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  • Writer's pictureEast Martin CRC

Shameful Payment to Kindness


2 Samuel 10:1-5

Verse 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.


David had many enemies from the surrounding nations and yet there were still those with whom he had made treaties or had gotten along. Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had been one. Due to his being an enemy of Saul, Nahash was a natural ally of David. David had such good relations with Nahash when he died David wanted to extend the same olive branch of peace to the next generation, Nahash’s son, Hanun. To show kindness, David sent a group of ambassadors with his message of sympathy.


David may have had more than personal reasons for showing kindness to the king. The Ammonites were distant relation whom the Lord had told the Israelites to leave alone as He was not giving them the land of the Ammonites (Deuteronomy 2:19). And while the Israelites had obeyed God about this –except for King Saul who had launched a surprise attack on Nahash (1 Samuel 11:11) – the Ammonites had not treated their relatives across the river with the same kindness. They had attacked the Israelites many times throughout the time of the judges and against King Saul.


Hanun didn’t take into consideration what his father would have done, he was too busy listening to the commanders of his army who still didn’t like the Israelites. It didn’t take much effort for them to convince the new king that these men would do the same thing King Saul had done to his father’s men.


Instead of killing the ambassadors which could have started a war, Hanun decides to repay what he sees as an insult against his father with an insult of his own. If David was going to insult him with feigned sympathy, Hanun would send his ambassadors back in a most shameful way. A Jewish man had great pride in his beard. It was a form of status symbol and to have it even partly shaved off would have been very demeaning to these men and to receive a forced shave showed that the person was now under submission to the one who had them shaved. In like, the cutting of a man’s long robe where his buttocks were only slightly covered was something that was done to shame a prisoner of war. So even though they were being sent home, they bore the shame. To ease their shame David tells them to go to Jericho, which was the town nearest where they had gone to deliver the message, until their beards grew out.


Making It Personal

When have you tried to do something nice for someone and they judged your motives as wrong? How did you respond to their judgment? How did Jesus respond to His being shamed?


Making It Personal Kids

Did you ever have someone do something mean to you when you tried to be nice to them? Have you ever done something mean to someone who is being nice to you? How did Jesus respond when people did mean things to Him?


Closing Prayer

Father, shame is something which none of us enjoys experiencing. Help us to stand strong if we are ever shamed for loving You and keep us from shaming others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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