The word “afterwards” means that the history that follows takes place after the story of the previous chapter. There is a connection between the two chapters and that is kindness. After the kindness of the previous chapter to the remnant of Israel – in the picture of Mephibosheth – David also wants to show kindness to the nations – in the picture of Hanun. It is the son of Nahash who was fought by Saul (1Sam 11:1-111Now Nahash the Ammonite came up and besieged Jabesh-gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a covenant with us and we will serve you.”2But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “I will make [it] with you on this condition, that I will gouge out the right eye of every one of you, thus I will make it a reproach on all Israel.”3The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Let us alone for seven days, that we may send messengers throughout the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to deliver us, we will come out to you.”4Then the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and spoke these words in the hearing of the people, and all the people lifted up their voices and wept.5Now behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen, and he said, “What is [the matter] with the people that they weep?” So they related to him the words of the men of Jabesh.6Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul mightily when he heard these words, and he became very angry.7He took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent [them] throughout the territory of Israel by the hand of messengers, saying, “Whoever does not come out after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen.” Then the dread of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out as one man.8He numbered them in Bezek; and the sons of Israel were 300,000, and the men of Judah 30,000.9They said to the messengers who had come, “Thus you shall say to the men of Jabesh-gilead, ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you will have deliverance.’” So the messengers went and told the men of Jabesh; and they were glad.10Then the men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will come out to you, and you may do to us whatever seems good to you.”11The next morning Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the camp at the morning watch and struck down the Ammonites until the heat of the day. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.). To this Nahash David has shown kindness, possibly because David was pursued by Saul.
David wants to answer the kindness that Nahash has shown to him by showing kindness to his son Hanun. The reason for this is the death of Nahash. David does not forget the kindness which has been shown to him. In the same way, the Lord Jesus does not forget anything of what has been done to Him even by those who have no connection with Him. He gives them a message of grace. The question is what is done with the offer of grace. Many reject grace, as Hanun does with the kindness that David wants to show him. Those who reject grace will be judged, just as Hanun will be judged.
Hanun has advisers who tell him not to trust David. Hanun listens to his advisers. So it often happens that people reject the gospel because others make the gospel suspicious by presenting it as monetization or only to win souls. The goodness of David is not recognized. Their response to grace is a vile treatment of the messengers of grace. How totally different from the reaction of Mephibosheth we have seen in the previous chapter.
What David does is interpreted as hypocrisy. There is suspicion that his true intentions are not of a peaceful nature, but that he tries to submit the Ammonites to himself through a played sympathy. Hanun shows that he does not know David. There are many people in the world who do not know the Lord Jesus. If you talk to them about the love of God and the Lord Jesus, they will not hear about it. They do not allow Him to come into their lives. They see Him as an intruder, Who does not seek the good for them, but the evil.
Whosoever bears witness of his Lord may receive the same treatment as the messengers of David. The messengers of David are treated insultingly and sent away. Hanun shaves off half of the beards of David’s men, that is to say, he shaves off the beard on one side. This is one of the worst mockery for a man in an eastern country (cf. Isa 15:2b2They have gone up to the temple and [to] Dibon, [even] to the high places to weep.
Moab wails over Nebo and Medeba;
Everyone’s head is bald [and] every beard is cut off.
; 20:44so the king of Assyria will lead away the captives of Egypt and the exiles of Cush, young and old, naked and barefoot with buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.). For such a person, the beard is one of the greatest decorations. This insult is further enhanced by cutting off their clothes that cover their entire body, revealing the lower half of their body.
By these insults Hanun also casts libel upon the person of their lord, King David. He who rejects the servant rejects the Lord. He who offends the servant, offends the Lord. He feels the insult that is done to His own as His own insult and stands up for His own.
David hears of the humiliation and lets his messengers say that they have to take time for recovery.