I Chronicles 18
by Pastor Mark Hudson
The previous chapter, 17 is a incredibly significant chapter for David. God revealed to David that God would build him a house which clearly has Messianic overtones. In chapter 17, God told David He would make a name for him, establish David’s kingdom and provide peace and “subdue all your enemies” (17:10). David is promised an eternal kingdom but God tells David that “It is not you who will build me a house to dwell in.” David would spend the rest of his life preparing for the construction of the temple. So let’s consider how this chapter relates to what comes before.
If God promises to David that He would subdue his enemies, look at chapter 18. In verses 1-13, David defeats the Philistines to the west, the Moabites to his west. Then to Zobah-Hamath in the far north. Then when Syrians (also north of Israel) tried to help the king of Zobah, David defeated him. In fact, “the Lord gave victory to David wherever he went” (v. 6). A surrounding king – Tou of Hamath, sent King David tribute to save (presumably) his own people from defeat.
In vs. 11, David subdues Edom, Moab, Ammonites, the Philistines, and Amalek. Then Abishai, under David’s leadership, killed 18,000 Edomites which is south of Israel. God is creating peace by giving them protection beyond their borders. David is defeating enemies to the north, south, east, and west. As a Bible reader, you realize these battles did not end forever the hostilities between these nations. But these were still significant advances for the nation of Israel.
If you compare II Samuel 8 with I Chronicles 18, you will notice the Chronicler leaves out the brutality of David’s treatment of the Moabites. The author of I Chronicles probably assumes the readers have read II Samuel. He is not hiding anything but that is not the story he is telling. The author of Chronicles is writing to a post-exilic community to trust in God, worship as God prescribed. In his retelling, he is reminding his readers that just as God gave David victory He will be with us.
Notice also that the theme of the temple is never far away. God clearly tells David that he will not build the temple although David would love to. But David is a man of blood (I Chr. 28:3) but David still could do a lot to prepare for the temple. In this chapter see how David begins to collect material for the construction of the temple. David collects chariots, horses, and men from Hadadezer (18:4) including shields of gold (v. 7). Then bronze from the cities of Tibhath and Cun which the Chronicle connects with Solomon’s construction of the bronze sea and the pillars and vessels of bronze.
This reminds me of Haggai 2:7. The KJV has the phrase “And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come.” The ESV has the “treasures of all nations shall come in.” The context is building a temple and money and wealth. One of our Christmas hymns, Angles from the realms of glory has this stanza:
Sages, leave your contemplations;
brighter visions beam afar;
seek the great Desire of nations;
ye have seen his natal star:
come and worship, come and worship,
worship Christ, the newborn King!
But as you can see my reading Haggai 2, God is speaking about money which is the desire or treasure of the nations not the Messiah. So in David and Solomon’s time, there were offerings and gifts from God’s people given willingly but also the nations, overcome by David’s armies, also contributed, though unwillingly, to the temple.
Then in v. 14ff, we read of David’s administrative work. David does seem to be a good ruler albeit not one without sins and mistakes. And those sins did great damage. But even this aspect of David’s work, “provided a secure bureaucracy for Solomon. In this sense, even this aspect of David’s efforts prepared the way for temple construction” (I & II Chronicles comment by Richard Pratt, p. 160).
David’s life is focused on God. He could have easily been distracted with wealth, power, military success, or his legacy. While he did get tripped up with women, poor choices in his family life, and betrayals, David could see past those things. David was a wealthy man. He knew the acclaim of the crowds. Imagine if you were David and people were singing Saul has slain 1,000 but David has slain 10,000? Wouldn’t that go to your head?
Yet, David kept his eye on the future and planned for the building of the temple, correct worship, and forging this nation into a God-fearing people. When you step back and reflect on what David accomplished you see God’s hand. Yet, his good deeds did not last long. Things began to slip during Solomon’s reign of 40 years. Then soon after Solomon’s death, the kingdom split. Yet, what God promised in terms of David’s eternal kingdom wrought only by God will continue forever.
Lord, what You did for David was a blessing then and now Your deeds points us to the Messiah and the true eternal kingdom. As interesting as these books are, they point us to Your Son Jesus Christ and the gospel. Christ fulfills the law as the true Messiah. As we look at our world and our nation we can easily become discouraged. But Your Kingdom cannot be stopped, will always grow, and will offer full forgiveness, unending joy, and pleasures forevermore. What a glorious future we have in Christ. Amen.