1 Chronicles 12
What the mighty men did towards making David king we read in the
foregoing chapter. Here we are told what the many did towards it. It
was not all at once, but gradually, that David ascended the throne. His
kingdom was to last; and therefore, like fruits that keep longest, it
ripened slowly. After he had long waited for the vacancy of the throne,
it was at two steps and those above seven years distant, that he
ascended it. Now we are here told,
I. What help came in to him to Ziklag, to make him king of Judah,
1 Chronicles 12:1-22.
II. What help came in to him in Hebron, to make him king over all
Israel, above seven years after,
1 Chronicles 12:23-40.
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1 Now these are they that came to David to Ziklag, while he
yet kept himself close because of Saul the son of Kish: and they
were among the mighty men, helpers of the war.
2 They were armed with bows, and could use both the right
hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out
of a bow, even of Saul's brethren of Benjamin.
3 The chief was Ahiezer, then Joash, the sons of Shemaah the
Gibeathite; and Jeziel, and Pelet, the sons of Azmaveth; and
Berachah, and Jehu the Antothite,
4 And Ismaiah the Gibeonite, a mighty man among the thirty, and
over the thirty; and Jeremiah, and Jahaziel, and Johanan, and
Josabad the Gederathite,
5 Eluzai, and Jerimoth, and Bealiah, and Shemariah, and
Shephatiah the Haruphite,
6 Elkanah, and Jesiah, and Azareel, and Joezer, and Jashobeam,
7 And Joelah, and Zebadiah, the sons of Jeroham of Gedor.
8 And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into
the hold to the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit
for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces
were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes
upon the mountains;
9 Ezer the first, Obadiah the second, 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, Machbanai the eleventh.
14 These were of the sons of Gad, captains of the host: one
of the least was over a hundred, and the greatest over a
15 These are they that went over Jordan in the first month,
when it had overflown all his banks; and they put to flight all
them of the valleys, both toward the east, and toward the
16 And there came of the children of Benjamin and Judah to the
hold unto David.
17 And David went out to meet them, and answered and said unto
them, If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me, mine heart
shall be knit unto you: but if ye be come to betray me to mine
enemies, seeing there is no wrong in mine hands, the God of our
fathers look thereon, and rebuke it.
18 Then the spirit came upon Amasai, who was chief of the
captains, and he said, Thine are we, David, and on thy side,
thou son of Jesse: peace, peace be unto thee, and peace be to
thine helpers; for thy God helpeth thee. Then David received
them, and made them captains of the band.
19 And there fell some of Manasseh to David, when he came
with the Philistines against Saul to battle: but they helped them
not: for the lords of the Philistines upon advisement sent him
away, saying, He will fall to his master Saul to the jeopardy
of our heads.
20 As he went to Ziklag, there fell to him of Manasseh, Adnah,
and Jozabad, and Jediael, and Michael, and Jozabad, and Elihu,
and Zilthai, captains of the thousands that were of Manasseh.
21 And they helped David against the band of the rovers: for
they were all mighty men of valour, and were captains in the
22 For at that time day by day there came to David to help
him, until it was a great host, like the host of God.
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
(1 Chronicles 12:1),
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 succours. 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 honour.
I. Some, even of Saul's brethren, of the tribe of Benjamin, and a-kin
to him, came over to David,
1 Chronicles 12:2.
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
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
(1 Chronicles 12:8),
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
1 Samuel 22:2.
But these Gadites were brave men, men of war, and fit for the
1 Chronicles 12:8.
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
2. They were disciplined men, trained up to military exercises; they
could handle shield and buckler, use both offensive and defensive
3. They were officers of the militia in their own tribe
(1 Chronicles 12:14),
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,
1 Chronicles 12:15.
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
III. Some of Judah and Benjamin came to him,
1 Chronicles 12:16.
Their leader was Amasai, whether the same with that Amasa that
afterwards sided with Absalom
(2 Samuel 17:25)
or no does not appear. Now here we have,
1. David's prudent treaty with them,
1 Chronicles 12:17.
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 honourable, he will be their rewarder:
"If you have come peaceably unto me, to help me, though you have
come late and have left me exposed a great while, though you bring no
great strength with you to turn the scale for me, yet I will thankfully
accept your good-will, and my heart shall be knit unto you; I
will love you and honour you, and do you all the kindness I can."
