Today: [1 Chronicles Nineteen] An Unrequited Act of Kindness. In this chapter David shows kindness to a young king whose father had just died. Instead of being comforted the king was offended and abused David’s messengers. In the aftermath David finds himself assaulted on two fronts by the Syrians and the Ammonites – all because he attempted to comfort a grieving son. Sometimes when you will be rebuffed and disdained. When Jesus said to love our enemies and show kindness to them we are not assured of a positive response. Very often your gentleness toward an enemy will be perceived as weakness and result in tumult and difficulty that we will have to deal with as David did – successfully in this chapter.
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[1Ch 19:1-19 KJV] 1 Now it came to pass after this, that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon died, and his son reigned in his stead. 2 And David said, I will shew kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash, because his father shewed kindness to me. And David sent messengers to comfort him concerning his father. So the servants of David came into the land of the children of Ammon to Hanun, to comfort him. 3 But the princes of the children of Ammon said to Hanun, Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? are not his servants come unto thee for to search, and to overthrow, and to spy out the land? 4 Wherefore Hanun took David’s servants, and shaved them, and cut off their garments in the midst hard by their buttocks, and sent them away. 5 Then there went [certain], and told David how the men were served. And he sent to meet them: for the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, Tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown, and [then] return. 6 And when the children of Ammon saw that they had made themselves odious to David, Hanun and the children of Ammon sent a thousand talents of silver to hire them chariots and horsemen out of Mesopotamia, and out of Syriamaachah, and out of Zobah.
David hears that Nahash king of the Ammonites had died. David determines to show kindness to Nahash’s grieving son because of kindness his father had shown David in times past. There is no record of interaction between Nahash and David but apparently Nahash sheltered David when he was fleeing from king Saul. It is interesting that David would have kind feeling toward Nahash. The only reference we have to him comes from a seige Nahash executed against Jabesh-Gilead where he demanded the men of the city all gouge out their right eyes in order to make peace. So Nahash was not a man of sterling character. His name betrays his character as well which means “serpent”. Perhaps also the name of son of Nahash inspired David to make the attempt to be kind toward him – his name was Hanun which means “gracious” or “one who bows low”. This was anything but the truth. Hanun abused David’s messengers and sent them away humiliated.
Hanun shaved half the men’s beards off and cut their robes short leaving them half naked. David meets them at Jericho and tells them to remain there till their beards were restored and thus they could return to their homes with some measure of dignity.
What can we learn from this verse? Remember that David is a type of Christ. I wonder what the thoughts were of these men after being sent on such a fool’s errand. You can’t love a snake can you? Is it not possible that David could have foreseen such an outcome? Where was David’s wisdom? Or perhaps David KNEW what was going to happen and in order to serve as a pretense for war allowed his men to be abused in such a way. To send these men into harm’s way is reminiscent of what David did when he later sends Bathsheba’s husband into harms way in order to make it possible to marry the then pregnant Bathsheba.
Have you ever been led by God into a situation that didn’t turn out as you expected? Would you be willing to be humiliated and mistreated having been sent into a situation that you KNOW God directed you to? Would God ever do such a thing? There is indication of this because Jesus said:
[Mat 5:44 KJV] 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Based on these expectations that Jesus is setting it is conceiveable that you could be led by the Spirit of God into a difficult situation that will not turn out all rosy so to speak. You have to be prepare to honor your king Jesus as these men did not gainsay David in their situation. They endured the indignity and yielded to David’s command without any complaint. I believe they were no doubt recompensed for their faithfullness as you and I will be if we ever find ourselves in the same situation.
7 So they hired thirty and two thousand chariots, and the king of Maachah and his people; who came and pitched before Medeba. And the children of Ammon gathered themselves together from their cities, and came to battle. 8 And when David heard [of it], he sent Joab, and all the host of the mighty men. 9 And the children of Ammon came out, and put the battle in array before the gate of the city: and the kings that were come [were] by themselves in the field. 10 Now when Joab saw that the battle was set against him before and behind, he chose out of all the choice of Israel, and put [them] in array against the Syrians. 11 And the rest of the people he delivered unto the hand of Abishai his brother, and they set [themselves] in array against the children of Ammon. 12 And he said, If the Syrians be too strong for me, then thou shalt help me: but if the children of Ammon be too strong for thee, then I will help thee. 13 Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do [that which is] good in his sight.
Here again we find David acting in a manner that could be held suspect by his subordinates. He creates a problem by showing mercy to a “snake – Nahash” and then when a battle ensues as a result he doesn’t join the fray but sends Joab out to deal with the challenge. Think about it – Jesus tells us “go ye into all the world …” But isn’t this the same Jesus who said “marvel not if the world hate you …” So what is really happening here? Jesus comes and spites all of humanity by dying upon the cross as an executed felon – THEN sends you and I out as a condition of our faithfulness to that very world that crucified him. Are you willing to obey your master? Today if a politician parts their hair on the wrong side of their head the pollsters are buzzing with the approval rating either good or bad. We are a people who think in our culture that we are entitled to our opinions but what about the servants of David? They certainly could have chosen to despise David for his seeming lack of statescraft in sending them into a situation that broke out into full scale war.
Now Joab goes out and finds the battle will not only be against the Ammonites but the better armed Syrians as well. He divided his forces (always a bad move in any historical battle) and decides to attack on two fronts. This tactic is notoriously one that fails miserably. Dividing forces across two fronts is what (thankfully) cost Hitler the outcome of WWII. Nonetheless on a fool’s errand Joab and Abishai prevail because they put their forces into the hands of God’s mercy.
14 So Joab and the people that [were] with him drew nigh before the Syrians unto the battle; and they fled before him. 15 And when the children of Ammon saw that the Syrians were fled, they likewise fled before Abishai his brother, and entered into the city. Then Joab came to Jerusalem. 16 And when the Syrians saw that they were put to the worse before Israel, they sent messengers, and drew forth the Syrians that [were] beyond the river: and Shophach the captain of the host of Hadarezer [went] before them. 17 And it was told David; and he gathered all Israel, and passed over Jordan, and came upon them, and set [the battle] in array against them. So when David had put the battle in array against the Syrians, they fought with him. 18 But the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew of the Syrians seven thousand [men which fought in] chariots, and forty thousand footmen, and killed Shophach the captain of the host. 19 And when the servants of Hadarezer saw that they were put to the worse before Israel, they made peace with David, and became his servants: neither would the Syrians help the children of Ammon any more.
Finally David joins the battle against the Syrians. Eventually the Syrians will destroy the northern kingdom and put Judah to tribute. Perhaps David looking down through time by the spirit of prophecy foresaw what was to come and did what he could to put them in check. If David is a type of Christ then Syria is a type of the secular. Our privileges as believers are afforded us because we pay tribute to the secular powers that completely believe that it is their right and privilege to dole our our religious liberties. You see the principalities and powers that David contended with in his kingdom are alive and well today – and lobbying against the kingdom of God now just as they always have. We need to be careful to open our eyes and not as the Jews in Jesus’ day who were under the jackboot of Rome yet boasting to Jesus “we are no man’s servant…” There is coming a day that the kingdoms of their world will become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ. There is coming a day when the liberties we enjoy as believers will be accorded us by the hand of God and not grudgingly parleyed out by a suspicious and greed stricken secular society. In the mean time we serve our Master. We accept the assignment He gives us even when it places us in the position of being mistreated and abused at times by a godless society.
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