DAVID CONSOLIDATES HIS RULE IN JERUSALEM AS THE LORD PROSPERS AND PROTECTS HIM
Frederick Mabie: This section of the Chronicler’s work begins and ends with statements reflecting God’s blessings on David both in Israel and in the surrounding nations (vv.2, 17). In between, the Chronicler details how God enabled David to defeat the Philistines, who had been in a position of power over Israel during the judges’ time (cf. Jdg 13–16), the time of Eli and Samuel (cf. 1Sa 4–7), and the reign of Saul (cf. 1Sa 8–31). This chapter is out of chronological order, perhaps as a means of contrasting the house of David and the house of Saul.
August Konkel: The construction of a palace, the recognition of the new state by a powerful neighboring kingdom, and the growth of a harem are all features of an established king. David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and that his kingdom had been highly exalted for the sake of his people Israel (1 Chron 14:2). This kingdom belongs to God. To further demonstrate the point, the new king seeks divine guidance in military decisions (v. 10), which assures his victory in battle.
J.A. Thompson: The Chronicler presents a theological contrast between David and Saul. David, unlike Saul, was concerned for the ark (13:3). By incorporating indications of David’s prosperity and success against the Philistines, the Chronicler demonstrated God’s blessing on his servant for his faithfulness. By contrast, Saul’s defeat because of his unfaithfulness (chap. 10) stresses the point. It is a theme that runs throughout Chronicles. The reigns of faithful kings are marked by divine blessing.
Martin Selman: The constant focus on Jerusalem throughout chapter 14 as not only David’s conquered city (11:4-9), but also where David receives God’s varied blessings, marks it out as a city prepared for the ark. . .
All this would have reminded the Chronicler’s own generation that in spite of the exile, God was still willing to pour out the blessings of his kingdom on those who would seek him for direction. The aim of the chapter is therefore much wider than glorifying David (Michaeli) or even underlining David’s savior role (Williamson).
I. (:1-2) PROSPERED VIA INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT
A. (:1) Gift of Materials and Craftsmen to Build Royal Palace
“Now Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David
with cedar trees, masons, and carpenters, to build a house for him.”
J.A. Thompson: Hiram’s delegation brought assistance to David. He gave David recognition, respect, and gifts—each a sign of God’s blessing.
Frederick Mabie: It is noteworthy that David accepts Phoenician assistance in the building of his palace (cf. Solomon in the building of Yahweh’s temple [2Ch 2:3–16]). The Phoenicians were noted for supplying raw building materials and having the technical expertise to construct buildings and fabricate artistic objects with wood, metal, fabric, and stone.
The area of Tyre (Phoenicia or Lebanon more broadly) was a well-known source for quality lumber such as cedar. In the biblical world the wood of the slow-growing cedar tree was especially desired for important building projects, such as palaces and temples, given its fragrance and durability. Phoenician stonemasons were skilled in both construction techniques and specialty craftsmanship, such as dressed masonry (ashlar) and carved basalt orthostats (e.g., lion figures shaped from stone).
August Konkel: The rule of David in Jerusalem received international recognition from the king of Tyre, who allied with him to assist in building a royal residence. This was the beginning of a long and profitable relationship with Hiram, which continued into the time of Solomon (2 Chron 2:3–16). Tyre was dependent on Israel for food, and the Tyrian king provided materials and skilled workers for major construction projects. Tyrian expansion began in the days of Hiram; Phoenician colonization extended as far as Carthage (Katzenstein: 84–86). David and Hiram had a common enemy in the Philistines. Philistia battled with Israel on land and the Phoenicians at sea.
The cedar logs supplied by Hiram (1 Chron 14:1) were from the Cedrus libani, trees renowned for their beauty and height, reaching as high as thirty meters. Kings of Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Persia, and Greece all used cedar for building temples and palaces. The legendary cedar forests of Lebanon go back to the beginnings of written script (Daoud: 49–51). Cedar was particularly desirable for its fragrance.
Martin Selman: His recognition of David, whether for trade (GNB), tribute (Ackroyd), or for other purposes, demonstrated Yahweh’s renewed blessing for David’s house (v. 1) and kingdom (v. 2), in anticipation of the covenant blessings of 17:10bff.
