Reading through the Bible together
There are two reports focusing on the Ammonites and their allies and friends. One is in this chapter and one is in 1 Chronicles 19, which meant that the scribes used the same information available in the palace records to report the events. Samuel, and the prophets Nathan and Gad wrote different parts of the books of Samuel and Chronicles (see 1 Chron. 29:29). If the prophet Samuel was responsible for the autobiography details in 1 Samuel, then he is most likely responsible for the details written in 2 Samuel also. Notice how authentic he writes, using actual reports, anecdotes, lists and so forth, from the palace, which were daily updated. The Holy Spirit inspired the writer of this chapter to utilize the factual reports that were available.
Here we have a report of the humiliation of David’s servants by the Ammonites who shaved off half of their beards and cut off the lower half of their garments at the waist to their shame (vv. 1-5). Also we have a report of political events where the Ammonites saw their predicament and hired thousands of troops from neighboring city-states and drew up a battle plan to fight David’s men who were in front of their city. David had put Joab in charge and we have an overview of events in vv. 6-8. This report is put together with a focus solely on Joab and his achievements in vv. 9-14, probably written by his personal military scribe. We know exactly the outcome of the war and what Joab did. In the battle with the Ammonites, David’s forces won and the enemies who came to help the Ammonites fled.
In this chapter Joab’s military ingenuity is placed alongside of that of David’s as we see in vv. 15-19, which is the report of the palace scribe. Notice how the scribes carefully collect the details without propaganda motives. In this event the enemies who came from beyond the River Euphrates to fight against David’s men, were defeated, many died in battle, and the rest returned home and refused to help the Ammonites again.
In this world of sin, there are kings who govern rightly and uphold us, and there are kings who are our enemies. Protect and hold us in Your hand. Amen.
Koot van Wyk, Kyungpook
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea