1 Chronicles 20

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Read 1 Chronicles 20

The Capture of Rabbah

20 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, Joab led out the armed forces. He laid waste the land of the Ammonites and went to Rabbah and besieged it, but David remained in Jerusalem. Joab attacked Rabbah and left it in ruins. David took the crown from the head of their king—its weight was found to be a talent of gold, and it was set with precious stones—and it was placed on David’s head. He took a great quantity of plunder from the city and brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labor with saws and with iron picks and axes.David did this to all the Ammonite towns. Then David and his entire army returned to Jerusalem.

War With the Philistines

In the course of time, war broke out with the Philistines, at Gezer. At that time Sibbekai the Hushathite killed Sippai, one of the descendants of the Rephaites, and the Philistines were subjugated.

In another battle with the Philistines, Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver’s rod.

In still another battle, which took place at Gath, there was a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot—twenty-four in all. He also was descended from Rapha. When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him.

These were descendants of Rapha in Gath, and they fell at the hands of David and his men.

Go Deeper

1 Chronicles 20 is a brief history of three wars with the surrounding enemies of Israel. In the absence of King David, Joab led Israel’s armies against the Ammonites, the Philistines, and the people of Gath. Among these enemies were descendants of giants like Goliath. Their physical size and strength were daunting. In verse 5, Lahmi, the brother of Goliath, is described as having a spear “like a weaver’s beam.” These beams are said to have weighed 17 pounds. Imagine the strength needed to effectively use this heavy spear. No matter the reasons for these wars or the strength of the opposition, the Lord blessed David and his armies with many victories keeping Israel safe, secure, and strong.

It is worth noting that David remained in Jerusalem during the beginning of the battle at Rabbah. The sin and scandal with Bathsheba and David’s murder of her husband, Uriah, had already occurred. King David was dealing with his own personal battles within his own heart and home. (Read 2 Samuel 12:1-29 to understand the details.) David’s sin and the unrest it caused kept him from his duties as king and leader. With conviction from the prophet Nathan, David fell before God in sincere, heartfelt repentance. The Lord forgave David and restored him to his God given duties as King of Israel. Although God took the first newborn son of Bathsheba, David’s restoration included the birth of Solomon. 2 Samuel 12:24 says Bathsheba “gave birth to a son, and he named him Solomon. Now the Lord loved him.” Praise be to God for His grace to David as Solomon would someday be King of Israel and rebuild the temple. And God’s grace to David through Solomon extends to us as Solomon recorded the wisdom of God in the Proverbs. 

Israel prevailed in the wars that followed David’s sin, repentance, and restoration. 1 Chronicles 20:2 details how the spoils of the victory were presented to King David even though he did not lead out his own armies. God not only forgave David, He also gave him victory through the loyalty, strength, and faith of leaders like Joab, Sibbecai, Elhanan, and Jonathan. Israel’s armies fought on David’s behalf, and even in his absence, to help accomplish what was needed for victory over their enemies. David isn’t the only man of God to slay a giant. 

There are clear lessons for us today in this short but rich chapter. First, we are to take our sin to the Lord. God faithfully offers forgiveness and restoration when we sincerely repent. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” He did it for David, and He will do it for us. Second, we all need strong Christian brothers and sisters in our lives to help us walk through life. Sometimes we are headed in the wrong direction and don’t even know it. Sometimes a battle needs to be fought, but we are too weary to fight it. Life groups, Bible studies, and prayer groups can offer us deep, faith-filled friendships. In God’s design, we aren’t meant to walk alone. Through Christ, we can enjoy godly leaders, mentors, and friends who can lead us before God into strength, hope, and victory in Christ. 


  1. What do you think it meant for David when the army placed the crown on his head in verse 2?
  2. What feels like an overwhelming battle you are facing in your own life? What “giants” surround you? Talk to God about your situation and invite brothers or sisters in Christ to join you in prayer for victory and healing in your battles. 
  3. How can the forgiveness of God give us victory? Think of God’s loving kindness over you throughout today and thank Him for what He has done and all it means for you!

A Quote

George Williams, a 19th century commentary writer said, “God promises us overcoming life which gives victory. When we are forgiven, God completely forgets the sin, and omits the sin from His remembrance.”

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2 thoughts on “1 Chronicles 20”

  1. Ella Snodgrass

    James 4:17 comes to mind, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” This is true for kings or commoners and especially for the household of faith. We must immerse ourselves in scripture and invite accountability through those who can speak truth into our decisions. Our HC LifeGroup is one of our greatest, most treasured blessings!

  2. If you are not aware there was a lot that happened in between vs 1 but David remained in Jerusalem. vs 2 Joab attacked Rabbah and left it in ruins. The Bible is interwoven together, 2 Samuel weaves more of this story. BUT GOD is a forgiving God and David is forgiven and redeemed. Once again I see David’s compassion in the way he treated those were left alive. He gave them jobs, hard labor jobs, but still they were able to work. David was a great leader even though he stumbled during this time. He had shown his men that with God, he and they could defeat these giants. But also that when we, they stumble, God is still there and ready to help us back up. We are blessed people and should never take that for granted. We need to be trying to grow daily. We need to be thankful for our blessings from God. When we do struggle, that is also a time to be thankful because it is a learning time and God can help with the struggle to build us back up to better serve Him. We can defeat our giants in life with God.

    God thank You for the giants that I can overcome in my life with and through YOU. God I am blessed beyond my comprehension. Thank You that I try not to take those blessings for granted but when I do Your compassion always shows me back and into Your Love. Today I am amazed, grateful, and blessed by Your faithfulness. Thank You for me learning to be so much better at being faithful to YOU in Jesus name amen

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