1 Chronicles 19:2
And David said, I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me…
Stern warrior though David was, and capable of severe and even cruel actions, he nevertheless had a warm and tender heart. So much might be gathered from the story of his youthful affection for Jonathan, and from that of his subsequent forbearance towards Saul. In maturer years he retained the warm sensibilities of humanity. Thus, when the King of Ammon died, David felt sincerely for his son and successor, and, that he might give expression to his kindly sympathy, "sent messengers to comfort him concerning his father." His compassionate feelings, and his courteous and graceful expression of them, are suggestive of some reflections upon human kindness and sympathy.
I. Consider THE GROUND AND ORIGIN of these feelings. They lie deep in human nature, and are, in fact (as Bishop Butler has so well shown), as much natural social principles, as self-love is a principle of individual action. They are implanted by God, and are akin to his own gracious and benevolent disposition. He is a God of "love and kindness;" "in all our afflictions he is afflicted." Especially is this apparent in redemption. It was compassion that animated the Divine Father in his purpose to save our sinful race. It was love that actuated the incarnation and sacrifice of Immanuel. The dispositions, then, of which we are treating have their deep foundation in the character, the attributes, of our Creator. So far from being signs of human weakness, they are an honour and ornament of humanity.
II. Regard THE OCCASION of the manifestation of these dispositions. Human life is such as to call them forth. No man, no woman, can go through life without abundant opportunity for the display of these qualities. In times of health and prosperity there is comparatively little occasion for sympathy and tender kindness. But times of trouble, sickness, suffering, adversity, bereavement, must come to all men. Such times are the providentially appointed opportunities for kindly sympathy. Then the friend will "show himself friendly." David's heart was touched by the tidings of his friend's death, and he was drawn to show kindness to the living son for the sake of the deceased father. A sense of gratitude naturally and properly gave acuteness to these feelings. David had in former days received kindness from Nahash, and on this account he all the more felt the claim of the fatherless son upon his friendly sympathy.
III. Observe THE OUTWARD FORMS which these feelings assume. These must be determined by circumstances, according to relative age, social position, and character. Sometimes by sympathizing expression of countenance and manner, sometimes by words spoken or written, sometimes by services, sometimes by appropriate and seasonable gifts, we may show our cordial sympathy, and thus rivet the sacred bonds of humanity and of friendship. David on this occasion sent envoys to his friend's son, to condole with him and to assure him of his good feeling and his good wishes. Such action must in the circumstances have proved gratifying and strengthening. Wisdom and tact will discern the most suitable way of acting in the several cases which may arise.
IV. Reflect upon THE VALUE of these dispositions. To underestimate, still more to despise kindness, is the sign of an unjust and an ignoble mind. Shall we leave out of sight, in reckoning life's riches, the precious sympathy, the dear kindness, of our kindred and our friends? These dispositions have a value which only the heats can appraise; they are in themselves precious, and no just mind would barter them for diamonds and gold. They have also a practical and substantial worth. When one friend is taken from us for a season, it is no mean advantage to have another friend, upon whose counsel we may lean, and upon whose sympathy and faithfulness we may count. Human kindness is a poor substitute for Divine compassion, but it may well prove one of its fairest flowers, its richest fruits. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And David said, I will shew kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash, because his father shewed kindness to me. And David sent messengers to comfort him concerning his father. So the servants of David came into the land of the children of Ammon to Hanun, to comfort him.
WEB: 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. David's servants came into the land of the children of Ammon to Hanun, to comfort him.