Faith Identity

Bearded Men

“So Hanun took David’s servants and shaved off half the beard of each and cut off their garments in the middle, at their hips, and sent them away.” 2 Samuel 10:4 ESV

Talk about Wierd!

This is by far one of the strangest verses in the Bible!  Shaving off half of a man’s beard and cutting his garments off at the hips? What is going on here? Here’s a bit of context.  The king of the Ammonites died and his son took his place. King David decided he would deal loyally with the new king/son Hanun, as he did with his father. David sends some of his servants to Hanun, to console him concerning his dad’s death. The problem was, that Hanun’s advisors were skeptical of David and the servants he sent. They convinced Hanun that David’s servants were spies. That’s where the aggressive hazing actions came into play.

Beards were the Sign

Jewish culture valued beards. As boys grew up through adolescence, their peach fuzz facial hair would darken, becoming a beard. In some circles, beards were to never be cut off. Trimmed, yes. Shaven, never! As Greg Morse of Desiring God explains in an excellent post, full, rounded beards were a sign of manhood. You were no longer a boy. You were a  man and your beard was part of the honor of being masculine.

Shameful Acts

To have half a beard was a sign of shame. To think that someone held you down and cut half your facial hair off, not to mention cutting your garments off at the hips. In those days, men wore a longer toga-type garment. Pants were not invented back then. So, cutting off at the hips exposed your genitals to view. This doubled the shame David’s men faced. This called for war! 

When David heard about this, he sent the men to Jericho.  

Remain at Jericho until your beards have grown and then return.” 2 Samuel 10:5 ESV.

It takes around 2 to 4 months for a beard to grow back. This gave the men time to rest, process and come home with honor from what had otherwise been a humiliating experience. Notice King David’s grace in his men while dealing harshly with Hanun.

Beards are not the Issue

In our culture beards do not hold the value they did in Old Testament Jewish times. Some of the young men I mentor can sport a beard at 17, while others are in their early 30s and can barely get a mustache going. I wasn’t blessed with bearded hormones. After two months of trying, mine looked like a scrappy bunch of dirt on my face. My wife was right; “shave it off!”

Here’s the bottom line, if you can grow a beard, go for it! Keep it trimmed, clean and presentable. Let it add to your manliness. If you are like me and can’t get one growing, do not consider yourself less manly. Manliness has nothing to do with beards, but with a depth of godly character.  To borrow from Greg Morse again, 

“If you walk according to your God-given masculinity, you are a bearded man, 

whether you have hair on your face or not.”

Hanun was a foolish young king. He shamed men and paid for it through defeat in war. Celebrate your peer’s masculinity. Perhaps, Hanun was so insecure in his own masculinity that he had to bully those who truly were men. Hanun didn’t follow God, but David’s men did.

Check out this great post at Desiring God!–WBF07emRCHai-A_QFiqs5BYAot4tAyJy8e-_q3LfNjBbmYdoKA3DHPcRubOpFXCYs92PYGrPQtIWxOyW9NNknkPDiCQ&utm_content=223020866&utm_source=hs_email

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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