2 Samuel 10:1-19.
We saw last week how David showed unconditional kindness to Mephibosheth – he was the son of Jonathan, David’s best friend who had died some 15-20 years earlier in battle against the Philistines. M’sheth was therefore the grandson of King Saul, David’s predecessor and jealous enemy.
M’sheth was disabled – crippled in both feet – and David brings him from isolation and hiding in a desolate place to the palace in Jerusalem and gives him all the lands that had belonged to his grandfather, King Saul, BUT more than that David brings him into his family and treats him as his own son with all the privileges that has.
David shows great love and kindness to M’stheth for the sake of his friend Jonathan.
The chapter before us today is a parallel account of David showing unsolicited kindness to Hanun, because he was the son of the late King Nahash, king of the Ammonites.
These are parallel accounts in that they show David’s expression of kindness BUT they are also contrasting accounts in that while M’sheth accepted David’s kindness with humble and joyful gratitude, Hanun rejected this offer and took offence.
These accounts are helpful to us because they graphically illustrate the way God deals with people (he shows kindness – he is slow to anger and rich in mercy) AND it also shows the differing ways people respond to God’s dealing (acceptance or rejection).
2. REACHING OUT IN KINDNESS. v1-2.
David is a good warrior and military leader and we could think that as a result he is hard and callous. But that is not so David has a kind and comapssionate heart – we have seen this in his treatment of King Saul, of Abner (Leader of the Northern tribes before the kingdom was united) and of M’sheth.
Once again we have David wanting to show kindness – he had shown kindness in Home Affairs, now in Foreign Affairs – this time to Hanun. Hanun’s father has died and David sends his condolences – At some time in the past the late King Nahash had shown some unspecified kindness to David – possibly when he was on the run from king Saul. David had been friendly to the father and he wants to reassure his son and sucessor that he intends to continue the kindness and good will.
Actually the Ammonites were not the best neighbours but they were related to the Israelites who were commanded to treat them kindly …. Deuteronomy 2:19 19 When you come to the Ammonites, do not harass them or provoke them to war, for I will not give you possession of any land belonging to the Ammonites. I have given it as a possession to the descendants of Lot.” (NIV)
Lot was Abraham’s nephew – Abraham being the father of the Jews – The Ammonites were the descendents of Lot’s incestuous relationship with his younger daughter .. his two daughters got their father drunk and sleep with him…… Genesis 19:36-38
36 So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. 37 The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. 38 The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today. (NIV)
They were not friendly towards Israel – Saul had had his run-ins with them.
So why did David act kindly towards them?
There is not hint of insincerity or duplicity in David’s action. David is kind hearted – he wants to show kindness to everyone, even to the Ammonites.
There are times when David acts serverely but these are usually when he is implementing God’s justice as God’s king!
However in his personal attitude we observe how David has grown in his kindness and compassion towards others.
Most ancient kings wanted to be domineering and harsh with neighbouring nations, but not David.
In this David is becoming like God – he is growing in holiness – he is exhibiting compassion and mercy rather than deliberately fomenting discord and cememnting prejudices and animosities.
Later it was Jesus who told us to love our enemies!
This is the kind of goodwill that God has to everyone everywhere. True, the Bible teaches about the way God sovereignly choses, but that should never make us question God’s love for all men and women everywhere. …
1 Timothy 2:3-4 3 This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (NIV)
He takes no pleasure in the death of a sinner … Ezekiel 18:23 23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? (NIV)
God does not want anyone to perish … 2 Peter 3:9 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (NIV)
God loves you and me! Christ died for you and me! David shares this kind characteristic of God.
It is easy to show kindness and compassion to those we like – but God calls us to have hearts like David – or better still hearts like Christ to whom David pointed.
We tend to be harsher on people than God would be – we tend to write them off – and we would probably have defended David if he had left Hanun well alone BUT God reaches out even to the Hanuns of this world and makes some of them his disciples.
