1 Chronicles
1-15 5. The Commanders of the Army 16-24 6. The Princes of the Tribes of Israel 25-34 7. Other Overseers and Counselors
5. The Commanders of the Army

1Now [this is] the enumeration of the sons of Israel, the heads of fathers’ [households], the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, and their officers who served the king in all the affairs of the divisions which came in and went out month by month throughout all the months of the year, each division [numbering] 24,000: 2Jashobeam the son of Zabdiel had charge of the first division for the first month; and in his division [were] 24,000. 3[He was] from the sons of Perez, [and was] chief of all the commanders of the army for the first month. 4Dodai the Ahohite and his division had charge of the division for the second month, Mikloth [being] the chief officer; and in his division [were] 24,000. 5The third commander of the army for the third month [was] Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada the priest, [as] chief; and in his division [were] 24,000. 6This Benaiah [was] the mighty man of the thirty, and had charge of thirty; and over his division was Ammizabad his son. 7The fourth for the fourth month [was] Asahel the brother of Joab, and Zebadiah his son after him; and in his division [were] 24,000. 8The fifth for the fifth month [was] the commander Shamhuth the Izrahite; and in his division [were] 24,000. 9The sixth for the sixth month [was] Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite; and in his division [were] 24,000. 10The seventh for the seventh month [was] Helez the Pelonite of the sons of Ephraim; and in his division [were] 24,000. 11The eighth for the eighth month [was] Sibbecai the Hushathite of the Zerahites; and in his division [were] 24,000. 12The ninth for the ninth month [was] Abiezer the Anathothite of the Benjamites; and in his division [were] 24,000. 13The tenth for the tenth month [was] Maharai the Netophathite of the Zerahites; and in his division [were] 24,000. 14The eleventh for the eleventh month [was] Benaiah the Pirathonite of the sons of Ephraim; and in his division [were] 24,000. 15The twelfth for the twelfth month [was] Heldai the Netophathite of Othniel; and in his division [were] 24,000.

The commanders of the army are not Levites. These are only those who perform the four services that we have seen before. Despite the rest that is there when David is king and has defeated his enemies, David keeps 24,000 soldiers on standby every month to ensure and maintain peace and security.

The commanders of the army mentioned here are also mentioned in 1 Chronicles 11 among the mighty men of David. They have shared with David his rejection and trial. Here they share in his glorification and reign; they are given the high function of commander of the army.

We are also rejected with the true David and as reward we will share in His glorification (2Tim 2:12a12If we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us;). Whoever is faithful in the spiritual battle in the small, is also faithful in the big and gets a greater responsibility. Mighty men are formed in heavy trials and can later openly go out before the Lord of the Lords. Every believer who already has a certain service in the public domain has taken his aptitude test in secret. No one gets a public service if he is not exercised in secret.

Those who are at the forefront of the battle, the commanders of the army, can say how the battle should be fought because they have been taught by the great commander, the “captain of the host of the LORD” (Jos 5:1414He said, “No; rather I indeed come now [as] captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?”). Young believers should pay attention to the elderly and wait for them to give the signal for battle.


6. The Princes of the Tribes of Israel

16Now in charge of the tribes of Israel: chief officer for the Reubenites was Eliezer the son of Zichri; for the Simeonites, Shephatiah the son of Maacah; 17for Levi, Hashabiah the son of Kemuel; for Aaron, Zadok; 18for Judah, Elihu, [one] of David’s brothers; for Issachar, Omri the son of Michael; 19for Zebulun, Ishmaiah the son of Obadiah; for Naphtali, Jeremoth the son of Azriel; 20for the sons of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Azaziah; for the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joel the son of Pedaiah; 21for the half-tribe of Manasseh in Gilead, Iddo the son of Zechariah; for Benjamin, Jaasiel the son of Abner; 22for Dan, Azarel the son of Jeroham. These [were] the princes of the tribes of Israel. 23But David did not count those twenty years of age and under, because the LORD had said He would multiply Israel as the stars of heaven. 24Joab the son of Zeruiah had begun to count [them], but did not finish; and because of this, wrath came upon Israel, and the number was not included in the account of the chronicles of King David.

