1 Chronicles 19

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Read 1 Chronicles 19

David Defeats the Ammonites

19 In the course of time, Nahash king of the Ammonites died, and his son succeeded him as king. David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.

When David’s envoys came to Hanun in the land of the Ammonites to express sympathy to him, the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Haven’t his envoys come to you only to explore and spy out the country and overthrow it?” So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved them, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away.

When someone came and told David about the men, he sent messengers to meet them, for they were greatly humiliated. The king said, “Stay at Jericho till your beards have grown, and then come back.”

When the Ammonites realized that they had become obnoxious to David, Hanun and the Ammonites sent a thousand talents of silver to hire chariots and charioteers from Aram Naharaim, Aram Maakah and Zobah. They hired thirty-two thousand chariots and charioteers, as well as the king of Maakah with his troops, who came and camped near Medeba, while the Ammonites were mustered from their towns and moved out for battle.

On hearing this, David sent Joab out with the entire army of fighting men.The Ammonites came out and drew up in battle formation at the entrance to their city, while the kings who had come were by themselves in the open country.

10 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. 11 He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishaihis brother, and they were deployed against the Ammonites. 12 Joab said, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to rescue me; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will rescue you. 13 Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lordwill do what is good in his sight.”

14 Then Joab and the troops with him advanced to fight the Arameans, and they fled before him. 15 When the Ammonites realized that the Arameans were fleeing, they too fled before his brother Abishai and went inside the city. So Joab went back to Jerusalem.

16 After the Arameans saw that they had been routed by Israel, they sent messengers and had Arameans brought from beyond the Euphrates River, with Shophak the commander of Hadadezer’s army leading them.

17 When David was told of this, he gathered all Israel and crossed the Jordan; he advanced against them and formed his battle lines opposite them. David formed his lines to meet the Arameans in battle, and they fought against him. 18 But they fled before Israel, and David killed seven thousand of their charioteers and forty thousand of their foot soldiers. He also killed Shophak the commander of their army.

19 When the vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been routed by Israel, they made peace with David and became subject to him.

So the Arameans were not willing to help the Ammonites anymore.

Go Deeper

Chapter 19 begins by sharing that the Ammonite king, Nahash, has died. Traditionally, the death of a monarch presented a golden opportunity for neighboring kingdoms to pounce in an attack and take control of the territory. Chapter 18 demonstrates that David was a victorious conqueror having subdued all the other major kingdoms around Israel, so this would have been the perfect time to finish the job by conquering Ammon. 

But verse 2 tells us something different. David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father. 

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Hanun’s advisors assume David has evil intentions. They convince Hanun that David sent the envoy to scout the territory in preparation for conquering it. Hanun responds by humiliating the messengers and defiantly sending them back to Israel. This leads to war between the kingdoms, with the Arameans getting involved as well.  All because Hanun made a bad assumption out of fear. He feared David would humiliate him, so he humiliated David first.

At times, we might respond the same as Hanun. We fear someone has selfish intentions to make us look bad, so we strike first. We fear showing kindness will make us look weak, so we take a stance of power and judgment. We fear an apology is presented to “check the box” rather than to show real remorse, so we hold on to bitterness. We fear a friend or relative is avoiding us, so avoid them. The problem is that while all of these scenarios are an attempt to protect ourselves, we still suffer. We suffer from regret, pain, loneliness, and loss.

Instead, what if we respond to these situations by assuming positive intent and showing kindness? Instead of focusing on how to protect against our fear, what if we focused on how to show our love, God’s love? First John 4:18 states “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” What if instead of assuming the worst in others we assumed the best?

By demonstrating love and kindness, we reflect God’s love and demonstrate our trust of the situation to Him.


  1. Has there been a time when you made an assumption and acted out of fear? What regret, pain, loneliness, or loss resulted for you and/or others?
  2. Why is assuming positive intent difficult?
  3. Which of the practical ways to assume positive intent will you enact this week?

Keep Digging

Wondering what kindness Nahash showed David that he references in verse 2? Learn more about Nahash from this article at GotQuestions.org.

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2 thoughts on “1 Chronicles 19”

  1. Ella Snodgrass

    Woven in this narrative are some great life lessons:
    •never jump to conclusions, assume positive intent
    •suspicion can end in disaster, be cautious & wise
    •do not attempt to cover up sin, seek forgiveness and
    Keep in mind that choosing wisdom and discernment will always seem contrary to what our flesh desires, therefore, we must determine to do what’s right anyway. We reap what we sow, let it be peace, love and joy.

  2. David was trying to do the right thing when Nahash died. Hanun either did not believe it or choose not to BUT GOD made the plans work to the good. What I saw was David’s compassion for his men when Hanun shaved them. During this time in history a man’s beard was like a thing of honor.” This was a disgraceful insult to these ambassadors from Israel. One suggested reason for this is the idea that to be clean-shaven was the mark of a slave. Free men wore beards. Therefore in that culture, many men would rather die than to have their beard removed.” (Enduring Word Bible Commentary) Shaving it was a despicable offense. David let these men stay away until their beards regrew. Compassion from a king, a leader of wars, just seems kind. Turn it to now it would be what would Jesus do?

    God thank You for Your compassion towards me. Thank You that I can in return show that to others in my day. God I praise You for what You are doing and have done in my life in Jesus name amen.

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