It would seem out of place to turn back to David’s military victories after a reprieve from that line of narration in chapter 9 by David’s mercy on Mephibosheth for Jonathan’s sake, yet the purpose of chapter 10 is not merely to line out David’s victories in the same way as it was laid out in chapter 8. Rather, its focus is on the comparison between Jonathan as mediator for Mephibosheth as a type of Christ’s mediation, and then Nahash’s (the serpent) mediation on behalf of Hanun.
At the outset, it is clear that the background is extremely similar – the house of Saul seen conflicting with the house of David is exalted in the form of Mephibosheth sitting at the king’s table. Now begs the question: will the house of Nahash, the house of the Ammonites, also be exalted to fellowship with Israel’s king? V.2 of chapter 10 echoes v.2 of chapter 9 – the call of the Father upon the Gentiles after the call of the Father upon the Israelites – “I will deal loyally with Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father dealt loyally with me”. First to the Jews, then to the Gentiles (Romans 1:16).
Yet, unlike the response within Israel where Mephibosheth humbly called himself a dead dog, what is Hanun’s response? V.3-5 shows that not only is Hanun a lord who is surrounded by princes, a large contrast to Mephibosheth’s dire state of lameness (especially compared to Ziba’s household of wealth), but that he would be so arrogant and heed the advice of evil men (Psalm 1:1, 2:2) and mock David’s servants (v.4).
As akin to chapter 8v.5, the Ammonites and the Syrians rise up against Israel despite their previous defeat (c.f. Hosea 8:9-11) and it is clear that the initiation of the offense is from the side of the Ammonites, with the Israelites drawing up in self-defence by the ordering in v.6-8. Not to mention that unlike the movement of our Trinitarian God Who moves as one united family on a mission of redemption, the hired Syrians are scattered and ‘by themselves in the open country’ – a mark of the sinful man in the wilderness (Micah 4:10). Note the contrast between the wicked council of the Ammonites and the Syrians compared with Joab and Abishai’s unity – the former being united for the purpose of money and the latter united under the banner of the LORD– Joab is truly his brother’s keeper (Genesis 4:9)(v.11-12). The mutual aid is the true spirit of the Triune family.
Yet what is so laughable is that the Ammonites and Syrians completely fled (c.f. Revelation 6:16) before Abishai and Joab – as if either the Ammonites or Syrians were too much for them to handle (v.11), instead at the very sight of these two Christian brothers they fled and only then did they gather together (v.15), along with the support of Hadadezer’s Syrian army beyond the Euphrates. Upon the defeat of Shobach (expansion) at Helam (fortress), the commander of the army of Hadadezer at their head, we are brought to re-experience the death of the mediator of the Philistinian army in 1 Samuel 17. So, the death of Shobach and the death of the seed of Nahash the serpent bring us to see the death of the expansion of the Satan’s kingdom; the fear of the Syrians to save the Ammonites (v.19 – c.f. 2 Chronicles 24:24) anymore is the beginning of the fall of the wicked counsel (Psalm 1:1, 2:2).
This is the image of the failure to heed the call of the Father. Though Nahash may have dealt loyally with David just as Jonathan had done so, this blessing could have been imputed to the house of the Ammonites. Yet, the end of chapter 10 spelled out a disastrous future, and the story of Nahash is used as a narrative for the macro understanding of Nahash as the false mediator and Jonathan as the true mediator; though Hadadezer and his subjects made peace with Israel and became subject to them (v.19), this type of submission is far from the type of exaltation which Mephibosheth received – and thus this contrast of the lame man fellowshipping with David is more poignant in the face of the proud and resourceful Ammonite and Syrian kings. Hanun as the seed and result of the line of Nahash is directly contrasted to Mephibosheth, the direct seed of Jonathan. As such, though we are all predestined to be in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1), for those who reject the call of the Father to follow His Son, they have ignored the call and the mediation is thus not received. Thus, instead of the mediation of Triune love depicted in chapter 9, they receive the mediation of the Father’s wrath as a mirror to the measuring line – that either the line measures the bounds of new Jerusalem, or it is a line which measures the extent of the LORD’s wrath upon the rebellious nations (2 Kings 21:13). Glen on “God without a Mediator” blog post –
“In terms of Scripture – 2 Thes 1:9 “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” (KJV) There’s a translation issue about the preposition (‘apo’). Should it be translated ‘from’ or ‘away from’? I favour ‘from’ – ie implying that Christ is present in judgement. This goes with Revelation 14:10 where the damned are tormented in the presence of the Lamb. See also Rev 1:18 where Jesus is presented as the Jailor of death and hades, and Rev 6:16-17 where it’s the wrath of the Father together with the Lamb. Jesus expressly says in John 5:22 that the Father has entrusted all judgement to Him.
What does this mean? It means that hell is being in the presence of God who continues to mediate His judgement through the Son. There is no such thing as ‘God without a mediator’.”