Study Guide

1 Chronicles Warfare

Warfare

The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had valiant warriors, who carried shield and sword, and drew the bow, expert in war, forty-four thousand seven hundred sixty, ready for service. They made war on the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish, and Nodab; and when they received help against them, the Hagrites and all who were with them were given into their hands, for they cried to God in the battle, and he granted their entreaty because they trusted in him. They captured their livestock: fifty thousand of their camels, two hundred fifty thousand sheep, two thousand donkeys, and one hundred thousand captives. Many fell slain, because the war was of God. (1 Chronicles 5:18-22, NRSV)

The sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, of valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skilful in war, were four and forty thousand seven hundred and threescore, that went out to the war. And they made war with the Hagarites, with Jetur, and Nephish, and Nodab. And they were helped against them, and the Hagarites were delivered into their hand, and all that were with them: for they cried to God in the battle, and he was intreated of them; because they put their trust in him. And they took away their cattle; of their camels fifty thousand, and of sheep two hundred and fifty thousand, and of asses two thousand, and of men an hundred thousand. For there fell down many slain, because the war was of God. And they dwelt in their steads until the captivity. (1 Chronicles 5:18-22, KJV)

Not much to add to this very clear statement that God is behind these massive victories. Trust God, and he'll have your back.

Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines, and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines overtook Saul and his sons; and the Philistines killed Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchishua, sons of Saul. The battle pressed hard on Saul; and the archers found him, and he was wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, "Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, so that these uncircumcised may not come and make sport of me." But his armor-bearer was unwilling, for he was terrified. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword and died. Thus Saul died; he and his three sons and all his house died together. When all the men of Israel who were in the valley saw that the army had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their towns and fled; and the Philistines came and occupied them. (1 Chronicles 10:1-7, NRSV)

Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa. And the Philistines followed hard after Saul, and after his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchishua, the sons of Saul. And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him, and he was wounded of the archers. Then said Saul to his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. So Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise on the sword, and died. So Saul died, and his three sons, and all his house died together. And when all the men of Israel that were in the valley saw that they fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, then they forsook their cities, and fled: and the Philistines came and dwelt in them. (1 Chronicles 10:1-7, KJV)

The fallout from war: the King and his sons are dead. The text later is explicit that God killed Saul because he wasn't happy with his disobedient behavior. We also know from the book of Samuel that God was not thrilled with the whole king idea to begin with. He granted Israel a king only reluctantly. He took it very personally that the people felt they needed an earthly leader.

David and all Israel marched to Jerusalem, that is Jebus, where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. The inhabitants of Jebus said to David, "You will not come in here." Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion, now the city of David. David had said, "Whoever attacks the Jebusites first shall be chief and commander." And Joab son of Zeruiah went up first, so he became chief. David resided in the stronghold; therefore it was called the city of David. He built the city all around, from the Millo in complete circuit; and Joab repaired the rest of the city. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord of hosts was with him. (1 Chronicles 11:4-9, NRSV)

David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus; where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. And the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, Thou shalt not come hither. Nevertheless David took the castle of Zion, which is the city of David. And David said, Whosoever smiteth the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain. So Joab the son of Zeruiah went first up, and was chief. And David dwelt in the castle; therefore they called it the city of David. And he built the city round about, even from Millo round about: and Joab repaired the rest of the city. So David waxed greater and greater: for the Lord of hosts was with him. (1 Chronicles 11:4-9, KJV)

This all seems a bit too easy. David takes Jerusalem even though the folks living in the city put up a pretty good fight. How did he win? Well, God was clearly on his side so that was that. We can see David's warrior mindset—he'll reward the first guy to attack the city.

Eleazar son of Dodo, the Ahohite. He was with David at Pas-dammim when the Philistines were gathered there for battle. There was a plot of ground full of barley. Now the people had fled from the Philistines, but he and David took their stand in the middle of the plot, defended it, and killed the Philistines; and the Lord saved them by a great victory. (1 Chronicles 11:12-14, NRSV)

Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who was one of the three mighties. He was with David at Pasdammim, and there the Philistines were gathered together to battle, where was a parcel of ground full of barley; and the people fled from before the Philistines. And they set themselves in the midst of that parcel, and delivered it, and slew the Philistines; and the Lord saved them by a great deliverance. (1 Chronicles 11:12-14, KJV)

"The Three Mighties"—we love it. The Philistines were always depicted as arch-enemies of the Israelites. Since they live fairly close, they're always raiding Israel.

