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Deeper Commentary

1Ch 12:1 Now these are those who came to David to Ziklag, while he yet kept himself in secret because of Saul the son of Kish; and they were among the mighty men, his helpers in war-
David was given Ziklag to live in by the Philistines, and he was there 16 months, hemmed in by Saul's men on the Israelite side of the border. The theme developed now is that in that apparently hopeless situation, living with his one time enemies the Philistines for fear of Saul- all manner of people came forward to identify with him. We can understand David at this time as in the position of the Lord Jesus now, before the establishment of His Kingdom. And we are the men who come out to Him, when His cause appears hopeless in a secular sense. He was hemmed in by Saul, but we will now read in :2 that Saul's own family came to support David.

1Ch 12:2 They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in slinging stones and in shooting arrows from the bow. They were of Saul’s brothers of Benjamin-
This continues the theme developed on 1 Chron. 11:38,39, that there was something in David and his cause which attracted his enemies to come over to his side. And so it is with the cause of the Lord Jesus in our age. The Philistine monopoly on iron and metalwork meant the Israelites had to become skilled in archery and slinging, just as David had. So there was an immediate sympathy between these men and David, who was known surely as the greatest Israelite slinger of all time, after his victory over Goliath.

1Ch 12:3 The chief was Ahiezer; then Joash, the sons of Shemaah the Gibeathite, and Jeziel, and Pelet, the sons of Azmaveth, and Beracah, and Jehu the Anathothite-
These are the men of Saul (:2) who came over to David; some were from "Gibeah of Saul", the home town of Saul. But they were joined by men from the priestly town of Anathoth, and so develops the theme that David's supporters were from widely different backgrounds, as are the Lord's followers, but cemented together around him and his cause of the Kingdom.

1Ch 12:4 and Ishmaiah the Gibeonite, a mighty man among the thirty, and over the thirty, and Jeremiah, and Jahaziel, and Johanan, and Jozabad the Gederathite-
"The thirty" is not a literal number, as "captains" and "thirty" are similar words. "The thirty" of 1 Chron. 11 and 2 Sam. 23 are not literally 30; there are more than 30 listed in 1 Chron. 11. "Captains" is a form of the word translated "thirty" used in 2 Sam. 23:23, and is evidence that the "thirty" are not to be read as a literal number; in any case, 37 names are given for the "thirty... mighty men" in 2 Sam. 23, not 30.

1Ch 12:5 Eluzai, and Jerimoth, and Bealiah, and Shemariah, and Shephatiah the Haruphite-
Tragically, we so often read of Yahweh's people carrying the names of Baal or other gods within their own names- e.g. Merib-baal (1 Chron. 8:34; 9:40); Ishbaal (1 Chron. 8:33; 9:39); Baal-yada (1 Chron. 14:7); and perhaps worst of all, Baal-Yah ("Bealiah", 1 Chron. 12:5). Is our 'name' or personality before God the same tragic mixture of flesh and spirit?

1Ch 12:6 Elkanah, and Isshiah, and Azarel, and Joezer, and Jashobeam, the Korahites-
These "Korahites" are not the Levitical ones, but rather the descendants of Caleb through a man called Korah (1 Chron. 2:43), and they would therefore have been men of  Judah.

1Ch 12:7 and Joelah, and Zebadiah, the sons of Jeroham of Gedor-
Jeroham was a Benjamite (1 Chron. 8:27) living in Gedor of Judah (1 Chron. 4:4), perhaps because of his disagreement with the ways and cult of Saul.

1Ch 12:8 Of the Gadites there separated themselves to David to the stronghold in the wilderness, mighty men of valour, men trained for war, that could handle shield and spear; whose faces were like the faces of lions, and they were as swift as the roes on the mountains-
David's ecclesia in the wilderness had faces "like the faces of lions" (Angel-cherubim language?), being "a great host, like the host of God"- David's host became increasingly in line with God's Heavenly Hosts of Angels, the four living creatures. We are to reflect the court of Heaven on earth. The Gadites were marauders (Gen. 49:19; 1 Chron. 5:19-22), and exemplify the kind of rough people who came to David with their own agenda, and yet were transformed by him into men of the Kingdom; pointing forward to the work of the Lord Jesus.

This verse explains how the situation of :1 came about. These men were firstly with David in the wilderness, and then came to him in Ziklag. Coming to David, as with coming to Jesus, meant they had to "separate themselves". They left their tribal homeland east of the Jordan, and had come to "the stronghold", perhaps the cave of Adullam, or the place of 1 Sam. 23:14. 

