Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
(1) The Philistines (ver. 1).
(2) The Moabites (ver. 2; Numbers 24:17).
(3) The Ammonites (ver. 12; ch. 10.).
(4) The Syrians of Zobah, under Hadadezer ver. 3; 2 Samuel 10:15, 16). The point here touched (ver. 4) in the struggle appears to have been after the Ammonites had commenced hostilities, aided by Hadadezer,
(5) the Syrians of Beth-Rehob,
(6) the King of Maachah, and
(7) the men of Tob; and bad been defeated (in a first campaign) by Joab and Abishai at Medeba (ch. 10:1-14). Hadadezer now recruited his forces in Mesopotamia, and made immense preparations; but he was defeated by David, who took the field in person (in a second campaign), at Helam; his general, Shobach, being slain (ch. 10:15-19).
(8) The Syrians of Damascus (vers. 5, 6).
(9) Toi, King of Hamath (vers. 9, 10). "Thus the Aramean supremacy, which had in previous centuries become so formidable to the Hebrews, and even to the Ammonites, was now broken once more by the heroic arm of David" (Ewald).
(10) The Edomites, in league with
(11) the Amalekites (ver. 12) and others, threatening to render previous victories fruitless, overcome (in a third campaign) by Abishai and by Joab (vers. 13, 14; 1 Chronicles 18:12; 1 Kings 11:15; Psalm 60., inscription). "David himself came at the close of the campaign to arrange the conquered territory" (Stanley).
(12) The siege of Rabbah, the capital of the Ammonites, which still held out, by Joab (in a fourth campaign), while the king remained at Jerusalem (2 Samuel 11:1); and its capture by David (2 Samuel 12:26-31; 1 Chronicles 20:1-3). These wars of Israel with surrounding nations were not ordinary wars (2 Samuel 2:24-29). They were a special embodiment of the great conflict which was ordained from the beginning (Genesis 3:15) and of which the sacred history is a record. They involved principles and issues of vast importance; and they must be considered in the light of the peculiar position of the people of Israel, the measure of Divine revelation vouchsafed to them, and the "ruling ideas in early ages," in order that they may be judged of correctly, and just inferences drawn from them in relation to the conduct of Christian nations. They were waged -
I. WITH POWERFUL ADVERSARIES. Numerous, varied, confederated, selfish, proud, and "delighting in war" (Psalm 68:30). The Ammonites (1 Samuel 11:1-15) first attacked Israel (as the Philistines and others had previously done), assisted by the Syrians, "for reward." "The first recorded example of mercenary warfare" (Kitto). They "succeeded in girdling the whole eastern frontier with steel." They were idolaters, fought against Jehovah, sought to exterminate his people, and Would have been satisfied with nothing short of their entire subjugation. Never had their peril been more imminent. It was such as is described by the psalmist -
"Why do the nations rage,
II. ON JUSTIFIABLE GROUNDS. For:
1. The defence of person and property, and the preservation of the worship of Jehovah (2 Samuel 10:12). The right of self-defence is a law of nature, extending to the relations of states and kingdoms, as well as of individuals. Without its exercise the destruction of Israel by their fierce and powerful enemies could have been averted only by a continuous miracle.
2. The punishment of evil doers, and the execution of a Divine judgment upon the heathen and their gods. Of this David deemed himself an appointed agent, fulfilling a Divine commission, like that given to Saul concerning Amalek, and the command under which Joshua acted in the conquest of the land.
