1 Chronicles 18 & James 5

1 Chronicles 18

    After this David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Gath and its villages out of the hand of the Philistines.

    And he defeated Moab, and the Moabites became servants to David and brought tribute.

    David also defeated Hadadezer king of Zobah-Hamath, as he went to set up his monument at the river Euphrates. And David took from him 1,000 chariots, 7,000 horsemen, and 20,000 foot soldiers. And David hamstrung all the chariot horses, but left enough for 100 chariots. And when the Syrians of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David struck down 22,000 men of the Syrians. Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus, and the Syrians became servants to David and brought tribute. And the LORD gave victory to David wherever he went. And David took the shields of gold that were carried by the servants of Hadadezer and brought them to Jerusalem. And from Tibhath and from Cun, cities of Hadadezer, David took a large amount of bronze. With it Solomon made the bronze sea and the pillars and the vessels of bronze.

    When Tou king of Hamath heard that David had defeated the whole army of Hadadezer, king of Zobah, he sent his son Hadoram to King David, to ask about his health and to bless him because he had fought against Hadadezer and defeated him; for Hadadezer had often been at war with Tou. And he sent all sorts of articles of gold, of silver, and of bronze. These also King David dedicated to the LORD, together with the silver and gold that he had carried off from all the nations, from Edom, Moab, the Ammonites, the Philistines, and Amalek.

    And Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, killed 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. Then he put garrisons in Edom, and all the Edomites became David's servants. And the LORD gave victory to David wherever he went.

    So David reigned over all Israel, and he administered justice and equity to all his people. And Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the army; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; and Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar were priests; and Shavsha was secretary; and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David's sons were the chief officials in the service of the king.

(1 Chronicles 18 ESV)

James 5

    Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.

    Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

    But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

    Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

    My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

(James 5 ESV)

Something to Consider

James 5: In a very unrelenting rebuke, James brings the hammer down on those who foolishly abuse wealth through self-indulgence, and those who accumulate their wealth through unjust methods. Then, James urges those that are mistreated to not envy those who have more than they have because God will avenge all injustice suffered under them. He encourages those oppressed by the wealthy to be patient and to continue to hang in there with those who abuse and mistreat them. 

James warns those who are being mistreated to be careful of seeking to bring judgement on those who harm us. It is our duty to patiently endure the evil done to us and to confidently trust in God’s duty to uphold us who remain faithful to the end. Radical disciples of Jesus abandon acts of retaliation and await the Lord’s retribution.

Here in this passage, James is specifically addressing wealthy land owners who fail to pay proper wages to those who work for them. And while we may not be wealthy land owners abusing our servants through unjust pay, the Biblical principle is more specifically the sin of using unjust methods to accumulate wealth. This could include:

  • falsifying information on your tax return
  • falsifying information on expense accounts
  • false advertising
  • bribing those who can “give you a better deal”
  • being cheap towards those you could bless
  • holding back on your giving towards the Kingdom

Horrific imagery is used to describe what these types of people have heading their way, and later declares that the perfect Judge is “standing at the door” and His coming “is at hand” to set things right. 

Soon, we will all stand face to face before the Lord Jesus. What is the likelihood of us being among those who:

  • had been unfaithful stewards of their wealth
  • had missed countless opportunities to serve others through their wealth
  • had been filled with covetousness and selfishness in regards to wealth
  • had cut corners and practiced unfair employment practices to obtain wealth
  • had sought their security in material things rather than the Lord
  • had used their wealth to indulge themselves and hoard earthly stuff

The Bible never assumes that it is a sin to be rich, but the Bible clearly warns of wrongfully hoarding riches (Matthew 6:19-21). James says the corrosion (or disuse and decay) of all our stuff that we have accumulated will be evidence against us on that day of judgement before God. James says we are storing up wrath against ourselves when we store up treasures here on earth, and it’s going to be a horrific experience to finally see the cruelty behind our self-indulgence. 

We live in a world where thousands die daily from starvation and over half of the world’s population has never heard of Jesus. In such a world, how do we then justify the extravagance of the American church and the typical American christian? After seeing the teachings of Scripture, the desperate needs of the world, and the example set by Jesus, how can we so thoughtlessly spend the Lord’s money on excess and self-indulgence?

James concludes this intense rebuke toward self-indulgence by comparing our spending habits to animals that fail to realize that as they fatten themselves up, they are closing in on their execution and slaughter.

What will our condemnation be before God if we have had the resources for helping to spread the gospel but have failed to use it? If we have hoarded material things when some of that money might have been used for the salvation of souls?