1 Chronicles 20 (New Living Translation)
David Captures Rabbah
1In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, Joab led the Israelite army in successful attacks against the land of the Ammonites. In the process he laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.
And what happened when David stayed behind in Jerusalem? Oh, baby.
In fact, the account in 2 Samuel 12:26-31 tells us that Joab himself did not win this battle over Rabbah. He fought the Ammonites to a stalemate and then called for David to help, after his sin with Bathsheba and subsequent repentance. Then, 2 Samuel 12:29 tells us, David gathered all the people together and went to Rabbah. This was the final phase of David’s restoration. He went back to doing what he should have done all along — leading Israel out to battle, instead of remaining in Jerusalem. This means that David was in victory once again. His sin did not condemn him to a life of failure and defeat. There was chastisement for David’s sin, but it did not mean that his life was ruined.
2 When David arrived at Rabbah, he removed the crown from the king’s head, and it was placed on his own head. The crown was made of gold and set with gems, and he found that it weighed seventy-five pounds. David took a vast amount of plunder from the city. 3 He also made slaves of the people of Rabbah and forced them to labor with saws, iron picks, and iron axes. That is how David dealt with the people of all the Ammonite towns. Then David and all the army returned to Jerusalem.
Rabbah was the capital of the Ammonites and is the site of modern Amman in Jordan. It is a city of limestone set in a desert. I had an aunt and uncle who lived in Amman for five years; he worked for Boeing. Just a couple months before they returned home, I came for a visit. When I asked my aunt what she would miss most about Amman, she replied, “Beige.”
Battles against Philistine Giants
4After this, war broke out with the Philistines at Gezer. As they fought, Sibbecai from Hushah killed Saph, a descendant of the giants, and so the Philistines were subdued. 5 During another battle with the Philistines, Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi, the brother of Goliath of Gath. The handle of Lahmi’s spear was as thick as a weaver’s beam!
6 In another battle with the Philistines at Gath, they encountered a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in all, who was also a descendant of the giants. 7 But when he defied and taunted Israel, he was killed by Jonathan, the son of David’s brother Shimea.
8 These Philistines were descendants of the giants of Gath, but David and his warriors killed them.
The account of David’s wars in chapters 18-20 is drawn from various parts of 2 Samuel, chs. 8-21. The unity of theme that is thus achieved is a result of the omission of a large amount of material in 2 Samuel. There, the Ammonite war, for example (2 Sam. chs 10-11), is primarily a backcloth for the story of David’s adultery with Bathsheba and related murder of Uriah. Those actions in turn spark off a series of events which are far from glorifying to the house of David (mainly Ammon’s rape of Tamar, ch. 13, and Absalom’s rebellion, chs. 15ff.). The omission of this block of material in the book of 1 Chronicles is as instructive as that which is included, for it shows that Chronicles is determined to develop the theme of David’s positive contribution to the establishment of God’s kingdom in Israel, a purpose which would not have been served by the inclusion of evidence of his deficiencies. All this is dramatic evidence of God’s willingness to use even the most inconstant of people in his service.
Christians often become obsessed by their failures. It is a measure of the grace of God that he is willing to put the best interpretation upon the most vacillating life of faith.
–J. G. McConville
HERE is Kari Jobe and “We Cry Out.” The same grace David received is there in God’s hand for us.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.