3. The attainment of the destination of the chosen people to rule over the nations according to former promises and predictions. "The chief aim of the writer is to show the growth of God's kingdom" (see the martial Psalm 9, 10, 18, 20, 21, 44, 60, 68, 110.). Psalm 9.,' The righteous Judge of the heathen' -
"I will praise thee, O Jehovah, with my whole heart;
III. IN A DEVOUT SPIRIT. Faith in the immediate presence of God, reverence for his righteous laws, dependence upon his mighty arm, zeal for his universal honour; prayerfulness, confidence, thankfulness. "The whole nation was at once a nation of soldiers and a nation of priests. They were the soldiers of God, pledged to a crusade - a holy war; pledged to the extermination of all idolatry and all wickedness wherever existing" (Perowne, in Psalm 110.). Psalm 20., 'Going forth to battle' -
"Jehovah answer thee in the day of distress;
"O God, thou hast east us off, thou hast broken us;
IV. WITH EXTRAORDINARY SUCCESS; in which the hand of God was manifested, especially in the preservation of David "whithersoever he went" (vers. 6, 14), and was recognized in the dedication to Jehovah of the spoils of war (vers. 7, 10-12) amidst general thanksgiving and praise. One victory rapidly succeeded another until the whole region from the Nile to the Euphrates (Genesis 15:18) was subdued, peace was established, and Israel occupied a position of unrivalled power and glory. "David erected, on Joab's return (ver. 13), a monument of thanksgiving for his victory; and we may imagine how brilliant was the triumphant procession in Jerusalem when we recollect the hundred war chariots with their horses which were spared when Hadarezer was conquered" (Ewald). Psalm 21., 'Returning in triumph' -
"O Jehovah, in thy strength shall the king be glad,
V. NOT WITHOUT DEPLORABLE CONSEQUENCES. Even when waged on justifiable grounds and from religious motives, war is associated with manifold evils. It was not the loss of life that occurred, nor the cruel severities that were practised (ver. 2; 2 Samuel 12:31), characteristic of the age, in the wars of David, which wrought the mischief, so much as the fierce passions, the pride, ambition, luxury, and vice they engendered, the heavy burdens they imposed, and the neglect of the humbler pursuits and more orderly virtues they involved. "The one blot upon the time is David's lust of war, bringing men like Joab to the front, and debasing David's own character If ever God wrote his verdict plainly upon ambition and aggressive war, he wrote it upon the wars of David. They brought the stain of two foul crimes on David himself; ruined his own domestic peace and happiness; ruined, by the possession of too-great power, the one of his sons who started so wisely and well; and ruined the kingdom, which broke asunder of its own weight" ('Prophecy a Preparation for Christ,' p. 216). Yet these effects. have not always been considered in later times; while the record of his successes has sometimes been regarded as affording a sanction and an incentive to the martial spirit under different circumstances and a better dispensation. "It was among the Teutonic race that the Church first manifested warlike propensities. They were emphatically men of blood. The chief difficulty of the Church was to teach them to love peace. According to a well-known story, the Gothic bishop, Ulphilas, showed his special sense of the special weakness of his Teuton converts by refraining from translating the Books of Samuel and Kings into their language, as he did the rest of the Scripture. His reason, we are told, was that they contained 'the history of wars;' and the nation was already very fond of war, and needed the bit rather than the spur so far as fighting was concerned" (British Quarterly Review, January, 1881). Nevertheless, the wars and victories of David (allowed for "the hardness of men's hearts" until "the times of reformation") -
VI. FORESHADOWED NOBLER CONFLICTS AND TRIUMPHS by One greater than David - the Prince of Peace, and his faithful followers (1 Samuel 13:1-7; 1 Samuel 17:47); in which the elements of good that existed therein are retained and perfected, and those of evil set aside; "the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but" spiritual (truth, righteousness, love) and "mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds" of error and unrighteousness (2 Corinthians 10:4; Luke 9:56; John 18:36); and the effects, enduring peace, security, and happiness Isaiah 9:5, 6). "Since the time that Jesus Christ said, 'Put up thy sword into its scabbard,' Christians ought not to go to war, unless it be in that most honourable warfare with the vilest enemies of the Church - the inordinate love of money, anger, and ambition. These are our Philistines, these our Nebuchadnezzars, these our Moabites and Ammonites, with whom we ought never to make a truce; with these we must engage without intermission till, the enemy being utterly extirpated, peace may be firmly established. Unless we subdue such enemies as these, we can neither have peace with ourselves nor peace with any one else. This is the only war which tends to produce a real and lasting peace" (Erasmus). - D.
