1 Chronicles 27:1-34
Now the children of Israel after their number, to wit, the chief fathers and captains of thousands and hundreds…
In reading this chapter we are struck with three features of David's rule.
1. The presence of royal wisdom in:
(1) Securing the safety of his kingdom by a sufficient militia without sustaining a burdensome standing army. One month's practice in the year would suffice to maintain their soldierly qualities without seriously interfering with their civil pursuits (ver. 1).
(2) Adopting the system of promotion by merit. In the list of captains (vers. 2-15) we meet with names of men that had distinguished themselves by their courage and capacity, and who had "earned their promotion." Favouritism is a ruinous policy, and fatal to kings and ministers.
(3) Limiting his own personal requirements to a moderate demand. David lived as became such a king as he was, but he did not indulge in a costly and oppressive "civil list" (see vers. 25-31).
(4) Choosing so sagacious a counsellor as Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:1-3, 14), and so true and brave a friend as Hushai (2 Samuel 17:7-14).
2. The presence of personal kindness. Although David acted, most wisely, on the principle that the highest pests should be reserved for the most capable men and those who "deserved well of their country," yet he did not neglect his own kindred in the hour of his opportunity. We find, amongst others of the foremost men, the names of his relatives, Asahel (ver. 7); Jonathan, his uncle (ver. 32); Joab (ver. 34).
3. The presence of royal folly. We are reminded here of the grievous error, the disastrous departure from rectitude, when, notwithstanding the wise counsel and somewhat strenuous opposition of Joab, he insisted on numbering the people (vers. 23, 24). Regarding the folly of the king, we learn -
I. THAT HUMAN NATURE, EVEN AT ITS BEST, BEARS THE STAIN OF IMPERFECTION. Devout and humble as David was, prosperous and beneficent as was his reign, he yet fell, more than once, into sin; and on this occasion (of the numbering) he involved the nation in a terrible calamity. He resembled all other good men of every age. Human excellency is a beautiful but a blemished thing; it has admirable qualities, but is never without defects; it halts somewhere. Therefore:
1. Let us conclude that there is certain to be something in ourselves which needs to be corrected; we also, though we possess the mens conscia recti, have faults which others see and which they regret to see in us.
2. Let us not be hasty in estimating the character of others; if we judge men by the first thing we see in them, it may be that we shall apprise them by the one pardonable fault behind, which, unrecognized by us, hide a hundred virtues. We should not like to be judged by the first action our neighbours chanced to witness in us.
3. Let us make all kindly allowance for men when we know them; and placing their many solid graces against their few superficial failings, let us not withhold our esteem, or our confidence, or our affection. Regarding David's kindness, we learn -
II. THAT WE DO WELL TO USE OUR OWN ELEVATION TO SERVE OUR KINDRED. Nepotism is a crime as well as a sin, but, when other things are equal and when opportunity offers, we should surely remember those whom, by the ties of affinity, God commends to our kindness, and those whom, by profession of friendship in earlier and humbler days, we promised to assist. And in view of the king's wisdom, we may learn -
III. THAT GOODNESS AND WISDOM TOGETHER ARE A SOURCE OF INCALCULABLE BENEFIT. David without his devoutness would have been nothing to his country or his kind; without his wisdom he would have been little more. Piety and prudence together are a power for God and man. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now the children of Israel after their number, to wit, the chief fathers and captains of thousands and hundreds, and their officers that served the king in any matter of the courses, which came in and went out month by month throughout all the months of the year, of every course were twenty and four thousand.
WEB: Now the children of Israel after their number, the heads of fathers' [houses] and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and their officers who served the king, in any matter of the divisions which came in and went out month by month throughout all the months of the year—of every division were twenty-four thousand.