1 Chronicles 19

1 Chronicles 19 has Nahash king of Ammon dying and David reaching out to his son to offer condolences.  But the princes in Ammon advise the king “Do you think, because David has sent comforters to you, that he is honoring your father? Have not his servants come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land”?  It’s unclear what caused them to make this accusation, but it was a mistake.  The reality is that David wasnt content to feel kindness towards Hanun. He did something to bring the grieving man comfort.

So Hanun took David’s servants and “shaved them and cut off their garments in the middle, at their hips, and sent them away”.  Humiliating and very disgraceful actions to say the least.  In that time, many men would rather die than to have their beard shaved off, because to be clean shaven was the mark of a slave but free men wore beards.  And cutting their clothing at the waist would have left them naked and more ashamed.  Insulting these ambassadors of consolation was the same as insulting King David.

Hanun realized he had “become a stench to David” so he hires the king from Maacah and 32,000 chariots to join his army for battle with Israel.  David sees the intent, and has Joab put together his army.  There were two fronts that had to be dealt with, so Joab takes some of the men and assigns the rest to Abishai his brother to deal with the Ammonites while he dealt with the Syrians.  Joab tells his army to “Be strong, and let us use our strength for our people and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him”.

 The Syrians fled – this wasn’t really their battle – so Joab pursued.  When the Ammonites saw them flee, they did the same.  The two leaders let David know that their enemies had fled and David put together his army and killed 7000 chariot soldiers and 40,000 foot soldiers as well as killing the commander of the Syrian army.  The chapter ends with unfinished business at Rabbah. The offending Ammonites are still in their city and Joab has returned to Jerusalem.    

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