I. THE PRESERVATION EXPERIENCED.
1. Physical. That of bodily life and health and of the senses. Protection in perils by land or water. Preservation from serious illnesses, or deliverance from them. The uniformity of good health and wholeness of limbs is a greater blessing than restoration from sickness or repair of fractures, although it does not usually excite so much notice or call forth so much gratitude.
2. Mental. That of the soundness of the mind, of perception, memory, reason. It might be salutary for each of us to pay one visit to a lunatic asylum. Such impressions of the value of our reason may be obtained there as can be obtained nowhere else.
3. Moral and spiritual. That of faith and a good conscience, of principles and habits of religion and virtue. Protection from specially powerful temptations which, yielded to, would have been our ruin.
4. Of reputation. From slander or misunderstanding. A good name is conducive, not only to our comfort, but to our success in life, and to our usefulness. To some, owing to peculiar circumstances, its continuance is marvellous.
5. Prolonged. In many cases for very many years, in which dangers numerous, various, repeated, and imminent, have been met with. The greater the perils and the longer the period, so much the more noteworthy the preservation.
II. TO WHOM IT IS TO BE ASCRIBED. "The Lord." David owed much to faithful friends and brave soldiers, who regarded his life as their special care, and defended it at the peril of their own (see 2 Samuel 21:15-17); but the historian ascribes all to God; and David, when he reviews his life, or any part of it, does the same. In like manner, as we look back, we may remember many who have in various ways ministered to our preservation, and towards whom we rightly cherish gratitude; but these, and all else that has contributed to our well being, we rightly ascribe to God (comp. 2 Timothy 3:11; 2 Timothy 4:16, 17).
III. THE EMOTIONS IT SHOULD AWAKEN.
1. Gratitude. Expressed in praise and renewed self-dedication.
My life, which thou hast made thy care, Also in zealous endeavours to preserve others from evil, especially the young and inexperienced (see Psalm 116., 117.) 2. Confidence and hope. As to future physical and mental preservation, so far as seems good to the infinite wisdom and goodness; but especially as to the moral and spiritual (see Psalm 91. and 121.; 2 Corinthians 1:9, 10; 2 Timothy 4:18). "We'll praise him for all that is past,
Also in zealous endeavours to preserve others from evil, especially the young and inexperienced (see Psalm 116., 117.)
2. Confidence and hope. As to future physical and mental preservation, so far as seems good to the infinite wisdom and goodness; but especially as to the moral and spiritual (see Psalm 91. and 121.; 2 Corinthians 1:9, 10; 2 Timothy 4:18).
"We'll praise him for all that is past,
2 Samuel 8:11. - (JERUSALEM.)1 Chronicles 18:8). The spirit which he displayed had been shown at the erection of the tabernacle (Exodus 35:29); and it was participated in by many (1 Chronicles 26:26-28; 1 Chronicles 29:5-9). Other instances occurred at a much earlier period (Genesis 14:30; 28:22). David's act was:
1. Unselfish. The evil of selfishness specially appears in undue attachment to earthly possessions; "which is idolatry," and "a root of all evil." It ofttimes increases with the increase of worldly good, "like the Indian fig tree connecting itself vitally at a hundred spots, with the soil over which it spreads." Hence the injunction, "If riches increase," etc... 62:10). A good man receives that he may give, and feels that "it is more lessed to give than to receive."
2. Grrateful. David recognized the hand of God in his victories; and herein testified his thankfulness to his Divine Helper and Benefactor. Wealth is his gift; so is the power to acquire it (Deuteronomy 8:17, 18). But how often are its possessors forgetful of this, proud, and unthankful! "All things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee" (1 Chronicles 29:14).
3. Faithful. Earthly good is not an absolute gift, but a trust; it is put into our power only for a brief season; its possession involves the responsibility of its employment according to the will of the Owner; and its faithful use is conducive to the possession of "the true riches" (Luke 16:9-12). Whilst it should be altogether employed according to his will, a due proportion of it should be set apart as sacred to the claims of the needy, the support of Diane worship, and the spread of the gospel. It would appear that every Jewish family in ancient times devoted as much as a fourth part of its income to religious and charitable purposes. But inasmuch as no definite rule is now enjoined, every man must determine the proportion for himself by earnest thought and prayer, without reference to what others may do, and with a view to giving, not as little, but as much as possible. It has been stated that more wealth has been made in England during the last fifty years than during the preceding eighteen centuries. But notwithstanding numerous examples of noble beneficence, how small a part of it comparatively has been devoted to the highest ends (Deuteronomy 16:17; Proverbs 3:9, 10; Luke 19:13; 1 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Corinthians 16:1; 2 Corinthians 8., 9.; 1 Timothy 6:17-19)!