Mark Boda: The exaltation of David’s kingdom is most intimately related to Hiram’s sending of messengers in 14:1a, a move that signals the establishment of diplomatic relations with David’s emerging court. As Japhet (1993:285) writes, this “implies some kind of a treaty between David and Hiram.” At the outset at least, Hiram was clearly the more powerful partner in this relationship, ruling a major Canaanite city-state that predated the rise of David’s kingdom and controlled the Phoenician region, including its ports and timber resources. Possibly this action by the Tyrian king was to establish an alliance with David against the Philistines, whose military tactics as far north as the Jezreel Valley (cf. ch 10) may have threatened the Phoenicians. Hiram also could have held out hope that David would become a vassal of the Phoenician state and so supported David; however, the text identifies Hiram as the one bringing tribute (Williamson 1982:116). [Indicative of God’s supernatural blessing]
B. (:2) Grace of God Establishing and Exalting David’s Kingdom
“And David realized that the LORD had established him as king over Israel,
and that his kingdom was highly exalted, for the sake of His people Israel.”
Mark Boda: This is a reminder that Israel’s royal house functioned as a mediatorial figure serving both as vice-regent of the Lord in Israel and on earth (Ps 2), but also as the one who ensured righteousness, justice, and even blessing for the people of God. Any exaltation for the human monarch found its source in the divine kingdom and was for the sake of the people he represented and served.
II. (:3-7) PROSPERED VIA FAMILY EXPANSION
A. (:3) Increased Wives
“Then David took more wives at Jerusalem,
and David became the father of more sons and daughters.”
Thomas Constable: The progress of revelation helps us understand this issue. Old Testament saints had revelation concerning the sin of polygamy (Gen. 2:24; Deut. 17:16-17). However, they did not have the added privilege and responsibility of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles on this subject (Matt 5; 19; 1 Cor. 7; Eph. 5; Col. 3; 1 Tim. 3; Titus 1; Heb. 13; 1 Pet. 3).
Greater privilege always results in greater responsibility. David’s understanding of God’s will was not as comprehensive as ours is, and consequently God did not hold him as culpable as He holds us in this particular matter.
B. (:4-7) Increased Children
“And these are the names of the children born to him in Jerusalem:
Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 5 Ibhar, Elishua, Elpelet, 6 Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, 7 Elishama, Beeliada and Eliphelet.”
Mark Boda: Noticeably, the children born in Hebron were not mentioned because the focus of this account is on Jerusalem. In this aspect of numerous children, David transcended Saul, whose dynasty came to an end with the loss of his house (10:6).
III. (:8-16) PROTECTED IN TWO SEPARATE ATTACKS BY THE PHILISTINES
Frederick Mabie: In these two instances of David’s success against the Philistines at the beginning of his reign, the Chronicler’s emphasis is that David “inquired of [sought] God” (vv.10, 14) and that God “answered him” (vv.10, 14). David’s seeking of God stands in sharp contrast to Saul, who either did not inquire of God (cf. 1Ch 10:13–14) or sought insight from pagan sources (cf. 1Sa 28:7–25). Moreover, the Chronicler illustrates that God brings success to David as “David did as God commanded him” (v.16), an important spiritual lesson for the Chronicler’s audience and God’s people at all times (cf. Johnstone, 1:180). . .
After realizing that David has reconsolidated the tribes of Israel, the Philistines attack twice (vv.8, 13) but are defeated and driven back. David’s victory succeeds in removing the Philistine foothold in the hill country and part of the Shephelah (v.16). Following his first victory, David burns the abandoned Philistine idols (v.12), according to Deuteronomic instruction (cf. Dt 7:5–6; 12:1–3). Thus David’s twofold victory over the Philistines at the beginning of his reign emphatically shows God’s hand of protection and blessing over the king and the nation as David seeks him and obeys his Word (cf. vv.10–11, 14–16, 17).
Japhet: The Davidic victories determined unequivocally his position as an independent king, completely free of any subordination to Philistine patronage. However, these victories were not final, and military encounters with the Philistines were to continue for some time (II Sam. 8.1//I Chron. 18.1, etc.).
A. (:8-12) Attack #1
1. (:8) Initiating Aggressive Attack against David
“When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over all Israel, all the Philistines went up in search of David; and David heard of it and went out against them.”
Andrew Hill: The news of David’s being anointed as king of Israel prompts a Philistine invasion of Judah, presumably an attempt to dethrone him before their former vassal has sufficient time to solidify his power among God’s people (14:8–12). The attack takes place at the Valley of Rephaim, a border region between the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, immediately southwest of Jerusalem (Josh. 15:8).
Tyndale Commentary: David had been no great threat to the Philistines while Israel and Judah remained divided, but an all-Israelite kingdom (v. 8) was a different matter. So the Philistines gathered in Rephaim valley, probably located south west of Jerusalem near Bethlehem (the incident of 11:15-20 is linked here).
