When the people of Ammon realized how seriously they had angered David, they sent and hired 20,000 Aramean foot soldiers from the lands of Beth-rehob and Zobah, 1,000 from the king of Maacah, and 12,000 from the land of Tob. When David heard about this, he sent Joab and all his warriors to fight them. The Ammonite troops came out and drew up their battle lines at the entrance of the city gate, while the Arameans from Zobah and Rehob and the men from Tob and Maacah positioned themselves to fight in the open fields.
When Joab saw that he would have to fight on both the front and the rear, he chose some of Israel’s elite troops and placed them under his personal command to fight the Arameans in the fields. He left the rest of the army under the command of his brother Abishai, who was to attack the Ammonites. “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then come over and help me,” Joab told his brother. “And if the Ammonites are too strong for you, I will come and help you. Be courageous! Let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. May the Lord’s will be done.”
(2 Samuel 10:6-12)
Because Hanun took the wrong advice, he suspected the motives of the ambassadors and humiliated them (2 Samuel 10:2-4). In Israelite culture, all men wore full beards. It was a sign of maturity and authority. Thus, when these ambassadors had their beards half-shaved, they suffered great indignity. Cutting off their garments also exposed them to ridicule. This was the spark that set off the flame of battle.
Realizing that David was angry, Hanun immediately marshaled his forces for battle. He had other options besides war. He could have thought through the advice he had been given more carefully or tried to negotiate with David. Instead, he refused to admit any fault and got ready for a war that he wound up losing, even with hired troops.
Sometimes pride causes us to respond angrily and defensively rather than admitting our mistakes, apologizing, and trying to diffuse the other person’s anger. Do you find yourself pricked by pride? Ask God to help you honestly evaluate your response, and find a peaceful solution.