Is this not an indictation as to how God’s people – US! – should reach out to a sorrowing world?
2. REJECTING OFFERED KINDNESS WITH INSULT. v3-5.
Have you ever done something kind for someone and had bitten your head off for your trouble!
David’s kind act is received with suspicion. Hanun acts foolishly in having a suspicious attitude for no reason – His suspicions were not his own – at least not at first. They were fuelled by the suggestions of his noble advisers! It is a pity he did not think for himself.
Hanun had no reason to be suspicious of David – He would have done well to simply receive David’s ambassadors with politeness and thanks.
However, not only does he reject David’s kindness but he insults the messengers by sending them away half naked with their beards foolishly disfigured………….. 2 Samuel 10:4 4 So Hanun seized David’s men, shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their garments in the middle at the buttocks, and sent them away. (NIV)
Everything Hanun does is ill-advised.
He recklessly rejects David’s kindness; even more foolishly he responds with calculated insult; he then assumes that David will attack him and he prepares for war persuading the Arameans to join him.
Initially David does not retaliate. He simply treats his own ambassodors with kindness and prevents them from being humiliated back in Jerusalem . …… 2 Samuel 10:5
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.” (NIV)
Beards were grown long in those days among the Israelites and David’s concern for his men shows his sensitivity to their proper dignity and self-esteem.
We don’t know what David would have done – whether or not he would have declared war – but before David can react in any way Hanun prepares for war. David’s kind act is not only rejected but seems to lead to deeper feelings of hostility.
David was actually being treated the same way God is treated. If David’s kindness is God-like, the response he gets is also typical of the response God gets. God’s loving ways are not only ignored by the world, they are rejected with calculated insult.
We have here a parable of how the Lord’s disciples will sometimes be treated as they bring the message of the gospel to the world.
Many an ambassador for Christ has been humiliated, persecuted or even killed for bringing the message of salvation. So many have despised the true message of God. We only have to read the scriptures and read history to know how Christians have suffered for being Christ’s ambassadors – there is no reason to suppose that the 20th century is any different.
Christians are called to be witnesses of God’s grace and mercy and salvation to the people of the world – there is one gospel to tell – the good news of Jesus Christ. BUT there are two basis responses that result from this witness.
As with David – M’sheth responded positively and Hanun responded negatively.
Likewise some people accept the gospel with gladness and others reject it by willful hostility or passive indifference.
Thus Paul writes in the NT in …. 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. ……. (NIV)
God has been kind and merciful and gracious to us and he requires that we act in such a way to others – even those hostle to us.
3. RESULTING CONSEQUENCES OF REJECTED KINDNESS. v6-19.
Many an international war has been started over what appears to be a trivial matter.
The rest of the Chapter details the battles that followed – the Ammonites and their allies, the Arameans, were soundly defeated by David and his army. In the end David is rewarded for his act of kindness by his kingdom being extended – it ultimately works out to his advantage. At the end of the chapter the Ammonites are defeated, the Arameans are too afraid to help them, and David’s rest from his enemies is even more secure.
David didn’t want the war on his own territory so he takes the initiative and sends Joab ahead. With careful planning and military skill and a dependence upon God they go into battle …. Joab says to his men 2 Samuel 10:12 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.” (NIV)
…. and God does give them the victory.
We can look at these events and others like them in the OT and think this is all very blood-thirsty and barbaric – all very sordid to our enlightened eyes. I think such a judgement would be rather hasty for us who have lived through a century of such dreadful atrocities.
So what are we to make of this battle of David against the Ammonites. The significance of this and other events like it need to be seen in the context of the flow of redemptive history. We often find it difficult to reconcile this violence and blood-and-guts with a picture of a God of love!
Maybe we have tried to sanitize God too much and squeeze him into a mould of our imaginations rather than allowing God to be God. We have to balance the view of God as a God of love – which he is – with the view that he is also a God of justice and judgement.
