Review of Cliff Graham’s Covenant of War

Once during the harvest, when David was at the cave of Adullam, the Philistine army was camped in the valley of Rephaim. The Three (who were among the Thirty—an elite group among David’s fighting men) went down to meet him there. David was staying in the stronghold at the time, and a Philistine detachment had occupied the town of Bethlehem.

David remarked longingly to his men, “Oh, how I would love some of that good water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem.” So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew some water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem, and brought it back to David. But he refused to drink it. Instead, he poured it out as an offering to the Lord.  “The Lord forbid that I should drink this!” he exclaimed. “This water is as precious as the blood of these men who risked their lives to bring it to me.” So David did not drink it. These are examples of the exploits of the Three. 2 Samuel 23:13-17

No matter what your view of the Bible, one cannot help but be amazed at the names and exploits of Biblical characters such as The Thirty and The Three who were part King David’s army during a time when the ancient Hebrews were fighting both one another and their mortal enemies, the Philistines. Such interesting and historical stories in the Old Testament books, such as 2 Samuel, add a flavor to Biblical history that leaves some wanting more and some wanting less.

The theological issues raised as one reads through such books have been the source of controversy for many years and decades if not centuries. “If God is love, then why did they kill in the name of God like they did?” “How can such things be done in God’s name?”

However, Cliff Graham has fictionalized the exploits of David and his men in a unique and attention grabbing way with his series Lion of War, a three volume set published by Zondervan. I was recently privileged to read the second volume of the series Covenant of War as part of the Amazon Vine review program and look forward to reading the other two.

Covenant of War is set in the time frame laid out in the Old Testament book of  2 Samuel when a divided Israel was torn between Ishbosheth,a surviving son of the late King Saul who led the 10 Northern tribes, verses David, the new king as decreed by God through the Hebrew prophet Samuel, who led the 2 tribes of Benjamin and Judah. And it tells the story of a desperate attempt by David to bring peace to the nation and unite it under his rule so that a unified Israel could focus on defeating the Philistines.

Graham, an Army veteran, has painstakingly reconstructed a very plausible rendition, using  a variety of sources,  of both the “uniforms” of the Hebrews and the Philistines as well as battle tactics used in that day. In doing so, he has given us a very human and, at times, graphic presentation of David and his legendary warriors referred to as The Three and The Thirty. The book is rich in detail and does justice to the Biblical element of faith, notably the ancient Hebrew faith, in a manner that provides some insight into their mindset toward life, death, and war.

I liked this book because it gave an understandable perspective to a portion of the Bible that is often left alone because the languages and views of that day. And while it is a fictionalized account of certain Biblical passages, I believe that it is an honest rendering of that period in human history.

Warning contains graphic battlefield scenes and actions. I would not recommend it for persons under 16 years of age. 

I rate this book a ‘good’ read and look forward to reading the other three.

Note: I received a copy of this book via the Amazon Vine review program in exchange for review of it. I was not required to write a positive review.

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