Tuesday, August 6, 2013

CLXI - Saul and David - I Chronicles 10-12

As mentioned earlier, we have covered much of material in Chronicles.  The chapters we will study in this post will be a review of parts of II Samuel.

I Chronicles chapter 10  -  Saul's Demise

This entire chapter deals with the final event in Saul's life.  Saul and his Israelite army were in a fierce battle with the dreaded Philistines.  The Philistines had been bitter enemies of God's people since Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land, and would continue to be thorn in Israel's side for centuries to come.  The  Philistine people lived southwest of Israel along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.  The battle we see in this chapter of I Chronicles is one of many, but it is one that has gone decisively in favor of the Philistines.  Saul knew his army was being defeated and he also knew that he and his sons who were with him in the battle were in danger of losing their lives.  In verse 4 when Saul saw that the Philistines had killed his sons (including Jonathan), he told his personal armor-bearer to kill him.  {Saul would rather have died than be captured and tortured by the Philistines.}  The armor-bearer was too afraid to kill Saul, so Saul committed suicide by  falling on his own sword.  {This was not uncommon for a king to do during a battle his army was clearly losing.  There were few humiliations more severe than a king being captured by his enemies.  This is evidenced in vss 8-10 describing how much the Philistines tried to humiliate even Saul's dead body.}

Verses 11-12 tells of some very brave Israelites from Jabesh Gilead who went and took the bodies of Saul and his sons from hanging as a spectacle of disgrace in the Philistines' pagan temples.  Chronicles is very brief in its comments on Saul's life and death.  In the last two verses of this chapter 10, it tells that Saul was unfaithful to God.  He was disobedient to God's commands.  When Saul should have sought the word of God, he chose to consult mediums and spirits for advice.  This author suggests that Saul got what he deserved.

Chapter 11  -  King David

To put things into perspective from the standpoint of time:  About twenty years prior to these events told in this chapter is when God had Samuel anoint David as king of Israel.  At this current time, David had ruled as king of the tribe of Judah for about seven years.  II Samuel told us in much detail the trials and tribulations David suffered at the hands of king Saul for the last twenty years.  It was known to all of the men of God throughout Israel that David had been anointed king, thus David had been accumulating a following during all this time.  This is where I Chronicles picks up in chapter 11.

At the death of Saul, all those loyal to David declared themselves openly and joined with his army.  In verse 3 David made a covenant with them "before the Lord".  David's first order of business as the king of all tribes of Israel was to take back what was to be his capitol city.  {Some more pretext:  Many years earlier, right after the death of Joshua, the tribe of Judah (David's tribe) took the city called Jerusalem and inhabited that city.  But shortly thereafter the city was taken back by the Jebusites, a Caananite tribe that had previously held that city.  They named the city "Jebus".  For years the Israelites of Judah had tried to recapture that city but all attempts had failed.  Because of the terrain surrounding the city, it was almost impossible to penetrate without an overwhelmingly superior military.}  David decided to take his new large consolidated army and establish his authority right away.  And he chose to do that by taking the city of Jebus back.  He overtook the fortress of Zion, captured the city, and named it Jerusalem, to be known as the "City of David".  David declared this city as his capitol and he moved his headquarters there from Hebron, which had been his headquarters for seven years.

Vss 10-47  -  These verses give well-deserved attention to the mighty men of David's army.  These men were loyal, brave, and skillful warriors.  The Scripture mentions thirty of these men by name.  In vss 15--> it tells the short story of three additional men of valor.  These three extra special men were Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah.  Their names may not be familiar to you, but the story probably is.  This is the time when David was extremely thirsty and was unable to get water to drink.  When David finally received water, he poured it out as a gift to God, showing all of his soldiers how important God was to him.  He also said that he could not drink water if his soldiers had none.  That story has been told many times and has been the subject of many sermons preached from pulpits for a number of centuries.  But the prequel to the story is that the Philistines had David's army trapped and were starving them out, knowing there was no food or water at the place where David and his men were.  It was at this time when Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah broke through enemy lines, drew water from a well in the midst of the enemy, and carried it back to David.  These three were commissioned with positions of responsibility far beyond that of the famous Thirty.  The remaining verses in chapter 11 give the names of the other soldiers who were to become leaders in the army of Israel.

Chapter 12  -  David's Kingdom Fortified

This chapter gives an accounting of the army by tribe.  Chronicles is an interesting book in that it gives insight for understanding throughout, such as the comment about the Gadites being such able military commanders in vss 14-->.  In verse 16 it mentions the Benjamites.  This is important because Saul was from the tribe of
Benjamin, but they held no grudge against David and became an important part of his army.  It is here in I Chronicles 12:18 where there is one of the rare instances where the Holy Spirit is mentioned in an action.  "The Spirit came on Amasai, chief of the Thirty" and he spoke a declaration of support and loyalty to David.

The accounting in terms of numbers is given in vss 23 through the end of the chapter.  I can only approximate it to be about 400,000 soldiers, as Issachar's total representation is not clear.  It was important that the numbers were recorded by tribe, just as Moses had commanded centuries earlier.

Next post  -  David Establishes His Capitol

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