Our reading today begins with details of David’s victories over the nations (see 2 Sam 8). He effectively expanded the borders of Israel by ruling over Moab to the east (18:2), defeating Hadadezer to the north (v. 3), putting a garrison in Syria to the north (v. 6), and a garrison in Edom to the south (v. 12). If we compare verse 4 with 2 Samuel 8:4, we see that there was likely a scribal error in 2 Samuel that made the “1,000” and “7,000” into “1,700.” In verse 8, we see that the bronze that David took as spoils from Hadadezer was ultimately used for the Temple. The pledge of Hadoram (Joram in 2 Sam 8) is also given to God, as were the spoils from all of David’s victories (v. 11).
In verse 17, we read that David’s sons were “chief officials.” In 2 Sam 8, they are called “priests.” Perhaps the Chronicler wants to point to their political position rather than their priestly service because of their sinful actions. We will also see that the writer does not record the sins of Amnon or Absalom. Neither does he record the sin of David regarding Bathsheeba and Uriah, though he does record the census.
Chapter 19 echoes what we read in 2 Samuel 10. There are minor differences between the two accounts. This shows us how the Bible, though absolutely inspired by the Holy Spirit, is also a book written by men. The writer of 2 Samuel and the Chronicler are both telling the same truth, but in different words. If two men were recounting the same event in court, we would actually find it hard to believe if they told the story exactly the same, word for word. Rather than convince us of the truth, it would make us suspicious that deception was being perpetrated.*
This is also true of the Gospel accounts in the New Testament. The evangelists will often use slightly different wording even when quoting Jesus. Does the “kingdom of heaven” belong to the little children (Matt 19:14), or is it the “kingdom of God” (Mark 14)? The Holy Spirit certainly brought to their minds the truth and superintended their writing, and they tell the same story, but they are telling the story in different ways, bringing their own personality and theological concerns to the fore.
Praise God that He uses humans to achieve His perfect will! He did it in the Old Testament, He did it in Christ, and He does it in us!
*Numerical differences (like we saw in 18:4 or we see here between 19:18 and 2 Samuel 10:18), which are the most abundant discrepancies in the Bible, should not cast doubt on the truth of what’s being communicated (especially considering the amount of Syrian chariots is an inconsequential detail).