David the Warrior

Posted: September 22, 2010 in 1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 18-20, “David the Warrior”
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Anyone a fan of war movies? To see ancient armies lined up for battle & rushing headlong into each other can be exciting…and a bit sobering. After all, that was the way of life for many people & many generations. War was simply a fact of life & this is certainly shown to be true in the life of David. David was definitely a warrior.

Back in Ch 17, as God was giving David the covenant of the Messiah to come, God also promised David, “Also I will subdue all your enemies,” (1 Chr 17:10). Ultimately this is a promise that looks forward towards the Millennial kingdom of Christ Jesus, but we do see partial fulfillment of this promise in the immediate life of David. That’s actually where the Chronicler picks up in Ch 18-20: the work of God in subduing the enemies of David & Israel. What we know as David’s victories are really the work of God – and there’s much to be seen here how God works in battles, especially spiritual battles today. God shows forth His awesome power in His sovereign preservation of His people… God shows His jealous love for us in His righteous protection of His people… God shows forth His splendor in His glorious victory…

1 Chronicles 18 (NKJV)
1 After this it came to pass that David attacked the Philistines, subdued them, and took Gath and its towns from the hand of the Philistines. 2 Then he defeated Moab, and the Moabites became David’s servants, and brought tribute. 3 And David defeated Hadadezer king of Zobah as far as Hamath, as he went to establish his power by the River Euphrates. 4 David took from him one thousand chariots, seven thousand horsemen, and twenty thousand foot soldiers. Also David hamstrung all the chariot horses, except that he spared enough of them for one hundred chariots.

A. Right off the bat, the Chronicler lists a slew of victories for David!

a. Philistines: perennial enemies of Israel, yet David’s former alliance…
b. Moab: another constant enemy of Israel – distant relations…
c. Zobah: a part of Syria. Shows the expanse of David’s borders – a partial fulfillment of prophecy regarding the size of the land. (Gen 15:18 – “from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates…”)

B. David didn’t merely win partial victories here – his defeat of Hadadezer shows the total extent of his victory: the enemy army was completely disarmed. Taking 1000 chariots was like taking out his entire cavalry tank division; hamstringing the horses would be like disabling all their jet fighters. Hadadezer suffered so much a defeat that he couldn’t respond to another attack from David, if he wanted to!
C. Keep in mind that in David, we often see a fore-runner of Jesus Christ. For David to have the victory shows a bit of the victory Jesus will have over the enemy & the reign He will have during the Millennium.

5 When the Syrians of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David killed twenty-two thousand of the Syrians. 6 Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus; and the Syrians became David’s servants, and brought tribute. So the LORD preserved David wherever he went.

A. Even the Syrians who came to assist Hadadezer were overwhelmed by David & the army of Israel. Syria was a major player at the time, and Israel was just a tiny little country on the Mediterranean (still is!), and yet not only did David wipe out 22,000 of the Syrian army, but David was able to establish military bases in Syrian territory itself!
B. The key to all of David’s victories? Vs 6b, “So the LORD preserved David wherever he went.” This was an act of God! Hebrew “preserved” implies freedom, salvation, & victory. God was the one who caused these nations to fall – God was the one who brought David through the battle. Just as God was the one who exalted David in the eyes of the people as king, God was the one who exalted David as a military warrior. Every victory that David experienced was handed to him by the grace of God.

a. The Lord preserves His people in times of battle… He’s our shield – our shelter – our defense.

7 And David took the shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem. 8 Also from Tibhath and from Chun, cities of Hadadezer, David brought a large amount of bronze, with which Solomon made the bronze Sea, the pillars, and the articles of bronze.

A. Here we see how David acquired so much wealth & was able to give Solomon such a rich inheritance with which to build the temple. Not only did all of these countries that were conquered pay tribute (taxes) to David, but David brought back much precious metal from the lands like gold, silver, & bronze. Specifically here, we see the booty was used during the temple construction.
B. This is wonderful when we take a step back & look at it. Here are materials & things used to promote pagan cultures (i.e. the “shields of gold”), but yet they were captured by the people of God & redeemed for use in worship of the One True God.

9 Now when Tou king of Hamath heard that David had defeated all the army of Hadadezer king of Zobah, 10 he sent Hadoram his son to King David, to greet him and bless him, because he had fought against Hadadezer and defeated him (for Hadadezer had been at war with Tou); and Hadoram brought with him all kinds of articles of gold, silver, and bronze.

