2 Samuel 10:13
And Joab drew near, and the people that were with him, to the battle against the Syrians: and they fled before him.
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.).
Parallel VersesKJV: And Joab drew nigh, and the people that were with him, unto the battle against the Syrians: and they fled before him.
WEB: So Joab and the people who were with him drew near to the battle against the Syrians: and they fled before him.