The princes of the twelve tribes can be applied to leaders the Lord gives in a local church. These are persons other than gatekeepers and commanders of the army. These leaders are in charge every day, when there is no talk of special situations. We might think of “gifts of … administrations” (1Cor 12:2828And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, [various] kinds of tongues.).

At the end there is a special mention of the census (verses 23-2423But David did not count those twenty years of age and under, because the LORD had said He would multiply Israel as the stars of heaven.24Joab the son of Zeruiah had begun to count [them], but did not finish; and because of this, wrath came upon Israel, and the number was not included in the account of the chronicles of King David.). From these verses we can learn that the people of God are always larger than we can count. David did not want to know the exact number of inhabitants, for then he would doubt God’s promise of countless offspring (Gen 15:55And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”; 22:1717indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.). His sin was that he wanted to know the strength of his people and therefore had counted all “who drew the sword” (1Chr 21:2,52So David said to Joab and to the princes of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, and bring me [word] that I may know their number.”5Joab gave the number of the census of [all] the people to David. And all Israel were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword; and Judah [was] 470,000 men who drew the sword.).


7. Other Overseers and Counselors

25Now Azmaveth the son of Adiel had charge of the king’s storehouses. And Jonathan the son of Uzziah had charge of the storehouses in the country, in the cities, in the villages and in the towers. 26Ezri the son of Chelub had charge of the agricultural workers who tilled the soil. 27Shimei the Ramathite had charge of the vineyards; and Zabdi the Shiphmite had charge of the produce of the vineyards [stored] in the wine cellars. 28Baal-hanan the Gederite had charge of the olive and sycamore trees in the Shephelah; and Joash had charge of the stores of oil. 29Shitrai the Sharonite had charge of the cattle which were grazing in Sharon; and Shaphat the son of Adlai had charge of the cattle in the valleys. 30Obil the Ishmaelite had charge of the camels; and Jehdeiah the Meronothite had charge of the donkeys. 31Jaziz the Hagrite had charge of the flocks. All these were overseers of the property which belonged to King David. 32Also Jonathan, David’s uncle, [was] a counselor, a man of understanding, and a scribe; and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni tutored the king’s sons. 33Ahithophel [was] counselor to the king; and Hushai the Archite [was] the king’s friend. 34Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar succeeded Ahithophel; and Joab was the commander of the king’s army.

This section lists the blessings of the land and who were in charge of them. All these blessings are under the care of David. Of this he can feed others through his overseers. Also now there are ‘overseers’ who can distribute food to the church (Mt 24:4545“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time?). Every fruit mentioned here has its own spiritual meaning, as does every animal.

Fighting is important, but it’s also a hard job. The same applies to the judge and gatekeeper. It also applies to the giving of food to God’s people. It is not always easy to be able to feed hungry hearts with the supplies our Lord holds. Yet that is more of a thankful work. It is more often received in gratitude.

The enumeration of the activities of the overseers shows a wide variety of activities. In the same way there is a great variety of gifts in the church. Those who have to do the work in the field cannot take care of the herds at the same time. He neither has understanding of this. Yet there is unanimity in all this work, for everything happens for the sake of king David. No one should interfere in the work of another. Everyone must be faithful in his own service.

We can apply a lot to the church. What each one has been entrusted with remains the property of the great King, the Lord Jesus. What confusion arises when someone starts to consider the field he has to maintain as his own. This is what happens a lot in Christianity, for example when a minister speaks of ‘my church’ and treats it as such. Only the Lord Jesus can speak about “My church” (Mt 16:1818I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.).

“The king’s storehouses” (verse 25a25Now Azmaveth the son of Adiel had charge of the king’s storehouses. And Jonathan the son of Uzziah had charge of the storehouses in the country, in the cities, in the villages and in the towers.) represent for us the treasures in heaven that we may collect (Mt 6:2020But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;). We can think of everything we possess in Christ, because in Him “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:33in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.).

