Set on destructive courses by unreliable sources

King David may have been a fierce warrior, but he also had a soft, compassionate side. In 1 Chronicles 19:1-2, he showed his compassionate side when he felt genuine concern for Hanun the Ammonite who had just become king after his father, King Nahash, died. Nahash and David were on good terms because of their mutual enemy, King Saul. Nahash had been kind to David during David’s exile and most likely sent congratulatory gifts to David when David began his reign over all of Israel.

Now that Nahash was dead, David wished to extend kindness and condolences to Hanun in honor of his father. He had hoped to help the young man, but Hanun had surrounded himself with wicked advisors who put David’s actions and motives in a suspicious, evil light. They flooded Hanun’s ears with fake news, telling him, “Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? are not his servants come unto thee for to search, and to overthrow, and to spy out the land?” (1 Chronicles 19:3). If Hanun had been a wise man, he could have done his own investigating to discover how David and his father had been close allies. But he just bought into the lies that were fed him without question and set both himself and his whole nation on a course of destruction.

Hanun arrested David’s messengers, shaved off their traditional Jewish beards, and cut off their clothes to leave them half-naked with their backsides publicly exposed before they sent them back to David (1 Chronicles 19:4). David’s men were unjustifiably treated shamefully without mercy. Hanun’s actions were essentially a declaration of war–a declaration that David and his army could easily meet and defeat. Despite the realization that David was ticked off by their actions, instead of making amends to avert war, the Ammonites doubled down on their mistakes and pulled Syria into their conflict. Both nations went down in terrible defeat before the armies of Israel and the Ammonites almost went extinct in the slaughter.

History is full of examples of terrible consequences when families, churches, communities, and nations allow unreliable sources to hold sway over thoughts and actions that have drawn wrong conclusions about others. We see this unfold almost daily, thanks to deceptions that are pushed into public view based on false narratives–false narratives that are often debunked after the mainstream media uses them to get people worked up. Are we going to be like Hanun and his advisors who toss out all concern for discernment to subscribe to the false narratives and spread them? Or will we be like David, having a genuine desire to help those who are hurting? Will we cave to the lies of our culture that try to intentionally divide with false accusations that saints and the Bible are full of hate for calling sin what it is? Or will we have enough genuine godliness and discernment to stand on the truth in love for Christ’s sake to see people delivered from the sin which enslaves them?

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