2 Samuel 10:1-4 1 In the course of time, the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun succeeded him as king. 2 David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father. When David’s men came to the land of the Ammonites, 3 the Ammonite nobles said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending men to you to express sympathy? Hasn’t David sent them to you to explore the city and spy it out and overthrow it?” 4 So Hanun seized David’s men, shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their garments in the middle at the buttocks, and sent them away.
C’mon now, this is downright funny! Can you imagine watching these guys coming back into town with half beards and the butts cut out of their pants? Hanun sure knows how to make someone feel stupid. I imagine he got a good chuckle, himself. I can almost see the giant grin on his face as he sent these guys away to go see David. But why did he do it? What caused him to take one gesture and trade it for another?
David had good intentions – he sent his men to pay condolences to Hanun because he had lost his father. In return, Hanun flipped him off. When we don’t know someone, we can easily default to not trusting their intentions. This mistrust comes from our past hurts and life experiences. We hear someone’s words and we filter them through the lens of our past. We make a judgment on their character. And if we judge wrongly, we lash out on someone with good intentions.
This is the hardest thing to determine, isn’t it? People’s intentions. Was he being sincere or sarcastic? Did she care or was she mocking me? I wonder what would happen if we just asked the person what their intentions were. That’s an option, you know. Hanun’s men convinced him that David was sending spies, not condolences. But he could have asked them the real reason they were there. He could have kept a close eye on them and heard what they had to say. If he had done so, it would have prevented a war.