Warriors Join David1 These were the men who came to David at Ziklag, while he was banished from the presence of Saul son of Kish (they were among the warriors who helped him in battle; 2 they were armed with bows and were able to shoot arrows or to sling stones right-handed or left-handed; they were relatives of Saul from the tribe of Benjamin):
3 Ahiezer their chief and Joash the sons of Shemaah the Gibeathite; Jeziel and Pelet the sons of Azmaveth; Berakah, Jehu the Anathothite, 4 and Ishmaiah the Gibeonite, a mighty warrior among the Thirty, who was a leader of the Thirty; Jeremiah, Jahaziel, Johanan, Jozabad the Gederathite, 5 Eluzai, Jerimoth, Bealiah, Shemariah and Shephatiah the Haruphite; 6 Elkanah, Ishiah, Azarel, Joezer and Jashobeam the Korahites; 7 and Joelah and Zebadiah the sons of Jeroham from Gedor.
8 Some Gadites defected to David at his stronghold in the wilderness. They were brave warriors, ready for battle and able to handle the shield and spear. Their faces were the faces of lions, and they were as swift as gazelles in the mountains.
9 Ezer was the chief,
Obadiah the second in command, Eliab the third,
10 Mishmannah the fourth, Jeremiah the fifth,
11 Attai the sixth, Eliel the seventh,
12 Johanan the eighth, Elzabad the ninth,
13 Jeremiah the tenth and Makbannai the eleventh.
14 These Gadites were army commanders; the least was a match for a hundred, and the greatest for a thousand. 15 It was they who crossed the Jordan in the first month when it was overflowing all its banks, and they put to flight everyone living in the valleys, to the east and to the west.
16 Other Benjamites and some men from Judah also came to David in his stronghold. 17 David went out to meet them and said to them, “If you have come to me in peace to help me, I am ready for you to join me. But if you have come to betray me to my enemies when my hands are free from violence, may the God of our ancestors see it and judge you.”
18 Then the Spirit came on Amasai, chief of the Thirty, and he said:
“We are yours, David!
We are with you, son of Jesse!
Success, success to you,
and success to those who help you,
for your God will help you.”
So David received them and made them leaders of his raiding bands.
19 Some of the tribe of Manasseh defected to David when he went with the Philistines to fight against Saul. (He and his men did not help the Philistines because, after consultation, their rulers sent him away. They said, “It will cost us our heads if he deserts to his master Saul.”) 20 When David went to Ziklag, these were the men of Manasseh who defected to him: Adnah, Jozabad, Jediael, Michael, Jozabad, Elihu and Zillethai, leaders of units of a thousand in Manasseh. 21 They helped David against raiding bands, for all of them were brave warriors, and they were commanders in his army. 22 Day after day men came to help David, until he had a great army, like the army of God.
1 Chronicles 12:1-22
We have here an account of those that appeared and acted as David’s friends, upon the death of Saul, to bring about the revolution. All the forces he had, while he was persecuted, was but 600 men, who served for his guards; but, when the time had come that he must begin to act offensively, Providence brought in more to his assistance. Even while he kept himself close, because of Saul (v. 1), while he did not appear, to invite or encourage his friends and well-wishers to come in to him (not foreseeing that the death of Saul was so near), God was inclining and preparing them to come over to him with seasonable succors. Those that trust God to do his work for them in his own way and time shall find his providence outdoing all their forecast and contrivance. The war was God’s, and he found out helpers of the war, whose forwardness to act for the man God designed for the government is here recorded to their honor. I. Some, even of Saul’s brethren, of the tribe of Benjamin, and a-kin to him, came over to David, v. 2. What moved them to it we are not told. Probably a generous indignation at the base treatment which Saul, one of their tribe, gave him, animated them to appear the more vigorously for him, that the guilt and reproach of it might not lie upon them. These Benjamites are described to be men of great dexterity, that were trained up in shooting and slinging, and used both hands alike—ingenious active men; a few of these might do David a great deal of service. Several of the leading men of them are here named. See Jdg. 20:16.II. Some of the tribe of Gad, though seated on the other side Jordan, had such a conviction of David’s title to the government, and fitness for it, that they separated themselves