Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 20

Amasa gathers Judah’s army too slowly

2 Samuel 20:4-5

Like Joab, Amasa was one of David’s relatives (17:25). Absalom had appointed Amasa to lead Israel’s army when they fought against David. In that battle, Joab led David’s men. Joab had been the chief commander of David’s army since before David even became king.

David had for a long time wanted to replace Joab, whom David considered to be an evil man (3:27-30). So, after Joab killed Absalom in the battle, David decided to invite his former enemy, Amasa, to lead his army (19:13).

David probably hoped by that decision to mend relationships in Israel after the failure of Absalom’s revolution. However, it seems to have had the opposite effect. Amasa belonged to the tribe (family group) of Judah. The other tribes thought that the tribe of Judah was becoming too powerful. So, they decided to oppose David, and they accepted Sheba as their ruler (2 Samuel 19:41 to 20:2).

It was clear that there would be a war between Judah and the tribes of northern Israel. David wanted to deal with the matter quickly, before Sheba became too powerful. He therefore ordered Amasa to gather all the fighting men in Judah. He wanted them all to be ready to fight in just three days.

However, Amasa could not complete the task in time. He perhaps found it difficult to establish his authority. The men were, mostly, farmers and other workmen who were not eager to leave their work to fight. A new army commander might need to act in a very powerful manner to gather the men (compare 1 Samuel 11:1-8).

Next part: David orders Abishai to lead his most capable soldiers (2 Samuel 20:6-7)


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