A. Not only did David enrich the state of Israel through the various tributes imposed on the lands he conquered, but apparently nations whom David never even attacked saw the power of God resting with Israel, and voluntarily submitted themselves to David’s rule.
B. This is one reason we ought to be so quick to share our testimonies with other people. As they hear about the wonderful work of God in our lives – how we were once lost & doomed, but through the love of God we were saved by the glorious work of Jesus Christ at the cross – then there will be some who will rejoice with us! Like Tou, they’ll recognize the work & hand of God, and they’ll place their faith & trust in the King of Israel as the result.

11 King David also dedicated these to the LORD, along with the silver and gold that he had brought from all these nations—from Edom, from Moab, from the people of Ammon, from the Philistines, and from Amalek.

A. Summary of nations conquered by David…it’s quite a list! Even the Amalekites paid tribute to David…

a. Technically, the Amalekites should not have existed at all by this stage. Saul had the responsibility of wiping them out in battle, but yet refused to do so. For now, Amalek will pay tribute; in the future they would likely be a thorn in the side of Israel.

B. What did David do with all the tribute & booty from war? He “dedicated these to the LORD.” It all belonged to God (because God was the one who did the fighting), and thus God was to be honored with the increase. For David (and for us), it’s not a matter of obligation; it’s a matter of priority. God had the highest priority in David’s kingdom, and it was reflected through his giving.

12 Moreover Abishai the son of Zeruiah killed eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. 13 He also put garrisons in Edom, and all the Edomites became David’s servants. And the LORD preserved David wherever he went.

A. More victories in battle. Specifically naming Abishai here having victory over the army of Edom. As with Syria, Israel was able to put military bases in the land, and all the land of Edom (traditional foes with Israel) became subject to the rule of King David.
B. Notice the repetition: “And the LORD preserved David wherever he went.” There’s no doubt here of what happened. It was God’s strength that caused David to prosper & the Chronicler didn’t want us to forget it!

a. Neither should we forget the great things God does for us in our salvation through Jesus Christ! Through Jesus, we are forgiven – saved from our sin. Through Jesus, we have a new birth – saved from death. Through Jesus we have victory over the enemy – saved from the devil. We are preserved/saved by God to His glory…never forget it! Rejoice in the marvelous things God has done!

14 So David reigned over all Israel, and administered judgment and justice to all his people. 15 Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; 16 Zadok the son of Ahitub and Abimelech the son of Abiathar were the priests; Shavsha was the scribe; 17 Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David’s sons were chief ministers at the king’s side.

A. Brief interlude here describing the various players in the “David Administration.” Virtually the same listing as in 2 Samuel 8:16-18. The main difference in an altered spelling of “Shavsha”; in 2 Sam he’s listed as “Seraiah.”
B. Obviously David did not run the kingdom all by himself – he was surrounded with men that were able to do the job. David sometimes gets all the credit (sometimes we even forget God!), but David was never alone. … Likewise in the Body of Christ. There are so many different roles & many different parts to play. The pastor sometimes (sadly) gets all the credit, but a great church congregation is never due to only the pastor. It’s due to the work of God among the people of God. [body of Christ – many roles, 1 Cor 12]

1 Chronicles 19 (NKJV)
1 It happened after this that Nahash the king of the people of Ammon died, and his son reigned in his place. 2 Then David said, “I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent messengers to comfort him concerning his father. And David’s servants came to Hanun in the land of the people of Ammon to comfort him. 3 And the princes of the people of Ammon said to Hanun, “Do you think that David really honors your father because he has sent comforters to you? Did his servants not come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land?” 4 Therefore Hanun took David’s servants, shaved them, and cut off their garments in the middle, at their buttocks, and sent them away.

A. Terrible situation! David attempts to do something nice, and then gets slapped in the face by a nation that’s too suspicious for its own good.

a. It’s so very important to believe the best about people! When we assume the worst & impart motives to people, we inevitably make things worse. What may already be a bad situation or misunderstanding gets made worse & escalates into something terrible.

B. Notice that Hanun doesn’t merely send the messengers away (which would have been insulting enough to King David); he completely humiliates them. … That’s exactly what our enemy (Satan) attempts to do with us. His whole strategy is to steal, kill, and destroy. In his eyes, the more he can hurt believers, the better. How many believers are ridiculed in the public eye, simply for taking a stand for Christ Jesus? It’s far easier for the world to insult the Church than it is for them to listen to the conviction of the Holy Spirit through the gospel. Thankfully, like David’s men, we have a Protector! See vs. 5…

5 Then some went and told David about the men; and he sent to meet them, because the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, “Wait at Jericho until your beards have grown, and then return.”

