2 Samuel
Introduction 1-5 The Men of David Greatly Humiliated 6-14 David Sends Joab to Battle 15-19 David Goes to War

This chapter marks the beginning of a new phase in David’s life. The prosperity in all that he has undertaken and the increase in the power of his rule have in a way made him independent of the LORD. The feeling of undisturbed happiness has made him receptive to wicked desires. This led him to stain his soul with adultery and also with blood guilt. Thus the man who is so high exalted by the LORD his God falls deep into sin. This happens during the war against the Ammonites and Arameans, when after the subjugation of Arameans Joab with the army besieged the capital of the Ammonites and David remains in Jerusalem (2Sam 11:11Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out [to battle], that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem.).

Because of the twofold sin – the adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uria – the LORD announces the punishment to the high placed sinner. That punishment is that the sword shall not depart from his house and that his wives shall be slept with in public (2Sam 12:1111Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give [them] to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.).

Despite David’s sincere repentance and confession of sin, the fruit of sin, the child born of Bathsheba, dies. But not only that. Also the announced judgments about his house are carried out. This happens because his firstborn son Amnon rapes his half-sister Tamar, for which brother Absalom kills him (2 Samuel 13). Absalom then flees to his father-in-law in Geshur. When Absalom is again accepted in grace by his father, king David (2 Samuel 14), he revolts against David. As a result David almost loses his throne and his life (2 Samuel 15-17:23).

After the demise of Absalom (2 Samuel 17:24-19:1) and the return of David to the throne (2 Samuel 19:2-40) there is still the rebellion of the Benjamite Sheba. This rebellion will only be overcome after this rebel has been killed in Abel Beth-maacah (2 Samuel 19:41-20:26).

The Men of David Greatly Humiliated

1Now it happened afterwards that the king of the Ammonites died, and Hanun his son became king in his place. 2Then David said, “I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent some of his servants to console him concerning his father. But when David’s servants came to the land of the Ammonites, 3the princes of the Ammonites said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think that David is honoring your father because he has sent consolers to you? Has David not sent his servants to you in order to search the city, to spy it out and overthrow it?” 4So Hanun took David’s servants and shaved off half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle as far as their hips, and sent them away. 5When they told [it] to David, he sent to meet them, for the men were greatly humiliated. And the king said, “Stay at Jericho until your beards grow, and [then] return.”

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.

David Sends Joab to Battle

6Now when the sons of Ammon saw that they had become odious to David, the sons of Ammon sent and hired the Arameans of Beth-rehob and the Arameans of Zobah, 20,000 foot soldiers, and the king of Maacah with 1,000 men, and the men of Tob with 12,000 men. 7When David heard [of it], he sent Joab and all the army, the mighty men. 8The sons of Ammon came out and drew up in battle array at the entrance of the city, while the Arameans of Zobah and of Rehob and the men of Tob and Maacah [were] by themselves in the field. 9Now when Joab saw that the battle was set against him in front and in the rear, he selected from all the choice men of Israel, and arrayed [them] against the Arameans. 10But the remainder of the people he placed in the hand of Abishai his brother, and he arrayed [them] against the sons of Ammon. 11He said, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you shall help me, but if the sons of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will come to help you. 12Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the LORD do what is good in His sight.” 13So Joab and the people who were with him drew near to the battle against the Arameans, and they fled before him. 14When the sons of Ammon saw that the Arameans fled, they [also] fled before Abishai and entered the city. Then Joab returned from [fighting] against the sons of Ammon and came to Jerusalem.

The enemies know that David can’t just let this pass by. They strengthen and pull together, a part near the city and a part in the field. Joab is sent to battle by David. He follows a tactic, together with Abishai, in which they divide the forces. They agree to come to each other’s aid if the other person gets into trouble. This contains an important lesson. We see here an example of brotherly love that is willing to help the other, when necessary. The strong must support and help the weak. Those who, by grace, have gained a victory over temptations, can counsel and comfort those who are tempted, and pray for them. In this way the members of the body help each other (1Cor 12:21,2521And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”25so that there may be no division in the body, but [that] the members may have the same care for one another.).

Joab encourages Abishai and himself (verse 1212Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the LORD do what is good in His sight.”). He points out what it is all about, namely “our people” and “the cities of our God”. Furthermore, with a “may the LORD do what is good in His sight” he puts the matter in the hands of the LORD. They gain the victory.

Despite his beautiful words Joab is a wicked man. He is cunning, also in His piety. He separates what he and others do and what the LORD will do. It seems nice, but here is a man who knows well what he himself is capable of and who at the same time theoretically also knows that God is there. For this he lives in a religious people. His motto is: ‘Help yourself, so God helps you.’ Each for himself and God for all of us. This is liberal theology. In reality God does not play a role in his plans at all.

In the judgment that David exercises over the Gentiles, after the proof of grace in Mephiboseth to the remnant, we see prophetically how things will go in the end times.

David Goes to War

15When the Arameans saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they gathered themselves together. 16And Hadadezer sent and brought out the Arameans who were beyond the River, and they came to Helam; and Shobach the commander of the army of Hadadezer led them. 17Now when it was told David, he gathered all Israel together and crossed the Jordan, and came to Helam. And the Arameans arrayed themselves to meet David and fought against him. 18But the Arameans fled before Israel, and David killed 700 charioteers of the Arameans and 40,000 horsemen and struck down Shobach the commander of their army, and he died there. 19When all the kings, servants of Hadadezer, saw that they were defeated by Israel, they made peace with Israel and served them. So the Arameans feared to help the sons of Ammon anymore.

The Arameans regroup (verse 1515When the Arameans saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they gathered themselves together.). Now David himself goes to war (verse 1717Now when it was told David, he gathered all Israel together and crossed the Jordan, and came to Helam. And the Arameans arrayed themselves to meet David and fought against him.). The enemy is defeated, makes peace and submits to Israel (verse 1919When all the kings, servants of Hadadezer, saw that they were defeated by Israel, they made peace with Israel and served them. So the Arameans feared to help the sons of Ammon anymore.). Also, for fear of the consequences, they no longer connect with Israel’s other enemy, Ammon. The result is that the remnant of the nations make peace with David.

In these verses we see a prophetic picture of the coming of the Lord Jesus to defeat the gathered armies after two thousand years of grace has been offered to the nations. The great King David beats them. Here we can think of the battle in Harmagedon (Rev 16:1616And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.).

We can learn the following from this whole history. It may happen that a kindness of ours in the Name of the Lord Jesus, is misinterpreted and answered with insult. We may know that when this happens to us, He makes Himself one with us and makes our cause His. If we give everything into His hands, the result is that we have lasting peace in our hearts (1Pet 2:23b23and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting [Himself] to Him who judges righteously;; Phil 4:6-76Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.).

We also see that resistance and revolt only result in the authority of the Lord Jesus being established all the more strongly. It is useless to fight against the power of the King chosen by God.

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