We met David’s 30 mighty men last time. Today we will see the scores more that joined together to make him king of Israel. They would be faithful too.
When David came out of the land of the Philistines after Saul’s death he had more than 600 fighting men with him. This did not take into account their families who also traveled with him. These men were under the 30 commanders we just met. They were a formidable fighting force! If you have any doubts just ask any of those they encountered.
David brought these troops with him into the land of Judah. They served under him for the people of Judah while he served as their king. For seven years David, his 30, his 600 and all the fighting men Judah had stood strong against Saul’s son and Israel’s army. The sheer contrast in numbers should tell you how strong David’s troops were.
While David had served under Saul, the nation saw his bravery and his skill. While he ran from Saul they saw his character. News of his exploits went beyond the borders of Judah. With the death of Saul the people were faced with a decision. Remain true to the house of Saul through his son or defect to David.
There is no doubt that some did defect to David but the majority of the nation of Israel stood behind Saul’s son, Eshbaal. They didn’t stand with him because he was some sort of outstanding military leader. It wasn’t because he was famous either. It was out of loyalty to their king, Saul. Abner made the transition seamless for the nation so none of them really had to do much thinking, simply go about their daily lives as before. Just a quick question here: why wasn’t Abner on the battlefield with Saul?
I imagine that the military wasn’t exactly happy following a puppet king when they knew that David was the real thing AND one of them. They knew of God’s promise to him but their military training kept them from leaving altogether to follow him. But when Abner chose to change sides that would be all it took for them to break away too.
Abner was killed before he could see David installed as king. Abner started the ball rolling but he wasn’t able to bring his decision before the elders. He most likely shared it though with his comrades in arms. They were aware of his decision and his reasoning. When he didn’t return from meeting with David, they carried his desires to the next step. The first of which was to remove Eshbaal from his role as king. He was killed by two commanders of his own army; Abner’s army. THEN the nation was free to seek David as their new king.
We took a LONG way around to get to what today’s reading deals with. We see the tribes of Israel and what they had to contribute to David as Israel’s next king. The first thing they offered was their military protection. From the list I come up with a ‘fighting count’ of 332,300 men. This does not take into account the numbers from the tribe of Levi (4,600 + 3,700 from Jehoiada of the house of Aaron), and the men from the tribe of Issachar (200 chiefs with all their kinsmen under their command). I don’t know if the Levites mustered forces for battle or not. Issachar is said to have contributed men “who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (verse 32). We have no idea how large Issachar’s contribution really was because we are not told how many chiefs the 200 had under them.
Needless to say, David had a LOT of men willing to back him. Saul’s tribe put up the least amount of men that day but they were also the tribe that came to him in the wilderness first, besides his own clan, to join him. Men of Benjamin were among those who were with him in Ziklag. I wonder if Benjamin’s numbers were smallest because their tribe was smallest.
Judah posted the second lowest numbers with Simeon following close behind. These two tribes were in the territory he was already ruling. Maybe they didn’t feel the need to post up large numbers. It was the rest of the nation that needed winning over and needed to show David how much they supported him.
The leaders of the tribes made it possible for these large forces to join him. This wasn’t a bootleg military but one sanctioned by all the governments of the individual troops as well as from what remained of the seat of power for Israel at the time.
GOD lined up all this support in HIS time. David only needed to be patient and cling to God with all his heart. ALL of this came about because David had sold out completely to God. NOT because he was some super leader. His favor came from God and it filtered down through the people. GOD made him popular and famous. He would not be king without God’s intervention.
God has plans for each of our lives too. He knows what we can be when we are sold out to Him. He works things out for our good in HIS time when we give Him our hearts. Without Him we fall flat, like a soda without the carbonation.
Father God, make me into what You would. As hard as it is for me to be patient, I will still wait. Part of the reason I’m waiting is because I don’t know what You have for me while I’m on this earth. I know I will live with You at the end of this life but between now and then, it is a mystery to me. I’m waiting to see where You direct me. If I’m at the place where I’m supposed to continue in until the end, that is alright with me too. I just don’t want to sit down and do nothing while missing out on what You really have for me. I also don’t want to push against Your boundaries and find myself in a horrible mess of my own making. I want to go where You send me and do the tasks You made for me.
I wonder if David ever wondered if he was on the right track. Did he ever ask, “is it time yet?” Did he wonder if he had misheard You? Did he wonder if he had wandered off track? These are certainly some of my concerns. THANK YOU that I can trust You to bring me back in line if I do wander off. I trust You to put me in the role You designed for me, no matter how long it takes to get there.