Thoughts on 1 Chronicles: Part 14

1 Chronicles 20‑21  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 8
“ And it came to pass after this” (20: 4). Now that David is restored to his true position, such is the superabounding of grace that his servants become mighty men. Their valiant deeds do but proclaim who is on the throne. And we may note it is after David is firmly fixed on the throne and executing judgment and justice that the Spirit, as it were, turns to look upon the servants. Until that time it is only David that the Spirit speaks of, or in association with others necessary to exalt him yet more. Not so here (ch. 20). Apart from his typical position the Lord may be teaching David that the glory of His kingdom, and the renown of His faithful ones, cannot be put under a cloud, because the most honored among the Lord's servants has failed and yielded to selfish ease and its consequences. Be that as it may for David, it is a lesson that we may learn. The Lord uses, and honors men by using them as His servants now; but we are not necessary to His power. But David is more than an honored servant. As type he must be on the throne, and then there is no limit to the outflow of grace, and the servants are mighty because David is on the throne, and giants are slain by them.
We do not read here of giants among the Ammonites and Syrians; these rather represent the external forces of the Enemy—for us, the world, and its hatred, persecutions, slaughterings of the saints. But when brought to face the Philistines giants are found, and these are rather an internal enemy; for they immigrated into Palestine at different times, and as being somewhat within its borders,1 was an internal enemy, and were the most persistent of all; for the Israelites do not subdue them by one victory, not even do these noted warriors deter them. They may be defeated, again and again, and yet again there is war. And they come with increased power. There is a man of, great stature, abnormal; he has twenty-four fingers and toes. But he was the son of the giant, and the slaughter of Goliath is the pledge of his own. This man defied Israel like Goliath (1 Sam. 17:1010And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. (1 Samuel 17:10)). It was his death-warrant.
The flesh may not be inaptly set forth by this man of great stature. And though the world and the flesh are servants of the devil, yet does the flesh appear as more powerful than either, to the Christian an enemy more to be dreaded, more to be watched against, and the reason is because it has its rest in the old heart, and so terrible its onslaught that at times it appears as a giant “with six fingers and six toes on each hand and foot” respectively. But the faith that slew Goliath also gives us the victory over this man, however terrible in appearance. And because our David—the Lord Jesus—is exalted and on the throne, we conquer in His Name. The world and the flesh are brothers, we may say twin brothers, for both came into existence at the same moment, i.e. at the fall. At that awful moment man became “flesh,” and this creation, before so good, became the “world.”
Satan, knowing well David's sin with all its aggravations, might be astonished at the prowess of the king's mighty men. Would God uphold the kingdom when the sole link that held earth to heaven was found defective? David proved to be a transgressor, adulterer, murderer. Will not God now find another Moses and make a great nation of him, and consume this people and their king with them? Nay, God is not man, His gifts are without change of mind. And now, if we may so reverently speak, persistence in His purpose is more than ever imperative: else what a boast for Satan that he had compelled God to annul His promise to Abraham! The Holy Spirit is still showing the glory of the kingdom, and these mighty deeds are not the cause, but the results of that glory which has its source in the King alone.
Satan has to learn that, however formidable his own servants might be, they were nothing before the mighty men of David. The sons of the giant are slain, and the kingdom becomes all the stronger through the war wherein the choice servants of each side are face to face.
Hitherto Satan has used instruments and persecuted David, perhaps before he knew for what purpose David was called and anointed. And the more distinct God's purpose became, the more intense and murderous the persecutions became. But these never weaken God's saints. It is the flesh that makes them weak as other men, and the crafty foe succeeds in his attempt, and David falls. But in His grace God comes in, which Satan did not count upon, and Satan is defeated upon the battle ground of his own choosing. “Yet again” he will attempt the destruction of God's kingdom; he has hitherto as it were worked behind the scenes. Now, no longer in secret, he “stands up” against Israel; and so plainly does he show himself that even his own servant Joab endeavors to dissuade David from his purpose. “And Satan stood up against Israel and provoked David to number Israel” (xxi. 1). Turn to Samuel, “And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go number Israel and Judah” (2 Sam. 24:11And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah. (2 Samuel 24:1)). We might suppose that “he” refers to “Lord “; and if so, it is because His anger was kindled against Israel and the sin of numbering the people is the judicial consequence of previous sin which the Lord would now judge. Therefore the Lord permitted Satan to stand up against Israel and provoke David to number them.
How marvelous the ways of God! Here is David, originally a shepherd boy, called to be king over Israel, and as such to be the honored type of Him Who is to reign over Israel and all the earth. And in this typical place he is upheld by the mighty hand of God, and no enemy without or within, nor his own failures, can deprive him of that wondrous position; yet at the same time God remembers that he is but a man, and as such, though a greatly honored saint, needs correction and reproof. Doubtless there was sin among the people, for the Lord's anger was kindled against Israel. And such sin as made the king—the means of blessing—to be the means of judgment upon them as well as of bringing chastisement upon himself.
Another thing we do well to mark, that the unwatchful and unfaithful saint is, surely unwittingly, but not the less really, the tool of Satan. It may be that pride and vainglory found a lodging place in David's heart, and so Satan found it no difficult matter to provoke him to number Israel. Satan, himself, glad of the occasion, stood up against the kingdom. The cunning Serpent has learned by this time that all his mighty efforts by means of enemies without, or (mightier still) through enemies within, only end in bringing increased honor and renown to the king, and that the only way left to him is to destroy the kingdom (if possible) through the king himself. He has tried fleshly lusts and failed, now he turns to the lusts of the mind. If that which is common to man and to the brute has failed, he will try that which betokens affinity with himself, namely pride. For man's nature is now not only sensual, but also devilish. Satan allures David to think of his own greatness apart from God, and to number the people as if they were his people, and not the people of God.