Affection, respect, and service, that are cordial and sincere, will
find favour with a good man, as they do with a good God, though clogged
with infirmities, and turning to no great account. But,
[2.] If they be false, and come to betray him into the hands of Saul,
under colour of friendship, he leaves them to God to be their avenger,
as he is, and will be, of every thing that is treacherous and
perfidious. Never was man more violently run upon, and run down, than
David was (except the Son of David himself), and yet he had the
testimony of his conscience that there was no wrong in his hands. He
meant no harm to any man, which was his rejoicing in the day of evil,
and enabled him, when he feared treachery, to commit his cause to him
that judges righteously. He will not be judge in his own cause, though
a wise man, nor avenge himself, though a man of valour; but let the
righteous God, who hath said, Vengeance is mine, do both. The
God of our fathers look thereon and rebuke it.
(2.) In this appeal observe,
[1.] He calls God the God of our fathers, both his fathers and
theirs. Thus he reminded them not to deal ill with him; for they were
both descendants from the same patriarchs, and both dependents on the
same God. Thus he encouraged himself to believe that God would right
him if he should be abused; for he was the God of his fathers
and therefore a blessing was entailed on him, and a God to all Israel
and therefore not only a Judge to all the earth, but particularly
concerned in determining controversies between contesting Israelites.
[2.] He does not imprecate any fearful judgement upon them, though they
should deal treacherously, but very modestly refers his cause to the
divine wisdom and justice: The Lord look thereon, and judge as
he sees (for he sees men's hearts), and rebuke it. It becomes
those that appeal to God to express themselves with great temper and
moderation; for the wrath of man works not the righteousness of
2. Their hearty closure with him,
1 Chronicles 12:18.
Amasai was their spokesman, on whom the Spirit of the Lord came,
not a spirit of prophecy, but a spirit of wisdom and resolution,
according to the occasion, putting words into his mouth,
unpremeditated, which were proper both to give David satisfaction and
to animate those that accompanied him. Nothing could be said finer,
more lively, or more pertinent to the occasion. For himself and all
(1.) He professed a very cordial adherence to David, and his interest,
against all that opposed him, and a resolution to stand by him with the
hazard of all that was dear to him: Thine are we, David, and on thy
side, thou son of Jesse. In calling him son of Jesse they
reminded themselves that he was lineally descended from Nahshon and
Salmon, who in their days were princes of the tribe of Judah. Saul
called him so in disdain
(1 Samuel 20:27,22:7),
but they looked upon it as his honour. They were convinced that God was
on his side; and therefore, Thine are we, David, and on thy
side. It is good, if we must side, to side with those that side
with God and have God with them.
(2.) He wished prosperity to David and his cause, not drinking a
health, but praying for peace to him and all his friends and
well-wishers: "Peace, peace, be unto thee, all the good thy
heart desires, and peace be to thy helpers, among whom we desire
to be reckoned, that peace may be on us."
(3.) He assured him of help from heaven: "For thy God helpeth
thee; therefore we wish peace may be, and therefore we doubt not
but peace shall be, to thee and thy helpers. God is thy God, and those
that have him for their God no doubt have him for their helper in every
time of need and danger." From these expressions of Amasai we may take
instruction how to testify our affection and allegiance to the Lord
Jesus. His we must be without reservation or power of revocation. On
his side we must be forward to appear and act. To his interest we must
be hearty well-wishers: "Hosanna! prosperity to his gospel and
kingdom;" for his God helpeth him, and will till he shall have put down
all opposing rule, principality, and power.
