Misunderstood

In 2 Samuel 10, we see what happens over a misunderstanding and listening to advice that wasn’t actually true. I know the verse seems weird, but stick with me. The king of the Ammonites dies and his son Hanun is now king. David wanted to show kindness to this new king because scripture tells us his father showed kindness to David, so “[he] sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.” (v.2) Well, Hanun’s commanders decide that David must be bringing these men as spies to overthrow Hanun, so the Ammonites completely shame David’s men (more on this later in our verse!), but immediately after this, the Ammorites knew they messed up, but instead of trying to make it right, they got ready for battle. They were so afraid of David and his soldiers that Hanun hired another group, the Arameans, to help them defeat the Israelites. Joab, remember he’s David’s military commander, and his brother Abashi, split sides, scripture tells us that there was battle in front of them and behind them (the two different tribes.) I love what Joab says to encourage his brother, “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. 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.” (v.11) I love how even Joab knew to rely on the Lord. Our application says, “there must be a balance in life between our actions and our faith in God. Joab said, ‘let us fight bravely.’ In other words, they should do what they could using their minds to figure out the best techniques and using their resources. But he also said, “’The Lord will do what is good in his sight.’ He knew that the outcome was in God’s hands. We should use our minds and our resources to obey God, while at the same time trusting God for the outcome.” The Arameans see Joab and his troops and they fled and when the Ammorites heard they fled, they also fled. So, when David heard about this, he went after them. The Ammorites fought against the Israelites, but they fled and Davis and Israel claimed victory over both sides. But, there were a lot of lives lost over a simple misunderstanding, which brings us to todays verse.

As we read above, David sent a delegation, or an envoy, which is a group of people who were representing David. This is where Hanun’s commanders gave him bad advice and our verse for the day comes in. They see David’s envoy coming and they say to Hanun, “do you really think they’re coming to show sympathy? Yea, right, they’re coming to check out your city so David can overthrow you.” (my translation of v.3) Because of this assumption, Hanun had two choices, he could have gone and asked them what they were coming for OR he could have listened to their advice. Well, he chose the latter as you probably guessed and “So Hanun seized David’s envoys” (v.4) It is what Hanun did to them that goes on to make David so mad. And Hanun immediately knew it was going to cost him. First, scripture tells us he shaved off half of each man’s beard, this was a big deal, our application tells us that beards were a sign not only of maturity but also of authority. As if that wasn’t enough, he had all of their garments cut off right at their buttocks, yes scripture tells us this, it was to complete and utter shame and embarrassment for them and after this he sends them on their way looking like this! But, oh man did Hanun undermine David. We know David and we have to know that he was not going to stand for his men to be treated this way. Right after this was done and Hanun knew he messed up, he once again had two choices. He could have easily tried to negotiate with David or be prepared for battle and he chose to not take ownership of his mistake and to fight. Our application says, “Often we respond angrily and defensively rather than admitting our mistakes, apologizing and trying to diffuse the other person’s anger. Instead of fighting, we should seek peace.”

Today, I want you to reflect on a time when you were misunderstood, when someone believed something about you that wasn’t true. How did you feel? How did you want to react? How did you actually react? Did you fight back or did you seek peace?

Heavenly Father, you know what it feels like to be misunderstood. When Jesus was here, he was constantly misunderstood and even ridiculed. Lord, help us in those times when someone is misunderstanding or mistreating us to look to you. Help us to seek peace in you instead of fighting with them. As believers we know we are going to be misunderstood by those who don’t know you, help us to be a light to them anyways. Guide us in our words and in our actions when we are misunderstood, maybe even humiliated. We know you see us in those moments, that you have compassion and understanding when someone speaks wrongly of us, help us to soak in the truth that you are for us. It’s in your compassionate and loving name we pray, AMEN!

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