In our last two studies, we read of David's desire to build a house for God. God wouldn't allow David to build the temple, but did make a covenant promise that David's son would build it, and that the throne of David would be established forever. Tonight, we examine three chapters that describe for us David's victories after being turned down for the temple bid.
Gath was one of the major Philistine cities, about 24 miles west of Jerusalem. It was the hometown of Goliath (1Sam. 17:4), and was the second city that the ark of the covenant had been stored (1Sam. 5:8) after it was stolen from the Israelites (1Sam. 4:11).
David was able to conquer Gath and the surrounding smaller towns, and capture them for Israeli occupation.
The Moabites had been enemies of Israel ever since they hired Balaam the prophet to curse the Jews (Num. 22) as they wandered in the wilderness.
When David defeated them, he made them subject to Israel, forced to pay tribute, which is essentially "protection money."
David's next victory was against Had-ad-EH-zer, the king of Tso-BAW. This was the Aramean king who was controlling the area northeast of Israel. Knowing that God had promised that the eastern border of Israel would one day extend to the Euphrates River (Gen. 15:18), David moved his army in that direction.
David crippled the horses of Had-ad-EH-zer's horses by cutting their leg tendons so that they couldn't be used in war again. But you'll notice that he kept a hundred chariots' worth of the horses for himself.
Now, the natural thought that most would have is, "Why didn't they take all of them? If they could have a hundred chariots' worth, then why not a thousand chariots' worth? It sounds like wisdom until you remember what God commanded Israel in the book of Deuteronomy.
Although God had told Israel that He didn't want them to have a king, He knew they would be asking for one soon enough. And so He gave certain commands regarding the king that they would one day have:
Deut. 17:16-17 "...he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, 'You shall never again return that way.' He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself."
We can see how riches might corrupt a king, and we certainly understand the problems associated with multiple wives. But what harm could there be in having lots of horses? God wanted the king of Israel to be dependent upon the Lord, not on his own military might. David understood this, and even wrote in one of his psalms,
Psa. 20:7 Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.
Thousands of the Arameans of Damascus headed north to help their brothers in Tso-BAW. But it didn't help, David was still victorious, and the Arameans became subject to Israel.
Was this because of David's skill as a warrior? Because of his military strategists? No, it was simply because "the LORD helped David wherever he went."
Even in the church today we have a tendency to look at qualification and education. At strength and skill. But the fact is, God doesn't like to use the smart and strong.
1Cor. 1:26-29 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.
Had-ad-EH-zer's servants carried shields of gold. Now, knowing the command that the king was not to "greatly increase silver and gold for himself," you might think that David shouldn't be taking this gold. But his plan isn't to make himself rich. It is to make sure that when his son is called to build the temple, it will be nicely financed. Notice that the bronze taken from Had-ad-EH-zer's cities of Tib-KHATH and Koon is the same bronze from which Solomon will make the temple's laver, pillars, and utensils.
He'll talk more about his motivation for doing this when we get to chapter 22.
TO-oo, the king of Kham-AWTH was thrilled with David's victory, because he himself had been attacked by Had-ad-EH-zer. As a thank-you gift, To-oo sent his sons Had-o-RAWM with verbal blessings and material gifts of gold, silver, and bronze.
All of these things were dedicated to the Lord as well. Notice that David did not distinguish between the spoils of victory and personal gifts. As far as he was concerned, they all belonged to the Lord and would be used to build His house.
While David's victories were to the north and east, his nephew Ab-ee-SHAH-ee (son of his sister Tser-oo-YAW) was being victorious in the south against the Edomites.
David's rule was just and right, and his royal cabinet was full of good men.
- Yo-AWB (also the son of Tser-oo-YAW) was the head of the army.
- Yeh-ho-shaw-FAWT, the son of Akh-ee-LOOD, was the recorder. The Hebrew word "Zaw-KAR" literally means "rememberer." His job was to keep record of all that God was doing.
- Tsaw-DOKE, the son of Akh-ee-TOOB, and Ab-ee-MEL-ek the son of Ab-yaw-THAWR were the priests. You might wonder why two of them are mentioned, when typically there was only one high priest listed at a time. Remember, David had the ark of the covenant there in Jerusalem, inside a tent. Ab-ee-MEL-ek was in charge of the worship which took place there. But also, six miles away in Gibeon was the original tabernacle. Tsaw-DOKE was the priest in charge of this (1Chron. 16:39).
Shav-SHAW was the secretary. This Hebrew word "saw-FAR" means "to count, recount, relate, enumerate."
Ben-aw-YAW, the son of Yeh-ho-yaw-DAW was over the Ker-ay-thites ("executioners") and the Pel-AY-thites ("couriers"). These were David's two teams of bodyguards, his secret service agents. It would seem that the Ker-AY-thites were the guys that would take down anyone who would attempt to attack David in his house, while the Pel-AY-things seem to have specialized in protection of David when traveling from one place another.
When David learned that Naw-KHAWSH, the king of the Ammonites had died, it caused him to remember the kindness he received from the king.
