David wanted to share grief with Hanun, the son of Nahash the Ammonite King. Hanun lost his father. David and Nahash were friends. Hence, David sent a delegation to comfort him. Hanun’s young friends misinterpreted the noble gesture of David stating that the delegates were spies.
Hanun got angry, he shaved off half of their beards, cut off their garments in the middle of their buttocks, and sent them away. The treatment meted out to the delegation of David was indeed shameful and totally unexpected. Hanun did not have guts to attack David, he attacked his emissaries. David was so sensitive to his men that he requested them to ‘wait in Jericho’ until their beard grows. (II Samuel 10:1-5)
In Middle East culture, a beard was an ornament for men. Many men would rather die than to have their beard shaved off. Clean-shaven face was the mark of a slave. Also, men swore by beards, even offering it as ‘pledge’. Cutting off one-half of a beard was an insult and humiliation. Only priests used to wear undergarments. Jewish people were circumcised. Cutting garments is to degrade them and denounce them for their faith and covenant relationship with God.
Normally it takes two to four months for the beard to grow. Hence, these men were ‘locked down’ in isolation. Even in Jericho, they would not have gone out, feeling ashamed and fearing ridicule. Physically they were looking comical. Emotionally, they must be frothing with anger. Morally, they would be aghast for the injustice and ridicule heaped upon them. Mentally, they would have been exhausted and stressed. Spiritually, they would have poured out their hearts to God but also could not attend synagogues. Socially they were shut off from their family members too.
Unjust situations happen because of the sins of other people. Staying calm, waiting patiently, not fretting or getting angry, not giving up, not discouraged would be courageous acts. Promises of God sustains believers. “He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” (Psalms 37:6)
Can I trust God even when I am a victim of injustice?