1 Chronicles 18:1-20:8 – David’s Wars


1 Chronicles 18:1-20:8


David gains victory when he trusts God and gains wealth with which to build the temple.


These chapters condense the extensive material of 2 Samuel 8-21. Some of the distillation has been understood in terms of the Chronicler’s supposed idealization of David:

  • The Ammonite War (2 Samuel 11-12) is omitted, possibly because of the derogatory nature of David’s adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband, Uriah, that the Samuel account contains.
  • In a similar attempt to overlook negative portrayals of David, the struggles in David’s family that arose as a result of his sin (2 Samuel 13-21) fail to appear.

But then how does one account for the positive aspects of David’s story that are also eliminated in this distillation, such as David’s kindness toward Jonathan and Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9), the birth of Solomon–the Chronicler’s other “hero” (2 Samuel 12:24-25)–and David’s splendid psalms (2 Samuel 22; 23:1-7)? Moreover, the Chronicler’s retelling of David’s census portrays David much more negatively (1 Chronicles 21). A more satisfying explanation, granting that the Chronicler was not interested in highlighting negative portrayals, is that the remaining material concerned with David’s military victories serves as the necessary transition between God’s promise to subdue all David’s enemies (17:10a) and the preparations for the building of the temple.

Since David’s military exploits disqualify him from building the temple (1 Chronicles 22:8; 28:3; compare 1 Kings 5:3), the possibility that David is being punished or blamed has often been raised. The narrative, however, is peppered with positive evaluations such as, “The LORD gave David victory wherever he went” (1 Chronicles 18:13b; see also 18:6b, 14; 19:13; 20:3, 4, 8). Rather, these materials may have been included to explain why David’s extensive preparations for the building of the temple were not fully realized in its actual construction. The wars did provide funding for the temple, as well as a continuing attestation of God’s blessing, but David’s role was to prepare; Solomon’s was to build.