1 Chronicles 20

Living A Lie.

“Then David and his army returned to Jerusalem.” ­– 1 Chronicles 20:3 NLT

1 Chronicles 20 parallels 2 Samuel 11, where we are told the story of David’s sin with Bathsheba. Interestingly, both chapters start out the same way, “The following spring, the time of year when kings go to war…” But then they depart slightly. 2 Samuel goes on to say, “…David sent Joab and the Israelite army to destroy the Ammonites. In the process they laid siege to the city of Rabbah. But David stayed behind in Jerusalem.” The book of 1 Chronicles says, “…Joab led the Israelite army in successful attacks against the towns and villages of the Ammonites.” But in either case, David doesn’t go into battle, but stays back in Jerusalem. At a time when kings should be going to war, David is sending and staying, not going. He sends Joab to do his dirty business, while he stays behind in Jerusalem. This decision would lead to his sin with Bathsheba and, ultimately, his murder of her husband Uriah.

But in 1 Chronicles, the writer leaves out what happened while David was back in the capital and concentrates on the victory over the Ammonites. If you just read this chapter alone, and not in association with chapter 11 of 2 Samuel, you would be lead to believe that this is just business as usual. David was sending out his troops and then going to meet them when the battle is over – just what good kings do. But when you know what David was up to while Joab and his men are busy fighting for David and the kingdom, it takes on a whole new light. And when you read that “David and his army returned to Jerusalem,” it should kind of turn your stomach a little bit. Here is David, who has just committed adultery with Bathsheba, attempted to cover it up, and in desperation, had her husband killed by abandoning him in battle, leading his troops triumphantly back into town to the cheers of the people, as if he had been there all along. What hypocrisy!

What jumps out at me is how there is no mention of David doing anything in terms of fighting or doing battle with the enemy. Joab, Sibbecai, Elhannon, and Jonathan are all listed as men who led, fought and gained victory over the enemy. But David seems to take all the credit and more. “When David arrived at Rabbah, he removed the crown from the king’s head, and it was placed on David’s own head. The crown was made of gold and set with gems, and it weighed about seventy-five pounds. David took a vast amount of plunder from the city” (1 Chronicles, 20:2 NLT). When taken in conjunction with what we know from 2 Samuel 11, this paints an even grimmer picture of David. Not only has he committed adultery and murder, but he appears to be a glory hog. He wants to stay at home in the safety and luxury of his palace in Jerusalem, but bask in the glory of the victory that others have brought about. He wants to enjoy the benefits and blessings of victory without the risk.

I think this describes a lot of us as Christians. We want to enjoy the blessings of God without living lives of obedience. We want to stay in the safety and security of our everyday lives, and not step out into the world to do battle with the enemy. We want to enjoy the blessings of God, but refuse to obey Him in so many areas of our lives. We want ease and comfort when He has told us that this life will be a battle. We are at war. We live in a time of war. We have an enemy who is out to destroy us and the kingdom of God. But we want to live in peace and tranquility. But if any victories do take place, we want to somehow get credit for it. And victories ARE taking place, because God is faithful and there are those who are doing the will of God, risking their lives and doing battle with the enemy each and every day. The kingdom IS advancing, but are we playing our part? Or like David, do we simply show up in time to join in the victory parade? May we not be those who stay behind when there is a battle to be fought. May we take our role as soldiers of Christ seriously.

Father, there is work to be done, but too often we stay behind in the safety of our lifestyles, refusing to do what You have called us to do. We prefer our comfort over obedience. We don’t want to risk anything. But You have called us to be a part of Your kingdom. You have placed us in the midst of an epic battle. And You have given us the tools necessary to fight successfully. May we do our part. May we fight the good fight. In Your power and according to Your will. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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