Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 18

David organises his soldiers for the battle

2 Samuel 18:1-2

Hushai’s plan (17:11-14) had given David time to prepare for the battle against his son Absalom. Absalom had organised a revolution against David, and now he was trying to kill David and the people with him.

Absalom was trying to gather all of Israel’s men who could fight for the battle. He established a camp in Gilead, on the east side of the Jordan river (17:26). There, he waited for all the men to come. It is not clear whether they had all arrived by the time of the battle; David may have begun the battle before they all had come. However, Absalom’s army was much larger than David’s army.

When David was ready, he organised his men to fight. Absalom would have preferred to surround the city where David was, and to destroy it (17:13). David’s decision to start the battle prevented that. The battle was in the country areas and, especially, in the forest (18:6).

It seems that David had about 3000 men under his command. He chose their leaders, and he organised them into three groups, each with its own commander. Joab, the chief commander of David’s army, led one group. Joab’s brother, Abishai led another group. The third leader was a foreigner, Ittai, about whom we read in 2 Samuel 15:19-22. Ittai led a group of 600 soldiers who came from Gath in Philistia (15:18).

It was usual for kings to go with their soldiers to an important battle. They wanted to encourage their men and to direct the fight. It made the soldiers stronger to see that their king was supporting them. So, David wanted to join his men in this battle.

Next part: David's men persuade him not to go into battle (2 Samuel 18:3-4)


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