A. David is going to act towards Ammon, but the first thing he does is show compassion to his own men. He wasn’t going to force them to return to Jerusalem in a state of humiliation; instead, he gave them opportunity to recover & be ministered to.
B. Regarding Christ, we serve a God who loves us & cares for us! The greater-than-David knows our needs, and when we are left wounded in the battles of spiritual warfare, we can go to Him for comfort & healing.

a. BTW – the Church has a role to play in this as well. Too often, the Church is known for “shooting the wounded,” but that’s the opposite of what ought to take place. When believers come in hurt from trials & spiritual battles, the Church has a responsibility to come alongside our brothers & sisters in Christ & to comfort them with the comfort we have in Jesus. (2 Cor 1)

6 When the people of Ammon saw that they had made themselves repulsive to David, Hanun and the people of Ammon sent a thousand talents of silver to hire for themselves chariots and horsemen from Mesopotamia, from Syrian Maacah, and from Zobah. 7 So they hired for themselves thirty-two thousand chariots, with the king of Maacah and his people, who came and encamped before Medeba. Also the people of Ammon gathered together from their cities, and came to battle.

A. If Ammon hadn’t already made things bad enough, they go & make it worse with their next step. Anticipating that David is going to respond to this insult against his men, they go & hire mercenary soldiers from Mesopotamia, Syria, and Zobah to ally with them & fight against David. Their idea was while David was weak (at least, in their eyes), they would hit him with everything they had & crush David in battle. Obviously things don’t work out that way.
B. What a wasted opportunity here! Instead of repenting from their sinful actions & pleading with David for mercy while offering to make things right, they escalate things to a state of war. … How many times do we make the same mistake? Instead of recognizing our own sin & seeking the forgiveness of the Lord & of others, we dig our heels in & make things worse. We may think we’re going to push our prideful way through, but instead, we end up warring against the Lord’s own people (and ultimately against God Himself).

a. If that’s you, don’t make that mistake! Humble yourself before the Lord & seek His forgiveness. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble…

8 Now when David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the army of the mighty men. 9 Then the people of Ammon came out and put themselves in battle array before the gate of the city, and the kings who had come were by themselves in the field. 10 When Joab saw that the battle line was against him before and behind, he chose some of Israel’s best, and put them in battle array against the Syrians. 11 And the rest of the people he put under the command of Abishai his brother, and they set themselves in battle array against the people of Ammon. 12 Then he said, “If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the people of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will help you.

A. Once David catches wind of the plan, he sends Joab & Abishai off to war – and things look pretty grim for the armies of Israel. Surrounded by the vast enemy army, Joab & Abishai place their soldiers back-to-back with the promise of fighting for the other if things start going badly. Although the book was not yet written, they demonstrated the wisdom of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (9) Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. (10) For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. []
B. Do you have someone standing by your side in spiritual battle? Praise God that the Lord Jesus is always interceding for us! (Heb 7:25) Praise God that the Holy Spirit prays for us in groanings which cannot be uttered! (Rom 8:26) Yet at the same time, it’s wonderful to have brothers & sisters in the Lord fighting alongside with you in battle – hitting their knees to intercede for you in Jesus’ name. There’s a value in lifting one another up in prayer & we ought to be quick to both ask for prayer & pray for one another…

13 Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the LORD do what is good in His sight.”

