Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

1 Chronicles 3:1-4 Sons of David in Hebron

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, October 6, 2023

3:1 These are the sons of David who were born to him in Hebron: the firstborn was Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam the Jezreelite. The second was Daniel, by Abigail, the woman from Carmel. 2 The third was Absalom the son of Maacah (she was the daughter of King Talmai of Geshur). The fourth was Adonijah the son of Haggith. 3 The fifth was Shephatiah, by Abital. The sixth was Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. 4 Six sons were born to him in Hebron, where he reigned for seven years and six months. Then he reigned thirty-three years in Jerusalem.

The list of King David’s sons is divided into two groups. The first set are these sons born to him during his years in Hebron. In chapter 2, we were reminded that Joshua and Caleb fought fiercely with three giant Anakites of Hebron and killed them, leaving only a few of the giant Anakites in the coastland cities. David’s battle with Goliath is not described in Chronicles. It was David’s very first military engagement when he was still a boy, looked down on by his older brothers (1 Samuel 17).

We establish David’s chronology with these passages:

1, “David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years” (2 Samuel 5:4).

2, “In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites had come out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, he began to build the temple of the Lord” (1 Kings 6:1).

3, “In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it” (1 Kings 6:38).

Since Solomon began his reign in about 970 BC (the temple was founded in 967), we can say that David’s reign was from 1010 to 970, and that David was born in 1040 BC. The events of David’s reign will be covered in detail beginning with chapter 11, so we should wait until that place to discuss those things. What interests us here is the list of sons.

David’s first wives were Michal, the daughter of Saul, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail the widow of the wicked Nabal of Carmel. Saul, however, took his daughter Michal back from David and gave her to another man, but David eventually reclaimed her after Saul died (2 Samuel 3:13-16). Michal did not have any children (2 Samuel 6:23).

The sons of David’s first wives were Amnon and Daniel. Amnon’s sin with his half-sister Tamar led to her brother Absalom taking revenge on Amnon and killing him (2 Samuel 13:28-29). Daniel, also called Kileab, does not come into any later accounts. Judging from his mother’s peaceful temper, and her faith and wisdom, we might assume that Daniel led a quiet and happy life, caring for his mother and appreciating the courage and leadership of his father.

Absalom, David’s third son, was of course involved in a rebellion against his father. Absalom’s grandfather was Talmai, the King of Geshur, a walled city-state in the hill country east of the Sea of Galilee. Absalom was killed by David’s army while fleeing on a mule through the forest of Ephraim. He is the one whose head got caught in the branches of a large oak tree. “He was left hanging in midair, while the mule he was riding kept on going,” (2 Samuel 18:9) and the soldiers led by David’s nephew Joab killed him with javelins. Absalom had no sons, but his daughter became the wife of King Rehoboam.

Like Daniel, the fifth and sixth sons do not appear in any events recorded in the Scriptures. But the fourth son, Adonijah, rebelled late in David’s life and came close to supplanting his father as king. Adonijah’s rebellion is told in detail in the first chapters of 2 Kings, although it goes unmentioned in Chronicles. While Adonijah survived his own attempted rebellion, he was executed for treason by his brother King Solomon when he made an attempt later on to marry David’s last wife, Abishag, which Solomon correctly identified as yet another play for the throne of Israel.

The exclusion of Chronicles to retell the stories of Absalom’s or Adonijah’s rebellions shows that the book is focused on another strain of history than those things, which are sufficiently recorded in the books of Samuel and Kings. Chronicles seems to focus more on the history of the established line of David’s successors in Judah and their positive achievements, the blessings God gave to them, and the function of the temple at the heart of Israel’s worship.

The tiny details of history, the constant display of the hand of God fulfilling every promise in every generation, and the recurring theme of the grace of God and the terrible counterpoint of sin in the world continues to show us how magnificent a work is Chronicles. The author of this book “was so great a man, a man of such quality, that were anyone to wish to take for himself a knowledge of Scripture without him, he would be mocking himself” (Jerome).

While David was running for his life from one of these very sons, he paused to compose a poem and a song. He said:

Many are saying of me, ‘God will not deliver him.’
But you are a shield around me, O Lord.
You bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
To the Lord I cry aloud,
And he answers me from his holy hill.
I lie down in sleep, I wake again,
Because the Lord sustains me. (Psalm 3:2-5)

This can be our prayer every day. Our Lord sustains us, hears us, answers us, and protects us day by day, night by night, for our entire life. And he will bring us home in the resurrection for us to praise him in his everlasting mansions and halls, forever, for Jesus’ sake.

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.


Browse Devotion Archive