In addition to the mighty men, many of the regular troops went over to David’s side to fight under his banner. Chapter 12 shows us that every tribe of Israel sent men to acclaim David as king of Israel, even the Benjaminites who had supported their kinsman Saul. To a modern eye, the numbers given don’t really mean much, but they are actually enormous considering what we know of the population at the time. There are a few possibilities that allow us to reconcile what looks like a contradiction.
It is possible that the word “thousand” is military jargon for a group of fighters somewhat less than a literal thousand. It is also possible the Hebrew consonants could be read as “chiefs” if different vowels are used. This would make the verses read something like “six chiefs with 800 armed troops” for verse 24. Finally, our knowledge of the time period could be woefully incomplete, and our population estimates are way off. After all, it was only recently that extra-Biblical evidence was discovered for King David. Skeptics have thought he was a mythological figure, like Romulus and Remus, for a long time. Just because the Bible doesn’t agree with your understanding of the world doesn’t make it wrong.
The last verses emphasize how unified and overjoyed the people of Israel were about making David their king. All twelve tribes were in agreement, and the coronation festivities lasted for three days. Not only did the soldiers throw a big party at Hebron when David became king, but their relatives brought even more food and drink after them.
We can trust Your Word to be reliable and true for all time.