The Ammonites Blow It
As king, David defeated many nations. However, one nation he never attacked was Ammon, because their king had been very kind to him when he was hiding from Saul. So when the king of Ammon died, David sent a delegation to express his sympathy. When David’s men arrived, the Ammonite commanders were suspicious. They told their new king, Hunan, “David didn’t send these men to honor your father. He sent them to spy on our city so he can overthrow it.” Hunan believed them. He seized David’s men and shaved off half of each man’s beard—an act of humiliation and a direct violation of God’s laws for the Israelites. In order to disgrace them even more, he cut off the bottoms of their robes, exposing their legs. Then he sent them back to Israel. David realized the Ammonites were making a mockery not only of his people, but also of His God! He told the Israelite men to stay in Jericho until their beards grew back. It didn’t take long for the Ammonites to realize just how obnoxious their actions had been. But instead of apologizing, they decided to build up their army. They knew it wouldn’t be long before David attacked. They hired chariots and drivers and 33,000 soldiers from other countries to come and fight for them. David heard about the build-up of Ammonite troops, so he sent his entire army, under the leadership of Joab, to fight them. As the Israelite army approached the capital city of Ammon, the Ammonite warriors came out of the city gate ready to meet them. Suddenly Joab realized that another army of foreign soldiers was closing in behind him. He was surrounded. Quickly he divided his army into two forces. The best troops would fight with him against the foreign soldiers. The others would fight the Ammonites under the command of his brother, Abishai. Joab shouted to his brother, “We must be ready to help each other if it becomes necessary. 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.” Joab and his elite troops fought against the foreign armies so fiercely that the foreign troops turned and ran. When the Ammonite soldiers saw this, they lost confidence and quickly retreated back inside their city walls. Joab and his brother chose not to pursue them. Instead, they led their troops back toward Jerusalem. However, the foreign army that had retreated, reorganized with more troops and returned to fight against the Israelites. When David heard this, he decided to personally join his army. He led his men back over the Jordan River to fight. They completely defeated the foreign invaders, killing over 40,000 soldiers, including their commander. Those who were not killed, made peace with Israel and became David’s subjects. Through this victory, the Israelites gained control over some of the most important trade routes in the ancient world. After this, David decided that his army needed a rest. They would wait until spring to finish off the Ammonites.
Have you ever been mocked or bullied when you tried to show kindness? Sometimes God wants us to stand up to the bullying when His reputation is on the line. David did this, and God gave him victory over nations he had not even planned to fight.