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Deeper Commentary

1Ch 18:1 After this-
"After this" may not be strictly chronological, because 2 Sam. 7:1 was at a time when David had rest from his enemies. 1 Chron. 17 is included where it is to continue the theme of the ark and Zion which began before it. The promised king of Israel would save Israel from the Philistines and their other enemies; Saul had failed in this, but David succeeded as the truly intended king. The parallel 2 Sam. 8:1 LXX implies that until this time, Israel were still paying tribute to the Philistines: "David took the tribute from out of the hand of the Philistines".

It happened that David struck the Philistines and subdued them, and took Gath and its towns out of the hand of the Philistines-
After David received the promises about the future Messianic Kingdom, he went out and established his Kingdom, attacking Israel's enemies and driving them out of the land (1 Chron. 18:1-3). Our response to the future Hope of the Kingdom, which we too have through the very same promises, should be to try to live the Kingdom life now, as far as we can.

2 Sam. 8:1 says that “David took the bridle of the mother city out of the hand of the Philistines". But 1 Chron. 18:1 says that David took Gath and her towns out of the hand of the Philistines”. Gath would be the ‘mother-city’, and the word translated “towns” literally means daughters. We note that David had earlier lived in Gath under the protection of Achish and had lied to the people how many Israelites he had slain in his apparent hatred of Saul. They would have considered him a hypocrite.

1Ch 18:2 He struck Moab; and the Moabites became servants to David, and brought tribute-
2 Sam. 8:2 gives more detail: "He struck Moab, and measured them with the line, making them to lie down on the ground; and he measured two lines to put to death, and one full line to keep alive. The Moabites became servants to David, and brought tribute". David made the captives lay down in three lines. He arbitrarily chose one line to keep alive, and killed the other two lines. This can’t be justified as some careful obedience to some Mosaic law. It reads like something out of the Holocaust, an arbitrary slaying of some in order to exercise the whim of one’s own power. No wonder David was barred from building the temple because of his attitude to bloodshed. And this was the worse because his parents had been given refuge there (1 Sam. 22:3,4). Perhaps the incident of 2 Sam. 23:20 occurred at this time.

Likewise when Rabbah is captured, David proudly puts the crown of the king on his head, grabs their spoil for himself (not following Abraham's example), “and he brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brick kiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon” (2 Sam. 12:31). Now all that is torture. It’s one thing to obey Divine commands about slaying enemies; it’s another to willfully torture them, Auschwitz-style. These incidents reveal David at his worst. And again- did he really have to ensure that every male in Edom was murdered (1 Kings 11:15,16)- was that really necessary? What about the mums, wives, sisters left weeping, and the fatherless daughters, left to grow up in the dysfunction of a leaderless Middle Eastern home? Those men were all somebody’s sons, brothers, fathers, grandfathers. Was David really obeying some Divine command here, or was this the dictate of his own anger and dysfunctional bloodlust? We get the impression this was another example of his wrong attitude to the shedding of blood (1 Chron. 22:8).


1Ch 18:3 David struck Hadadezer king of Zobah to Hamath-
Hadadezer = 'helped by Hadad', the sun god. 2 Chron. 8 shows how Solomon sought to replicate what his father David did here. It describes the  actions  of  Solomon  in the very  language which is used earlier about David.

2 Chron. 8:3 “Solomon went to Hamath Zobah” = 2 Sam. 8:3 “David smote also Hadadezer the son of Rehob king of Zobah”; 2 Chron. 8:3  "and prevailed" = same  word 1 Sam. 17:30; 2 Chron. 8:8 Those “whom the children of Israel consumed not, did Solomon make to pay tribute” = 2 Sam. 8:6  “David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus, and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought gifts”; 2 Chron. 8:14 “He appointed according to the ordinance of David his father, the courses of the priests to their service, and the Levites to their charges… for so had David commanded” = 1 Chron. 24:1; 2 Chron. 9:15,16 = 2 Sam.8:7 “David took the shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadadezer and brought them to Jerusalem”.

1 Kings 11:4,6 clearly states God's opinion that Solomon was not like David: "his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was  the  heart  of David his father... (he) went not fully after the  Lord, as did David his father". This double stress, bearing in  mind inspiration's economic use of words, is really making a point. Yet the records of Solomon seem to be framed to show that externally,  Solomon  was indeed following David; he was obsessed with living out parental expectation, and perhaps the expectation of his society, rather than forging his own relationship with God.

As he went to establish his dominion by the river Euphrates-
Grammatically, the subject of the sentence is Hadadezer, and the reference is to the battle of  2 Sam. 10:15-19. Again we see that the records are not chronologically but thematically arranged.