1Ch 12:9 Ezer the chief, Obadiah the second, Eliab the third-
These names all have trust in God as part of their meaning. So the rough, marrauding types of Gad became known for their spirituality as a result of being with David.

1Ch 12:10 Mishmannah the fourth, Jeremiah the fifth-
Mishmannah, 'one who became fat', stands out from the others as not having a very spiritual name (s.w. Dt. 32:15; Neh. 9:25; Jer. 5:28). It confirms the suggestion I have often made, that names were given in response to later character and life experience. Sometimes in these lists of names we read the birth names, at other times, the names they were given later in life. And therefore the same person can have more than one name.

1Ch 12:11 Attai the sixth, Eliel the seventh-
"Eliel", 'God is God', could have come to this conclusion from experience with David; see on :10.

1Ch 12:12 Johanan the eighth, Elzabad the ninth-
These names surely reflect their experience with David; "Yahweh's grace" and "Yahweh has bestowed".

1Ch 12:13 Jeremiah the tenth, Machbannai the eleventh-
"Yahweh will raise up" (Jeremiah) shows faith in the future elevation of David and those who had taken his side in these outlaw years.

1Ch 12:14 These of the sons of Gad were captains of the army: he who was least was equal to one hundred, and the greatest to one thousand-
The similarity in language to Lev. 26:8; Is. 30:17 could suggest that they were in covenant relationship with God and therefore one of them chased a much larger group.

1Ch 12:15 These are those who went over the Jordan in the first month, when it had overflowed all its banks; and they put to flight all them of the valleys, both toward the east, and toward the west-
This was the month of the snow melt (cp. Josh. 3:15). They had crossed from Gad, east of Jordan, to be with David in Ziklag. Those in the valleys who were loyal to Saul may have tried to stop their passage on the east to west route they were taking, but they put them to flight.

1Ch 12:16 There came of the children of Benjamin and Judah to the stronghold to David-
David was naturally fearful that his ranks would be infiltrated by Saul's Benjamite supporters.

1Ch 12:17 David went out to meet them and responded to them: If you have come peaceably to me to help me, my heart shall be knit to you; but if you have come to betray me to my adversaries, since there is no wrong in my hands, may the God of our fathers look thereon, and rebuke it-
We sense David's great mental unity with those who sincerely followed him. They would experience his heart, which was after God's own heart, knit with theirs. And that is the promise of the spirit of Jesus to those who likewise sincerely come out to Him in this life. But he warns of the fearful consequences of conscious betrayal of him, after the pattern of Judas to the Lord Jesus. If we are not in that category, then we have the assurance of the gift of the spirit / heart of Jesus united with us.

1Ch 12:18 Then the Spirit came on Amasai, who was chief of the thirty, and he said, We are yours, David, and on your side, you son of Jesse. Peace, peace be to you, and peace be to your helpers; for your God helps you. Then David received them, and made them captains of the band-
This Amasai is likely “Amasa” (2 Sam. 17:25; 19:13). They had observed that God was really with David, having witnessed or heard of David's amazing escapes from Saul, and how God was clearly preserving David for a purpose. Perhaps this protestation of sincerity was supported by some activity of the Spirit, so that David would no longer be sceptical of their professions of loyalty to him (see on :17).

1Ch 12:19 Of Manasseh also there fell away some to David, when he came with the Philistines against Saul to battle; but they didn’t help them-
To go and fight God's people, specifically with Saul, Yahweh's anointed, was exactly against David's previous principles. But because he had lied about fighting and killing Israelites, he was now told to go and do it. He was being taught that boasting about things you haven't done is still counted as if you have done them. And he was now being forced to a position where he has to quit his sinful situation.

For the lords of the Philistines sent him away after consultation, saying, He will fall away to his master Saul to the jeopardy of our heads-
The Philistines recalled how David had carried the head of Goliath to Saul (1 Sam. 17:57). To carry the heads of a king's enemies was a way to get the king's favour, as in Jud. 7:25; 2 Sam. 4:8; 16:9; 20:21; 2 Kings 10:6-8. Again we see the inspired, historical record has consistency. It would have required a clever editor to insert this theme of beheading to curry a leader's favour throughout the entire Biblical record. But the histories were clearly written at different times; a later hand would not have thought of all these realistic touches to sprinkle so consistently throughout it. The internal harmony of the Bible is to me the greatest indication that it is what it claims to be, the Divinely inspired word of God, evidencing His editing throughout. 

This was the grace of Divine intervention. As discussed above, David got into it by his own weakness of faith. But God saved him from it now at the last minute by an unforeseen situation. The Philistines refused to have David and his men anywhere near the battle.