We do not have a biblical record of what that kindness was, but it stands to reason that it may have happened when David was on the run from Saul, since Naw-KHAWSH and Saul were enemies.
Wanting to return the favor, David decides to send his respects and regrets to Naw-KHAWSH's son Khaw-NOON.
David's gesture of kindness was not received. Khaw-NOON's princes told their new king, "Have not his servants come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land?" They were sent as consolers, but were accused of being conspirators. Instead of being allowed to show sympathy, they were thought to be secret spies.
Khaw-NOON decided that he would send theses spies back to David in humiliation. He had them shaved and their clothes cut. ("Shaved them," is explained in 2Samuel 10:4 as, "shaved off half of their beards.") They were then run out of the place utterly ashamed.
Lately, I have seen several people go though very similar circumstances. Trying to do something good, but treated as criminals, or accused of having ulterior motives. Saints, listen: Our king has also sent us out as ambassadors of good will. But we will inevitably be viewed with suspicion. "Why do you want to help me? What are you getting out of it?" "You're not offering me a free gift of salvation, you're judging me!" This is why missionaries are killed and evangelists are persecuted. This is why Christians are ostracized and believers are suspected. Remember what Jesus said:
John 15:18-20 "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also."
Expect this to happen. They are going to shave your beard and cut your clothes. But...
Matt. 5:10-12 "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
And, saints, the simple fact is, n matter how often it is shaved, my beard always grows back. And so will yours. Heal up in Jericho.
The Ammonites realized that their humiliation of David's consolers was about to bring about a war. And so they hired mercenaries from Mesopotamia, Ar-AWM Mah-ak-AW, and Tso-BAW. They knew there were now so many of them that there was no way Israel would be able to achieve victory.
The Aramean king of Mah-ak-AW camped his armies at May-deb-AW, east of the Dead Sea. The Ammonites moved down from the north. It would seem that Israel was facing a battle on two fronts, hopelessly outnumbered and doomed to destruction.
Yo-AWB, realizing the situation, divided the army. He and his brother Ab-ee-SHAH-ee each led half. Yo-AWB would fight the Arameans to the east, and Ab-ee-SHAH-ee would fight the Ammonites to the north.
This was an inspired plan. Each army was outnumbered, and would be forced to rely upon God for the victory. But each was also to keep an eye on his brother, to offer support if it was needed. How similar is this to our lives as Christians? We fight the good fight, and must rely upon God to win. However, there are times when we are being defeated, and need a brother to come and offer his support. There are other times when we see a brother beginning to stumble and be defeated. It is our obligation to step in and raise him up again, so that the battle will be won.
This is why Christian fellowship is so vitally important. The guy who comes to church but won't get plugged into a group of Christian brothers will have no one to assist him when the battle turns against him. As Solomon later said,
Eccl. 4:9-10 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.
Winter was not an ideal time for warfare. Rain-soaked land made chariots worthless and cold temperatures could be deadly to soldiers. Thus, winters were spent strategizing and preparing for the wars in the springtime.
But one spring, King David decided not to go out to battle with his men as he'd done every year prior. He decided to stay at home. Yo-AWB could lead the army to victory at Rab-BAW.
Why did David stay that spring? Maybe he thought that at the age of 50, he deserved a break. Maybe he was just tired, or thought it was time to start taking it easy. Whatever his motivation, it was a terrible decision. You see, it was that spring at home that he fell into adultery, lies, and ultimately murder because of his desire for a neighbor lady named Bathsheba (2Sam. 11).
Although David is beginning to slip as a righteous leader, Yo-AWB doesn't take the opportunity to rebel against him. He remains committed to him, even to the point of bringing David up for the final victory. We read in 2Samuel 12 that once the city was nearly defeated, Yo-AWB was actually concerned that if he led the final capture of it, then he would be taking the glory away from David (2Sam. 12:28).
So he sent for David to come and at least make a ceremonial showing that this was his victory.
This level of loyalty and submission is practically unheard of today. Oh, it's not difficult to find a man who claims loyalty. But as soon as you slip up, look out, because odds are he's going to use your back as a stepladder to move himself up. As soon as he sees that he can take the city without you, he will.
God describes men like this in Hosea, saying,
Hos. 6:4 ...your loyalty is like a morning cloud and like the dew which goes away early.
Chapter twenty ends with another conflict with the Philistines.
1Chr. 20:4-8 Now it came about after this, that war broke out at GHEH-zer with the Philistines; then Sib-bek-AH-ee the Khoo-SHAW-thite killed Sip-PAH-ee one of the descendants of the giants, and they were subdued. And there was war with the Philistines again, and El-khaw-NAWN the son of Yaw-OOR killed Lakh-MEE 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 stature who had twenty-four fingers and toes, six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot; and he also was descended from the giants. When he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shim-AW, David's brother, killed him. These were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.
Giants can fall by the hand of the faithful. Victory can be had when we depend upon the Lord. As Paul said,
1Cor. 15:57 ...thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.