Friday, July 15, 2011

Pondering Presumption

Sometimes when I read stories in the Bible, they stick with me throughout the day and I find myself doing a lot of pondering. Often I have to let the pondering spill to the written page, thus this blog.

Stuck in my head today is a little story tucked in 1 Chronicles 19. (It’s also in 2 Samuel 10.)

Here’s the overview: Nahash king of the Ammonites died and his son Hanun became king in his place. David heard about the death of the king. Since Nahash had always been loyal and shown kindness toward him, David decided to send messengers on his behalf to Hanun in order to console him and to honor the deceased. Nothing unusual about the story to this point, however when the messengers reached the land of the Ammonites, that's when the trouble started.

There were people of influence around the grieving son. Various biblical references call them commanders, advisors, princes, servants and even leaders. Whoever they were, they had the king’s ear and they planted seeds of doubt. They lied and caused the king to question the intent of the messengers. History records them as convincing Hanun that David’s ambassadors weren’t coming to offer sympathy, but rather had been sent to spy out the land and try to conquer it. Hanun falls for it, hook, line & sinker. In a brash reaction, he seizes David’s men – shaves their beard and cuts their robes off up to their behinds - total humiliation and an obvious rejection of David’s offer of consolation. David was insulted, which obviously was not a good thing. The Ammonites realized that insulting the king of Israel was probably a bad decision, and they spent huge resources to secure equipment and hired men to fight, in order to defend themselves against what would surely be the wrath of David. What resulted was all out war, devastation and the loss of resources,allies and sadly many lives.

This story could have ended differently. It should have ended differently. Everything changed due to a lack of discernment. Hanun was surrounded by people who looked for the negative. His ‘counselors’ assumed the worst about everyone. Rather than accepting the wishes of sympathy offered and simply saying “Thank you”, he created chaos. Because why? Because of a deceitful word spoken by someone he trusted, but shouldn’t have. He reacted to the lies rather than responding to a kind gesture. When we don’t know the truth behind gestures made and assume the worst – it can lead to an absolute mess. Just because our motives aren’t always pure, doesn’t mean someone else’s isn’t. Families, nations, and relationships have been shattered and torn apart over mistrust birthed out of the wrong assumption of motive. The enemy of our souls LOVES this tactic. He plants those little questions in our mind and our imaginations go wild. Often the questions are fueled by jealousy, insecurity, bitterness, unresolved hurt and it grows until it is out of control and until we do something foolish. After all, people couldn’t be loving, caring, or giving without some ulterior motive. (They want credit.  They want to fuel their own ego. They want someting in return. Shall I continue?)  If we’re honest, we can admit that we’ve all done it on some scale at some point in our lives. Things get blown out of proportion and essentially by our actions and our words we symbolically shave their beards and cut off their robes – and the damage is done and too often destruction lies in the wake. It’s at that point the enemy has his party rejoicing that devastation has come to a situation where all someone was trying to do was be kind, to be generous, to be....like Jesus.

This is where discernment and wisdom come into play. I love discernment - I long for more of it. I love wisdom - I long for more of it.  However, I am learning that discernment and wisdom, all must be birthed in a place of prayer and by knowing the Word. It’s in those moments of taking that seed of doubt into the secret place and laying it out before the Lord so that I can allow him to shed light on what is really going on. Sometimes he does reveal ill intent and lets me know my response even in that moment is not to cause destruction, but to be wise. However, it often times reveals issues inside me, rather than in the person I am so quick to judge. (Ouch)

Questions are rattling in my head, maybe they should rattle in yours, too.
What kind of people am I surrounding myself with?
Who influences me?
Who should influence me?
Who do I influence?
Do I have enough godly discernment and wisdom to separate truth from lies?
Am I actively seeking after wisdom and discernment?
Do I assume the worst about people and their motives?
Am I reactionary or do I respond in a godly manner?

My prayer today for myself and for whomever might read this is:
Lord, give us a greater capacity for and infusion of wisdom and discernment.  Send godly counselors that speak truth.  Allow us to be a voice of truth to those around us.  May we stop the game of assumption dead in it's tracks.  Teach us to be thankful and apprecaitive of those who simply want to be like you - generous, giving and kind - let us know how to graciously show kindness in return.  Teach us to be those who are generous, giving and kind....teach us to be like you. Rather than wasting time assuming the worst - Lord, help us live out Philippians 4:8  "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

Yeah, see what I mean? A simple Bible story, an awful lot of pondering!


  1. Not rough at all! There's always a story behind the story and at least two sides to every story...listening today to a message of how we tend to view situations and people as we are, not as things are in reality. Hmmmm, more to ponder:)

    Good word!!!!

  2. Good stuff momma! I like the way you unpack stories. Makes it easy to really get. thanks.

  3. I enjoyed this Donna. I love what I would call spirit inspired "midrash". You draw out truth from this ancient story that is so relevant in a deep way for us now.