1 Chronicles 19:1-9

David’s Messengers Abused

19 Now it came about after this, that Nahash the king of the sons of Ammon died, and his son became king in his place. Then David said, “I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent messengers to console him concerning his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the sons of Ammon to Hanun to console him. But the princes of the sons of Ammon said to Hanun, “[a]Do you think that David is honoring your father, in that he has sent comforters to you? Have not his servants come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land?” So Hanun took David’s servants and shaved them and cut off their garments in the middle as far as their hips, and sent them away. Then certain persons went and told David about the men. And he sent to meet them, for the men were greatly humiliated. And the king said, “[b]Stay at Jericho until your beards grow, and then return.”

When the sons of Ammon saw that they had made themselves odious to David, Hanun and the sons of Ammon sent 1,000 talents of silver to hire for themselves chariots and horsemen from Mesopotamia, from Aram-maacah and from Zobah. So they hired for themselves 32,000 chariots, and the king of Maacah and his people, who came and camped before Medeba. And the sons of Ammon gathered together from their cities and came to battle. When David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the army, the mighty men. The sons of Ammon came out and drew up in battle array at the entrance of the city, and the kings who had come were by themselves in the field.

Hanun has to be one the the stupidest people in the Bible. Now, it’s conceivable that he could have honestly thought David was sending spies. You can’t fault him for that, I’m sure it was a tactic employed by other nations. However, what good does it do to humiliate the supposed spies? It serves only to pick a fight, and I think that’s what the princes of Ammon wanted, even if Hanun had no idea what he was doing. This is further evidenced by the next act of Ammon. They could have sent 1,000 talents of tribute in apology, but instead they spend that money on mercenaries and go on the attack.

Again, this was (and really still is) the playbook of the world, and it’s a futile way to live. But what else do you have if you don’t believe in a God who loves us and has a good plan for our lives? What do you do when you think everyone else is out for “top dog”, and you’re aiming for the same thing?

It reminds me of something I’ve learned in business, which is to quit playing the “zero sum game”. Simply, “zero sum” means everything in this world is finite, and if you want something, it has to be taken from someone else.

In God’s economy, giving is the rule of the day, and when He pours out blessing, there’s no limits, and being generous results in benefits to both the receiver and the giver. Some have also called it (rightly) the “infinite game”, where you don’t look to succeed at the cost of others. The “pool” of resources is not finite, because God is not finite, and He causes good things to abound to those that love and serve him. In business also, it’s a much healthier mindset, and causes you to focus less on comparisons and “competition” and more on cooperation and compatibility. It’s amazing how those things work together, and sometimes it doesn’t make sense, but in the end, God promises to work things for good for those who love and serve him. And that’s something you can take to “the bank”!

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