In the Shakespearean play Othello, the main bad guy is named Iago. He pretends to be Othello’s closest friend, offering counsel and advice, but all the while he’s plotting his friend’s downfall behind the scenes. The play is carefully constructed so that it’s impossible for even the audience to grasp the underhanded deceit of Iago until the very last scene. He’s plausible right up until the end, and if his part is acted well, the audience will often gasp when his true nature is finally revealed, for the character’s deception is convincingly hidden by his words and actions.

In 1 Kings 2:13-18, Bathsheba is thoroughly taken in by Adonijah. She suspects nothing dark in his request. What could possibly be wrong with his asking for the beautiful Shunammite woman with the not-so-lovely name Abishag? Abishag had comforted David, Adonijah’s father, in his last days (1 Kings 1:1-4), so surely it would be a service to her and a perfect match for him.

Solomon, however, saw the motivation behind the request. He discerned Adonijah’s ambition behind his desire for the woman who had spent time with the great King David (1 Kings 2:22). It was all about a political power play that would aid Adonijah in his desire to seize the throne. Solomon discerned the truth and saw the rebellion hidden in his heart.

Believers in Jesus should seek to bless and think the best of others, and yet God gives us discernment by His Spirit. Jesus told His disciples to “be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). Being as innocent as a dove and as wise as a serpent is not achieved by imitating an Iago character. May God through His Word and Spirit help us to see what’s truly true.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Genesis 8:1-22