4. Devotional. David's offering was religious; in it he offered himself to God; and sought to fulfil his purposes concerning the welfare of his people and the promotion of his honour and glory in the earth. This is the highest motive; and those who are actuated by it obtain an unspeakable blessing both here and hereafter (Malachi 3:10; Matthew 25:21).
"Largely thou givest, gracious Lord,
I. WHAT WE SHOULD DEDICATE TO GOD.
1. Ourselves. We must begin with this. All true godliness does begin with the surrender of self, with all its powers of soul and body, to God, to be saved and sanctified by him, and devoted to his service. No other gift can be truly presented while this is withheld; none can be a substitute for it; none acceptable without it. True offerings to God are the offerings of his true servants.
2. Our material treasures. Gold and silver, houses and lands. All are to be dedicated to God. What we have inherited, what we have gained by industry and enterprise, and what may have been given to us, as the vessels of gold and silver and brass which the King of Hamath sent to David. But if we have gained aught by fraud, injustice or other iniquity, we may not present this to God, but return it to its rightful owners (see Luke 19:8).
3. Our mental gifts and acquisitions. Spoils won from the heathen, it may be, by victorious study. All our abilities and culture; all our knowledge.
4. Our spiritual acquirements. All we have of spiritual life and power; all the grace given to us. These are bestowed, not to be merely enjoyed, but used for God and the good of our brethren.
5. Our influence. Whether obtained through our abilities, or wealth, or station, or character, all is to be exercised for God. In a word, whatever we are, and whatever we have, are to be devoted to God. Nothing can be rightly withheld.
II. IN WHAT MANNER.
1. In our ordinary life. By employing our powers and possessions according to God's will, in uprightness and kindness. By enjoying God's gifts with thankfulness and temperance. By "setting the Lord always before us," and doing and enjoying all as his children and servants. Thus the whole of life becomes religion, and common actions are as acceptable to God as prayers. "HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD" is written upon everything (see Zechariah 14:20, 21). But no greater mistake can be made than to think that, in giving a portion of our substance and time to religion, we are set free to use the rest as we please.
2. By devoting a due portion of our powers and possessions to religious and charitable uses. First, to the support of the worship of God in the congregation to which we belong; then to the relief of the poor with whom we are personally acquainted, and the education of the young in our own locality; and then to such religious and charitable institutions as commend themselves to oar judgment, and appear to have a just claim upon our liberality. What proportion of our income should be given away must be left to each person's conscience as in the sight of God. Only we must let conscience decide, not mere inclination. Certainly we ought not to give what belongs to creditors, or the reasonable wants of our families. Our aim should be to ascertain the will of God; and this will vary according to the various circumstances of individuals, and of the same individual at different times. "As he may prosper" (1 Corinthians 16:2, Revised Version) is the general rule; and any special increase of prosperity (as with David at the time spoken of in the text) justly calla for special liberality. In general, our danger does not lie in the direction of excessive generosity. Few give away as much as they ought, on any just interpretation of our Lord's precepts. "The liberal," who "deviseth liberal things" (Isaiah 32:8), is an exceptional person, although there are, thank God, many such.
III. MOTIVES TO SUCH DEDICATION.
1. The claims of God. As our Proprietor and the Proprietor of all we possess; by right of creation and redemption. "Ye are not your own" (1 Corinthians 6:19). "All things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee" (1 Chronicles 29:14). As our liberal Benefactor, who gave us his Son, and is ever bestowing good upon us (2 Corinthians 9:15). As our supreme Ruler, who by innumerable commandments enjoins upon us devotement to his service and kindness to our brethren, and to whom we must give account of our use of what he has entrusted to us. As our Father, who desires that we should resemble him, and thus at once prove our sonship and do honour to his Name (Ephesians 5:1, 2).
