When the Arameans saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they regrouped.
I. MUTUAL HELP. (Ver. 11.) The servants of Christ are engaged in the endeavour to conquer the world for him, and, in pursuing it, have to fight against enemies of various kinds. In this warfare they ought to cheerfully cooperate, and, as opportunity may arise, help each other. Much mutual assistance they cannot but render, however any might desire to confine the benefits of their activity to their own party. Every hymn book testifies to this. No individual or section can do good work without helping others. But there should be more of conscious and hearty cooperation.
1. Why it should be so.
(1) The cause is one - the cause of Christ our King, the defence and extension of his kingdom, the cause of truth and righteousness and human salvation.
(2) Christians are comrades in the same army. They should cherish the feeling of brotherhood, realize that they are fighting against common foes, and be glad to encourage and help each other. The success of any is the success of all, and should be so regarded; the failure of any should be a trouble to all; and, if any can aid their brethren to turn threatening defeat into victory, their aid should be cheerfully afforded and joyfully accepted.
(3) The need is urgent. The spiritual necessities of men, the special needs in particular cases. The field is extensive; the opposing forces numerous, powerful, and incessantly vigilant and active. The utmost exertions of all are required. To hold back, to refuse cooperation with fellow soldiers because they belong not to our regiment or division of the army, to observe with pleasure the failure of any of them, or to waste energies and resources in fierce conflicts with one another, is to be disloyal to their Sovereign,, unbrotherly to each other, and unfaithful to the souls of men.
2. Why it often is not so.
(1) Deficiency of spiritual insight. Incapacity, voluntary or involuntary, to discern:
(a) The real nature of the kingdom of Christ. That it is essentially spiritual, consisting in "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost;" that "he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men" (Romans 14:17, 18); and that in Christ Jesus nothing avails but "a new creature," "faith which worketh by love," and "the keeping of the commandments of God" (Galatians 6:15; Galatians 5:6; 1 Corinthians 7:19).
(b) The essential qualities of Christ's soldiers, which are not the dress they wear, nor the particular drill to which they are accustomed, but love and loyalty to Christ.
(2) Deficiency of spiritual affections. Want of supreme and ardent love for Christ and his kingdom, and for his servants as such. These deficiencies of mind and heart act and react on each other, and they open the way for all kinds of blundering and perversity. Fellow soldiers are mistaken for enemies, and treated as such. The great cause is made practically subordinate to matters infinitely small in comparison. Sectarian rivalry takes the place of Christian cooperation; or a worse thing happens - petty personal ambition and selfishness, or likings and dislikings, dominate, separating those who should be acting together, and introducing low, worldly principles into a region where the spiritual should alone reign. Pride, jealousy, envy, uncharitableness, perhaps the merest avarice, reduce to a fraction, if they do not altogether extinguish, those noble Christian feelings which Christianity inspires, and which would impel brothers to own brothers, cordially to render or receive help in the common work, to rejoice in each other's successes, and sorrow for each other's reverses.
3. Who should take the lead in effecting cooperation? Joab addresses Abishai, his fellow commander; and it is just the leaders and commanders in Christ's army who should be foremost in promoting a good understanding between its various bands, and inducing them to work together. But, alas! they are often foremost in promoting alienation and separation. The people are frequently more disposed to be friendly towards each other than the clergy.
II. COURAGE. (Ver. 12.) In war this is essential to success. In the Christian warfare it is not so obviously or universally required. It is, however, still required in many cases. When unpopular truth has to be proclaimed, when strongholds of sin or superstition have to be assailed, when the evangelization of barbarous tribes is attempted, or perilous climates have to be encountered, the Christian soldier must be prepared to endure hardship, suffering, or death. Even the ridicule which not unfrequently assails the earnest Christian calls for a good deal of courage. Joab sought to inspire his brother, and through him the soldiers under his command, with courage, by reminding him that it was "for our people, and for the cities of our God," that they were about to fight. In like manner Christians may be exhorted to "be of good courage" and "play the men" for the Church of God, and for the sake of the world which they aim to conquer for Christ. Joab might have added, "for our king;" and the strongest and most animating consideration for us is that we are witnessing and working and fighting for our great King, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is worth living for, suffering for, dying for. He has gone before us in the labour and the suffering. He is present with us. His eye is upon each of us. He will overlook no true-hearted soldier of his when he distributes the rewards of victory. "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him" (2 Timothy 2:12).
III. RESIGNATION. Those who engage in war, though they may hope for victory, must be prepared for defeat. "The battle" is not always "to the strong" (Ecclesiastes 9:11) or the brave. Nor in the better warfare can we "command success" in this or that particular encounter, however faithful or brave or zealous we may be. We are to recognize, like Joab, that "the Lord" is over all, and be content that he should "do that which seemeth him good." Not that we are required to be resigned to ultimate failure, for we are assured of final and complete victory.
"The saints in all this glorious war Nor are the courage and devotedness of any single soldier lost. All the faithful contribute to the final triumph, and all shall unite in the song of victory, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ." "Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!" "And he shall reign forever and ever" Revelation 11:15; Revelation 19:6). - G.W. (G. M. Irvine, M. A.).
Nor are the courage and devotedness of any single soldier lost. All the faithful contribute to the final triumph, and all shall unite in the song of victory, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ." "Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!" "And he shall reign forever and ever" Revelation 11:15; Revelation 19:6). - G.W.
(G. M. Irvine, M. A.).
PeopleAbishai, Ammonites, Aram, David, Hadadezer, Hadarezer, Hanun, Israelites, Joab, Maacah, Nahash, Rehob, Shobach, Syrians
PlacesBeth-rehob, Euphrates River, Helam, Jericho, Jerusalem, Jordan River, Maacah, Rehob, Tob, Zobah
TopicsAram, Aramaeans, Arameans, Assembled, Defeated, Gathered, Got, Overcome, Regrouped, Routed, Smitten, Syrians, Themselves, Worse
Outline1. David's messengers, sent to comfort Hanun are villainously treated
6. The Ammonites, strengthened by the Syrians, overcome by Joab and Abishai
15. Shobuch, making a new supply of the Syrains at Helam, is slain by David
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 10:1-19
Library'More than Conquerors through Him'
'And the children of Ammon came out, and put the battle in array at the entering in of the gate: and the Syrians of Zoba, and of Rehob, and Ish-tob, and Maacah, were by themselves in the field. 9. When Joab saw that the front of the battle was against him before and behind, he chose of all the choice men of Israel, and put them in array against the Syrians: 10. And the rest of the people he delivered into the hand of Abishai his brother, that he might put them in array against the children of Ammon. …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
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