1Ch 18:4 David took from him one thousand chariots, seven thousand horsemen and twenty thousand footmen; and David hamstrung all the chariot horses, but reserved of them enough for one hundred chariots-
See on :3. Notice how both David and Solomon dealt with the matter of chariots and horses. Solomon’s weakness for horses was perhaps traceable to David’s. Solomon unashamedly amassed horses and chariots, in direct disobedience to Divine command (Dt. 17:16). When David his father had captured 1000 chariots and horses, he hamstrung 900 of them and retained 100 of them (2 Sam. 8:4). He had a conscience about the matter, but thought that 90% obedience wasn’t bad. And the hamstrung horses were likely used for agricultural work and especially for breeding- breeding yet more chariot horses. David’s 90% obedience lead to his son’s 100% disobedience in this matter of chariot horses.

Solomon  wished  to imitate his father David in every sense; his own  real  personality  only really came out in the Ecclesiastes years,  when he took to drink, materialism, women and idolatry. It  took  the  influence  of his parents many years to wear off. David  had  weaknesses  for  horses (2 Sam. 8:4) and many wives; and Solomon followed  in  these  steps  too. Note that David had six sons in seven years by six different women, including Gentiles (1 Chron. 3:3). And in addition to these, David had children by “the concubines” (1 Chron. 3:9). Doubtless Solomon reasoned, albeit  deep   within  his  psyche, that such behaviour was legitimate  because  David  his father had done it. David seems to have over interpreted the promises made to him about Solomon and the temple, and assumed that his interpretation was certainly correct. And Solomon did exactly the same. The weaknesses of the parents all too easily are repeated by the children to an even greater extent.  

There are apparently different numbers given in 2 Sam. 8:4; 10:18 and 1 Chron. 19:18. I see no real problem here once we appreciate that the Hebrew word "thousand" used when giving numbers like this rarely means 1,000 as a number. It is also translated regiment, brigade, family, squadron etc. And to Israelites looking at the Syrian army, it could be described in various ways. There many regiments, families, groups, squadrons, but these subdivisions of an ancient army are all called a "thousand". Depending how one looks at the army and its subdivisions. A modern army would be subdivided into two to four corps, a corps has at least two divisions or legions, a division has two four brigades or regiments, a brigade has two or more regiments, a regiment has  two or more battalions, a battalion has a number of companies, a company has a number of platoons, a platoon has a number of squads or fire teams. The problem is that the Hebrew Bible uses the same word for all such military subdivisions, and it is translated "thousand" in many Bibles. Hence the apparently contradictory numbers.

1Ch 18:5 When the Syrians of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David struck of the Syrians twenty-two thousand men-
Again we must note that "thousand" refers to regiments / families and is not necessarily to be taken as literally 1,000.

1Ch 18:6 Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus; and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought tribute. Yahweh gave victory to David wherever he went-
This was short-lived, because Solomon's adversary Rezon established himself at Damascus (1 Kings 11:23-25).

1Ch 18:7 David took the shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem-
"Hadad" was the god of the sun, "Hadadezer" had not been 'helped by Hadad' as his name means, and so David brought these golden imitations of the sun to Yahweh's temple. It is perhaps questionable whether David should have brought idols into Jerusalem; we note that later Judah worshipped sun gods. David's actions here were not blessed, for the LXX adds “And Susakim [i.e. Shishak] king of Egypt took them, when he went up to Jerusalem in the days of Roboam the son of Solomon”. Likewise 1 Kings 14:26 LXX mentions that David took golden spears from Hadadezer: “And the golden spears which David took from the hand of the servants of Adraazar king of Soba and carried to Jerusalem, he took them all”.  These would not have been used as real spears, but were part of the worship of the golden sun which was the main religion in Syria at the time. He would have been better destroying them, rather than bringing idol paraphernalia into Jerusalem. For it later contributed towards the freedom Judah felt to worship sun gods.

1Ch 18:8 From Tibhath and from Cun, cities of Hadadezer, David took very much brass, with which Solomon made the bronze laver, the pillars and the vessels of brass-
2 Sam. 8:8 "From Betah". LXX Tebah, a son of Nahor the Syrian (Gen. 22:24). As discussed on :7, these were likely brass [better, 'copper'] idols or idol paraphernalia which he would have been better destroying.