3. Our professions of self-devotement.
4. The good of others.
5. Our own good.. A life of self-dedication is the true, the noblest, the happiest life. We grow in all that is good by the practice of good. Our being is enriched, our happiness increased. "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). We have now the testimony of a good conscience, which is the witness of God's approval. We shall hereafter be acknowledged and rewarded by him. In devoting ourselves and our substance to him, we are laying up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20), which will reappear transfigured, for our everlasting enrichment. Good done to others as unto the Lord will be reckoned and rewarded as done to himself; good withheld from them, as withheld from him (Matthew 25:34-45). Faithful service now will issue in larger and higher service hereafter Luke 19:17, 19). Those to whom we have ministered on earth will welcome us into heaven (Luke 16:9), and our eternal glory and joy will be increased by knowing how much we have contributed to theirs (1 Thessalonians 2:19). - G.W.
1 Chronicles 18:12), and in David's part therein, which rendered his victory peculiarly signal and memorable. Hence he obtained an honourable "name;" his reputation and fame were greatly increased. A large proportion of the names that men have won have been gained in war. But others more honourable have been obtained by the arts and victories of peace. Most to be valued are those acquired by eminence in goodness and usefulness.
I. NAMES WORTH GETTING.
1. A good name - a reputation for what is good. Better than a merely great name. Some names, widely known and for centuries, are so much infamy. Better be totally unknown than have a name for ill doing. All may have some reputation, though in a small circle and for a brief period, for sincere piety and Christian excellence; for unselfishness, benevolence, activity in doing good, liberality, self-denial in helping others, meekness, humility, long suffering, patience, and the like. And such a name is more to be desired than riches (Proverbs 22:1), infinitely more than a great name which has been obtained by unscrupulous ambition.
2. A good name which arises from and represents reality. A mere name conferred through ignorance or flattery, or assumed and pushed into notice to gratify vanity or secure gain, is utterly worthless, and worse than worthless. So it is with a mere name for wisdom, or learning, or liberality (Isaiah 32:5), or public spirit, or philanthropy; worst of all the name which a hypocrite sometimes gets for sanctity. How withering the reproach addressed to the Church at Sardis, "Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead" (Revelation 3:1)!
II. THE VALUE OF A GOOD NAME.
1. It is a just source of satisfaction to ourselves, when our own consciousness testifies to its substantial truth. The good opinion of others, especially of the good and discerning, is part of the reward of goodness. It is one of the ways by which God expresses his favourable judgment of us.
2. It sustains and stimulates in the course of conduct from which it has arisen. We are influenced by it to strive more and more to be worthy of it.
3. It is adapted to do good to others. It attracts attention to the excellence it designates, and may lead to imitation. It awakens confidence in those who have won it, which gives force to their instructions or admonitions, and it gives them in other ways greater influence for good. On all these accounts it is a heinous sin to injure or destroy another's deserved good name by slander.
III. HOW IT SHOULD BE SOUGHT. It should scarcely be sought at all. The way to obtain it is, not to seek it, but to practise the virtues from which it arises. To seek it is to set our hearts on the approval of men, which is perilous. Let us labour to be accepted of God, and he will take care of our reputation among men, so far as it is good for us and adapted to honour him and benefit our fellow men. "It is a very small thing to be judged of man's judgment He that judgeth us is the Lord" (1 Corinthians 4:3, 4). At the same time, for the reasons given under division II., we should not needlessly defy or sacrifice the good opinion of others, though we should willingly do so when fidelity to truth and God requires the sacrifice. In conclusion. The grandest instance of getting a name is that of our Lord and Saviour. By his self-humiliation and self-sacrifice, in love to us and obedience "unto death, even the death of the cross," he obtained "a Name which is above every name," as well in its significance as in its power with God and men (Philippians 2:5-11). - G.W.