from their brethren (a laudable separation it was) to go to David, though he was in the hold in the wilderness (v. 8), probably some of his strong holds in the wilderness of Engedi. They were but few, eleven in all, here named, but they added much to David’s strength. Those that had hitherto come in to his assistance were most of them men of broken fortunes, distressed, discontented, and soldiers of fortune, that came to him rather for protection than to do him any service, 1 Sa. 22:2. But these Gadites were brave men, men of war, and fit for the battle, v. 8. For, 1. They were able-bodied men, men of incredible swiftness, not to fly from, but to fly upon, the enemy, and to pursue the scattered forces. In this they were as swift as the roes upon the mountains, so that no man could escape from them; and yet they had faces like the faces of lions, so that no man could out-fight them. 2. They were disciplined men, trained up to military exercises; they could handle shield and buckler, use both offensive and defensive weapons. 3. They were officers of the militia in their own tribe (v. 14), so that though they did not bring soldiers with them they had them at command, hundreds, thousands. 4. They were daring men, that could break through the greatest difficulties. Upon some expedition or other, perhaps this to David, they swam over the Jordan, when it overflowed all its banks, v. 15. Those are fit to be employed in the cause of God that can venture thus in a dependence upon the divine protection. 5. They were men that would go through with the business they engaged in. What enemies those were that they met with in the valleys, when they had passed Jordan, does not appear; but they put them to flight with their lion-like faces, and pursued them with matchless fury, both towards the east and towards the west; which way soever they turned, they followed their blow, and did not do their work by halves. III. Some of Judah and Benjamin came to him, v. 16. Their leader was Amasai, whether the same with that Amasa that afterwards sided with Absalom (2 Sa. 17:25) or no does not appear. Now here we have,1. David’s prudent treaty with them, v. 17. He was surprised to see them, and could not but conceive some jealousy of the intentions of their coming, having been so often in danger by the treachery of the men of Ziph and the men of Keilah, who yet were all men of Judah. He might well be timorous whose life was so much struck at; he might well be suspicious who had been deceived in so many that he said, in his haste, All men are liars. No marvel that he meets these men of Judah with caution. Observe,(1.) How he puts the matter to themselves, how fairly he deals with them. As they are, they shall find him; so shall all that deal with the Son of David. [1.] If they be faithful and honorable, he will be their rewarder:
Others Join David at Hebron23 These are the numbers of the men armed for battle who came to David at Hebron to turn Saul’s kingdom over to him, as the LORD had said:
24 from Judah, carrying shield and spear—6,800 armed for battle;
25 from Simeon, warriors ready for battle—7,100;
26 from Levi—4,600, 27 including Jehoiada, leader of the family of Aaron, with 3,700 men, 28 and Zadok, a brave young warrior, with 22 officers from his family;
29 from Benjamin, Saul’s tribe—3,000, most of whom had remained loyal to Saul’s house until then;
30 from Ephraim, brave warriors, famous in their own clans—20,800;
31 from half the tribe of Manasseh, designated by name to come and make David king—18,000;
32 from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command;
33 from Zebulun, experienced soldiers prepared for battle with every type of weapon, to help David with undivided loyalty—50,000;
34 from Naphtali—1,000 officers, together with 37,000 men carrying shields and spears;
35 from Dan, ready for battle—28,600;
36 from Asher, experienced soldiers prepared for battle—40,000;
37 and from east of the Jordan, from Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, armed with every type of weapon—120,000.
38 All these were fighting men who volunteered to serve in the ranks. They came to Hebron fully determined to make David king over all Israel. All the rest of the Israelites were also of one mind to make David king. 39 The men spent three days there with David, eating and drinking, for their families had supplied provisions for them. 40 Also, their neighbors from as far away as Issachar, Zebulun and Naphtali came bringing food on donkeys, camels, mules and oxen. There were plentiful supplies of flour, fig cakes, raisin cakes, wine, olive oil, cattle and sheep, for there was joy in Israel.
