1 Chronicles 11 and 12 deal with David taking over the throne of Israel in Jerusalem. Part of that responsibility would be understanding who his friends were, and who might create problems for him. Now that he had been formally proclaimed king, captured the city of Jerusalem, and moved the capital of Israel to that city, new people were coming out of the woodwork to be a part of David’s kingdom.
Among those were men of Benjamin and Judah, soldiers, who had fought for Saul and against David. Several months earlier, these men would have killed David in battle if they could have. In that regard, that made them enemies of David, not friends. How David responds to these men is amazing, and presents for us and example of God honoring control of our lives, of our spirits.
His response is offered in 1 Chronicles 12:17. “And David went out to meet them, and answered and said unto them, If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me, mine heart shall be knit unto you: but if ye be come to betray me to mine enemies, seeing there is no wrong in mine hands, the God of our fathers look thereon, and rebuke it.”
Let’s look at how this reflects a behavior that honors the Lord. First, he went out to meet them. Now, I am sure it was him and his army. The point is this. He didn’t have to meet them. To this point, they were the enemy. David could have simply said to his armies, get ‘em, and they would have done so. Instead, David extends mercy. You can almost here him say to Joab, “Come on let’s give them a chance to do this right.”
Next David offers them an opportunity. “If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me, mine heart shall be knit unto you.” If you are for me and you want to help me, I will have a good relationship with you. Isn’t that an overview of our walk with the Lord. If we are for the Lord, and we will do what is right for Him, He has a relationship with us that blesses us. Otherwise, though we are still saved, that relationship is on the rocks. David offers them the type of relationship that God desires to have with us.
David then explains what will happen if they reject the relationship he is offering. “…but if ye be come to betray me to mine enemies, seeing there is no wrong in mine hands, the God of our fathers look thereon, and rebuke it.” In other words, just as rejecting the Lord has consequences, rejecting the relationship that David is offering would have consequences. Here is the big thing, though. The consequences they would face would not be determined by David, but by the Lord. David refuses to allow their possible rejection to become his problem. Right from the start, David let’s them know it id God who they will have to answer to. This means David understood what the Lord said in Deuteronomy 32:41, “…I will render vengeance to mine enemies….” David would do that which the Lord said He would do. How often in life, do we just jump into doing that which God already said He would care for? We forget God said He would take care of it and He will do a much better job than we could anyhow. David refuses to make their wrongs his problem. He does what he should and lets them know it is the Lord who will deal with them.
Finally, after they make it clear they want peace, and they are on David’s side, David extends grace. In verse 18, the Bible says, “Then David received them, and made them captains of bands.” So he showed mercy, just by allowing them to come to him. He showed love in his willingness to build a relationship with them. He showed grace by putting them in positions they did not deserve.”
What an amazing picture of God honoring, life building, investments in relationship. He choose to be a friend.