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God’s Word for You

1 Chronicles 11:33-39 Faith = Trust

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, November 29, 2023

33 Azmaveth of Baharum, Eliahba the Shaalbonite, 34 The sons of Hashem the Gizonite, Jonathan son of Shageh the Hararite, 35 Ahiam son of Sachar the Hararite, Eliphal son of Ur, 36 Hepher the Mecherathite, Ahijah the Pelonite, 37 Hezro the Carmelite, Naharai son of Ezbai, 38 Joel the brother of Nathan, Mibhar son of Hagri, 39 Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai of Beeroth, the armor-bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah,

In most cases, we know more about where these men were from than we know about the men themselves. Baharum, the hometown of mighty man Azmaveth, is another name for Nob, the place where the tabernacle rested in David’s time (1 Samuel 21:1). Shaalbon or Shaalbim was a village of Judah near Aijalon and the peak known as Mount Heres (Judges 1:35), a former stronghold of the Amorites.

The reference to Carmel (verse 37) is probably to the Carmel in the south, not the mountain on the coast. The southern Carmel was the home of Nabal, the wicked man whose widow Abigail married David (1 Samuel 25:39-40).

Is Naharai of Beeroth the same man as “the armor-bearer of Joab”? Most readers using logic and common sense assume that this man is described with his name, his place of origin, and his title, which is to say, Naharai was the name of Joab’s armor-bearer. However, according to the rules of Hebrew accentuation, there can seem to be a strong division between the word Beeroth and the phrase armor-bearer. But while the Hebrew accents can be useful and helpful, they are not part of the inspired text. One of the acts of Naharai is probably the sad incident where he, as one of Joab’s armor bearers, struck and killed David’s son Absalom (2 Samuel 18:14-15).

What about “the sons of Hashem” in verse 34? There are two solutions to this puzzle:

  1. There were two or more men who were sons of the man from Gizon, but they were referred to as “the sons” instead of by their individual names. It’s possible that those men did not serve at the same time, but consecutively (the younger brother following along after the older brother was killed).
  2. The term “the sons of” in Hebrew is beni, which is formed with the same three letters that conclude the previous name from verse 33, “the Shaalbonite” (Hebrew ha-Shaalboni). This duplication of letters is known as dittography. Therefore this name should be “Hashem” and not “the sons of Hashem.”

There are quite a few differences between this part of the list and the parallel list in 2 Samuel. When we line them up (Is it Igal or Joel in verse 38?), we end up with nothing but conjecture. We will be tempted to favor one book’s list over another. Is Samuel superior because it is earlier, or is Chronicles superior because it comes later? In this case, it is probably better to acknowledge that there are difficulties and then probe what is certain for our application. For example, David’s mighty men included men worthy of renown but who were not noble by birth. It was their actions, not their families, that made the difference in them. Joab, the commander of David’s army, was not one of the mighty men, even though two of his brothers were, as well as his armor-bearer. What did this say about Joab? Could it be…

  1. Since Joab rebelled against David during Adonijah’s rebellion and was put to death by Benaiah, the captain of the king’s bodyguard (1 Kings 2:28-31), his name was possibly struck from the list.
  2. Joab simply did not perform any deeds worthy of being included among the Thirty or the Three. He was a good commander and administrator, but did not personally excel in combat.
  3. On account of his murder of Abner to avenge the blood of Joab’s brother Asahel (2 Samuel 3:27,30), Joab was kept from inclusion in the list, although he retained his position as commander of the army.

Perhaps it was one or all of these. David’s short psalm of lament for Abner (2 Samuel 3:33-34) shows how deeply he grieved the murder of the great warrior. His personal judgement on Joab was this: “These sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May the Lord repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds!” (2 Samuel 3:39).

David pursued righteousness all his life, even though as a sinful man he fell into sin. But with the Lord is forgiveness, and God blessed and encouraged David as he walked in his way. “I will be careful to lead a blameless life—when will you come to me? I will walk in my house with a blameless heart” (Psalm 101:2). David expected to receive good things from God, even in bad, difficult, hard, and frightening times. This is a great example of true faith. As Luther says, “What kind of holiness and purity is it when men expect to receive nothing good from God?” When we pray through the catechism or recite its parts before meals, we find it easy to say the meaning of the very First Commandment, “We should, fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” But to have a god is this: “A god is the one we look to for all good, and in him we find refuge in every time of need” (Large Catechism). We fear God on account of his power and because the Law works in our hearts. We love God because we have heard the Gospel and know that we have forgiveness in him. But trusting in God? We grow cynical in this sinful world. We are taught to rely on nobody but ourselves. We hear nonsense about our own bootstraps that defies physics as well as logic, but we still want to believe it, as unbelievable as it is. What we should do is turn to the world and to the devil and shout: “I trust I may not trust thee; for thy word is but the vain breath of a common man” (King John). And God invites us to believe in him. “When a man believes in me,” Jesus said, “he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me” (John 12:44), and again: “You trust in God, trust also in me” (John 14:1). God led David to pray: “You brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast” (Psalm 22:9). Faith is given through the preaching of the gospel, so that we confess: “I will put my trust in him” (Hebrews 2:13). This is the grace of God, overcoming our weakness and unbelief, our sins and our sinful stances, to lift us up from death to life, from unbelief to faith, so that we will have eternal life.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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