1 Chronicles 18:6, 13). The providence, of God (his preservation, and government of all things), which embraces the creation in general (Psalm 36:6; Nehemiah 9:6) and man in particular (Psalm 8:4, 5; Luke 12:7), is exercised with special regard to the good of those that love him (Matthew 6:32; Matthew 10:29, 30). This is evident from his relation and love to them (Deuteronomy 32:9; Luke 12:32), the promises and declarations of his Word (Psalm 37:25; Psalm 121:8), and the facts of observation and experience (Genesis 45:5; Esther 6:1). The life of David is full of illustrations thereof (1 Samuel 19:10; 1 Samuel 23:28). "The Lord preserveth the faithful" (Psalm 31:23) -
I. IS LOYAL OBEDIENCE to his will, such as David exhibited.
"For he will give his angels charge over thee,
II. AMIDST IMMINENT PERIL, arising from attacks of numerous foes; which must often be met in the path of duty, and cannot be avoided without sin (2 Samuel 4:9-11). "And, indeed, there is a great deal of reason why we should respect him that, with an untainted valour, has grown old in arms and hearing the drum heat. When every minute death seems to pass by and shun him, he is one that the supreme God cared for, and, by a particular guard, defended in the hail of death" (O. Felltham). There is a holy strife (Philippians 1:27; Jude 1:3; Ephesians 6:12), and in it We may sometimes be exposed to as great danger as David was (2 Samuel 21:16); but the eye of God sees it and his hand wards it off. "No weapon," etc. (Isaiah 54:17).
"O Jehovah Lord, thou Strength of my salvation,
III. BY MANIFOLD MEANS. Not without prudence and effort on the part of men; not by direct, extraordinary and miraculous interposition; but by:
1. The salutary influence of a devout spirit on conditions favourable to safety.
2. Special impressions on the minds both of the good and of the bad, conducive to the preservation of the former.
3. A peculiar concurrence of circumstances having the same effect; and other ways, still more wonderful, and not less effectual (Proverbs 21:31). Nothing is more mysterious to our partial comprehension of them than the methods of providence by which God accomplishes his designs. "A mighty maze! but not without a plan."
IV. FOR BENEFICENT ENDS. Not only "the good of his chosen" (Psalm 106:5), whom he preserves; but also the good which they may effect on behalf of others, the manifestation of his great Name, the complete establishment of his kingdom. "We know that all things work together for good," etc. (Romans 8:28). "This is the sun in the heaven of all the promises." - D.
I. A JUST REIGN. "And David executed judgment and justice unto all the people" (1 Samuel 7:15-17; 1 Samuel 10:24). It was as important a part of his office to judge them as to lead them forth to battle (2 Samuel 15:2-4); and, in its fulfilment, he acted:
1. According to the laws of Jehovah, the supreme King and Judge, whose servant he was.
2. With proper discernment, strict equity and impartiality, and great diligence.
3. So that, either by his own decisions or those of judges appointed and superintended by him, right was done to all his subjects, wrongs redressed, and wrong doers punished. He was a king who
"In the royal palace gave
II. A SKILFUL ORGANIZATION, indicated by the mention of the chief officers of state, who formed the king's council and acted as his confidential advisers, along with his sons (ver. 18), the prophets, and others (see for later enumeration, 2 Samuel 20:13-26; 1 Chronicles 27:32-34).
(1) The host (1 Chronicles 27:1-15), or national militia (under Joab), consisting of all the males capable of bearing arms, and arranged in twelve bodies of twenty-four thousand each, whose turn of service came every month.
(2) The bodyguard (under Benaiah), Krethi and Plethi (lictors and couriers; Cretans or Carians, and Philistines), "formed at Ziklag, and afterwards recruited from foreigners (2 Samuel 15:18; 2 Samuel 20:23), having their quarters in Jerusalem, not far from the royal castle" (Ewald).
(3) The heroes (Gibborim), mighty men or veterans (under Abishai); the old guard, who had gathered to David in his wanderings, constituting "the first standing army of which we have any special knowledge," the number six hundred being maintained, "divided into three large bands of two hundred each, and small bands of twenty each; the small bands commanded by thirty officers, one for each band, who together formed 'the thirty,' and the three large bands by three officers, who together formed 'the three'" (Stanley).
