1. "The Gittite" of the Philistine Gath. Last in the host that defiled past David, while standing beneath the olive tree below Jerusalem (2 Samuel 15:18, Septuagint) on the morning of his flight from Absalom, were 600 Gathites who had emigrated with him to Gath (1 Samuel 27:2-3; 1 Samuel 27:8; 1 Samuel 30:9-10), and returned thence. Possibly vacancies in the body had been filled up with men of Gath, who had joined him with Ittai their countryman. This accounts for the command being given to a Gittite, Ittai, which would be strange if he had no tie of connection with the 600 veterans of the body guard (1 Samuel 30:18:2, where Ittai appears in command of a third of the army). The reading gibowrim (heroes) for Gittim, "Gittites," is therefore needless.
David with characteristic generosity said to Ittai: "Wherefore goest thou also with me? return to thy place, and abide with the king (not that David recognizes Absalom as king, but he means 'with whoever shall prove king,' with the king de facto; whether he be rightful king you as a recent settler here are not called on to decide), for thou art a stranger (not an Israelite) and also an exile (not yet having a fixed fatherland) ... Seeing I go whither I may (not yet knowing where it shall be: 1 Samuel 23:13) ... return and take back thy brethren," implying that Ittai as a Philistine general brought with him a body of his fellow countrymen. Ittai with unflinching loyalty, which David's misfortunes could not shake, replied: "As the Lord liveth ... surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant ("slave"; Hebrew) be."
So David desired him to pass forward over the Kedron, and Ittai the Gittite, and all his men, and all the little ones with him (for he and his men brought their whole families: 1 Samuel 27:3; 1 Samuel 30:3; 1 Samuel 30:6), passed on. His resolution foreshadows the like resolution, though not so faithfully kept, of the disciples of the Son of David almost on the same spot (Matthew 26:30; Matthew 26:35). At the battle of Mahunaim Ittai had equal rank with Joab and Abishai (2 Samuel 18:2; 2 Samuel 18:5; 2 Samuel 18:12). Ittai typifies the gospel truth that from the Gentile world some of the most devoted heroes of the cross should join the Son of David, and so share in His triumphs (Mark 10:29-30; Matthew 8:11-12).
2. Ittai or Ithai, of the heroes of David's body guard; from the Benjamite Gibeah, son of Ribai (2 Samuel 23:29; 1 Chronicles 11:31).
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