It happened after this that Nahash the king of the people of Ammon died, and his son reigned 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 comfort him concerning his father. And David’s servants came to Hanun in the land of the people of Ammon to comfort him. And the princes of the people of Ammon said to Hanun, “Do you think that David really honors your father because he has sent comforters to you? Did his servants not come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land?” Therefore Hanun took David’s servants, shaved them, and cut off their garments in the middle, at their buttocks, and sent them away. 1 Chronicles 19:1-4
Hanun was an inexperienced leader who followed the recommendation of unwise advisors. When he realized that his treatment of David’s envoys had offended David, rather than sending a humble apology to the King of Israel for his error in judgment, Hanun instead employs the services of Syria to assist him in battle against David – a battle that David had not even commenced. Hanun’s expectation of retaliation demonstrates that he knew he was wrong and had offended a king who had previously been an ally. So he prepares for battle.
This is the strategy of pride. It will not bow, so it must fight, oftentimes drawing others into the battle. For not only is Ammon forced to flee in battle, but Syria suffers losses as they flee as well. Needless losses, as the whole thing could possibly have been avoided by an admission of fault by Hanun.
What is more humbling than to admit you were wrong? This is a thing hard enough to admit to ourselves in the secrecy of our own heart, much less to expose our error before the onlooking eyes of others. We fear the loss of respect, the criticism, the perception of ourselves as being weak. So we draw our shoulders back, with chin firmly lifted in defiance, and map out our battle plan….only to end up fleeing.
The Word of God has much to say about pride; none of it good. While we live in an age that promotes self-esteem, self-pride and self-reliance, the Bible still says “without me you can do nothing”. Nothing. How’s that for an ego crusher? But the Lord God does have a way of getting to the heart of the matter.
To eliminate the stronghold of pride in our lives is no easy task, but it is a necessary one. The struggle to be free of it will put us at odds with a society that cannot understand the blessing of a life of brokenness and humility.
For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation. Psalm 149:4
When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom . Proverbs 11:2
The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:18