2. Civil; pertaining to the registering and publication of the royal edicts, the regulation of judicial, financial, and other matters, the management of the royal demesnes, etc. (1 Chronicles 27:25-31), from which the revenue was largely derived. "Each tribe had still its prince or ruler, and continued under a general superintendence from the king to conduct its local affairs (1 Chronicles 27:16-22). The supreme council of the nation continued to assemble on occasions of great national importance; and, though its influence could not have been so great as it was before the institution of royalty, it remained an integral part of the constitution. Without superseding the tribal governments, David greatly strengthened them by a systematic distribution through the country of a large number of Levites (six thousand) as officers and judges (1 Chronicles 26:20-33). It is extremely probable that this large and able body of Levites were not limited to strictly judicial duties, but that they performed important functions also in the education, the healing, and the general elevation of the people" (Blaikie).
3. Ecclesiastical; the Levites (1 Chronicles 23.); the priests, in twenty-four classes, and their attendants (1 Chronicles 24.); the choristers, in twenty-four courses (1 Chronicles 25.); the porters and officers (1 Chronicles 26.). "Order is Heaven's first law." It is an essential condition of peace, safety, and power. "The solemn transfer of the ark of the covenant, at which almost all the people were present, had made a deep impression on their minds, and had awakened them to a sincere adoration of Jehovah. These favourable dispositions David wished to strengthen by suitable regulations in the service of the priests and Levites, especially by the instructive and animating psalms, which were composed partly by himself, and partly by other poets and prophets. By such instructive means, David, without using any coercive measures, brought the whole nation to forget their idols, and to worship Jehovah alone" (Jahn, 'Heb. Com.').
III. AN ABLE EXECUTIVE. The best organization avails little unless there be men of ability to carry it into practical effect. David's reign was singularly rich in such men.
1. Warriors like Joab, Abishai, Benaiah, and other "heroes who had vied with him in valour and self-sacrifice for the community of Israel and the religion of Jehovah," and "whose names lived on, linked forever with his memory" (2 Samuel 23:8-39).
2. Ministers like Jehoshaphat, Sheva, Adoram, Ira the Jairite; counsellors like Ahithophel and Hushai.
3. Priests like Zadok and Abiathar; "masters of the song" like Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun; prophets like Nathan and Gad. "All is now in full movement and almost in its original life, while around the chief hero a crowd of other figures are woven into the mighty drama, and even these are illumined by the bright rays of his sun; nay, even what would be insignificant elsewhere acquires importance here from the conspicuous eminence of Israel's greatest king" (Ewald). A wise ruler discerns the ablest men, attaches them to him, and profits by their wisdom, appoints them to offices in which they can most effectually promote the common good, and upholds and encourages them in their faithful endeavours to that end. It has been said that "a ruler who appoints any man to an office when there is in his dominions another man better qualified for it, sins against God and against the state" (Koran).
IV. A MIGHTY NATION; united, prosperous, powerful, imbued with lofty principles and aims, "as an eagle muing her mighty youth and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full midday beam" (Milton). To this many influences contributed, one of which was a just, wise, and strong administration (Psalm 72.). "David's own moral exaltation, and still more the spirit of fearless justice in which he ruled, had its effect on the nation at large. The theocracy became real to them in a sense in which it had never been before. They saw that an organized system, which was based upon religion and built up of justice, was more truly the embodiment of the Divine government than the fitful inspiration of the judges. Thus they won the might that comes from right: they felt that a war in defence of this new organization was most truly a holy war, and that if David was at the head of it, he was not only the king but the high priest of the people. Animated by this feeling, they forgot all the old 'divisions and searchings of heart,' and flocked around the standard of their king in such numbers and with such a spirit that they crushed the greatest coalition that ever threatened to destroy their religion and their nation" ('The Psalms chronologically arranged'). "The enlargement of territory, the amplification of power and state, leads to a corresponding enlargement of ideas, of imagery, of sympathies; and thus (humanly speaking) the magnificent forebodings of a wider dispensation in the prophetic writings first became possible through the court and empire of David" (Stanley). - D.