Tuesday, July 18, 2023

David's victories over the Ammonites: How to Walk in Wisdom

Too many people in our world make dumb decisions and reap the consequences. The Bible calls this person a fool. But the Bible also talks about a person who lives differently. They "walk in wisdom." Let's discover how we can walk in wisdom. To do that, I think we’re going to be talking a lot about knowledge, wisdom, and careful tactics and strategy.

We all need that in life. That’s why the Bible includes books like Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. These are the wisdom books. Particularly proverbs, includes numerous short depictions of wisdom, how to make difficult choices in various situations to find victory.

But all the books of the Bible are good for that. And 2nd Samuel is no exception.

So again, in 2nd Samuel Chapter 10 we’re going to see David attempt to show kindness to someone who has lost something.

It says in 2nd Samuel 10 verses 1-2: "In the course of time, the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun succeeded him as king. 2 David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.”

David sends a delegation to show support to the new king, Hanun, after the loss of his dad.

Proverb 3:3-4 says, “Don't ever forget kindness and truth. Wear them like a necklace. Write them on your heart as if on a tablet. Then you will be respected and will please both God and people.”

Or perhaps he was thinking of Proverbs 16:24 ESV “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”

David is using wisdom by not forgetting kindness. He’s hoping this will result in pleasing both God and people.

But Hanun’s advisors misinterpret this offer of friendship and assume these are spies instead.

In verses 3-4: “When David’s men came to the land of the Ammonites, 3 the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Hasn’t David sent them to you only to explore the city and spy it out and overthrow it?” 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.”

Hanun treats these men very badly. He seizes them, has their beards half cut off, so they look ridiculous, then cuts off their garments, so their rears are showing. And sends them back.

Brutally insulting moment for these men.

Proverbs 15:1 ESV “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Verse 5: "When David was told about this, he sent messengers to meet the men, for they were greatly humiliated. The king said, “Stay at Jericho till your beards have grown, and then come back.”

David cares for his men who have been dishonored.

Care for those who are hurting. Sit with them. Talk with them. Listen to their sorrows. That is wisdom as well.

The Ammonites could’ve sent delegates to try to make peace or send a gift, because proverbs says that a gift to a king can help turn away wrath, but instead they gather their troops and also hire mercenaries, in verse 6:

“When the Ammonites realized that they had become obnoxious to David, they hired twenty thousand Aramean foot soldiers from Beth Rehob and Zobah, as well as the king of Maakah with a thousand men, and also twelve thousand men from Tob.”

So David responds by sending his troops out as well, in verses 7-8 it says, “7 On hearing this, David sent Joab out with the entire army of fighting men. 8 The Ammonites came out and drew up in battle formation at the entrance of their city gate, while the Arameans of Zobah and Rehob and the men of Tob and Maakah were by themselves in the open country.”

That’s the first section of this chapter. We see things spiral out of control, all because of an insult, and a refusal to make peace and work things out.

That happens a lot in warfare. It’s because of a misunderstanding, or a problem that could’ve been worked out in another way. It’s often the same in friendships and family problems, it was a simple misunderstanding and it got way out of control and became a major dispute.

Always then remember the proverb: Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

A soft gracious word might prevent a disaster. Or a harsh word can stir up a controversy. Hold that anger back, and stay calm, it will be a blessing in the end.

So the battle lines are forged: Joab is leading David’s army. In verses 9-12:

9 Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. 10 He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother and deployed them against the Ammonites. 11 Joab said, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to come to my rescue; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come to rescue you. 12 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.”

Another portion of scripture says two are better than one, for one can support the other if they are in trouble.

As it says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”

Sometimes I like to go things alone, sometimes I’m a bit of a loner, but it would be wise for me to remember that two are better than one, and in a multitude of counselors and advisors, victory will come. It’s good to get advice, and seek counsel from people who are wise.

Joab then advances on the enemy. In verses 13-14 it says, “13 Then Joab and the troops with him advanced to fight the Arameans, and they fled before him. 14 When the Ammonites realized that the Arameans were fleeing, they fled before Abishai and went inside the city. So Joab returned from fighting the Ammonites and came to Jerusalem.”

The enemy regroups and moves to a new area in verses 15-16. It says, “15 After the Arameans saw that they had been routed by Israel, they regrouped. 16 Hadadezer had Arameans brought from beyond the Euphrates River; they went to Helam, with Shobak the commander of Hadadezer’s army leading them.”

So What does David do? He gathered his entire army, and marches out against them, time to end this once and for all.

From Proverbs 10:23-24 A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes,
but a person of understanding delights in wisdom. What the wicked dread will overtake them; what the righteous desire will be granted.”

17 When David was told of this, he gathered all Israel, crossed the Jordan and went to Helam. The Arameans formed their battle lines to meet David and fought against him. 18 But they fled before Israel, and David killed seven hundred of their charioteers and forty thousand of their foot soldiers. He also struck down Shobak the commander of their army, and he died there. 19 When all the kings who were vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been routed by Israel, they made peace with the Israelites and became subject to them. So the Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites anymore.”

All of this causes the defeat of both the Arameans, the ammonites, and the remnants of Hadadezer’s troops as well.

God works this whole controversy out to bless King David and Israel, to grant them victory over these 3 enemy nations surrounding Israel.

From Proverb 10:29-30, "The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless, but it is the ruin of those who do evil. The righteous will never be uprooted, but the wicked will not remain in the land."

In conclusion, reflect on this:

Proverbs 28:26 ESV “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.”

We all have ideas and schemes that pop into our heads. Most people just do what they think of, and it doesn't often work. But to walk in wisdom means denying one's own thoughts and ideas, and embracing a new way, the way of wisdom, and we take what the Bible says, and make it our new pattern of decision-making. That takes careful study, over days, weeks, months, and years. But slowly, over time, a tree of wisdom forms in our minds, with many branches full of different types of wisdom for different situations, and we access those nuggets on those branches as we need them, and the wisdom of the word never leads us astray. Cultivate that tree of wisdom in your mind, water it, fertilize it, and it will serve you well, neglect it, and you may yet find yourself wearing the label of "fool."