2. (:9-10) Inquiring of God for Battle Strategy
“Now the Philistines had come and made a raid in the valley of Rephaim. 10 And David inquired of God, saying, ‘Shall I go up against the Philistines? And wilt Thou give them into my hand?’ Then the LORD said to him, ‘Go up, for I will give them into your hand.’”
3. (:11-12) Implementing God’s Tactics for Victory
“So they came up to Baal-perazim, and David defeated them there; and David said, ‘God has broken through my enemies by my hand, like the breakthrough of waters.’ Therefore they named that place Baal-perazim. 12 And they abandoned their gods there; so David gave the order and they were burned with fire.”
Frederick Mabie: As God did with Uzzah (13:11), so God “breaks out” against the Philistines. In the same way that the place where God broke out against Uzzah is renamed “Perez Uzzah” (13:11), so the name of the city where God breaks out against the Philistines is renamed “Baal Perazim” (v.11).
J.A. Thompson: The gods (idols) of the Philistines were taken into battle but failed them in the encounter, and the Philistines abandoned them. They were not taken as booty but were burned on David’s orders (cf. Deut 7:5; 12:3).
Martin Selman: The initial victory is understood as a divine break through comparable with an irresistible onrush of water (5:11), perhaps having in mind heavy rainfall in hilly country (Herrtzberg) or “the breaking of a clay vessel full of water” (Tg.).
B. (:13-16) Attack #2
1. (:13) Initiating Aggressive Attack against David
“And the Philistines made yet another raid in the valley.”
2. (:14-15) Inquiring of God for Battle Strategy
“And David inquired again of God, and God said to him, ‘You shall not go up after them; circle around behind them, and come at them in front of the balsam trees. 15 And it shall be when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall go out to battle, for God will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines.’”
Andrew Hill: The Philistines launch a second offensive at the same location, although the interval of time between the two attacks is unspecified (14:13–16). As before, the narrative reports that David appropriately “inquires” of God as to his response to the Philistine aggression (14:14). Once again, David is assured of God’s help in battle, but this time the tactics are changed. Instead of meeting the enemy in a head-on clash, David is instructed to entrap the enemy by circling around the Philistine army. The divine signal for engaging the enemy is most unusual, as David and his army are cautioned to wait for the “sound of marching” in the treetops before attacking (14:15). The rustling of the leaves in the trees is most likely the Spirit of God, since David is told God will go before him in battle. The noise, perhaps akin to soldiers’ feet rushing into battle, is designed to confuse the Philistine army (cf. 2 Kings 7:6). David and the Israelites rout the Philistines and drive them in a northwesterly direction away from Jerusalem through Gibeon (or Gibeah?; cf. “Geba” in 2 Sam. 5:25) to Gezer (1 Chron. 14:16).
Tyndale Commentary: Again David consults the Lord before engaging in any military action. This time God tells him not to employ in a frontal attack like the first time, but to move behind the enemy lines and attack from the back. Actually, it would not be David’s attack, but the Lord’s. An army of angels would move ahead of David’s and strike the Philistines. David could not see the angelic force, but he would hear them as they marched above the balsam treetops.
3. (:16) Implementing God’s Tactics for Victory
“And David did just as God had commanded him,
and they struck down the army of the Philistines
from Gibeon even as far as Gezer.”
(:17) EPILOGUE – INCREASED FAME AND RESPECT
“Then the fame of David went out into all the lands;
and the LORD brought the fear of him on all the nations.”
Frederick Mabie: This summary statement reflects the Chronicler’s sustained focus on God’s goodness in establishing and blessing the reign of David. This blessing is expressed via the position of respect and power attained by Israel during the reign of David and is likewise seen during the reigns of Solomon (2Ch 9:9, 24) and Jehoshaphat (cf. 2Ch 17:10–11).
Andrew Hill: The spread of David’s fame and the fear of Yahweh among the nations are interrelated (14:17). As God blesses David’s faithfulness, so David’s success brings glory and honor to God. The Chronicler’s report of David’s growing reputation foreshadows the covenant blessing of God’s promise to make David’s name among the greatest of the world (17:8). Fittingly, the defeat of the Philistines at Rephaim reverses the outcome at Mount Gilboa and avenges the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, closing the story on that tragic first chapter in the history of Israelite kingship. Presumably the Chronicler intends this account of the reversal of fortune for Israel under King David as a message of hope and encouragement for his audience—“fodder” for possibility thinking on the part of his generation.
John Schultz: David’s double victory over the Philistines made him internationally famous. We are not told which countries expressed appreciation or interest, but simply that all the nations feared him. This emphasized Israel’s security. No other nation would want to attack Israel and occupy its territory. Israel became known as the most powerful nation in the world.