1 CHRONICLES CHAPTER 19
Defeat of the Ammonites and the Syrians.
DAVIDíS MESSENGERíS SHAMEFULLY TREATED. ó V. 1. Now it came to pass after this, the exact time not being given, but supposedly soon after the wars just described, that Nahash, the king of the children of Ammon died, the same one who had been defeated by Saul, 1 Sam. 11, but had somehow lived in friendship with David, and his son reigned in his stead. V. 2. And David said, either in his councilor in deliberating the matter with himself, I will show kindness unto Hanun, the son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me, at some time during Davidís exile, while Saul was seeking his life. And David sent messengers to comfort him concerning his father, to express the cordial sympathy of a neighboring ruler, as custom required. So the servants of David, his official ambassadors, came into the land of the children of Ammon to Hanun to comfort him, to transmit Davidís message of condolence to him. V. 3. But the princes of the children of Ammon, the kingís chief advisers, said to Hanun, Thinkest thou that David doth honor thy father, the emphasis being upon this honoring, the sincerity of which the courtiers questioned, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? Are not his servants come unto thee for to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land? They falsely ascribed such base motives to David and to his ambassadors, as though they were making this visit merely a pretext, their real object being a careful examination of the city and its fortifications, for the purpose of taking it. V. 4. Wherefore Hanun took Davidís servants, although they were his personal representatives, and shaved them, that is, the one side of their beard, a mocking disfigurement, 2 Sam. 10, 4, and cut off their garments in the midst hard by their buttocks, and sent them away, thus heaping one of the grossest insults upon them which the Oriental mind can conceive of. V. 5. Then there went certain and told David how the men were served, for they themselves were too deeply disgraced to appear in public. And he sent to meet them; for the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, Tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown, Jericho being the first city on the west side of the river to be reached by them, and then return, namely, to Jerusalem; for it was only then that they could with propriety return to court. Many a person has been seriously harmed in his good name by the foolish suspicions cast upon him by evil-thinking men.
DEFEAT OF THE AMMONITES. ó V. 6. And when the children of Ammon saw that they had made themselves odious to David, that they were a stench in his nostrils on account of their unprovoked treatment of his ambassadors, Hanun and the children of Ammon sent a thousand talents of silver (almost $2,000,000) to hire them chariots and horsemen out of Mesopotamia, beyond the Euphrates, and out of Syria-maachah, north of Gilead and Bozrah, in the country east of Jordan, and out of Zobah, north or northeast of Damascus. V. 7. So they, the representatives of the Ammonites, hired thirty and two thousand chariots, and the king of Maachah and his people, who came and pitched before Medeba, a city of the tribe of Reuben, about nine miles southeast of Heshbon. The mercenary troops were such as could fight on horseback as well as in chariots, experienced in both forms of battle. And the children of Ammon, whose territory was somewhat farther to the east, gathered themselves together from their cities and came to battle, ready either for defensive or offensive work. V. 8. And when David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the host of the mighty men, the entire army of Israelís military forces. V. 9. And the children of Ammon came out, and put the battle in array before the gate of the city: before their capital, Rabbah, the forts of the city thus serving to cover their rear. And the kings that were come were by themselves in the field; the mercenaries did not effect a union with the army of the Ammonites, but prepared to attack the forces of Israel from the north, from the flank or the rear. V. 10. Now, when Joab saw that the battle was set against him before and behind, the Ammonites facing him, and the Syrians threatening him from the rear, he chose out of all the choice of Israel, from the number of the most valiant veterans, and put them in array against the Syrians, the more numerous and formidable enemies. V. 11. And the rest of the people, the remainder of his army, he delivered unto the hand of Abishai, his brother, and they set themselves in array, they arranged themselves in battle order, against the children of Ammon, the weaker foe. V. 12. And he said, If the Syrians be too strong for me, then thou shalt help me; but if the children of Ammon be too strong for thee, then I will help thee, thus arranging for mutual assistance. V. 13. Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, for very much depends upon the attitude of the leader in all great crises, and for the cities of our God, which would have been in danger of capture and destruction in case the enemies had gained the victory; and let the Lord do that which is good in His sight. This is the trust which should characterize all Christians. After they have done all that is in their power, and if they are straining all their strength, they may leave the success of their efforts to the Lord in prayerful confidence. V. 14. So Joab and the people that were with him drew nigh before the Syrians unto the battle; and they fled before him. V. 15. And when the children of Ammon saw that the Syrians were fled, they likewise fled before Abishai, his brother, and entered into the city, they took refuge behind the strong walls of their capital, Rabbah. Then Joab came to Jerusalem, reserving the capture of the Ammonite capital for a later season. It is an easy matter for the Lord to grant the victory to the weaker side if thereby His plans are promoted.
THE SYRIANS OVERTHROWN. ó V. 16. And when the Syrians saw that they were put to the worse before Israel, they sent messengers and drew forth the Syrians that were beyond the river, those from Mesopotamia proper, who had not come down for this campaign; and Shophach (or Shobach), the captain of the host of Hadarezer, went before them, as commander-in-chief of the united Syrian forces. V. 17. And it was told David; and he gathered all Israel, the entire military forces of his realm, and passed over Jordan, and came upon them, evidently as they were approaching to attack him, and set the battle in array against them. This was at Helam, 2 Sam. 10, 16. 17. So when David had put the battle in array against the Syrians, they fought with him. V. 18. But the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew of the Syrians seven thousand men which fought in chariots, and forty thousand footmen, and killed Shophach, the captain of the host. In combining this account with that of 2 Sam. 10, 18, we have the total list of those destroyed: 7,000 chariots, 7,000 horsemen, and 40,000 footmen. V. 19. And when the servants of Hadarezer saw that they were put to the worse before Israel, that they were utterly defeated, having no chance to stand up before Davidís men, they made peace with David and became his servants, tributary vassals once more; neither would the Syrians help the children of Ammon any more, Thus the Lord crowns the labor of His believers with success, He lets their battles result in victory, all for the honor of His name, even if the spiritual victories are not always apparent to human eyes.