Jumping to Conclusions


2 Samuel 10:1-5

Some time afterward, the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun succeeded him. David said, “I will deal loyally with Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father dealt loyally with me.” So David sent envoys to console him concerning his father. When David’s envoys came into the land of the Ammonites, the princes of the Ammonites said to their lord Hanun, “Do you really think that David is honoring your father just because he has sent messengers with condolences to you? Has not David sent his envoys to you to search the city, to spy it out, and to overthrow it?” So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved off half the beard of each, cut off their garments in the middle at their hips, and sent them away. When David was told, he sent to meet them, for the men were greatly ashamed. The king said, “Remain at Jericho until your beards have grown, and then return.”


David was trying to be genuinely kind and helpful to the king of the Ammonites. He had respected the king and at the time of his death, he wanted to honor him. Unfortunately, the new king, Hanun, could only see the actions of David through his own lens. He couldn’t imagine that David would have been doing something good, but only manipulating the situation for his own good. This is probably because it’s what Hanun would have done. 

Jumping to the conclusion that this was a bad thing, Hanun treated David’s messengers with contempt. Not only did he send them away, but he purposely shamed them. Out of his own greed he decided he wanted a pound of flesh from David and his people, all because of an imagined threat. The result was that the Ammonites because “odious” to David and the King’s reaction had a long-term ramifications for the entire kingdom. 


When we begin to assign motives to the actions of people, we will find ourselves in deep trouble. We are warned that it is God who looks on the heart and jumping to conclusions may take us to a very difficult place with long-term consequences for those involved. 

It’s far too easy to have misunderstandings between people and most of these are caused by poor communication. Hanun doesn’t seem to have taken the time to verify whether these men were telling the truth or not. He took action before having complete information. This is where trouble usually starts in relationships and in the life of an organization. 

Choosing to retaliate when you have assigned motives to someone will be damaging. Hanun probably hurt David’s reputation — for a while. In the long run, however, it’s Hanun and his entire kingdom that suffered. Nothing redemptive was able to come from Hanun’s actions. He chose to have a negative attitude and he lived into it, causing irreparable damage. 

When we dig in and decide that we are absolutely right about something, while assigning motives to others, we are the ones who will be hurt. What’s missing in this story is humility and a gracious spirit. We need the Holy Spirit to infuse us with a Spirit that transcends the temptation to “get our feelings hurt” and retaliate without truly understanding the situation. 

It was Hanun’s own heart that may have kept him from seeing the true spirit with which David had sent his envoys. If we’re focusing on the negative and assigning motives to the actions of others, maybe we should examine our own heart. It’s our heart that makes us jump to conclusions and it’s our heart that needs to be changed. 


Lord, I live with this temptation. Thanks for the reminder that I need a daily heart check. Amen. 


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