David Defeats the Ammonites1 In the course of time, Nahash king of the Ammonites died, and his son succeeded him as king. 2 David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.
When David’s envoys came to Hanun in the land of the Ammonites to express sympathy to him, 3 the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Haven’t his envoys come to you only to explore and spy out the country and overthrow it?” 4 So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved them, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away.
5 When someone came and told David about the men, he sent messengers to meet them, for they were greatly humiliated. The king said, “Stay at Jericho till your beards have grown, and then come back.”
Let us here observe, 1. That is becomes good people to be neighborly, and especially to be grateful. David will pay respect to Hanun because he is his neighbor; and religion teaches us to be civil and obliging to all, to honor all men, and to be ready to do all offices of kindness to those we live among; nor must difference in religion be any obstruction to this. But, besides this, David remembered the kindness which his father showed to him. Those that have received kindness must return it as they have ability and opportunity: those that have received it from the parents must return it to the children when they are gone. 2. That, as saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked, 1 Sa. 24:13 . The vile person will speak villany, and the instruments of the churl will be evil, to destroy those with lying words that speak right, Isa. 32:6, Isa. 32:7 . Those that are base, and design ill themselves, are apt to be jealous and to suspect ill of others without cause. Hanun’s servant suggested that David’s ambassadors came as spies, as if so great and mighty a man as David needed to do so mean a thing (if he had any design upon the Ammonites, he could effect it by open force, and had no occasion for any fraudulent practices), or as if a man of such virtue and honor would do so base a thing. Yet Hanun hearkened to the suggestion, and, against the law of nations, treated David’s ambassadors villainously. 3. Masters ought to protect their servants, and with the greatest tenderness to concern themselves for them if they come by any loss or damage in their service. David did so for his ambassadors, v. 5. Christ will do so for his ministers; and let all masters thus give unto their servants that which is just and equal.
6 When the Ammonites realized that they had become obnoxious to David, Hanun and the Ammonites sent a thousand talents of silver to hire chariots and charioteers from Aram Naharaim, Aram Maakah and Zobah. 7 They hired thirty-two thousand chariots and charioteers, as well as the king of Maakah with his troops, who came and camped near Medeba, while the Ammonites were mustered from their towns and moved out for battle.
8 On hearing this, David sent Joab out with the entire army of fighting men. 9 The Ammonites came out and drew up in battle formation at the entrance to their city, while the kings who had come were by themselves in the open country.
10 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. 11 He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother, and they were deployed against the Ammonites. 12 Joab said, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to rescue me; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will rescue you. 13 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.”
14 Then Joab and the troops with him advanced to fight the Arameans, and they fled before him. 15 When the Ammonites realized that the Arameans were fleeing, they too fled before his brother Abishai and went inside the city. So Joab went back to Jerusalem.
16 After the Arameans saw that they had been routed by Israel, they sent messengers and had Arameans brought from beyond the Euphrates River, with Shophak the commander of Hadadezer’s army leading them.
17 When David was told of this, he gathered all Israel and crossed the Jordan; he advanced against them and formed his battle lines opposite them. David formed his lines to meet the Arameans in battle, and they fought against him. 18 But they fled before Israel, and David killed seven thousand of their charioteers and forty thousand of their foot soldiers. He also killed Shophak the commander of their army.
19 When the vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been routed by Israel, they made peace with David and became subject to him.
So the Arameans were not willing to help the Ammonites anymore.
1 Chronicles 19:6-19
We may see here, 1. How the hearts of sinners that are marked for ruin are hardened to their destruction. The children of Ammon saw that they had made themselves odious to David (v. 6), and then it would have been their wisdom to desire conditions of peace, to humble themselves and offer any satisfaction for the injury they had done him, the rather because they had made themselves not only odious to David, but obnoxious to the justice of God, who is King of nations, and will assert the injured rights and maintain the violated laws of nations. But, instead of this, they prepared for war, and so brought upon themselves, by David’s hand, those desolations which he never intended them. 2. How the courage of brave men is heightened and invigorated by difficulties. When Joab saw that the battle was set against him before and behind (v. 10), instead of meditating a retreat, he doubled his resolution; and, though he could not double, he divided his army, and not only spoke, but acted, like a gallant man, that had great presence of mind when he saw himself surrounded. He engaged with his brother for mutual assistance (v. 12), excited himself and the rest of the officers to act vigorously in their respective posts, with an eye to God’s glory and their country’s good, not to any honor and advantage of their own, and then left the issue to God: Let the Lord do that which is right in his sight. 3. How vain the greatest art and strength are against justice and equity. The Ammonites did their utmost to make the best of their position: they brought as good a force into the field, and disposed it with as much policy as possible; yet, having a bad cause, and acting in defense of wrong, it would not do; they were put to the worst. Right will prevail and triumph at last. 4. To how little purpose it is for those to rally again, and reinforce themselves, that have not God on their side. The Syrians, though in no way concerned in the merits of the cause, but serving only as mercenaries to the Ammonites, when they were beaten, thought themselves concerned to retrieve their honor, and therefore called in the assistance of the Syrians on the other side Euphrates; but to no purpose, for still they fled before Israel (v. 18); they lost 7000 men, who are said to be the men of 700 chariots, 2 Sa. 10:18 . For, as now in a man of war for sea-service they allot ten men to a gun, so then, in land-service, ten men to a chariot. 5. those who have meddled with strife that belongs not to them, and have found that they meddled to their own heart, do well to learn wit at length and meddle no further. The Syrians, finding that Israel was the conquering side, not only broke off their alliance with the Ammonites and would help them no more (v. 19), but made peace with David and became his servants. Let those who have in vain stood it out against God be thus wise for themselves, and agree with him quickly, while they are in the way. Let them become his servants; for they cannot but see themselves undone if they be his enemies.