1 Chronicles 12 … Consider His Great Army

They helped David against the band of raiders, for they were all mighty men of valor, and were captains in the army. 22 For day by day men came to David to help him, until there was a great army like the army of God, (12:21-22).

The picture is painted: the mighty men are gathering to join forces while [David] was still restricted because of Saul, (12:1).

And now, after Saul’s death, David is surrounded by his valiant warriors dedicated in their service and support of his coronation as king; mighty men to help in war, equipped and proficient with weaponry, trained in skill and strength, “captains in the army… until there was a great army like the army of God.”

I was curious on what the original language would convey to further my understanding of what this phrase might mean, a great army like the army of God. Was the great army of God portrayed in a different light than the army of men?

As a matter of fact, yes! The Hebrew word translated army (captains in the army) in verse 21 is a different word than that in verse 22 (a great army like the army of God); actually they are not even from the same root.

From Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:

Army [of men; captains in the army, 12:21]: “6635. צָבָא ṣāḇāʾ: A masculine noun meaning service, servants. It may apply to military service…”

Army [great army like the army of God, 12:22]: “4264. מַחֲנֶה maḥaneh: A masculine noun meaning a camp, an army, and a company. This word comes from the verb ḥānāh (2583), meaning to encamp. The basic idea of this word is that of a multitude of people who have gathered together…”

Great: “1419. גָּדוֹל gāḏôl, גָּדֹל gāḏōl, הַגְּדוֹלִים haggeḏôliym: An adjective meaning great. The word emphasizes the importance, size, and significance of something or someone. It is used to attribute theological importance in various ways to things of great significance…”

While both have to do with military service, His Great Army is typified by importance, size and significance.

Each one listed in this army of men is attributed with military prowess; but after they are ascribed as “a great army like the army of God,” the emphasis shifts away from strength and military might to that which is most important in His Great Army: faith, integrity and wisdom.

Consider His Great Army

As the writer of Chronicles recounts the beginnings of the reign of King David, he coneys the civil unrest the nation was experiencing; for not everyone was in favor of David becoming their king.

But Abner the son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ish-bosheth the son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim… Now there was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David; and David grew steadily stronger, but the house of Saul grew weaker continually. (2 Samuel 2:8; 3:1)

But the desire of those in direct opposition to His will mattered not, for His Word will be accomplished. As David’s men ready themselves to move out in battle formation, prerequisites are revealed for those who would be called to become a part of His Great Army.

  • His Great Army would be equipped according to His Word. Now these are the numbers of the divisions equipped for war, who came to David at Hebron, to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the Lord, (12:23).
  • His Great Army would understand the times and know what should be done.Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command, (12:32).
  • His Great Army would draw up in battle formation with an undivided heart (with full allegiance).Of Zebulun, there were 50,000 who went out in the army, who could draw up in battle formation with all kinds of weapons of war and helped David with an undivided heart, (12:33).
  • His Great Army would draw up in battle formation with a perfect heart (with wholehearted determination). All these, being men of war who could draw up in battle formation, came to Hebron with a perfect heart to make David king over all Israel… (12:38).
  • His Great Army would be of one mind. …and all the rest also of Israel were of one mind to make David king. (12:38).
  • His Great Army would experience joy through serving and fellowshipThey were there with David three days, eating and drinking, for their kinsmen had prepared for them. 40 Moreover those who were near to them, even as far as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, brought food on donkeys, camels, mules and on oxen, great quantities of flour cakes, fig cakes and bunches of raisins, wine, oil, oxen and sheep. There was joy indeed in Israel, (12:39-40).

How do we respond to His Great Army?

War. It’s serious business. And like it or not, when we are born again into the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ, we are also inducted into His Great Army.

Today, let that thought sink in. We are engaged in war; waged by an enemy resolute in his ploy to thwart God’s anointed King from establishing His rightful reign in our hearts, in our families and in our churches.

Jesus is coming again to set up His Throne for all eternity. Until then, it’s an all-out war for the hearts and lives of every man, woman and child.

But the LORD of Hosts has provided every needed strategy in warfare to emerge victorious as His Great Army.

  • May we become His Great Army, equipped according to His Word.For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, (Ephesians 6:12-17).
  • Let us commit to become His Great Army who understand the times and know what should be done. Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you.For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night… But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation, (1 Thessalonians 5:1-8).
  • Let us commit to become His Great Army who draw up in battle formation with an undivided heart (with full allegiance).Teach me Your way, O Lord;
    I will walk in Your truth;
    Unite my heart to fear Your name.
    12 I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
    And will glorify Your name forever,
    (Psalm 86:11).
  • Let us commit to become His Great Army who draw up in battle formation with a perfect heart (with wholehearted determination). Watch over your heart with all diligence,
    For from it flow the springs of life.
    24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth
    And put devious speech far from you.
    25 Let your eyes look directly ahead
    And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
    26 Watch the path of your feet
    And all your ways will be established.
    27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left;
    Turn your foot from evil.
    (Proverbs 4:23-27).
  • And let us commit to become His Great Army who are of one mind.make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:2-8).
  • Oh, that we would become His Great Army who experience joy through serving and fellowship.what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete, (1 John 1:3-4).

Oh that we would be found faithful to serve in His Great Army. Let us diligently seek Him, trusting He will strengthen us in His grace to serve well, even in hardships, and be freed from anything that threatens His right of rule in our lives.  Let us boldly ask Him, in faith, to equip us through His Word with the wisdom and knowledge of an undivided and perfect heart, and to grow us in the unity of the faith, that we would truly experience His joy in serving and fellowship.

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier, (2 Timothy 2:1-4).

Let’s Grow Together!

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