David’s Good Deed Misunderstood

II Samuel 10

Outline

1-5 | David tries to console Hanun, the son of the king of Ammon but is rebuffed
6-8 | Ammon gathers allies against David: Arameans, king of Maacah, and men of Tob
9-14 | David’s generals, Joab & Abishai, defeat them
15-19 | The Arameans attack and are defeated again

Reflections

How often have we tried to do something good for someone, only to have them misunderstand our reasons for doing it?  It has happened to me in the past.  Luckily, it’s never actually resulted in a physical confrontation.  But being misunderstood can lead to any number of problems for all parties involved.

Just consider David.  In this case, Hanun’s father, Nahash the Ammonite king, had shown a kindness to him in the past, most likely when David was being pursued by Saul.  The IVP Bible Background Commentary1 conjectures that it was likely that they struck a suzerain pact of mutual nonaggression at that time.  These were commonly considered “eternal” in nature.

So the group that was sent as comforters were likely ambassadors as well, seeking to re-establish some portions of the agreement between David and Hunan, Nahash’s son.  However, Hunan’s counselors saw it as a potential reconnoiter maneuver on David’s part prior to an invasion.  To which Hunan humiliated David’s envoys and sent them packing, so to speak.  This resulted into a conflict between Israel and the Ammonites and its allies.

The Ammonites joined forces with the Arameans and two other kings and “drew up in battle array” against the Israelites.  Once the battle seemed like a foregone conclusion, Joab, David’s commanding general, divided the Israelite forces and place his brother Abishai as general over one battalion and he the other.  Joab and Abishai promise to support the each other if the battle becomes to much for either of them alone.

It is at this point that Joab makes a short pre-battle speech.

II Samuel 10:11-12 NASB He 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. 12 “Be 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.”

“…may the LORD do what is good in His sight.”  We can’t forget that God wants to partner with us in His endeavors with mankind.  Can God do anything?  Yes!  Does He need the help of anyone?  No!  However, consider the fact that God has always called upon men to be His representatives in the world and the spread whatever message He had to be delivered.  In fact, God’s Son, Jesus of Nazareth, came to earth in the form of a man to “explain the Father” to the world (John 1:1-4, 14, 18).

While Joab was speaking of a military engagement, we today are asked to take part in a spiritual engagement, the ministry of reconciliation.  We like the envoys David sent as mourners, are sent out into the world to be ambassadors of God’s love and offer reconciliation to all who would believe through faith in Jesus.  Like Joab, we need to show ourselves courageous for the sake of God and allow God to do what is good in His sight.

Heavenly Father, Lord of the Heavenly Hosts, You have called us to partner with You in a great spiritual battle for the very souls of men.  We pray that Your Spirit will embolden us to be witnesses for You to the world around us and that Your Spirit will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, for Your name’s sake.  May Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.


1 – Walton, John H. et al. IVP Bible Background Commentary. InterVarsity Press; e-Sword, 2000.

2 Samuel 10 - David's Good Deed Misunderstood
2 Samuel 10 - David's Good Deed Misunderstood
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