature they be:—

1. Civil—

[It is the knowing how to judge of the various occurrences that arise, and how to improve them to the good of the state, that constitutes the great science of politics: and it is to this knowledge, that the expression of “understanding the times” primarily refers [Note: See Esther 1:13.]. A statesman cannot determine what will be fit to be done a year hence, because circumstances may arise which would render all his plans abortive. He may indeed display much wisdom in the exercise of foresight, and in providing for contingencies; but still he must of necessity follow events which he cannot control, and be himself controlled by existing circumstances: and he is the greatest benefactor to the state, who is enabled to judge of them most correctly, and to adapt his measures to them most wisely.]

2. Social—

[All of us have, as it were, a little world around us, wherein we move; and all experience the same vicissitudes as are found in larger communities. In our families, innumerable things arise from day to day, which require us to vary our line of conduct. Sometimes ease and gaiety may become us, and at other times seriousness and reserve: sometimes a yielding spirit will be proper, and sometimes it will be necessary to be firm. It is no little wisdom to know how to conduct ourselves towards persons of different dispositions and of different habits: but we should labour diligently for the attainment of this wisdom, because the happiness both of ourselves and others most essentially depends upon it.]

3. Personal—

[It is obvious, that a very different deportment becomes us in youth and in age, in prosperity and adversity. Solomon tells us, that “there is to every thing a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven [Note: See Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.]” — — — To discern all these occasions, and to improve them aright, is the grand line of distinction between the thoughtless and considerate, the fool and the wise [Note: Ecclesiastes 2:14. Proverbs 22:3].]

But if our conduct must be influenced by them in temporal matters, there is still reason to inquire,

II. How far it may properly be affected by them in the concerns of religion—

That we may attend to times and circumstances, is certain—

[This appears both from the example of Christ and his Apostles, and from many plain directions given us in the Scripture. Our blessed Lord at one time was silent before his accusers, (“insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly,”) and at another time “witnessed a good confession before many witnesses:” at one time he hid himself from his enemies, and at another delivered himself into their hands: at one time delivered his instructions darkly in parables, and at another spoke “plainly and without a parable.” In like manner St. Paul did not deem “all things expedient that were lawful [Note: 1 Corinthians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 10:23.];” but would sometimes conform to the ceremonial law, and at other times neglect and even oppose it; at one time sanctioning circumcision, and at another withstanding it with all his might: and in his ministry he would set before his audience milk or strong meat, according as he saw occasion. So all the Apostles were to fast indeed, but not whilst the bridegroom was with them.

Such conduct is also prescribed to us. We are to recommend religion to the uttermost; but “not to set our pearls before swine:” we are to enforce the practice of it in its utmost extent; but not to put new wine into old bottles: we are to “answer a fool at one time according to his folly;” and, at another, “not according to his folly.”]

But how far we may attend to them, is not easy to determine—

[Every distinct case must be determined by the peculiar circumstances that attend it: it will be in vain therefore to descend to particulars. We may however lay down one general rule, which will be of service in determining most of the cases that can occur. The consideration of times and circumstances is never to affect our principles, but only the application of them.

Our principles must be fixed by the unerring standard of God’s word. The love of God, and the love of our fellow-creatures, a regard for truth, and honour, and integrity, with all other Christian graces, must be as fixed principles in our minds, from which we are never to swerve on any account. We must not regard life itself in comparison of these. But then the peculiar mode in which these principles are to operate, must be a matter of discretion, arising from the circumstances of the case, And herein is the difference between a novice in religion, and one who has been long walking in the ways of God: the love of the more advanced Christian has “grown in knowledge and in all judgment:” “he discerns” more clearly than others “the things that differ;” and is enabled to combine, what we should always study to unite, “the wisdom of the serpent with the harmlessness of the dove.”]

It being clear, then, that our conduct may be affected by them, we proceed to shew,

III. What there is in the times and circumstances of the present day to affect it—

There is no little resemblance between the times of which our text speaks, and of the times wherein we live [Note: Any circumstances that may have occurred, as sudden deaths, &c. might here be brought toward, as motives to exalt Jesus to the throne of Iarael.].

The elevation to the throne of Israel was typical of the elevation of Christ to an empire over the souls of men—

[Christ is the true David, to whom all the tribes of Israel must bow [Note: Hosea 3:5. Isaiah 45:23-25.]. A long series of prophecies have foretold his reign; and have given us reason to expect that that reign shall be universal — — —]

And the circumstances of the present day loudly call upon us to install Jesus in our hearts—

[Never since the Apostolic age was there such a zeal for the Bible as at the present day. Princes and Nobles, no less than the ministers of religion themselves, are expatiating on its value, and commending to us the Saviour, as therein revealed. When all the tribes then are uniting in this blessed object, shall not we concur to the utmost of our power? True indeed the numbers belonging to Issachar bare no proportion to those of other tribes: they were only two hundred, when the others were thirty, forty, and even a hundred thousand men. But we must observe, that these two hundred were the heads and governors of that tribe; and “all the rest were at their command.” So let it be amongst us: let those who are foremost in rank, in learning, in wealth, lead the way, saying, “Come let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten:” and let all others unite with heart and hand, to seat Jesus on the throne of their hearts, and to glorify him as our Lord and our God.]