1 Sam. 29:5 adds: "Is not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances, ‘Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands?’". If indeed Saul reigned literally 40 years (Acts 13:21), this celebration would have been quite some time previously. But the memory of that great humiliation was still very much alive amongst the rank and file of the Philistines. Achish seems so out of touch with these feelings that we wonder if he was himself actually a Philistine, or some non-Philistine who had taken power.

1Ch 12:20 As he went to Ziklag, there joined him of Manasseh, Adnah, Jozabad, Jediael, Michael, Jozabad, Elihu and Zillethai, captains of thousands who were of Manasseh-
These names generally have God's name within them. It was the more spiritually minded who came over to David.

1Ch 12:21 They helped David against the band of rovers; for they were all mighty men of valour, and were captains in the army-
These "rovers" are the Amalekites who attacked Ziklag in 1 Saam. 30. "Band" is the same word used there in 1 Sam. 30:8,15. "Were captains" is better "became captains". They were promoted for their valour at the time of the battle with the Amalekites. Even though at the time, the men had spoken of stoning David.

1Ch 12:22 For from day to day men came to David to help him, until there was a great army, like the army of God-
David’s host increased, until it became “a great host”, “like the host of God” (1 Chron. 12:22 AV)- the parallel between David’s men and the Angelic hosts is clear. Significantly, the Angelic armies that destroyed the Syrians are called ‘a great host’ in 2 Kings 7:6. Asa and his army defeated the Ethiopians- and it’s described as them being “destroyed before Yahweh and before His host” (2 Chron. 14:13). Again, the hosts of Israel become the hosts of God. We too are the manifestation of God's heavenly system upon earth.

1Ch 12:23 These are the numbers of the heads of those who were armed for war, who came to David to Hebron, to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of Yahweh-
The word of Yahweh was that David would become king. The men who came to David to support him in this were therefore doing God's will and word, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they were acceptable with Him. For even wicked men can be used to fulfil God's word.  

1Ch 12:24 The children of Judah who bore shield and spear were six thousand eight hundred, armed for war-
This seems a relatively small number for Judah, who were David's tribe. Perhaps initially it was a case of a prophet not being without honour, except amongst his own people. We note that the numbers of soldiers who came to David from the tribes in the north, and especially those from the tribes east of Jordan, are very high. The southern tribes, Judah, Simeon, Levi and Benjamin, total 25,200. But the men from Zebulun, Naphtali, Dan and Asher total 155,600. But later in David's reign, an incomplete census of soldiers gave 800,000 "men who drew sword" (2 Sam. 24:9). David's support base was perhaps driven at this stage by those who had been marginalized by Saul, who seemed to what to concentrate power with his tribe of Benjamin. And perhaps these more peripheral peoples had suffered economically from Saul's abusive reign. So as with those who come to Christ today, the push factors are sometimes initially greater than the pull factors and the 'matter of principle' issues.

1Ch 12:25 Of the children of Simeon, mighty men of valour in war, seven thousand one hundred-
The tribes are listed as from South to North.

1Ch 12:26 Of the children of Levi four thousand six hundred-
The Levites had soldiers and were not simply absorbed with religious matters.

1Ch 12:27 Jehoiada was the leader of the household of Aaron; and with him were three thousand seven hundred-
Benaiah was one of David's senior military commanders (2 Sam. 8:18; 1 Chron. 27:5), and the Hebrew of 2 Sam. 23:20 can be translated "Benaiah the son of Jehoiada the priest, as head", i.e of a group of David's mighty men. The Jehoiada in view as his father would therefore be Jehoiada the priest. The idea is that priests were also military leaders within David's army, indeed it seems there were a large group of them as ordinary soldiers in 1 Chron. 12:27. This shows how priesthood was not understood as abstract spirituality, but that spirituality was articulated in practice. Jehoiada was not high priest, but "leader" of the Levitical soldiers; the same word is used in 1 Chron. 9:11 of the “captain” of the temple.

1Ch 12:28 and Zadok, a young man mighty of valour, and of his father’s house twenty-two captains-
In :17 he appears to have the function of Jehoiada in :27. Perhaps he was his successor.

1Ch 12:29 Of the children of Benjamin, the brothers of Saul, three thousand; for hitherto the majority of them had kept their allegiance to the house of Saul-
AV "kept the ward of the house of Saul". The number of Benjamites is understandably small, as they still hoped to remain the kingly tribe even after Saul's demise.

