You’ve no doubt read about the many times over the children of Israel made things worse on themselves, but what about the time the children of Ammon kept digging their own grave?
It happened when Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had passed away, and, according to 2 Samuel 10:1-2, the word reached the ears and heart of David causing him to send his condolences to the Ammonite royal family:
“It happened after this that the king of the people of Ammon died, and Hanun his son reigned in his place. Then David said, “I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent by the hand of his servants to comfort him concerning his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the people of Ammon.“
The trouble begins when Hanun’s advisers convinces him that David’s act of condolence was only a ruse of espionage. Thus David’s servants were ungratefully sent home with a lot less luggage to their name – half of their beard and the bottom-half of their robes to be more specific!
Now you might think the children of Ammon would’ve had an advisor somewhere amongst the king’s “cabinet” smart enough to know about the genuineness of David’s and Nahash’s relationship and how foolish the nation had treated David’s servants, but such was not the case. As a matter of fact, according to 2 Samuel 10:6, the children of Ammon kept digging:
- “When the Ammonites realized that David was disgusted with them, they sent and hired 20,000 foot soldiers from Aram Beth Rehob and Aram Zobah, in addition to 1,000 men from the king of Maacah and 12,000 men from Ish-tob.” (NET)
- “And when the children of Ammon saw that they were become odious to David, the children of Ammon sent and hired the Syrians of Beth-rehob, and the Syrians of Zobah, twenty thousand footmen, and the king of Maacah with a thousand men, and the men of Tob twelve thousand men.” (ASV)
- “And when the children of Ammon saw that they stank before David, the children of Ammon sent and hired the Syrians of Bethrehob, and the Syrians of Zoba, twenty thousand footmen, and of king Maacah a thousand men, and of Ishtob twelve thousand men.” (KJV)
- “And when the children of Ammon saw that they had made themselves hated by David, they sent to the Aramaeans of Beth-rehob and Zobah, and got for payment twenty thousand footmen, and they got from the king of Maacah a thousand men, and from Tob twelve thousand.” (BBE)
When it comes to the reaction of David’s nose as he stood downwind of Ammon, I think the KJV hits the nail on the head as far as the word-for-word translation is concerned, but I believe the BBE nails one aspect of this bad to worse situation – the children of Ammon understood, one way or the other, that they had done this to themselves. But instead of putting down the shovel, Ammon picked up the sword!
The children of Ammon could have sought to repair the damage that had been done, they could have fought back the fire they had started, they could have apologized for the shame they had caused and they could have stopped digging the hole they were standing in, but they kept swinging the hammer, they kept adding fuel, they responded with arrogance and they kept digging!
And lest we miss the lesson of Ammon’s mistake when it comes to the stubbornness of king Hanun and his people (by piling on with dirt from our own hole), might I ask how many times have we have found ourselves in a particular situation simply because we refused to put the shovel down?
“And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah…” (2 Samuel 11:1)