There are also the “the storehouses in the country, in the cities, in the villages and in the towers” (verse 25b25Now Azmaveth the son of Adiel had charge of the king’s storehouses. And Jonathan the son of Uzziah had charge of the storehouses in the country, in the cities, in the villages and in the towers.). Joseph and Hezekiah have storehouses (Gen 41:49,5649Thus Joseph stored up grain in great abundance like the sand of the sea, until he stopped measuring [it], for it was beyond measure.56When the famine was [spread] over all the face of the earth, then Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians; and the famine was severe in the land of Egypt.; 2Chr 31:5,7,105As soon as the order spread, the sons of Israel provided in abundance the first fruits of grain, new wine, oil, honey and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of all.7In the third month they began to make the heaps, and finished [them] by the seventh month.10Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok said to him, “Since the contributions began to be brought into the house of the LORD, we have had enough to eat with plenty left over, for the LORD has blessed His people, and this great quantity is left over.”). These storehouses are used to distribute what has been collected. They are everywhere, in all kinds of areas and in all kinds of places. It points to the abundance of the land, in which all share, wherever they live.

“The storehouses in the country”, show the task that is done in the world. We can think of the preaching of the gospel, through which people come to conversion. “The cities” and “the villages” can be compared to large and small local churches, where people who have come to conversion are brought. “The towers” are lookouts to warn of the arrival of the enemy and provide protection from the enemy.

In “the agricultural workers” (verse 2626Ezri the son of Chelub had charge of the agricultural workers who tilled the soil.) we can see a picture of the work of the evangelists. Just as David appoints someone over his workers, Paul indicates how to work in God’s field (1Cor 3:6-86I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.7So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.8Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.). We also have to work with good seed, that is to say that the gospel must be preached pure, which means pure biblical.

The “charge of the vineyards” (verse 2727Shimei the Ramathite had charge of the vineyards; and Zabdi the Shiphmite had charge of the produce of the vineyards [stored] in the wine cellars.) is reminiscent of the care of God by His servants. The Father wants His own to bear fruit for Him (Jn 15:1-21“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.2Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every [branch] that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.). It gives Him joy when there is fruit for Him, of which “the wine cellars” speak (Jdg 9:1313But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my new wine, which cheers God and men, and go to wave over the trees?’).

By “the olive … trees” (verse 2828Baal-hanan the Gederite had charge of the olive and sycamore trees in the Shephelah; and Joash had charge of the stores of oil.) we can think of growth in the house of God (Psa 52:8a8But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.
; 92:1313Planted in the house of the LORD,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.
). This growth happens through the working of God’s Spirit, of Whom the oil is an image.

The “sycamore trees”, or fig-mulberry trees (Lk 19:66And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly.), are a picture of righteousness before God. When Adam and Eve have sinned, they make aprons of fig leaves (Gen 3:77Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.). It is a homemade apron that cannot cover their nakedness before God. Thus, a righteousness of its own cannot exist before God. If there is no fruit, the fig tree is cursed (Mk 11:12-1412On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry.13Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went [to see] if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.14He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.). The only righteousness that God accepts is righteousness based on faith. He Himself gives that righteousness on the basis of the work of His Son.

The “stores of oil” speak of “the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Tit 3:5-65He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,6whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,; 1Jn 2:20,2720But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.27As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.; Gal 5:22-2322But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.). The light of the Spirit is preserved for His people. Wherever it is needed unlimited use can be made of it. This oil never runs out.

The “cattle” (verse 2929Shitrai the Sharonite had charge of the cattle which were grazing in Sharon; and Shaphat the son of Adlai had charge of the cattle in the valleys.) serve to sacrifice to God. For us, that means spiritual sacrifice. When the prophet Hosea gives the people the words to pronounce as a confession, he says: “That we may present the fruit of our lips [literally: our lips as bulls]” (Hos 14:33“Assyria will not save us,
We will not ride on horses;
Nor will we say again, ‘Our god,’
To the work of our hands;
For in You the orphan finds mercy.”
). Their pronounced confession is compared to the sacrificing of bulls. This indicates the awareness that God will accept their confession as a sacrifice, with in their hearts the respect that goes with it.

That sacrifice is made in reality by the Lord Jesus. His sacrifice is great enough to forgive the greatest sin. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews quotes this verse from Hosea to encourage the believers to honor God: “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name [Literally: confess His name]” (Heb 13:1515Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.). Did we store this fruit?