1Ch 12:30 Of the children of Ephraim twenty thousand eight hundred, mighty men of valour, famous men in their fathers’ houses-
This is a very small number compared to the northern tribes, seeing Ephraim were likely the largest tribe at the time. Clearly support for David followed factors other than supporters per head of population. Support was highly localized.

1Ch 12:31 Of the half-tribe of Manasseh eighteen thousand, who were mentioned by name, came and made David king-
This appears to refer to the half of Manasseh on the west side of the Jordan river.

1Ch 12:32 Of the children of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their heads were two hundred; and all their brothers were under their command-
This is a small number, but they are defined as men who understood life, spiritually wise men (Est. 1:13; 1 Chron. 29:30; Ps. 31:15).

1Ch 12:33 Of Zebulun, such as were able to go out in the army, who could set the battle in array, with all kinds of instruments of war, fifty thousand, who could command and were not of double heart-
The idea seems to be, men old enough to handle weapons, rather than boys. But this is a rather sad contrast with the faith of David when fighting Goliath, who was considered too young to fight, and who apparently couldn't manipulate the armour and weaponry he was offered by Saul- but instead fought Goliath in faith. To not be "of double heart" meant to be "of one heart", for God and David in faith (2 Chron. 30:12).



1Ch 12:34 Of Naphtali one thousand captains, and with them with shield and spear thirty-seven thousand-
This could suggest that they had "shield and spear", weaponry in abundance compared to the other tribes.

1Ch 12:35 Of the Danites who could set the battle in array, twenty-eight thousand six hundred-
Each tribe has a slightly different description for the nature of their soldiers. The idea here may be as in GNB "trained men", soldiers who had undergone military training.

1Ch 12:36 Of Asher, such as were able to go out in the army, who could set the battle in array, forty thousand-
GNB "ready for battle". Each group of soldiers is described differently.

1Ch 12:37 On the other side of the Jordan, of the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and of the half-tribe of Manasseh, with all kinds of instruments of war for the battle, one hundred and twenty thousand-
This appears to be a rough number, assuming 40,000 to each tribe, as 40,000 came from Asher (:36). Sometimes the Bible is very vague. There are times when the Spirit uses very approximate numbers rather than exact ("about the space of four hundred and fifty years", Acts 13:20 cp. 1 Kings 6:1). The reference to "seventy" in Judges 9:56 also doesn't seem exact. Seven and a half years (2 Sam. 2:11) becomes "seven years" (1 Kings 2:11); three months and ten days (2 Chron. 36:9) becomes "three months" (2 Kings 24:8). And here 1 Kings 7:23 gives the circumference of the laver as “thirty cubits”, although it was ten cubits broad. Taking ‘pi’ to be 3.14, it is apparent that the circumference would have been 31.4 cubits; but the Spirit says, summing up, “thirty”. Surely this is to show that God is God, not man, and as such He’s not on the back foot, writing under the fear of criticism. His word is not contradictory, but on the other hand, God has more spiritual culture than to sink down to the level of a man who wanted to foresee all criticism in writing something which could stand all petty criticism. He has a spiritual culture much higher than this. And this is the answer to many of the petty objections about ‘Bible contradictions’ which are raised by critics.


1Ch 12:38 All these being men of war, who could order the battle array, came with a perfect heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel. All the rest of Israel were also of one heart to make David king-
The state of their hearts is twice emphasized, and this has always been of critical importance in the Divine record of men. It was David's heart which is described with the term "a perfect heart" (1 Kings 11:4; 15:3 s.w.). The idea is that they were of one mind and spirit with David. And as noted on :17, David's spirit was eager to be united with their spirit. It all speaks of the spiritual relationship between the Lord Jesus and His people. See on 1 Chron. 13:4.

1Ch 12:39 They were there with David three days, eating and drinking; for their brothers had made preparation for them-
This was the kind of religious meal which ratified a covenant, as in Gen. 31:46,54. It looks ahead to the breaking of bread meeting as a confirmation of the covenant between the Lord Jesus and those who have come out of this world to support His cause and Kingdom.


1Ch 12:40 Moreover those who were near to them, as far as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, brought bread on donkeys, and on camels, mules and oxen, food of meal, cakes of figs, and clusters of raisins, and wine and oil, and cattle and sheep in abundance; for there was joy in Israel
The religious meal of :39 was supported in spirit by those even in the far north, who sent food to be consumed at this feast. The provision of clusters of raisins [a form of wine] along with bread confirm the religious nature of the meal, and the way [as noted on :39] it looks ahead to the breaking of bread. The same was to be seen in 1 Sam. 25:18; 30;12; 2 Sam. 16:1.