2 Samuel 10:3 “The Ammonite nobles said to Hanun their lord, ‘Do you think David is honoring your father by sending men to you to express sympathy?’” (NIV).

Observation: Hanun had succeeded his deceased father as Ammonite king. In an act of kindness, David sent an official delegation to express sympathy in Hanun’s loss, but Hanun’s advisors persuaded him that David’s motives were impure. In turn, Hanun humiliated the envoys by, among other things, cutting off their garments at the buttocks. Not surprisingly, the insult led to war in which David was victorious over Hanun and his allies.

Application: There is an oddity here I must not miss: “When the Ammonites realized they had become a stench in David’s nostrils” they prepared for war (2 Sam. 10:6). When they realized? Had they taken a stupid pill that morning? They had intentionally visited profound humiliation on David’s envoys; should they not have had forethought as to the implications of their actions? Any time governmental representatives of a powerful nation are intentionally brought low, doesn’t it seem reasonable to expect the offended ruler to consider it an act of war?

The phrase when they realized suggests that the Ammonites were clueless. But think for a moment. Assume the United States sent several ambassadors to honor the deceased leader of another country. Upon arrival, their host cut off their garments at the buttocks and sent them back to their official plane. Doesn’t it seem reasonable that the president would consider it an intentional offense?

Is it difficult to conceive of the Ammonite stupidity in this story? I would never similarly dishonor my King and Lord, I self-righteously claim. O really? He said to pay Caesar his due; have I never fudged a deduction or taken pay under the table? He tells me to cherish my wife; has my behavior never sent her tearfully to bed? He bids me to work for my employer as unto Himself; have I never allowed Internet diversions into company time?

The list of possible parallels between the Ammonites and me is fearfully long.  Thankfully my King is a forgiving king if I will but repent, but absent repentance, should I react as an Ammonite, surprised to find I might be a stench in the King’s nostrils? To be guilty indeed, but to then lay that awful burden at His feet, is the gateway to ultimate freedom. It moves me in an instant from the posture of enemy to one of receiving unparalleled affection.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You have seen my every act of insult and rejection, yet You pursue me. You know my every offense as though each one had intentionally pierced Your side personally. Forgive me, Lord, that I might spend my days in uninterrupted intimacy with You.