4 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. 5 When it was told David, he sent to meet them, for the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, “Remain at Jericho until your beards have grown and then return.”2 Samuel 10:4–5 (ESV)
This half-beard stuff. Men would swear by their beards. The only clean-shaven men were slaves and little girls! Some criminals would also be shaved like being flogged or branded.
They, of course, didn’t just trim their beards to be shorter, they cut off half. So you’d look like this silly lop-sided freak. In your own humiliation, you’d have to shave off the other half of your beard yourself for it all to grow back and look right sooner.
There are several instances in the bible where a new, young king is shown kindness and his old advisors are untrusting and start a war! [[look these up for examples]]
David didn’t use these guys as marketing or propaganda. He helped them hide their shame. Everywhere they ran, their butts were exposed, and the fact that they were circumcised Jews would be shown off too. They would be outcasts among any other foreign people until somebody showed them mercy or they made it home.
Talk about feeling weak and vulnerable!
These are David’s servants, so he’s going to take care of them wherever they go. Putting them up in a distant town until their beards grow back is a big deal. Let’s just say, they needed 4 weeks to grow a beard. It doesn’t look like David retaliated or went to war over this.
2 It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.Proverbs 25:2 (ESV)
As far as we know, David was going to let it be. Sure, he probably wouldn’t make any peace with the Ammonites, but no aggression comes up until they attack him.
There are a lot of places where David shows that he really did have a heart after God. This whole thing started with him wanting to honor that old king and become allies with his son. David proves for a lot of his kingship that he is quite sovereign but retaliates hard.