These are the numbers of the divisions of the armed troops who came to David in Hebron to turn the kingdom of Saul over to him, according to the word of the Lord. The people of Judah bearing shield and spear numbered six thousand eight hundred armed troops. Of the Simeonites, mighty warriors, seven thousand one hundred. Of the Levites four thousand six hundred. Jehoiada, leader of the house of Aaron, and with him three thousand seven hundred. Zadok, a young warrior, and twenty-two commanders from his own ancestral house. Of the Benjaminites, the kindred of Saul, three thousand, of whom the majority had continued to keep their allegiance to the house of Saul. Of the Ephraimites, twenty thousand eight hundred, mighty warriors, notables in their ancestral houses. Of the half-tribe of Manasseh, eighteen thousand, who were expressly named to come and make David king. Of Issachar, those who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, two hundred chiefs, and all their kindred under their command. Of Zebulun, fifty thousand seasoned troops, equipped for battle with all the weapons of war, to help David with singleness of purpose. Of Naphtali, a thousand commanders, with whom there were thirty-seven thousand armed with shield and spear. Of the Danites, twenty-eight thousand six hundred equipped for battle. Of Asher, forty thousand seasoned troops ready for battle. Of the Reubenites and Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh from beyond the Jordan, one hundred twenty thousand armed with all the weapons of war. (1 Chronicles 12:23-37, NRSV)

These are the numbers of the bands that were ready armed to the war, and came to David to Hebron, to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the Lord. The children of Judah that bare shield and spear were six thousand and eight hundred, ready armed to the war. Of the children of Simeon, mighty men of valour for the war, seven thousand and one hundred. Of the children of Levi four thousand and six hundred. And Jehoiada was the leader of the Aaronites, and with him were three thousand and seven hundred; And Zadok, a young man mighty of valour, and of his father's house twenty and two captains. And of the children of Benjamin, the kindred of Saul, three thousand: for hitherto the greatest part of them had kept the ward of the house of Saul. And of the children of Ephraim twenty thousand and eight hundred, mighty men of valour, famous throughout the house of their fathers. And of the half tribe of Manasseh eighteen thousand, which were expressed by name, to come and make David king. 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. Of Zebulun, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, with all instruments of war, fifty thousand, which could keep rank: they were not of double heart. And of Naphtali a thousand captains, and with them with shield and spear thirty and seven thousand. And of the Danites expert in war twenty and eight thousand and six hundred. And of Asher, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, forty thousand. And on the other side of Jordan, of the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and of the half tribe of Manasseh, with all manner of instruments of war for the battle, an hundred and twenty thousand. (1 Chronicles 12:23-37, KJV)

Military might is one key to David's successful reign. Without it, he's just a shepherd with some stones in his pocket. These impressive numbers of soldiers are mentioned again and again.

When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over all Israel, all the Philistines went up in search of David; and David heard of it and went out against them. Now the Philistines had come and made a raid in the valley of Rephaim. David inquired of God, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?" The Lord said to him, "Go up, and I will give them into your hand." So he went up to Baal-perazim, and David defeated them there. David said, "God has burst out against my enemies by my hand, like a bursting flood." Therefore that place is called Baal-perazim. They abandoned their gods there, and at David's command they were burned. Once again the Philistines made a raid in the valley. When David again inquired of God, God said to him, "You shall not go up after them; go around and come on them opposite the balsam trees. When you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then go out to battle; for God has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines." David did as God had commanded him, and they struck down the Philistine army from Gibeon to Gezer. The fame of David went out into all lands, and the Lord brought the fear of him on all nations. (1 Chronicles 14:8-17, NRSV)

When the Philistines heard that David was anointed king over all Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek David. And David heard of it, and went out against them. And the Philistines came and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim. And David enquired of God, saying, Shall I go up against the Philistines? And wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the Lord said unto him, Go up; for I will deliver them into thine hand. So they came up to Baalperazim; and David smote them there. Then David said, God hath broken in upon mine enemies by mine hand like the breaking forth of waters: therefore they called the name of that place Baalperazim. And when they had left their gods there, David gave a commandment, and they were burned with fire. And the Philistines yet again spread themselves abroad in the valley. Therefore David enquired again of God; and God said unto him, Go not up after them; turn away from them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when thou shalt hear a sound of going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt go out to battle: for God is gone forth before thee to smite the host of the Philistines. David therefore did as God commanded him: and they smote the host of the Philistines from Gibeon even to Gazer. And the fame of David went out into all lands; and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations. (1 Chronicles 14:8-17, KJV)

It's not really surprising that David asks for God's permission before going into battle. Everything he does needs the stamp of approval from God. You'll notice that as soon as the Philistines heard that David became king, they went after him. They knew that as a boy, he killed their biggest and baddest warrior, Goliath. So to have him on the throne with an army behind him must have been totally unacceptable to the Philistines.

