Regular Near East Conflicts – No New Thing (2 Samuel 10)

Today’s passage in 2 Samuel 10 serves as a bridge from what we have studied thus far in the account of David that carries us up to the next chapter which will be the topic for Chris’ sermon on Sunday – David’s moral failure.

Much of what we have looked at revolves around the solidification of David of the nation of Israel as he establishes his kingdom. But there were international matters as well, as Israel was surrounded by oft hostile Gentile nations and people groups.

At this time, Israel was the strongest and most dominant power in the region, but it did not mean that they were free from conflicts … almost seasonally and annually, as we see in the opening words of the following chapter: “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war …”  This almost sounds like opening day of the baseball season!

God often used the nation of Israel as an instrument of judgment against the surrounding godless nations; and likewise, in times of disobedience, the judgment came in the opposite direction.

It is good to recall that the Lord God is the sovereign over all the nations. As it says in the 47th Psalm …

God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne … for the kings of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted.

This is a good remembrance, not only for our understanding of biblical times, but for our modern era as well. It certainly is true that the Near East has seen wars and conflicts between Israel and surrounding nations for even thousands of years.

The only thing more frightening about watching the news these days and seeing the evil forces of ISIS / ISIL growing and advancing, would be to see all of this happening without the perspective of God’s superintendence over the affairs of the world.

David Defeats the Ammonites

10:1  In the course of time, the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun succeeded him as king. 2 David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.

When David’s men came to the land of the Ammonites, 3 the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Hasn’t David sent them to you only to explore the city and spy it out and overthrow it?” 4 So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away.

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.”

6 When the Ammonites realized that they had become obnoxious to David, they hired twenty thousand Aramean foot soldiers from Beth Rehob and Zobah, as well as the king of Maakah with a thousand men, and also twelve thousand men from Tob.

7 On hearing this, David sent Joab out with the entire army of fighting men. 8 The Ammonites came out and drew up in battle formation at the entrance of their city gate, while the Arameans of Zobah and Rehob and the men of Tob and Maakah were by themselves in the open country.

9 Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. 10 He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother and deployed them against the Ammonites. 11 Joab said, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to come to my rescue; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come to rescue you. 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.”

13 Then Joab and the troops with him advanced to fight the Arameans, and they fled before him.14 When the Ammonites realized that the Arameans were fleeing, they fled before Abishai and went inside the city. So Joab returned from fighting the Ammonites and came to Jerusalem.

15 After the Arameans saw that they had been routed by Israel, they regrouped. 16 Hadadezer had Arameans brought from beyond the Euphrates River; they went to Helam, with Shobak the commander of Hadadezer’s army leading them.

17 When David was told of this, he gathered all Israel, crossed the Jordan and went to Helam. The Arameans formed their battle lines to meet David and fought against him. 18 But they fled before Israel, and David killed seven hundred of their charioteers and forty thousand of their foot soldiers. He also struck down Shobak the commander of their army, and he died there. 19 When all the kings who were vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been routed by Israel, they made peace with the Israelites and became subject to them.

So the Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites anymore.