1 Chronicles 18


Matthew Henry, in his commentary, gives us a useful summary of this chapter.

‘David’s piety and his prayer we had an account of in the foregoing chapter, here follows immediately that which one might reasonably expect, an account of his prosperity; for those that seek first the kingdom of God and the righteousness thereof, as David did, shall have other things added to them as far as God sees good for them. Here is, 1. His prosperity abroad. He conquered the Philistines, 1 Chronicles 18:1, the Moabites, 1 Chronicles 18:2, the king of Zobah, 1 Chronicles 18:3-4, the Syrians, 1 Chronicles 18:5-8, made the king of Hamath his tributary, 1 Chronicles 18:9-11, and the Edomites, 1 Chronicles 18:12-13. 2. His prosperity at home. His court and kingdom flourished, 1 Chronicles 18:14-17. All this we had an account of before, 2 Samuel 8.’

David’s Victories

‘In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Gath and its surrounding villages from the control of the Philistines. David also defeated the Moabites, and they became subject to him and brought him tribute. Moreover, David defeated Hadadezer king of Zobah, in the vicinity of Hamath, when he went to set up his monument at the Euphrates River. David captured a thousand of his chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers. He hamstrung all but a hundred of the chariot horses. When the Arameans of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David struck down twenty-two thousand of them. He put garrisons in the Aramean kingdom of Damascus, and the Arameans became subject to him and brought him tribute. The LORD gave David victory wherever he went. David took the gold shields carried by the officers of Hadadezer and brought them to Jerusalem. From Tebah and Kun, towns that belonged to Hadadezer, David took a great quantity of bronze, which Solomon used to make the bronze Sea, the pillars and various bronze articles. When Tou king of Hamath heard that David had defeated the entire army of Hadadezer king of Zobah, he sent his son Hadoram to King David to greet him and congratulate him on his victory in battle over Hadadezer, who had been at war with Tou. Hadoram brought all kinds of articles of gold, of silver and of bronze. King David dedicated these articles to the LORD, as he had done with the silver and gold he had taken from all these nations: Edom and Moab, the Ammonites and the Philistines, and Amalek. Abishai son of Zeruiah struck down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. He put garrisons in Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The LORD gave David victory wherever he went.’ 1 Chronicles 18:1-13

The first thirteen verses are parallel with 2 Samuel 8:1-14, but here, there is no mention of David’s extreme cruelty to the Moabites, but otherwise, there are few variations.

This chapter begins with the words, ‘in the course of time’, which implies that this chapter, along with the next two chapters happened over a period of several years. If David wanted to remain king and further establish his kingship then he was going to have to defeat all of Israel’s enemies.

David’s first threat was found in their old foes, the Philistines they were a constant thorn in the flesh for Israel, Numbers 33:55, since Israel took over Palestine. David’s main aim was to get rid of all the enemies of Israel in Palestine, or at the very least bring them into subjection.

David’s second threat was the Moabites, David totally massacred them, which is strange because there was a time when David trusted the Moabites, when his father and mother stayed with the king of Moab while he was a fugitive from Saul, 1 Samuel 22:3-4.

We don’t know exactly what the Moabites had done to provoke David to take such drastic actions again them, but we presume it must have been something terrible.

Notice that David hamstrung all the chariot horses, Joshua 11:6 / Joshua 11:9, this appears to be very cruel, but in this case very necessary. If an army has no horses to pull their chariots, then the chariots would become useless. The shields of gold were possibly valuable ornaments worn by the Syrian soldiers, 1 Kings 10:16.

Tou, king of Hamath obviously didn’t want to get involved in a battle with David and so he sends David his congratulations for defeating Hadadezer, who was one of  Hamath’s enemies. Hamath was the northeastern stronghold of the Solomonic Empire, 2 Kings 14:25. The people of Hamath were descendants of Ham and Canaan, Genesis 10:18. Joram brought David a lot of valuable gifts, Psalms 18:43-44.

David continues his conquest by killing eighteen thousand Edomites.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following about this passage.

‘The avid seekers of ‘contradictions’ or ‘discrepancies’ are diligent to point out that David is here said to have slain those Edomites, but that 1 Chronicles 18:13 ascribes the victory to Abishai, and that 1 Kings 11:15-16, and the heading of Psalm 60 declare that it was Joab who did it! However, as Willis noted, David was involved as king, Joab as commander of the army, and Abishai had charge of that particular battle.’

Because of David’s conquests over all these armies, Israel as a whole became very rich from the spoils of war. The nations around were becoming poorer whilst Israel was getting richer as a nation, 2 Samuel 8:1-14.

David’s Officials

‘David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people. Joab son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelek son of Abiathar were priests; Shavsha was secretary; Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; and David’s sons were chief officials at the king’s side.’ 1 Chronicles 18:14-17

These last verses are parallel with 2 Samuel 8:15-18.

Unlike Saul before him, David as king of Israel, treated people justly and right, he treated them fairly, 2 Samuel 8:15-18. Saul was only bothered about himself, and his rule and didn’t care how he treated people as long as he got his own way but David had people’s hearts in his mind, he was for the people, he wasn’t on a power trip but genuinely cared for the welfare of others. Matthew 20:25-28 / 1 Peter 5:3.

What we read here is a list of David’s administrators for the business of the kingdom, among whom the sons of David were certainly included, as we learn later in the activities of Absalom. This inspired account tells us exactly what the functions of David’s sons were. We must remember, despite what the text says here, that David’s sons were not priests as we understand the word priest.

R. Payne Smith, says the following about the word, ‘priests’ used here.

‘In the time of the writing of 1 Kings, this word, ‘kohen’, as a word for ‘priest’ was already becoming obsolete, as proved by 1 Kings 4:5, and therefore the author of 1 Chronicles 18:17, writing at a still later time, changed the passage to give the correct meaning. We are certain that the Chronicler knew what the passage in 2 Samuel 8:18 meant, and that he was also aware that the word, ‘kohen’ had gone out of use as a term for chief officials; and so he properly rendered the passage thus, ‘David’s sons were the chief officials in the service of the king.’

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