1 Chronicles 12:23-40
We have here an account of those who were active in perfecting the settlement of David upon the throne, after the death of Ishbosheth. We read (ch. 11:1, and before 2 Sa. 5:1) that all the tribes of Israel came, either themselves or by their representatives, to Hebron, to make David king; now here we have an account of the quota which every tribe brought in ready armed to the war, in case there should be any opposition, v. 23. We may observe here, I. That those tribes that lived nearest brought the fewest-Judah but 6800 (v. 24), Simeon but 7100 (v. 25); whereas Zebulun, that lay remote, brought 50,000, Asher 40,000, and the two tribes and a half on the other side Jordan 120,000. Not as if the next adjacent tribes were cold in the cause; but they showed as much of their prudence in bringing few, since all the rest lay so near within call, as the others did of their zeal in bringing so many. The men of Judah had enough to do to entertain those that came from afar. II. The Levites themselves, and the priests (called here the Aaronites), appeared very hearty in this cause, and were ready, if there were occasion, to fight for David, as well as pray for him, because they knew he was called of God to the government, v. 26–28.III. Even some of the kindred of Saul came over to David (v. 29), not so many as of the other tribes, because a foolish affection for their own tribe, and a jealousy for the honor of it, kept many of them long in the sinking interest of Saul’s family. Kindred should never over-rule conscience. Call no man Father to this extent, but God only. IV. It is said of most of these that they were mighty men of valor (v. 25, 28, 30), of others that they were expert in war (v. 35, 36), and of them all that they could keep rank, v. 38. They had a great deal of martial fire, and yet were governable and subject to the rules of order—warm hearts but cool heads. V. Some were so considerate as to bring with them arms, and all instruments for war (v. 24, 33, 37), for how could they think that David should be able to furnish them? VI. The men of Issachar were the fewest of all, only 200, and yet as serviceable to David’s interest as those that brought in the greatest numbers, these few being in effect the whole tribe. For, 1. They were men of great skill above any of their neighbours, men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do. They understood the natural times, could discern the face of the sky, were weather-wise, could advise their neighbours in the proper times for ploughing, sowing reaping, etc. Or the ceremonial times, the times appointed for the solemn feasts; therefore they are said to call the people to the mountain (Deu. 33:19), for almanacs were not then so common as now. Or, rather, the political times; they understood public affairs, the temper of the nation, and the tendencies of the present events. It is the periphrasis of statesmen that they know the times, Esth. 1. 13. Those of that tribe were greatly intent on public affairs, had good intelligence from abroad and made a good use of it. They knew what Israel ought to do: from their observation and experience they learned both their own and others’ duty and interest. In this critical juncture they knew Israel ought to make David king. It was not only expedient, but necessary; the present posture of affairs called for it. The men of Issachar dealt mostly in country business, and did not much intermeddle in public affairs, which gave them an opportunity of observing others and conversing with themselves. A stander-by sees sometimes more than a gamester. 2. They were men of great interests; for all their brethren were at their commandment. The commonality of that tribe having bowed their shoulder to bear (Gen. 49:15), the great men had them at their beck. Hence we read of the princes of Issachar, Jdg. 5:15. They knew how to rule, and the rest knew how to obey. It is happy indeed when those that should lead are intelligent and judicious, and those who are to follow are modest and obsequious. VII. It is said of them all that they engaged in this enterprise with a perfect heart (v. 38), and particularly of the men of Zebulun that they were not of double heart, v. 33. They were, in this matter, Israelites indeed, in whom was no guile. And this was their perfection, that they were of one heart, v. 38. None had any separate interests, but all for the public good. VIII. The men of Judah, and others of the adjacent tribes, prepared for the victualling of their respective camps when they came to Hebron, v. 39, 40. Those that were at the least pains in travelling to this convention, or congress of states, thought themselves obliged to be at so much the more charge in entertaining the rest, that there might be something of an equality. A noble feast was made (was made for laughter, Eccl. 10:19) upon this occasion, for there was joy in Israel, v. 40. And good reason; for when the righteous bear rule the city rejoices. Thus, when the throne of Christ is set up in a soul, there is, or ought to be, great joy in that soul: and provision is made for the feasting of it, not as here for two or three days, but for the whole life, nay, for eternity.