2 SAMUEL 10
I love it when the Bible surprises me. I know I’ve read this chapter before, but I read it again today as if for the first time. It seems like David was on a roll, looking for ways to show God’s kindness to those who would be considered enemies. That’s why he sent an Israeli delegation to Hanun, king of the Ammonites, to express his sympathy upon the death of his father.
Hanun became convinced (via his army commanders) that the men were spies, and he did something naughty to them. Although I shouldn’t, I must admit that this made me chuckle: "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." Cut off their garments at the buttocks? Anybody who has ever had to walk down a hospital hallway wearing nothing but one of those hospital gowns that don’t quite close in the back knows how humiliating this must have been! With half a naked face and their bums exposed, the men headed back to Israel.
David was obviously not pleased at this turn of events. Here, he had been trying to do a good deed, and he got figuratively cut off at the knees (or the buttocks, I guess). It was around this time that Hanun realized he had made a seriously bad judgment call. And that’s why the next verse surprised me: "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." (vs 6)
Interesting, isn’t it? The response from the Ammonites—when they realized their stupidity—was not remorse, but defensiveness! Instead of sending an envoy to David to express their regret, they amassed an army and prepared to go to war! Quite unbelievable!
Yet, haven’t you found this to be the case in your own life? When I know I’ve made a mistake or done something wrong and I’m called out for it, my first internal urge is not to admit my mistake, but to defend myself. I hate that feeling when it comes up inside. But it always does. I think it’s a natural function of my sinful nature.
That’s why I deduce from this that God isn’t defensive. I can’t think of a single place in Scripture where He acts defensive. (Please enlighten me if I’m making a false statement here, and I’ll try not to get defensive. Ha ha.) Defensiveness is a result of our guilt (as evidenced by the Ammonites in this passage), which is a result of our sin. And, obviously, God doesn’t fall into that category.
I’m glad for that, because it is really hard to deal with a person who is defensive. I sympathize with God in that respect. We’re all sinners (which means we’re all prone to the defensive), and God wants to help us, but it’s hard to help a person who is defensive. Fortunately, God is never defensive. On the contrary, He is always on the offensive. Instead of trying to defend Himself, He is always looking for ways to get through to us.