These events in history – esp. those in scripture relating to God’s people – are not simply random, arbitary events. History doesn’t just happen BUT God is working out his purpose as year suceeds to year. That doesn’t mean that God is responsible for all the wars and atrocities – he has given humans a certain amount of freedom and we continually misuse and abuse it.
BUT God has things to teach us through history -esp. the history of Israel, his chosen people. History illustrates theology.
Here the victories of Israel under David are vindications of the Lord’s cause and the Lord’s kingdom against the presumptions and rebellions of his enemies. Israel’s defaet of Ammon and the Arameans indicates God intention to preserve the honour of his name and the integrity of his people. God takes note when his disciples are abused and insulted as David’s kindness to Hanun was.
When God’s people are abused, mocked, persucuted, insulted or even just ignored and considered irrelevant – God notices … and these will work for the Christians eventual good ……2 Corinthians 4:17 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (NIV)
BUT those who reject God’s kindness and mock God’s people are storing up for themselves the eternal judgement of God — unless, of course, there is repentance and a turning to Christ in saving faith.
David’s kindness ans love towards Hanun was not only ignored but rejected with calculated insult.
Then love was replaced with wrath. David who had once offered friendship now takes action against him.
So too with God and his love. At present God’s Son, Jesus Christ is on offer as a channel of His love.
Soon the one who is the Saviour will return as the Judge! Those who rejected Christ’s love will face wrath! Those who rejected mercy will face justice!
There is so much in this world that is unfair – and we often feel frustrated and helpless in the face of injustice. BUT God keeps accurate records and he will render just judgement.
One day every person will stand before God and be held to account – Romans 14:10 10 ….. For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. (NIV)
– and there will be no partiality and no excuses. All the records will be squared up!
We are living in the time of God’s kindness when he is reaching out to the people of the world through his Son Jesus Christ and through his people – the Church. That should spur us Christians on to greater effort in the task of evagelism. It should also be a spur to holy living
For the person who has not come to God in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ this comes as a severe and frightening warning that God’s judgement is coming. We can’t reject or ignore God’s kindness to us with impunity!
Hell is just as real as heaven! And every person is headed for hell until they come to Christ!
We don’t like to talk about this much today – it offends our sensibilities – but I would be a failure as a preacher if I never preached about hell and the judgement of God. The Bible clearly teaches it ….
John 3:36 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (NIV)
Romans 2:5 5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. (NIV)
BUT there is a way out …
1 Thessalonians 1:10 10 …… Jesus, ….. rescues us from the coming wrath. (NIV)
God’s love longs that we accept his kindness — he went to extraordniary lengths to demonstrate his love by sending his Son to take our judgement upon himself.
But God’s justice demands that those who reject His kind salvation will be punished.
Peter in writing about Christ’s return as Judge – says that just because it is a long time since Christ promised to return we must not think that he has forgotten or is slow at fulfilling his promises … there is a purpose for the delay ..
2 Peter 3:9 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (NIV)
The Millenium is almost upon us – 2000 years since Christ came the first time – His return in immanent! His first coming was a Saviour – His second will be as Judge! To those who have rejected him it will be a terrifying experience! To those who have accepted hm it will be a joy and a delight!
May we each learn to live in the light of His coming!
REACHING OUT IN KINDNESS. v1-2
–to Mephibosheth (Home Affairs – ch.9)
–to Hanun (Foreign Affairs – ch.10)
– Reflection of God’s dealing with humanity
– Indication of how God’s people should act
REJECTING OFFERED KINDNESS WITH INSULT. v3-5
–to David’s ambassadors
–to David himself
– Example of human response to God’s
–hostility to God’s ambassadors (Christians)
–hostility to God himself
RESULTING CONSEQUENCES OF REJECTED KINDNESS.
– Ammonites punished for their rejection /insults
– God will judge / punish all who reject his kindness exhibited to the world in Jesus, his Son.
– Only Repentance towards God and faith in Christ can rescue us from God’s wrath.