When David’s men came to the land of the Ammonites, the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Hasn’t David sent them to you only to explore the city and spy it out and overthrow it?” So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away. (2 Samuel 10:2b-4)
When I was in middle school I learned a cute little phrase to remember how to spell the word assume… unfortunately it’s not appropriate to repeat here. However, there is a lot of truth behind the idea that assumptions are often wrong, and this is underscored by the grave mistake of Hanun, King of the Ammonites.
Hanun listened to some very bad advice that was based solely on assumptions, and as a result, he missed the opportunity to keep the peace between his nation and Israel. Not only that, but he paid dearly with the lives of those in his kingdom because he misunderstood David’s kind gesture toward the Ammonites and missed out on the blessing that the gesture could have been.
Stephen Covey, in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, encourages us to seek first to understand and then to be understood. A lot of mistakes can be prevented by following that advice. Don’t be quick to assume you know the intentions of anyone else’s actions. Strive to understand them first, and then you will be able to respond in an appropriate way.
God, I can be so quick to assume things about people and situations because I think I have all of the answers and all of the knowledge. That’s a laughable notion because, in reality, I don’t know much. Help me to remember how limited my knowledge is, and give me grace to respond in a way of understanding even when it appears that the motives of another are less than admirable. As I listen, give me Godly discernment to see the situation from Your perspective.