Keep a Level Head

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

2 Samuel 10:1-4 (NIV)
In the course of time, the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun succeeded him as king. 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, the Ammonite nobles said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending men to you to express sympathy? Hasn’t David sent them to you to explore the city and spy it out and overthrow it?” So Hanun seized David’s men, shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their garments in the middle at the buttocks, and sent them away.

2 Samuel 10:1-4 (MSG)
Sometime after this, the king of the Ammonites died and Hanun, his son, succeeded him as king. David said, “I’d like to show some kindness to Hanun, the son of Nahash — treat him as well and as kindly as his father treated me.” So David sent Hanun condolences regarding his father. But when David’s servants got to the land of the Ammonites, the Ammonite leaders warned Hanun, their head delegate, “Do you for a minute suppose that David is honoring your father by sending you comforters? Don’t you think it’s because he wants to snoop around the city and size it up that David has sent his emissaries to you?” So Hanun seized David’s men, shaved off half their beards, cut off their robes halfway up their buttocks, and sent them packing.
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“Now it happened later that [Nahash] the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun became king in his place.  Then David said, “I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, just as his father did to me.” So David sent [a letter along with] some of his servants to console him in regard to his father’s death; and David’s servants came into the land of the Ammonites.  But the princes of the Ammonites [were suspicious and] said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think that David is honoring your father because he has sent comforters to you? Has David not sent his servants to you in order to search the city, to spy it out and overthrow it?” So Hanun took David’s servants and shaved off half their beards, and cut off their robes in the middle as far as their hips, and sent them away.”-AMPLIFIED

Time has passed and one of David’s neighboring kingdoms has lost their king. David thought it best to show kindness to the son who would become king; so he sent a delegation, offering his condolences to Hanun, the son of Nahash for the loss of his father.

Scripture tells us that at one point in time Nahash the king of the Ammonites had shown a kindness to David. It is not indicated what that kindness was, but David remembered that good deed shown to him and wished to return that kindness. His kind gesture though was not accepted at face value. Hanun’s noblemen, his council of leaders, took one look at David’s men and jumped to their own conclusions; David had sent his men to size up the situation and see if Israel could take their land.

David’s mentality was; one good deed deserves another or pay it forward. The leadership of Ammon were more the skeptical type, do not trust anyone because everyone is trying to take you down. Let us look at words to Hanun again, “Do you for a minute suppose that David is honoring your father by sending you comforters? Don’t you think it’s because he wants to snoop around the city and size it up that David has sent his emissaries to you?” Distrust is written all over their comments.

Sadly, Hanun listened to their poor council. He had David’s men seized and then humiliated. Their beards were shaved off half-way, the middle of the backside of their robes was cut open exposing their butts and then they were sent packing back to David. (To have one’s beard cut off in this way was considered an insult. And to be exposed to the world by cutting their robes was a degradation reserved for prisoners. This whole episode was meant to be a slap in the face to David and his men.)

Of course the news of all of this reached David’s ears before his men arrived back home to him. Once again we see him extending kindness, this time to his delegation of men. “When all this was reported to David, he sent someone to meet them, for they were seriously humiliated. The king told them, “Stay in Jericho until your beards grow out. Only then come back.”-2 Samuel 10:5 (MSG)

When the Ammonites heard how David had handled their slap in the face and the humiliation of his men, they were afraid. Of course they were expecting him to react to their attempt to humiliate not only his men, but him as well. But, when David did not react right away they were not sure where they stood with him. David kept a level head.

Suddenly the Ammonites realized that they were in some major trouble. Apparently they were not too wise, or too bright. “When it dawned on the Ammonites that as far as David was concerned they stunk to high heaven, they hired Aramean soldiers from Beth-Rehob and Zobah — twenty thousand infantry — and a thousand men from the king of Maacah, and twelve thousand men from Tob.” -2 Samuel 10:6 (MSG)

At this point David took action. He was not the one to declare war, the Ammonites were. When he heard the news of what the Ammonites were up to he dispatched Joab, his army commander, out with his troops to confront the audacity of the Ammonites and their allies.

Suffice it to say, things did not go well with the Ammonites and their friends. We are told that there were two sound defeats during this time of battle; TWO. The chapter ends with these words, “When all the kings who were vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been routed by Israel, they made peace and became Israel’s vassals. The Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites ever again.” -2 Samuel 10:19 (MSG)

Throughout this whole situation David kept the right attitude and a level head. He chose to repay a kindness. When his men were humiliated and he was provoked he did not react. It was not until there were no other options open to him that he took action and met the enemy on the field of battle. All of this is a lesson to us about keeping our feelings and anger in check.

Remember this: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”-Luke 6:31 (NIV)

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to do the right things; to choose kindness and love over personal satisfaction and anger. Help me to remember to turn the other cheek and to patiently wait for your will to be done even in those stick situations. You are God and I am not. Give me your wisdom and direction in every situation so that I will choose to do what will bring glory and honor to your Name.

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