In applying to yourselves this subject, we would suggest a caution or two:

1. Guard against yielding to any corrupt bias—

[In consulting times and circumstances, you will be in danger of being warped by your interests or passions. But you must watch and pray against them, and beg help from God that you may not be drawn aside by them.]

2. Bear in mind that God will judge you in the last day according to what he knows to have been your true motives—

[We cannot deceive him — — — and should be careful not to deceive ourselves.]

3. Beg of God to give you the “wisdom that is profitable to direct”—

[God has promised to give wisdom, even “sound wisdom and discretion, to all who ask it of him [Note: James 1:5.]. And let none be discouraged, as though a want of education or abilities incapacitated them for the due discharge of their duty; for the heart, and not the head, is the seat of this wisdom; and God has promised, that “the meek he will guide in judgment, the meek he will teach his way.”]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12:32". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https: 1832.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Understanding of the times; either,

1. Skill in the stars, and several seasons and changes of the air; which might be of good use in husbandry, to which this tribe was addicted Genesis 49:14 Deuteronomy 33:18. Or rather,

2. Political prudence to discern and embrace the fit seasons for all actions; as appears,

1. From the following words,

to know what, not only their own tribe, but

all Israel ought to do.

2. By the great authority and command which they had over all their brethren upon this account, as it here follows.

3. Because this is so considerable a circumstance in all human, and especially in public, affairs, that the success or disappointment of them depends very much upon the right or wrong timing of them, and therefore this is a very fit expression to signify their great prudence. And particularly they showed this point of their wisdom at this time; for as they had adhered to Saul whilst he lived, as knowing the time was not yet come for David to take possession of the kingdom; and as they could not join themselves to David whilst Abner lived, and was potent, and had the command of the other tribes, wherewith they were encompassed; so as soon as he was dead, and they had opportunity to declare themselves, they owned David for their king.

4. By the like use of this phrase, Esther 1:13.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12:32". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https: 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

32. That had understanding… to know what Israel ought to do — These representatives of Issachar displayed superior judgment on this occasion in estimating the circumstances of the times, and discerning the course of action Israel should pursue.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12:32". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https: 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 Chronicles 12:32. That had understanding of the times — They understood public affairs, the temper of the nation, and the tendencies of the present events. And they showed their wisdom at this time; for as they had adhered to Saul, while he lived, as knowing the time was not yet come for David to take possession of the kingdom; and as they could not join David, while Abner lived, and had the command of the other tribes wherewith they were encompassed, so, as soon as he was dead, and they had opportunity to declare themselves, they owned David for their king.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12:32". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https: 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Should, in agricultural pursuits, in which those of Issachar excelled, Genesis xlix. 14. Countrymen have often more skill about the weather, then the greatest astronomers, Virgil, Georg. i. (Menochius) (Tirinus) --- Others think that these men could calculate when the festivals would occur, (St. Jerome, Trad.) or they were well versed in politics, &c. See Esther i. 13.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12:32". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https: 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

had understanding. Understood statesmanship.

the times. Figure of speech Metonymy (of Adjunct), put for what is (or ought to be) done in them.

commandment. Hebrew mouth. Put by Figure of speech Metonymy (of Cause), App-6, for what is commanded by it.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12:32". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https: 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.

Children of Issachar ... that had understanding of the times ... Jewish writers say that the people of this tribe were eminent for their acquirements in astronomical and physical science; and the object of the remark was probably to show that the intelligent and learned classes were united with the military, and had declared for David;

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12:32". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https: 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(32) And of the children of Issachar . . .—Rather, And of the sons of Issachar (came) men sage in discernment for the times (tempora, critical junctures), so as to know what Israel ought to do; viz., their chiefs two hundred (in number), and all their fellow clansmen under their orders. The old Jewish expositors concluded, from the former part of this verse that the tribe of Issachar had skill iıı astrology, so that they could read in the heavens what seasons were auspicious for action, as the ancient Babylonians professed to do. But all that the text really asserts is that those men of Issachar who went over to David thereby showed political sagacity. No similar phrase occurs elsewhere in the Old Testament.

At their commandment.—Upon their mouth. (Comp. Numbers 4:27.) The clansmen marched with their chieftains. The total number of Issachar’s contingent is not assigned.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12:32". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https: 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.
understanding of the times
That is, as the following words indicate, intelligent men, who understood the signs of the times, well versed in political affairs, and knew what was proper to be done in all the exigencies of human life; and who now perceived that it was both the duty and political interest of Israel to advance David to the throne.
Genesis 49:14; Esther 1:13; Isaiah 22:12-14; 33:6; Micah 6:9; Matthew 16:3; Luke 12:56,57
to know
Proverbs 14:8; Ephesians 5:17
all their
Proverbs 24:5; Ecclesiastes 7:19; 9:18

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12:32". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, March 20th, 2018
the Fifth Week of Lent
There are 12 days til Easter!
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology