1 Chronicles 19:1-5
Now after this Nahash the king of the Ammonites died, and his son reigned in his place. And David said, “I will deal kindly with Hanun the son of Nahash, for his father dealt kindly with me.” So David sent messengers to console him concerning his father. And David’s servants came to the land of the Ammonites to Hanun to console him. But the princes of the Ammonites said to Hanun, “Do you think, because David has sent comforters to you, that he is honoring your father? Have not his servants come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land?” So Hanun took David’s servants and shaved them and cut off their garments in the middle, at their hips, and sent them away; and they departed. When David was told concerning the men, he sent messengers to meet them, for the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, “Remain at Jericho until your beards have grown and then return.”
Nahash, the king who dies at the beginning of these verses, had shown King David kindness at one point in his life. Nahash or one of his sons may have protected David from his enemies who were looking to destroy him. And it is possible that Hanun, the son and successor of Nahash and now the new king of the Ammonites, may be David’s half-brother.
Now I looked up this information because in Chapter 18 of 1 Chronicles, David set about conquering all his enemies, and was quite successful in his endeavors. The question I had was why David decided to deal kindly with Hanun since he really didn’t have to. And I came to the conclusion that I wrote in the previous paragraph, Nahash or Hanun had helped David and Hanun may be part of David’s family.
But David’s jester of kindness is met with mistrust and paranoia. And once again inexperience plays a part in the response by Hanun to David’s offer of kindness. Hanun lets his pride and bad counsel get in the way of making good decisions.
Hanun humiliates David’s servants who came to comfort him in his time of sorrow. He has the servants partially stripped and shaven. This act was a great humiliation in biblical times. Hanun sends them back to King David.
These action confirm one of my favorite sayings, “No good deed goes unpunished.”
David stretches out his hand to comfort the person who may be part of his family, and the recipients take it as an insult, perceive it as treachery, and then spit it back in his face.
The Ammonites soon realize their mistake. They knew how David and his army of “mighty men” had defeated, conquered and subjugated all of their enemies. So the Ammonites enlisted the help of the mercenary armies of the Syrians.
King David’s armies met the Syrians on the battlefield and soundly defeated them. The Syrians then made peace with David. David went on to conquer and subjugate all the Ammonites and David ended up wearing the crown that was once the crown of the now defeated King Hanun.
Pride, inexperience and the paranoia of greed, along with some really rotten counselling lead to the demise of King Hanun. What he thought was the best course of action to prevent the downfall of his reign was exactly what brought it down.
So what two lessons do I take from this story?
No good deed goes unpunished.
Pride and bad counsel will ruin you every time.
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