2 Samuel is compiled into two parts; the first of which is concluded in this chapter, the second begins in chapter 11. There are some marked distinctions between the two that we’ll see shortly.
Why David felt obligated to express grief, including honor for Nahash isn’t known. This is the same Nahash who came against the men of Jabesh-Gilead with Saul subsequently defeating them. Perhaps it was an attempt to repair the breach between the two people groups; which David as we’ve seen was consistently trying to be an agent of reconciliation. The advisers to Hanun, Nahash’s son, counseled him they were truly there to spy out the land and overthrow his kingdom.
To shame David and the men in particular who had been sent bearing gifts, greetings and blessing from the king of Israel; half of their beard and clothing was cut off. The only two times men were admonished to shave were in times of mourning, making this a double mockery to the men; if they were truly mourning, then their beards gave evidence, yet their clothing wasn’t in sack cloth and ashes. Their back side, along with their front side being exposed, exacerbating the humiliation they already were feeling.
The response they received was given to David and he requested they stay in Jericho until their beards would grow back; precluding any unnecessary humiliation at home.
A good question to leaders. Do we position people with dignity to keep our leaders from being exposed to further or any other expression of public humiliation? Or do we provide a safe place (Jericho), for them to recoup and recover emotionally and physically?
This prompted a battle against the Ammonites, which would be one of the final battles that would ultimately lead to being totally liberated from any more harassment by them under David’s reign.
Realizing they had stirred up David for a fight, they began to build alliances with nations that would have desired Israel be defeated. As we read the Syrians and a couple of other nations connected with the alliance; only to be defeated, even when they seemed to have an upper hand. One such example we read of in this chapter Joab was surrounded by the Syrians, even though his brother, Abishai joined him. When they saw “they had been defeated by Israel”, they got together and yielded to Israel and began to pay tribute to David. Syria no longer aided the Ammonites any longer.
It has been said “the greatest frustration is to be ‘misunderstood’ and more misunderstandings happen as a result of partial information.” Suspicion and fear are temates! They work together very often. With David’s motive being misunderstood, we see it lead to a war. HOWEVER, also note that God turned it to good for David’s good and God’s glory.
Some of you reading this are going through a battle right now that was launched because of someone’s frustration. YET, God is going and is in process of even now turning that situation for your good and His glory. The nemesis that has been a thorn, will become either a prized ally or one that departs with little or no impact or effect on the ministry or your life. The key for you is to do what you know to do, be faithful throughout the process and then watch God do His awesome work in your life and others.
Whatever it may, understand that it is “uncircumcised”, i.e. it’s not part of God’s covenant design for or to you.
Stand firm and see the Lord’s salvation!