2 Samuel 10:17
When this was reported to David, he gathered all Israel, crossed the Jordan, and went to Helam. Then the Arameans arrayed themselves against David and fought against him.
A Father's Kindness Repaid to His SonL. A. Banks, D. D.2 Samuel 10:2-19
David and HanunW. G. Blaikie, D. D.2 Samuel 10:2-19
Two Aspects of DavidJ. Parker, D. D.2 Samuel 10:2-19
Ungenerous JudgmentsH. W. Beecher.2 Samuel 10:2-19

Joab here appears at his best. A great occasion, involving great peril for the army and the kingdom, calls forth, not only his eminent military qualities, but sentiments of piety and religious patriotism worthy of David himself. He presents an example worthy of imitation by commanders of armies; but we take his words as adapted to guide and animate the soldiers of Christ in their warfare against error and sin. They Call attention to three duties incumbent upon individual Christians, the several bands of each division of the Christian army, and the several divisions themselves.

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
Shall conquer, though they're slain."

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.

And Joab drew near, and the people that were with him unto the battle.
It is one thing, when men may either fight or fly, and another when they must either fight or die. The Syrians in the battle referred to in the text had their option to fight or fly, for that otherwise they must either fight or die. Hard-pressed by the valour and obstinacy of the forces of Joab, they fled back into their own city Medeba, a town in their borders, before which they pitched to guard their coast. What was the result of the victory over the Syrians referred to in the text? What but the fulfilment of the promise made to Abraham (the fifteenth chapter of Genesis and the eighteenth verse), and repeated to Joshua (first chapter and the fourth verse) that the borders of Israel should extend to the river Euphrates? "From the wilderness and this Lebanon," said God, "even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast." Little did the Syrians know, and little knew the Ammonites, and faintly also must David have known the purposes of the Almighty that were bound up in the war. Still those purposes were fixed, and the Lord in His own good time proved that Himself had gained the victory; for on the banks of the Euphrates, as by the sides of Jordan, were hallelujahs raised to the King of Israel, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who above all reigns and will reign omnipotent, making the wrath of man to praise Him. But the flight of the Syrians and their discomfiture at Medeba did not immediately, as we might imagine, result in peace. They were like most other barbarous and rapacious nations, dogged, infatuated, and obstinate to the last. We would have thought that the defeat they experienced, even in their own country and before their stronghold, would have taught them a lesson, and induced them to make overtures of peace. But no; they make a new attempt to recover their lost honour, and to check the progress of David's victorious arms. The forces that were lately dispersed rallied again, and as we read in the fifteenth verse, "gathered themselves together." Again, we have seen that Joab, before the battle, supposed the worst, that one of them should be obliged to give back; and in that case that the other, upon a given signal, should send a detachment to relieve it: "If occasion be, thou shalt help me, and I will help thee." Here is an acknowledgment of mutual helplessness and mutual helpfulness. Are the soldiers of Christ strengthening one another's hands in their spiritual warfare — the strong- succouring and helping the weak? Are those who through grace have been conquerors over temptation, counselling, comforting, and praying for those who are tempted? "I have prayed for thee," said Christ to Peter, "that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."

(G. M. Irvine, M. A.).

Abishai, Ammonites, Aram, David, Hadadezer, Hadarezer, Hanun, Israelites, Joab, Maacah, Nahash, Rehob, Shobach, Syrians
Beth-rehob, Euphrates River, Helam, Jericho, Jerusalem, Jordan River, Maacah, Rehob, Tob, Zobah
Aram, Aramaeans, Arameans, Array, Arrayed, Assembled, Attack, Battle, Crossed, David, Declared, Fight, Forces, Formed, Fought, Gathered, Gathereth, Got, Helam, Itself, Jordan, Lines, Meet, Passed, Passeth, Position, Setteth, Syrians, Themselves
1. 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 Themes
2 Samuel 10:17

     5814   confrontation

2 Samuel 10:1-19

     5087   David, reign of

2 Samuel 10:15-19

     4207   land, divine gift

'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

BY REV. GEORGE MILLIGAN, M.A., D.D. "There is nothing," says Socrates to Cephalus in the Republic, "I like better than conversing with aged men. For I regard them as travellers who have gone a journey which I too may have to go, and of whom it is right to learn the character of the way, whether it is rugged or difficult, or smooth and easy" (p. 328 E.). It is to such an aged traveller that we are introduced in the person of Barzillai the Gileadite. And though he is one of the lesser-known characters
George Milligan—Men of the Bible; Some Lesser-Known

Voluntary Suffering
I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. T hat which often passes amongst men for resolution, and the proof of a noble, courageous spirit, is, in reality, the effect of a weak and little mind. At least, it is chiefly owing to the presence of certain circumstances, which have a greater influence upon the conduct, than any inherent principle. Thus may persons who appear to set death and danger at defiance in the hour
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book[1] of Samuel stands midway between the book of Judges and the book of Kings. As we have already seen, the Deuteronomic book of Judges in all probability ran into Samuel and ended in ch. xii.; while the story of David, begun in Samuel, embraces the first two chapters of the first book of Kings. The book of Samuel is not very happily named, as much of it is devoted to Saul and the greater part to David; yet it is not altogether inappropriate,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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