December 12, 2021
Scripture: But the princes of the Ammonites said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think, because David has sent comforters to you, that he is honoring your father? Has not David sent his servants to you to search the city and to spy it out and to overthrow it?” 2 Samuel 10:3 ESV
Observation: In this story, the author tells us that the Ammonite king, Nahash, had passed away, and his son, Hanun, had assumed the throne. So David, an ally of Nahash, sent emissaries to express David’s sympathy and console Hanun (verse 2). Like Rehoboam, David’s grandson, the young king unwisely listened to the counsel of his cronies and responded with insulting behavior that led to catastrophe. Convinced by his princes that they were spies, Hanun humiliated David’s men by shaving half of their beards, cutting off their garments at the waistline (exposing their genitals), and then sending them packing (verse 4). To compound matters, Hanun, when he learned of David’s anger over the treatment of David’s men, hired Syrian mercenaries to go to war against Israel. When this aggressive tactic failed, the fearful Syrians refused to come to the aid of the Ammonites anymore (verses 9-19).
Takeaway: Acting on the conjecture of his young advisors, Hanun damaged his relationship with a neighboring ruler who could have been a lifelong ally. Rather than apologizing when he learned how he made himself a stench to David, he hastily made another aggressive move, creating strained relations with his other neighbor. But while contempt breeds contempt, a contrite heart invites reconciliation. Indeed, after Nathan exposed David’s adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, David responded to God with a psalm of repentance (51), in which he declares: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (verse 17). Having reconciled with his Lord, Yahweh would permit David to retain his throne unto old age. As with David (and unlike Hanun), when godly leaders exercise humility and sincerely express remorse to those they have wronged, their contrition will trump contempt.
Prayer: Father God, thank you for your grace that extends to all who seek your forgiveness, trusting in the efficacy of the Cross. Would you please help us to exercise humility in our decision-making and avoid the pitfall of responding to those we perceive our enemies with contempt? And when we fail to do so, please help us to convey heartfelt contrition. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling