FROM INDIGNITY TO VICTORY
Gracious God, giver of life and peace and joy, thank you that I can trust you to provide all I need in this day.
Read 2 SAMUEL 10
David Defeats the Ammonites
10 In the course of time, the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun succeeded him as king. 2 David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.
When David’s men came to the land of the Ammonites, 3 the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Hasn’t David sent them to you only to explore the city and spy it out and overthrow it?” 4 So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away.
5 When David was told about this, he sent messengers to meet the men, for they were greatly humiliated. The king said, “Stay at Jericho till your beards have grown, and then come back.”
6 When the Ammonites realized that they had become obnoxious to David, they hired twenty thousand Aramean foot soldiers from Beth Rehob and Zobah, as well as the king of Maakah with a thousand men, and also twelve thousand men from Tob.
7 On hearing this, David sent Joab out with the entire army of fighting men. 8 The Ammonites came out and drew up in battle formation at the entrance of their city gate, while the Arameans of Zobah and Rehob and the men of Tob and Maakah were by themselves in the open country.
9 Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. 10 He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother and deployed them against the Ammonites. 11 Joab said, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to come to my rescue; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come to rescue you. 12 Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.”
13 Then Joab and the troops with him advanced to fight the Arameans, and they fled before him. 14 When the Ammonites realized that the Arameans were fleeing, they fled before Abishai and went inside the city. So Joab returned from fighting the Ammonites and came to Jerusalem.
15 After the Arameans saw that they had been routed by Israel, they regrouped. 16 Hadadezer had Arameans brought from beyond the Euphrates River; they went to Helam, with Shobak the commander of Hadadezer’s army leading them.
17 When David was told of this, he gathered all Israel, crossed the Jordan and went to Helam. The Arameans formed their battle lines to meet David and fought against him. 18 But they fled before Israel, and David killed seven hundred of their charioteers and forty thousand of their foot soldiers.[a] He also struck down Shobak the commander of their army, and he died there. 19 When all the kings who were vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been routed by Israel, they made peace with the Israelites and became subject to them.
So the Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites anymore.
- 2 Samuel 10:18 Some Septuagint manuscripts (see also 1 Chron. 19:18); Hebrew horsemen
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectPonder some of the ways in which God has been kind to you and then give him thanks.
Conflict is easily ignited. David has good intentions in offering a peace agreement to the newly enthroned Ammonite king, Hanun. But rather than embrace peace, the Ammonites are spooked through suspicion or cynicism and humiliate David’s envoys, cutting off half their beards and inflicting ‘forced indecent exposure,’* to put it politely! Hanun’s father had been an ally of David when David was being harried by Saul. David now extends a kind hand of friendship only to have it bitten as if by a cornered dog. The kindness of God through his people can be misinterpreted, being perceived as a sign of weakness or raising suspicions of an ulterior motive. Kindnesses do not necessarily produce gratitude.
Conflict comes easily but is costly. Peace was in the Ammonites’ grasp, but full-scale war ensues. They and their allies are crushed at the price of many lives. David’s armies implement a strategy involving both military guile and trust in God. Trust in God does not breed complacency or a simplistic ‘God is on our side’ mentality. They devise strategies knowing that the outcome lies in God’s hands and in his mysterious purposes. God gives the victory; Israel secures its territory and David is honored. But a shock wave is about to hit. There is victory but also fragility.
Paul urges believers ‘not to receive God’s grace in vain’ (2 Corinthians 6:1). What are the main threats we face as receivers of God’s grace?
In my country, in my family, in my own heart, Lord God, I seek your peace—the peace that only you can give. Please make me an instrument of that peace wherever you lead me.
*AA Anderson, Word Biblical Commentary: 2 Samuel (Nelson, 1989), 147.
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