Some time afterward, David attacked the Philistines and subdued them; he took Gath and its villages from the Philistines. He defeated Moab, and the Moabites became subject to David and brought tribute. David also struck down King Hadadezer of Zobah, toward Hamath, as he went to set up a monument at the river Euphrates. David took from him one thousand chariots, seven thousand cavalry, and twenty thousand foot soldiers. David hamstrung all the chariot horses, but left one hundred of them. When the Arameans of Damascus came to help King Hadadezer of Zobah, David killed twenty-two thousand Arameans. Then David put garrisons in Aram of Damascus; and the Arameans became subject to David, and brought tribute. The Lord gave victory to David wherever he went. David took the gold shields that were carried by the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem. From Tibhath and from Cun, cities of Hadadezer, David took a vast quantity of bronze; with it Solomon made the bronze sea and the pillars and the vessels of bronze. (1 Chronicles 18:1-8, NRSV)

Now after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them, and took Gath and her towns out of the hand of the Philistines. And he smote Moab; and the Moabites became David's servants, and brought gifts. And David smote Hadarezer king of Zobah unto Hamath, as he went to establish his dominion by the river Euphrates. And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven thousand horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen: David also houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved of them an hundred chariots. And when the Syrians of Damascus came to help Hadarezer king of Zobah, David slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men. Then David put garrisons in Syriadamascus; and the Syrians became David's servants, and brought gifts. Thus the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went. And David took the shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadarezer, and brought them to Jerusalem. Likewise from Tibhath, and from Chun, cities of Hadarezer, brought David very much brass, wherewith Solomon made the brasen sea, and the pillars, and the vessels of brass. (1 Chronicles 18:1-8, KJV)

It's just a string of wins for David on the battlefield. Seriously, this guy can do no wrong as long as God stays by his side.

When the Ammonites saw that they had made themselves odious to David, Hanun and the Ammonites sent a thousand talents of silver to hire chariots and cavalry from Mesopotamia, from Aram-maacah and from Zobah. They hired thirty-two thousand chariots and the king of Maacah with his army, who came and camped before Medeba. And the Ammonites were mustered from their cities and came to battle. When David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the army of the warriors. The Ammonites came out and drew up in battle array at the entrance of the city, and the kings who had come were by themselves in the open country. When Joab saw that the line of battle was set against him both in front and in the rear, he chose some of the picked men of Israel and arrayed them against the Arameans; the rest of his troops he put in the charge of his brother Abishai, and they were arrayed against the Ammonites. He said, "If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will help you. Be strong, and let us be courageous for our people and for the cities of our God; and may the Lord do what seems good to him." (1 Chronicles 19:6-13, NRSV)

When the children of Ammon saw that they had made themselves odious to David, Hanun and the children of Ammon sent a thousand talents of silver to hire them chariots and horsemen out of Mesopotamia, and out of Syriamaachah, and out of Zobah. So they hired thirty and two thousand chariots, and the king of Maachah and his people; who came and pitched before Medeba. And the children of Ammon gathered themselves together from their cities, and came to battle. And when David heard of it, he sent Joab, and all the host of the mighty men. And the children of Ammon came out, and put the battle in array before the gate of the city: and the kings that were come were by themselves in the field. Now when Joab saw that the battle was set against him before and behind, he chose out of all the choice of Israel, and put them in array against the Syrians. And the rest of the people he delivered unto the hand of Abishai his brother, and they set themselves in array against the children of Ammon. And he said, If the Syrians be too strong for me, then thou shalt help me: but if the children of Ammon be too strong for thee, then I will help thee. Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the Lord do that which is good in his sight. (1 Chronicles 19:6-13, KJV)

In this passage, we see David's skill as a military tactician. We also see how frightened the Ammonites are; they spend a fortune hiring mercenaries and buying equipment to fight David's armies.

After this, war broke out with the Philistines at Gezer; then Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Sippai, who was one of the descendants of the giants; and the Philistines were subdued. Again there was war with the Philistines; and Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam. Again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great size, who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; he also was descended from the giants. When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of Shimea, David's brother, killed him. These were descended from the giants in Gath; they fell by the hand of David and his servants. (1 Chronicles 20:4-8, NRSV)

And it came to pass after this, that there arose war at Gezer with the Philistines; at which time Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Sippai, that was of the children of the giant: and they were subdued. And there was war again with the Philistines; and Elhanan the son of Jair slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, whose spear staff was like a weaver's beam. And yet again there was war at Gath, where was a man of great stature, whose fingers and toes were four and twenty, six on each hand, and six on each foot and he also was the son of the giant. But when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea David's brother slew him. These were born unto the giant in Gath; and they fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants. (1 Chronicles 20:4-8, KJV)

The Chronicler doesn't specifically mention the story of David killing Goliath (he assumes you already know it), but he does clarify a little piece. There's another mention in 2 Samuel 21:19 of a guy named Elhanan who kills Goliath. Here, the author says that Elhanan actually killed Goliath's brother. Just a typo! David's impressive war record is still intact.

[David] called for his son Solomon and charged him to build a house for the Lord, the God of Israel. David said to Solomon, "My son, I had planned to build a house to the name of the Lord my God. But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'You have shed much blood and have waged great wars; you shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood in my sight on the earth. See, a son shall be born to you; he shall be a man of peace. I will give him peace from all his enemies on every side; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days.'" (1 Chronicles 22:6-9, NRSV)

[David] called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build an house for the Lord God of Israel. And David said to Solomon, My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build an house unto the name of the Lord my God: But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. (1 Chronicles 22:6-9, KJV)

This reminds Shmoop of Ecclesiastes there's a time for war and a time for peace. They are very distinct mindsets.

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