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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 10

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-5

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Second Samuel - Chapter 10 AND First Chronicles - Chapter 19

Solicitude Abused, 2 Samuel 10:1-5 AND 1 Chronicles 19:1-5

The passage now under study relates a provocation which led to war with the Ammonites, eventually involving various of the Syrian, or Aramaen, states, as well. In the course of these wars David fell into the sin which has for ever remained a blot on his character and brought immeasurable sorrow in his life.

The occasion was the death of Nahash, the Ammonite king, and David’s decision to send his condolences. This may have been the same Nahash whom Saul defeated in his early reign (1 Samuel 11:1 ff), in which case he would have been a very old man. His kindness unto David was likely some form of aid he gave him during the time that he was a fugitive from Saul. David sent a delegation to Hanun, the new king, son and successor of Nahash, to offer his comfort.

However, the Ammonite council was suspicious of David’s intentions and advised their new king not to accept them. They convinced Hanun the Israelite messengers were there to spy out the city and land and to seek its overthrow by David. To show their contempt for David and his supposed underhanded attempts they abused his messengers. They shaved off one side of their beards and cut off their robes midway of their hips Thus they sent them homeward in great shame and embarrassment.

Bad news travels fast, and this reached David before the returning messengers. He sent word to them to remain at Jericho, on the border of Israel west, until their beards had grown out again. Thus ended the first step of David’s effort to establish friendly rapport with a pagan neighbor.

Verses 6-14

Joab Defeats the Ammonite-Syrian Confederacy, 2 Samuel 10:6-14 AND 1 Chronicles 19:6-15

The Ammonites soon realized they had made a disastrous mistake in their treatment of David’s ambassadors of comfort. Their provocation was cause for war, and in fear they sought aid to meet the expected assault of David’s army. They raised a thousand talents of silver (about $2,000,000 in 1960 values) to hire mercenary forces from the Aramaen (or Syrian) lands of the area of Mesopotamia. They also got help from Beth-rehob (or Rehob) in the Lebanese mountains near the the northern city of Dan; Zoba, which was north of Damascus; Maacah, a small kingdom near mount Hermon; Ish-fob (or the "men of Tob") between Syria and Ammon.

These people supplied a huge force, including thirty-two thousand chariots, and came against Israel, pitching their army before (east) of Medeba, in the territory of Moab. So the Moabites must have been involved in the war on the side of their brother nation, Ammon. They arrayed their army before the gate of the city, and David sent Joab with his host and the mighty men to fight against them.

Joab soon found himself in a delicate situation, between the Ammonite forces before the gate of Medeba and the Syrian hordes who came up behind him. It seemed an impossible position, but he did not despair. This in one of several times Joab manifests great courage, valor, and trust in the Lord. He promptly chose the best of his men and put them in a special force to face the stronger Syrians, leaving the remainder under command of his brother, Abishai, to face the weaker Ammonites. Each was to come to the aid of the other if it seemed either was being put to the worse.

Joab challenged his brother with words which still point up a great lesson for God’s children: 1) Be of good courage; 2) let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people; 3) for the cities of God; 4) let the Lord do what is good in His sight. It is somewhat reminiscent of God’s challenge to Joshua at the beginning of his leadership over Israel (Joshua 1:6-9). In their battle God’s people should have courage, for the encouragement of their brethren, for their churches, and leave all in the hand of the Lord who will do what is right in His sight.

Their resolution won the day. Not only did the massive Syrian forces flee from the courageous assault of Joab; the Ammonites seeing the repulse of their allies, fled from Abishai into the gates of the city of safety. Thus Joab returned triumphant,to Jerusalem to begin the war in earnest.

Verses 15-19

Syrians Defeated, 2 Samuel 10:15-19 AND 1 Chronicles 19:16-19

It was now the turn of the Syrians to be alarmed at the belligerancy they had evoked from Israel. They tried to amass sufficient forces for a successful resistance by hiring themselves mercenaries also. They solicited their fellow Aramaeans from across the Euphrates. The leading king of the Syrians was Hadar-ezer of Zobah. It was seen from the summary chapter studied previously (2 Samuel 8:3-8; 1 Chronicles 18:3-8) how thoroughly these countries were defeated and the great store of spoil taken by David.

The Syrians did not, however, intend to be defeated. They had the very best military leadership available in Shobach (Shophach in Chronicles) at the head. David amassed the army of Israel, crossed the Jordan and headed northeastward to the attack. The army of the Syrians was thoroughly routed at a site called Helam This was north of Tob, about thirty-three straight-line miles east of the Sea of Chinneroth (or Galilee), fifty-five south of Damascus. Seven hundred of the dreadful chariots were destroyed, with their drivers, and forty thousand cavalry men and infantry were slain. Shobach, the vaunted captain himself, was killed in the battle, Syria sued for peace and subjected themselves to Israel. They were of no more help to the Ammonites, who were now left to face Israel alone.

Lessons to emphasize: 1) Friendship with the world will never accrue to the good of God’s people; 2) God’s people are always opposed on every side by the forces of Satan; 3) the victory can be assured always when the resoluteness stated by Joab is present; 4) like David’s enemies, the enemies of the Lord and His people will be utterly vanquished, and the meek shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5)

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 10". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/2-samuel-10.html. 1985.
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