Read 2 Samuel 10
David Defeats the Ammonites
1 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. 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.
In an act of kindness, David sends ambassadors to deliver a message of condolence to Hanun, pagan king of the Ammonites, because his father died. Unfortunately, the Ammonites meet the emissaries with suspicion, and they disgrace and humiliate them. It may seem odd that the Ammonites cut off half of the men’s beards as an insult. In this time in history, Hebrews considered the beard to be man’s greatest ornament. Cutting off half of it was a great insult to both the ambassadors and to King David himself. (Enduring Word Bible Commentary).
When King David sees this insult, he responds by caring for the dignity and honor of his ambassadors. He instructs them to wait for their beards to grow back before returning to Jerusalem. He then defends the honor of the Israelites by rallying a mighty army of men, soundly defeating the Ammonites and their allies. As Joab commands the army, he trusts that the Lord does what is good in His sight. When the Israelites win the battle, it is evidence that God cares about David’s ambassadors.
Today, we represent someone far greater than King David⏤we are Christ’s ambassadors! In Romans 15:4, the apostle Paul teaches us that what was “written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” God wants to encourage us with this piece of history from 2 Samuel. As ambassadors for Christ, people probably won’t cut our beards, but we may experience the reality of persecution (John 15:19). Unbelievers may question our motives or confront us with resistance or hostility. The world will hate us. Even so, God calls us to faithfully carry out the Lord’s work, leaving the results to Him.
Christ’s very first ambassadors, the disciples, were met with disdain and hardship beyond our imagination, yet because of their faithfulness, the gospel message spread. Let us remember that as ambassadors of Christ, we have an important role to play in this world. We get to represent Christ in word and deed, share the good news of Jesus Christ entrusted to us, and serve as ministers of reconciliation in a world desperate for peace and hope (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). We don’t have to fear because just as David cared for his ambassadors, God cares for us (I Peter 5:7).
- As a believer, do you see yourself as an ambassador for Jesus Christ who God will work through to appeal to the world? (2 Corinthians 5:20) Talk to God about the work He has for you today.
- A good ambassador knows who they represent. How are you growing in the knowledge and wisdom of Christ?
- Ambassadors are known for gracious and wise speech and their ability to teach and lead others. Do you reflect these qualities? Pray for God to strengthen these qualities in your life.
By the Way
Spend time meditating on this verse today: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
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