“The camels (verse 30a30Obil the Ishmaelite had charge of the camels; and Jehdeiah the Meronothite had charge of the donkeys.) are burden bearers. The application to us comes in the spur: “Bear one another’s burdens” (Gal 6:22Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.). “The donkeys” (verse 30b30Obil the Ishmaelite had charge of the camels; and Jehdeiah the Meronothite had charge of the donkeys.) are also burden bearers, but in the application to us we see in it more the work in a local church and more of cooperation with others. “The flocks” (verse 31a31Jaziz the Hagrite had charge of the flocks. All these were overseers of the property which belonged to King David.) is reminiscent of the “little flock” (Lk 12:3232Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.) that depends on the Lord’s care.

“All these were overseers of the property which belonged to King David” (verse 31b31Jaziz the Hagrite had charge of the flocks. All these were overseers of the property which belonged to King David.). It should be remembered that the Lord Jesus, in His care, gave overseers and shepherds to pasture His flock. They are given the instruction: “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood”. (Acts 20:2828Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.; cf. 1Pet 5:22shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to [the will of] God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;).

Then seven men are mentioned who belong to the direct followers of David (verses 32-3432Also Jonathan, David’s uncle, [was] a counselor, a man of understanding, and a scribe; and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni tutored the king’s sons.33Ahithophel [was] counselor to the king; and Hushai the Archite [was] the king’s friend.34Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar succeeded Ahithophel; and Joab was the commander of the king’s army.). They are more fiduciaries than officials. The first one mentioned is “Jonathan, David’s uncle” (verse 32a32Also Jonathan, David’s uncle, [was] a counselor, a man of understanding, and a scribe; and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni tutored the king’s sons.). He is a counselor, a man of understanding with a task as scribe i.e. court writer. The second person is “Jehiel, the son of Hachmoni” (verse 32b32Also Jonathan, David’s uncle, [was] a counselor, a man of understanding, and a scribe; and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni tutored the king’s sons.) who tutors the king’s sons. He takes care of the king’s sons, a task that has to do with raising and guiding.

The third is “Ahithophel counselor to the king” (verse 33a33Ahithophel [was] counselor to the king; and Hushai the Archite [was] the king’s friend.). Of him we know that, because David does not follow his advice at the revolt of Absalom, he commits suicide (2Sam 17:2323Now when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled [his] donkey and arose and went to his home, to his city, and set his house in order, and strangled himself; thus he died and was buried in the grave of his father.). The fourth is “Husai, the Archite”, which is described as “the king’s friend” (verse 33b33Ahithophel [was] counselor to the king; and Hushai the Archite [was] the king’s friend.; 2Sam 15:3737So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, and Absalom came into Jerusalem.). He is a special fiduciary of the king (cf. 1Kgs 4:55and Azariah the son of Nathan [was] over the deputies; and Zabud the son of Nathan, a priest, [was] the king’s friend;).

After Ahithophel’s death, his position is taken over by “Jehoiada the son of Benaiah” (verse 34a34Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar succeeded Ahithophel; and Joab was the commander of the king’s army.), the fifth on the list. The sixth is “Abiathar” (verse 34b34Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar succeeded Ahithophel; and Joab was the commander of the king’s army.), the priest who manages to escape the slaughter in Nob and joins David (1Sam 22:2020But one son of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David.). Finally, the text mentions the well-known “commander of the king’s army” Joab (verse 34c34Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar succeeded Ahithophel; and Joab was the commander of the king’s army.).

“The counselor” (verses 32-3332Also Jonathan, David’s uncle, [was] a counselor, a man of understanding, and a scribe; and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni tutored the king’s sons.33Ahithophel [was] counselor to the king; and Hushai the Archite [was] the king’s friend.) is a person who can give advice. This should be done from a spiritual and Scriptural point of view and not from human wisdom point of view. Sometimes these advices are also recorded in writing. The letter to the Philippians, the first and second letter to Timothy and the letter to Philemon can be considered as such ‘advisory letters’.


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