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God’s Word for You

1 Chronicles 3:5-9 David’s sons in Jerusalem

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, October 9, 2023

5 These were born to him in Jerusalem: Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon. These four were born to Bathshua, daughter of Ammiel. 6 Then nine others: Ibhar, Elishama, Eliphelet, 7 Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, 8 Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet. 9 All these were David’s sons, besides the sons of the concubines; and Tamar was their sister.

Bathsheba’s name is given here as Bathshua, “Daughter of opulence” instead of Bathsheba, “Daughter of the oath.” There is no explanation, but perhaps this was a nickname given to her after she had her several sons. Her father’s name is sometimes Ammiel and sometimes Eliam (2 Samuel 11:3); both mean “God is my kinsman.”

Of the sons named here, none except Solomon comes into any later accounts in the Scriptures. Notice that the names Elishama and Eliphelet both occur twice. The first Elishama (after Ibhar) is also called Elishua in 2 Samuel 5:14. He may have been known by both names; it is also possible that there was a scribal error. The first Eliphelet (and also the Nogah of verse 7) are missing in the list in 2 Samuel 5:14-16, so perhaps two of the sons died young (the “nine” of this passage is obviously just seven in 2 Samuel 5). One of their names was evidently reused as a tribute to one of the boys who died (this is not uncommon; examples can be found in the 19th century records of my own congregation here in Minnesota).

We are not told how many concubines David had, but they are mentioned in the outrages of Absalom’s rebellion (2 Samuel 16:21-22) when David’s own son out-Judahed his forefather Judah (Genesis 38:16-18).

Tamar, the only daughter mentioned, was raped by her brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13). While that sin is not retold in Chronicles, her name is preserved, as is fitting.

What shall we make of Solomon’s name occuring fourth in the list of Bathsheba’s sons? Is he placed fourth because the Chronicler will take up his family with precedence? In this case, that seems less likely than the simple possibility that he was actually the fourth son. In the account of David’s sin with Bathsheba and their later marriage, the details are these: After the murder of Uriah, the baby that Bathsheba was carrying when she married David, died. David comforted her, and they lay together again, and “she gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon” (2 Samuel 12:24).

We may want to examine this little knot more closely:

1, Unlike the sons born in Hebron, Bathsheba’s sons are only listed and said to number “four.”

2, Solomon is listed fourth, but (as with Japheth in 1 Chronicles 1:4-5), could it be because Solomon’s descendants will be listed next (3:10-24)? However, none of the descendants of any of Solomon’s brothers are covered in the genealogies of Chronicles, so this point seems less important.

3, It could simply be that the account of Bathsheba’s sons is compressed in 2 Samuel, leaving the possibility that the list is the correct order.

4, The elevation of Solomon was not only due to David’s choice for Bathsheba’s sake (he also swore an oath to her about this, 1 Kings 1:17), but because “the Lord loved Solomon” (2 Samuel 12:24-25).

We, too, are brought forward before the Lord because he loves us. “The Son of God loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Even here in this little list of David’s younger sons the grace of God shows itself and shines down on us. For later in his life, what rascal was a worse sinner than Solomon? He married too many women, he helped them bow down to their false gods, and he was even led astray to bend his own knee. But he repented, and God’s love still covered him on account of his faith, fragile and crumpled and riddled with holes as it was. For our God is a merciful God. “A bruised reed (of faith) he will not break, and a smoldering wick (of faith) he will not snuff out. In his name the nations will put their hope” (Matthew 12:20-21).

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

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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