Bible Insights

Tell the Truth

Lying to Achieve a Better Outcome May Backfire

Mortally wounded in battle, King Saul commits suicide. A young man, an Amalekite, later happens upon the scene and concocts a plan that he’s sure will bring him a reward.

His strategy, however, isn’t to tell the truth about what he saw.

Instead he fabricates a story that he thinks will benefit him. He tells a calculated lie.

A Fatal Lie

Coming to David, who later succeeds Saul as king, the young man says that King Saul called out to him during the battle, asking the Amalekite to kill him.

This was because Saul was dying a painful death. And the young man claims to have done exactly that.

Knowing that Saul would not live, the Amalekite walked up to him and killed him. Then he shows David King Saul’s crown and armband to corroborate his story.

But instead of receiving David’s gratitude, earning a reward, or enjoying a celebration for bringing about the death of David’s enemy, David condemns the Amalekite for killing God’s anointed king.

David’s judgment is swift. He orders the young man executed for the actions he claims to have committed. David’s men strike down the Amalekite, and he dies.

David doesn’t bother to verify the young man’s story. And maybe it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. Even if he didn’t kill King Saul, he takes credit for the king’s death. That’s damning enough.

The Amalekite’s testimony was all David needed to hear. The young man told a lie because he felt it was expedient, and it cost him his life. How much better for him to tell the truth.

Tell the Truth

One of the Ten Commandments tells us not to lie (Leviticus 19:11).

Aside from obeying God because it’s the right thing to do, this story provides a life-and-death example of why we should always tell the truth.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Samuel 1-3, and today’s post is on 2 Samuel 1:6-15.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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