A. Joab’s battle plan is simple, but absolutely key to victory! (1) Be of good courage… (2) Be strong… (3) Rely on God… Joab had faith in what God was going to do that day & he encouraged Abishai & the others to wait upon the Lord for victory. What was true for Joab is also true for us. This is a wonderful key to spiritual warfare:
B. Step 1: Be of good courage. Over & over throughout the Bible, the call goes out to the people of God that we ought not to fear, but rather take courage! “Do not fear” = 52 times. “Fear not” = 10 times. “Good courage” = 16 times. Get the point? God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love & a sound mind (2 Tim 1:7). When we start being fearful of our situation, we can be assured that the fear did not come from God, and that God would actually command us to do the opposite, but be of good courage. Objection: “Well, that’s easy to do in spiritual sorts of things, but what about everyday trials & battles? What if I’m afraid of actually being able to put food on the table, or I’m afraid of a disease affecting my loved ones?” What makes us think that the same principle wouldn’t apply? We don’t battle against flesh & blood, but against powers & principalities of a deep spiritual realm (Eph 6:12). Every battle we face is ultimately a spiritual battle. The only fear that is a good fear to have is the fear of the Lord. Everything else is a distraction from the devil, and we need to be aware not to fall into the trap of fear.
C. Step 2: Be strong. Quite often in the Bible, we see the exhortations to be strong combined with that of to be of good courage, and it wouldn’t be inappropriate to say they are pretty similar ideas. However, there is a bit of distinction. Courage will enable someone to walk into a battle; strength will enable someone to stay there. When the enemy comes against us like a flood, the easiest thing (& the natural thing) to do is to simply roll over & let things happen, waiting until things settle down again. Yet that’s not exactly the idea of endurance or strength. Strong structures don’t collapse in times of trial, they stand firm. [Build house on the rock – Matt 7:24-27] In times of spiritual battle, we need to be strong & stand our ground – which is exactly what Paul commanded the church at Ephesus to do. Ephesians 6:10-11 (10) Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. (11) Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. [] Whatever happens, having done all, we’re to stand our ground on the firm word of God & the gospel of Jesus Christ! Be strong & stand rooted & grounded in our Savior!
D. Step 3: Trust God. Joab was content to leave the result of the battle in the hands of God. Joab would do what he knew to do, but ultimately God would do what was best in His sight…and that’s exactly the way it should be! As Zerubbabel found out when rebuilding the temple, these mighty things of God would not be done by might, nor by power, but “by My Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts.” (Zech 4:6) When we are faced with spiritual war, then we ask God for the courage to go to the battleground – we rely upon our Lord Jesus for strength – and then we trust God to do what is right. God is going to act according to His word – God is going to act according to His righteous will. We don’t go into battle demanding that God do certain things; we go into battle as HIS people, relying upon our Commander & King to do what is right. And He will…always.

14 So Joab and the people who were with him drew near for the battle against the Syrians, and they fled before him. 15 When the people of Ammon saw that the Syrians were fleeing, they also fled before Abishai his brother, and entered the city. So Joab went to Jerusalem.

A. Did the Lord do what was good? You bet! Not only did one army retreat, but the retreat was called on both fronts of the battle! Israel was outmanuevered & outnumbered, and yet through the Lord’s obvious intervention, the enemy fled from the battlefield!

16 Now when the Syrians saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they sent messengers and brought the Syrians who were beyond the River, and Shophach the commander of Hadadezer’s army went before them. 17 When it was told David, he gathered all Israel, crossed over the Jordan and came upon them, and set up in battle array against them. So when David had set up in battle array against the Syrians, they fought with him. 18 Then the Syrians fled before Israel; and David killed seven thousand charioteers and forty thousand foot soldiers of the Syrians, and killed Shophach the commander of the army. 19 And when the servants of Hadadezer saw that they were defeated by Israel, they made peace with David and became his servants. So the Syrians were not willing to help the people of Ammon anymore.

A. Syria couldn’t take the defeat by Joab lying down. They had let their soldiers be hired for battle before, but this time they were fighting for their own pride & their own reasons. They came to battle against David (who personally led the army this time), and the army of Israel still spanked them. 🙂 The numbers here are absolutely astounding – even if critics dispute the actual numbers, the idea is clear: Israel absolutely crippled the Syrians in battle. Their army was decimated & even their commander was killed. As a result, Hadadezer of Syria submitted himself to David & refused to fight against him any longer.
B. This is how God fights for His people: with absolute force unto absolute victory! God loves us with a jealous love, and when the enemy comes against us we can be assured that God will rise to battle in our defense.

a. Not only do we know this for our present-day spiritual reality, but we’ll also see this in physical reality at the end of the Great Tribulation during the battle of Armageddon. Although the armies of the enemies will seem massive & overwhelming, the Lord Jesus will come back with power & might & will utterly crush the enemy with the sword of His mouth…

1 Chronicles 20 (NKJV)
1 It happened in the spring of the year, at the time kings go out to battle, that Joab led out the armed forces and ravaged the country of the people of Ammon, and came and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem. And Joab defeated Rabbah and overthrew it.

A. If you’ve been waiting for the Chronicler to retell the story of David & Bathsheba, this is as much as you’re going to find. Although the author of Chronicles doesn’t exactly whitewash David to be the picture of a perfect, sinless king (as we’ll find out in Ch 21), the Chronicler has a very specific aim with the history of David to show God’s blessing upon Him, God’s covenant with Him, and how God used David to instigate the construction of the temple. His adultery with Bathsheba (other than her being the mother of Solomon) doesn’t fit that general storyline, so the Chronicler never really addresses it.

