We’ve all had it happen—you do something in kindness or love only to have another assume the worse about you and misread your intent.
Maybe you finish your overworked co-worker’s spreadsheet only to be accused of trying to get ahead for your gain. Perhaps the cookies you brought your neighbor were seen as a bribe to get your way with the decision looming in your neighborhood. Maybe your friendly typed message is seen as an ulterior motive to get something from another. Or perhaps you offer condolences to someone, and they secretly accuse you of trying to get close to harm them for your own gain?
This exact last scenario happened to King David. David wished to console King Nahash’s son, who had recently become king after his father’s death. “I will show kindness to Hanun, the son of Nahash because his father showed kindness to me.”
David then sent messengers ahead with his sympathy—a kind of text message of its day.
Kindness. Who would fault you for that? It’s a pretty good thing, right?
Nope. Not to all.
The sympathy was pretty twisted when the message arrived to the new king because the princes of the sons of Ammon saw David’s intentions differently. Rather than taking the actions at face value, they instead assumed the absolute worst story they could tell themselves.
Next, they brought their darkened imaginations to the king, who fell for hook, line, and sinker. “Do you think David is honoring your father in that he has sent comforters to you? Have not his servants come to you to search and overthrow and to spy out the land?”
In his uncertainty and vulnerability of donning the new title of King, Hamon bought into the lies and assumed the worse of King David, his father’s friend. His anger soared. How dare he? I am grieving, and he thinks he can snow me over with his fake kindness and sympathy. That will not happen. I’ll see to it.
To prove a point and expose David, he mistreated the messengers. He captured David’s servants and shaved them, cutting off their garments to expose the men’s indecency. He then sent the dishonored messengers back home in humiliation. The overt message was clearly stated in back-biting disgrace he doled out. I will not be played the fool. I’m onto you, David. I know what you really meant. This will teach you to scope out my land for your own gain. It serves you right.
The humiliated men camped out in Jericho until King David came to meet them. David offered them dignity in his offer to allow the men to stay in place until their beards, and who knows what else, grew. I can only imagine King David shaking his head at the scene before him. Here he was offering good words of comfort while his intentions were totally misread and misunderstood. And to add insult to injury, the other king ensured his own darkened beliefs were held up as the discerning banner of truth.
When Hanun heard how angered David was at this injustice, instead of repenting and saving the bond his father, King Nahash, had secured with David, he and his yes-men became angry at David’s anger. They paid for chariots and charioteers with silver and drew up support from the Arameans, a nearby kingdom. Then the Arameans and the Ammonites then fought against the Israelites in a needless war.
David’s commander of the army, Joab, called out to the Israelites. “Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God, and may the LORD do what is good in His sight.”
The Arameans eventually realized they were no match for Israel and surrendered to David. Now subject to the rule of another and having been drawn into a war that was not their own, they wized up and were no longer willing to help the Ammonites.
What needless bloodshed. War. Pain. All because the Ammonites had hardened their hearts and refused to believe in the good intention of another. Not only did they cause pain to the Israelites, but they also brought another innocent kingdom into the fight for their own gain—ironically—the very thing they accused King David of.
It’s excruciating to be mistyped. Knowing another is currently thinking of us with disapproval and disdain is a horrible sinking feeling full of death. Like David's messengers, we feel exposed and shaved of all personal worth. That is a time where the lies of the enemy creep into weak places in our mind and seek to set up permanent camp.
Does it have to be this way? Is there a way out?
What do we do when others misjudge us?
My mind goes back to Joab’s words. “Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the LORD do what is good in His sight.” (1 Chronicles 19:13) Two different encouragements, “be strong” and “let us show ourselves courageous,” caught my eye.
Looking into the original text, I found something rather exciting. While two distinct phrases in English, the Hebrew text only uses one word—Strongs 2388, hāzag—to convey the same thing twice in a row. When something is repeated twice, it usually bears something of significant consideration. I had to take notice of what the Lord was sharing with me from Joab's inspiring words.
This word—hāzag—has been a perplexing and extremely comforting word to me this past year. Last September, out of the blue, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my mind, “Hold Loosely.” I tried to figure out precisely what the Lord was trying to tell me. I had all sorts of ideas, but nothing ever brought confirmation of inner knowing.
Eventually, in March of this year, I figured out that the Lord was showing me the contrast of holding tightly onto something else—or someone else—in times of hardship.
Strongs 2388 defines hāzaq as “properly, tie up (like a bandage), refusal to let up; show strength that does not yield or quit; (figuratively) unrelenting, stay gripped, holding on to; cling with great "resistance-strength" being immovable; tenacity, strength which does not let go, won't let up, staying gripped ("locked on"); stout, unyielding. The core ("proper") meaning "must be translated to fit the individual context." (Discovery Bible Software)
The passage’s reflection from the Discovery Bible best explains the point of clinging to God. “The only true strength is clinging to the Lord and expecting His best. Only God possesses strength in Himself. Believers receive strength from Him—bringing His victory, no matter the obstacle.”
Then the Lord so sweetly explained his words from a year ago. “Aleisha, stop clinging to other people’s opinions of you. Hold loosely onto that. Cling to my opinion of you, for it’s the one which matters.”
Cling to the Lord’s opinion of us? It doesn’t feel easy, does it? Isn’t it easy to cling to a statement of your worth from a 3-D person in the natural whom you can hear, see, and feel rather than an invisible God who lives in the spiritual realm inside you? But how can we choose to cling in faith to Father’s opinion over all we see and experience? To answer that, I will ask both you and I an important question.
What if the following passage were actually true?
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring charges against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, but rather, was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or trouble, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? Just as it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We were regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39
I’ll ask again. What if Romans 8:31-39 was held up as the beacon of truth in your life?
Who can then bring a false charge against you? Oh, someone could certainly believe and share an untrue story, alright, but you do not have to emotionally live chained by another's false assumptions.
Nothing can separate you from the love of God. Certainly not persecution. Certainly not darkened misreading. Certainly not another person. This infallibility of our loving Father will see you through the affliction.
Amid trial, we are told we can overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. Through fighting back? No. Through responding in anger? No. Through giving up and allowing oneself to sink into despair? No!
Then how? How do we overwhelmingly conquer? We conquer by clinging to Him who loves us. No created thing—or person—can separate that bond. Instead of dwelling on the lies shading the truth, we allow truth to roll around in our minds until every cell of our body believes it as gospel fact.
What truth do we allow in, you may ask? Try these below for starters.
Because of the gift of the one man, Jesus Christ...
We can’t control what others think of us, but we can set our minds on the reality of the One who knows our true purposes.
I'm sure Joab's words were a wonderful reminder and inspiration to King David, who was a man after God’s own heart. You are, too, you know. Your union with Christ gives you a reason to turn aside from angry voices and hear the loving heartbeat of another beating for you. You are his very own heart. You are dear to him in a way you can’t even imagine. Camp in this truth and allow the lies to pale until they wither away from your soul.
To my dear heartbroken friends who are being misjudged by others, fall into the arms of a God who knows your heart. Allow his acceptance, love, and peace to wash over your souls in truth. Let his words of grace bring life to the places of pain. And above all, cling to his opinion of you, for he has already clung physically to you and will never let go. Ever.
So, I’ll ask it one more time.
What do we do when others misread our intentions and condemn us in their mind?
We cling to our Lord.
There is no other way.