2 Samuel 10:9–19
When Joab saw that the battle line was against him before and behind, he chose some of Israel’s best and put them in battle array against the Syrians. And the rest of the people he put under the command of Abishai his brother, that he might set them in battle array against the people of Ammon. Then he said, “If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the people of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will come and help you. Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the LORD do what is good in His sight.”
So Joab and the people who were with him drew near for the battle against the Syrians, and they fled before him. When the people of Ammon saw that the Syrians were fleeing, they also fled before Abishai, and entered the city. So Joab returned from the people of Ammon and went to Jerusalem.
When the Syrians saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they gathered together. Then Hadadezer sent and brought out the Syrians who were beyond the River, and they came to Helam. And Shobach the commander of Hadadezer’s army went before them. When it was told David, he gathered all Israel, crossed over the Jordan, and came to Helam. And the Syrians set themselves in battle array against David and fought with him. Then the Syrians fled before Israel; and David killed seven hundred charioteers and forty thousand horsemen of the Syrians, and struck Shobach the commander of their army, who died there. And when all the kings who were servants to Hadadezer saw that they were defeated by Israel, they made peace with Israel and served them. So the Syrians were afraid to help the people of Ammon anymore.
Joab sees that he’s surrounded. As dumb as the Ammonites were in instigating all this, at least they were clever enough to hire some help.
But their strategy proves disastrous. The Syrians aren’t all that loyal to “the cause,” and they run away when Joab and the people who were with him drew near for the battle. They don’t even start to fight. When the Ammonites see the Syrians fleeing, they panic. The whole thing turns into a rout.
The now embarrassed Syrians try to regroup at Helam and make a stand there, but they get slaughtered and end up subjugated.
Needless to say, they’ve now lost interest in teaming up with the Ammonites ever again.
Notice that in verse 17, David personally joins the battle. When it was told David, he gathered all Israel, crossed over the Jordan, and came to Helam.
This is specifically mentioned here to set up the contrast with chapter 11, where David fails in his duties.
Here, he joins the fight and the victory is total.
But he’s about to do the exact opposite.
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.