The new king of Ammon had a lot to learn about foreign policy. His father had died, and now he is suddenly leading his country. As is custom today, and apparently at that time, King David of Israel sends dignitaries to pay their respects for the old king's death. Only Hanun, the new king, listens to bad advice. His counsellors are certain that David only means to send spies into the land, so that they can get some kind of advantage if they choose to make war on them. Hanun could have sent David's emissaries away. Instead, he chooses to insult them in the worst way possible. You can read about his actions in verses 4-5. What he does brings great humiliation to these ambassadors. And it was unnecessary. If he was concerned about war with Israel before, he should be doubly concerned now. Was he trying to entice David into battle? I don't know. David and Hanun's father had mutual peace since the whole reason David sent these men was because "his father shewed kindness unto me."
Hanun knows what will happen when David's men return to Israel. He is expecting a war. So he hires Syrian soldiers to aid them in battle. All the countries know what a formidable warrior David and his men have proven to be. Hanun is not foolish enough to think that Ammon can fight this war alone. He knows he needs an ally. Syria is willing to help, with payment for their services of course. So when David's military leaders, Joab and Abishai arrive, they strategize as to the best way to take out these two countries. Syria is stationed on the front lines, which I guess is a pretty good plan since their motivation to fight would be a lot less than Ammon's. The Ammonites are guarding the castle, they are the last line of defense.
Joab is a clever strategist. He takes on the Syrian front, while Abishai, his brother, leads the front against Ammon. Joab's battle is going pretty well. He even returns to Jerusalem. This gives Syria time to send for reinforcements. With this news, David decides to lead his men. He crosses over the Jordan River and destroys the Syrians at Helam. Those remaining, surrender and agree to be David's servants from this time forward. Syria also decides that they will never assist Ammon in battle again. Apparently, Hanun did not make a great military leader.
When I read this passage, it shows me that when provoked, it is necessary to show our might. So many people protest that we are fighting a war across the world. But we were provoked into that war. Maybe in the past we have gone into countries without provocation, but this was not the case with this last war we have been involved. Like David's emissaries, we were disgraced, and on our own land. We had not given any reason for enemies to attack us. Except that we stood for something they were envious of, except that we are despised for what we believe. Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and we have been able to maintain freedom for over 200 years. The Judeo part is what really disturbs many countries of the world. We were propagators for establishing Israel as a nation, and we continue (at least in part) to be Israel's friend. When we do those things, we are naturally going to have and keep enemies. And there will be times we will have to display our strength to assure our enemies that we will not back down on those principles. I worry about those who do not understand this. I am concerned for people who preach against war and say "Thou shalt not kill" forgetting the entire Old Testament, where war was a very necessary option exercised to maintain Jehovah worship. And what about Revelation? I mean, it is not exactly a peaceful book.
|United States of America flag waving in wind--Taken from Standard Bible Story Readers, Book Four|
By Lillie A. Faris, Illustrated by O. A. Stemler and Bess Bruce Cleaveland
The Standard Publishing Company, 1927