1Ch 18:9 When Tou king of Hamath heard that David had struck all the army of Hadadezer king of Zobah-
Hamath came under tribute to David (2 Sam. 8:10), and Solomon, ever seeking to re-live the work of his father David, made a point of building forts there (1 Kings 4:24; 2 Chron. 8:4). But this external imitation of the faith and works of his father wasn't the same as real spirituality; and this is a warning to all those raised as believers. For when he finally individuated as his own man, Solomon had no faith in Yahweh and turned to idols

1Ch 18:10 he sent Hadoram his son to king David to greet him and to bless him, because he had fought against Hadadezer and struck him (for Hadadezer had wars with Tou); and he had with him all kinds of vessels of gold and silver and brass-
These vessels were devoted to God's service by David and then Solomon dedicated them to the temple (1 Kings 7:51). The same phrase "of silver, and vessels of gold, and vessels of brass" is used of the vessels taken from Egypt and dedicated to the tabernacle (Ex. 11:2; 12:35; Josh. 6:19; 2 Sam. 8:10; 1 Kings 7:51). The generosity of others in Biblical history, their right perspective on the wealth taken from this world, was to inspire other believers in later history. And this is how the body of Christ should function today, with members inspiring others to spirituality.

1Ch 18:11 King David also dedicated these to Yahweh, with the silver and the gold that he carried away from all the nations; from Edom, Moab, the children of Ammon, the Philistines and from Amalek-
See on :10. David "subdued" the nations, using the word often used of the command to subdue the nations of Canaan (Num. 32:22,29; Josh. 18:1). He is presented as a second Joshua, subduing the land as it ought to have been subdued, and therefore becoming what Adam ought to have been in Eden (Gen. 1:28 s.w.). This is another indication that the garden of Eden was effectively the eretz or land promised to Abraham. There is no record of David fighting Amalek again, so the spoil in view may be that taken in 1 Sam. 30:16.

1Ch 18:12 Moreover Abishai the son of Zeruiah struck of the Edomites in the Valley of Salt eighteen thousand-
2 Sam. 8:13  says that "David made himself a name when he returned from smiting the Syrians in the Valley of Salt, even eighteen thousand men". This demonstrates that a "name" in Hebrew thought is not just a lexical item. David made his name; it involves personal history, character, reputation etc. These are all what the Yahweh Name is all about. This is the reference of 2 Sam. 7:9, indicating that 1 Chron. 17 is actually referring to events after 2 Sam. 8 and is not in chronological sequence. Chronicles has  “And Abishai the son of Zeruiah smote Edom in the valley of salt, (to the number of) eighteen thousand men". Perhaps Edom and Syria were confederate; or we should read with LXX, which had "Edom" here rather than "the Syrians". We note that :13 goes on to talk about Edom.

1Ch 18:13 He put garrisons in Edom; and all the Edomites became servants to David. Yahweh gave victory to David wherever he went-
This is framed in such terms as to show that Esau / Edom was indeed now subject to Jacob as predicted in (Gen. 27:37-40), and Balaam’s prophecy (Num. 24:17,18).

1Ch 18:14 David reigned over all Israel; and he executed justice and righteousness to all his people-
David was motivated in doing this by realizing that this is how Yahweh reigns (Ps. 33:5), and that by doing so he would help live out the spirit of the promises to him, that his throne would be eternally established; for that throne was all about justice and righteousness (Ps. 89:14). And so David's throne or way of rulership becomes the basis for how his seed, the Lord Jesus, eternally reigns (Is. 9:7; 32:1; Jer. 23:5,6).

1Ch 18:15 Joab son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder-
The men who had been faithful to David during his long wilderness years, when he seemed a lost cause with Saul certain to win against him (1 Sam. 27:1), were the very ones who were the rulers in his kingdom. Despite the very evident weaknesses of men like Joab. And in the type this looks ahead to we who shall be king-priests in the Lord's eternal kingdom (Rev. 5:10), having been loyal to Him and His cause in these apparently hopeless wilderness years.

1Ch 18:16 Zadok son of Ahitub and Abimelech son of Abiathar were priests; Shavsha was scribe-
We notice that no high priest is nominated. David effectively acted as the high priest; see on :17. The "scribe" or historian was a senior advisor in the Hebrew court (2 Sam. 8:17; 2 Kings 18:18,37; 2 Chron. 34:8) because of the huge value attached to history in the Hebrew mind, and as reflected in the Bible being largely history. Advice on how to act was to be based upon historical, or as we would now say, "Biblical", precedent.

1Ch 18:17 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and the sons of David were chief around the king
2 Sam. 8:18 has "David’s sons were chief ministers". David knew God well enough to act like the High Priest even when he was not a Levite (:17; 2 Sam. 6:13-20; and 2 Sam. 19:21 = Ex.22:28), he came to understand that God did not require sacrifices, he came to see that the Law was only a means to an end. David’s sons, although not Levites, were “priests” (2 Sam. 8:18 RV). He could say that the Lord was his inheritance [a reference to how he as the youngest son had lost his?], and how he refuses to offer the sacrifices of wicked men for them (Ps. 16:4,5; 119:57)- speaking as if he was a Levite, a priest, when he was not.