There is so much in this passage, we may spend a few days on it. From the story of Mephibosheth (one of my personal favorites in all of the scriptures) to the war with the Ammonites begun with bad assumptions to David and Bathsheba to the Prodigal Son… quite a day’s reading.
Let’s look at the Ammonite War today. We all assume that others will act in the same way we do. Nobody is afraid of being gossiped about as much as a gossip. Nobody is as quick to see lies as a liar. So when we are called to be different, separate, unique, holy in our interactions, we cannot assume that anyone will believe us or trust a pure motive. The Ammonites assume David is acting as they would and sending spies to “case the joint” before a full scale attack. David was planning no such thing and was instead showing mercy and grace, something people of this world cannot understand. So they mistreated his envoy and brought the wrath of Israel down upon themselves.
Why do we mistrust others? Why do we assume their motives must be impure? Someone pays us a compliment and we look for the favor that must be coming. Innocuous comments are scoured in our memories to find the hidden barb of ridicule. Someone states an opinion and suddenly we have an entire world built around all that they didn’t say but we assumed they meant. Why? Is it because that is how we would act in their situation? Is it because we’ve been hurt before by missing the hidden reality behind some behavior and it has made us untrusting?
This is how racism, sexism, homophobia, church divisions and even wars begin. We hear or see something and rather than getting to know a person and asking for clarity, we put them in a box with others and then label that box, “Them.”
Can we stop assuming? Pardon the language, but as the old saying goes, “To ass-u-me just makes an ass out of u and me.” When someone says something, can we just take them at their word? Can we take compliments to simply be momentary blessings? Can someone’s statement be just that statement? Can we spend time with a person so they remain a person rather than a member of “them”? We will all be better for it if we can.