3. David's cheerful acceptance of them into his interest and
friendship. Charity and honour teach us to let fall our jealousies as
soon as satisfaction is given us: David received them, and
preferred them to be captains of the band.
IV. Some of Manasseh likewise joined with him,
1 Chronicles 12:19.
Providence gave them a fair opportunity to do so when he and his men
marched through their country upon this occasion. Achish took David
with him when he went out to fight with Saul; but the lords of the
Philistines obliged him to withdraw. We have the story,
1 Samuel 29:4-11,
&c. In his return some
great men of Manasseh, who had no heart to join with Saul against the
Philistines struck in with David, and very seasonably, to help him
against the band of Amalekites who plundered Ziklag; they were
not many, but they were all mighty men and did David good service upon
1 Samuel 30:1-31
See how Providence provides. David's interest grew strangely just when
he had occasion to make use of it,
1 Chronicles 12:22.
Auxiliary forces flocked in daily, till he had a great host.
When the promise comes to the birth, leave it to God to find strength
to bring forth.
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23 And 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.
24 The children of Judah that bare shield and spear were six
thousand and eight hundred, ready armed to the war.
25 Of the children of Simeon, mighty men of valour for the war,
seven thousand and one hundred.
26 Of the children of Levi four thousand and six hundred.
27 And Jehoiada was the leader of the Aaronites, and with him
were three thousand and seven hundred;
28 And Zadok, a young man mighty of valour, and of his father's
house twenty and two captains.
29 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.
30 And of the children of Ephraim twenty thousand and eight
hundred, mighty men of valour, famous throughout the house of
31 And of the half tribe of Manasseh eighteen thousand, which
were expressed by name, to come and make David king.
32 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.
33 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.
34 And of Naphtali a thousand captains, and with them with
shield and spear thirty and seven thousand.
35 And of the Danites expert in war twenty and eight thousand
and six hundred.
36 And of Asher, such as went forth to battle, expert in war,
37 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, a hundred and twenty
38 All these men of war, that could keep rank, came with a
perfect heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel: and
all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David
39 And there they were with David three days, eating and
drinking: for their brethren had prepared for them.
40 Moreover they that were nigh them, even unto Issachar and
Zebulun and Naphtali, brought bread on asses, and on camels, and
on mules, and on oxen, and meat, meal, cakes of figs, and
bunches of raisins, and wine, and oil, and oxen, and sheep
abundantly: for there was joy in Israel.
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
(1 Chronicles 11:1,
2 Samuel 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,
1 Chronicles 12:23.
We may observe here,
I. That those tribes that lived nearest brought the fewest-Judah but
(1 Chronicles 12:24),
Simeon but 7100
(1 Chronicles 12:25);
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,
1 Chronicles 12:26-28.
III. Even some of the kindred of Saul came over to David
(1 Chronicles 12:29),
not so many as of the other tribes, because a foolish affection for
their own tribe, and a jealousy for the honour 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
IV. It is said of most of these that they were mighty men of
(1 Chronicles 12:25,28,30),
of others that they were expert in war
(1 Chronicles 12:35,36),
and of them all that they could keep rank,
1 Chronicles 12:38.
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
(1 Chronicles 12:24,33,37),
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, &c. Or the ceremonial times, the
times appointed for the solemn feasts; therefore they are said to
call the people to the mountain
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,
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
the great men had them at their beck. Hence we read of the princes
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
(1 Chronicles 12:38),
and particularly of the men of Zebulun that they were not of double
1 Chronicles 12:33.
They were, in this matter, Israelites indeed, in whom was no
guile. And this was their perfection, that they were of one heart,
1 Chronicles 12:38.
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,
1 Chronicles 12:39,40.
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,
upon this occasion, for there was joy in Israel,
1 Chronicles 12:40.
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.