a. It is worthwhile to remember. As blessed as David was, he certainly was not perfect. David had his own sins to deal with, which carried lasting consequences for his family. That said, there’s a wonderful application here to how God sees us in Christ Jesus. When we’re clothed in the righteousness of Christ, God doesn’t see us in our sin. As far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed us from our transgressions! (Ps 103:12) Left to ourselves, our sin left us absolutely stained as with blood, but in Christ we’re cleansed & left pure! (Isa 1:18) We might remember our sins, but God never remembers them against us. (Heb 8:12)

B. In any case, David sent Joab out to battle against Rabbah by himself, and Joab does fight. 2 Samuel 12 tells us that after David repented from his sin, Joab had called out for help from David (in essence, asking him to act like the king he was supposed to be), and once David arrived, Israel won a victory. All of this in spite of David’s sin at the time, which just goes to demonstrate the blessing & undeserved grace of God. There had been (and still would be in the future) consequences for David’s sin, but once David confessed & repented, God did not continue to hold it against him.

a. What was illustrated through David is a glorious promise for us through Jesus Christ! 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [] No Christian need live with a guilty conscience before God – no Christian needs to have his/her fellowship with God broken due to sin…confess that sin & repent of it! God’s grace is available to forgive & cleanse through Jesus Christ!

2 Then David took their king’s crown from his head, and found it to weigh a talent of gold, and there were precious stones in it. And it was set on David’s head. Also he brought out the spoil of the city in great abundance. 3 And he brought out the people who were in it, and put them to work with saws, with iron picks, and with axes. So David did to all the cities of the people of Ammon. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

A. As with the other cities & nations David conquered, Joab’s victory over Rabbah was absolutely huge. The massive crown was taken from the king & given to David – the people were subjugated & made to be servants of Israel. This was total victory on behalf of Israel.
B. Points straight towards the ultimate victory of Christ Jesus over the enemy! Jesus is to be crowned with the most glorious of crowns – those who oppose Him will still bow their knee in submission to the King of Kings. (Phil 2:10-11) Of all the coronations of all the kings of the earth, none will be more glorious & more worthy of their crowning than King Jesus!

4 Now it happened afterward that war broke out at Gezer with the Philistines, at which time Sibbechai the Hushathite killed Sippai, who was one of the sons of the giant. And they were subdued. 5 Again there was war with the Philistines, and Elhanan the son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. 6 Yet again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, with twenty-four fingers and toes, six on each hand and six on each foot; and he also was born to the giant. 7 So when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him. 8 These were born to the giant in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.

A. Obviously, David’s military exploits didn’t stop with the few wars mentioned here in the last several chapters – there were other battles & other victories to win, several laid out here regarding the family of Goliath the Philistine giant. We remember the original battle from 1 Sam 17. [] Goliath may have been beheaded by David, but apparently he had a big family. These other giants came against various soldiers in Israel, and they followed the example of their king in taking down each one.
B. What’s interesting is that if God hadn’t used David to take down Goliath originally, it’s not likely that any of the other soldiers would have fought Goliath’s sons. After all, originally the entire army of Israel was scared stiff of Goliath & after 40 days of challenges, NO ONE had risen up to meet Goliath head-on. Yet after David’s supernatural victory, there’s not just one soldier that follows in his footsteps, but THREE men followed the example of their king.

a. We also have a King who has led the way in battle – Who has already won the victory – Who has set the example for us. Why would we not also follow Him? We will undoubtedly face spiritual giants of our own – yet they can all fall in the same way as we follow in the footsteps of our Lord & King!

Conclusion:
David was far from a perfect king – but he was (until Jesus Christ) the standard by which all other kings of Israel are judged. And one of the things David was known as (besides a psalmist, and a man after God’s own heart) was a warrior. There was always an enemy to be fought, and a battle to be won through the Lord’s power.

Whether we realize it or not, it’s not very different with us. If you’re a Christian, you’re a warrior. When you put your faith in Christ Jesus for salvation, you stepped foot into a spiritual war that’s been waging since the dawn of time, and won’t be concluded until the end of the age. There’s two bits of good news here: (1) The victory is already assured… (2) God hasn’t left you to fight the battle alone. God is the one who fights for us, and that’s exactly what we see through David.

• God shows forth His awesome power in His sovereign preservation of His people…
• God shows His jealous love for us in His righteous protection of His people…
• God shows forth His splendor in His glorious victory…

Knowing that God does all of this in the spiritual battle, what ought to be our response? Simple – the same as Joab’s: be courageous – be strong – trust the Lord. We serve a mighty God! The Lord Jesus is infinitely more powerful than any demon the Devil could throw at us & infinitely more powerful than the Devil himself. Take courage, stand fast, & trust in the Lord!

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