October 18, 2022
by Maria Fontaine
I was listening to the story of King David in the books of first and second Samuel. There was one very outstanding thing that David seemed to almost always do when a new factor entered his situation. Whenever circumstances changed, even in small ways, his first reaction was to ask God what to do. And consistently, the answers God gave him worked.
Sometimes, a situation looked very much the same as previous ones, such as when he faced the Philistine army and the Lord told him to launch a full-frontal attack. It brought victory—the Philistines were defeated!
Then, sometime later, the circumstances looked the same, but this time the Lord told him to instead sneak around to a position behind them, and then at God’s signal, he was to come at them from the opposite direction. Another example was at an earlier time when Saul and his army were chasing David and his men, trying to destroy them. Many times, when David asked the Lord what to do, the answers he received were unexpected, but it always resulted in a positive outcome.
In one case, when David and his men were hiding out from Saul, the Lord told him to help a small town that was under attack, which would literally save the lives of the townspeople. However, if they did this, word that David was there would likely get back to Saul, who at the time was trying to kill David. David’s own men tried to persuade him not to go, but when David asked the Lord what to do, the Lord showed David to go to the town’s rescue, so David obeyed.1
Afterwards, you would expect that the townspeople would be indebted to David and his men. So you would expect them not to betray David’s whereabouts to Saul. But David sought confirmation on this from the Lord, who told him that the townspeople would betray him, and that it was time to flee!
I believe that God knew that what looked like an unwise move on David’s part at the time was going to play a part later on in ending Saul’s campaign to destroy David. Eventually, David’s mercy and compassion on the people, and even on Saul, did cause Saul to stop his attacks on him.2
Most of the time, in spite of his many faults and failings, David depended on God and looked to Him for answers. Perhaps that is one reason why God called David a man after His own heart.3
When Saul was aggressively trying to destroy David, God didn’t allow him to succeed. In one instance, Saul was on one side of a hill, trying to find David and his men, who were just on the other side of that hill. But God sent the Philistines to attack Saul’s land so that he had to immediately stop pursuing David for a time in order to go and fight them.4 Saul, even with his many spies among the people, was never able to lay a hand on David.
This is a beautiful illustration of how, when we look to Jesus in our decision-making, He can and will guide us. It’s so easy to look at circumstances and figure that we’ve “been there and done that,” and to rely on past experience alone when deciding what to do. But only God sees the whole picture, which we cannot see.
It’s good to gain experience, and we do learn spiritual principles from the things we go through, but we can’t always know when other factors that we’re not aware of may be playing a part in the present situation we’re in.
The point is not that we have to be perfect in always looking to Jesus in every situation. It would be wonderful if that were possible, but it’s not. However, our inability to be perfect in this life shouldn’t cause us to give up trying to refine our skill of including God in our decisions as much as we can. Our decisions, big and small, are important to bring to Jesus. He speaks to each of our hearts in a special way.
He understands that we need to learn and grow. It takes time to grow in wisdom from the trials and errors we experience, but little by little our weaknesses can be transformed into strengths. God is merciful and compassionate, and He looks at our hearts, in spite of our shortcomings.
King David failed miserably on numerous occasions, such as when he sent out men to perform a census to count the number of fighting men he had available.5 He knew how to look to the Lord and depend on Him, yet in a moment of weakness and pride he looked to what he could see, the strength of numbers instead of God. He suffered a painful loss as a result, but he also grew stronger in his convictions to rely on God even more.
Another example of dependence on God is the apostle Paul. He’d started out as a vicious enemy of the Christians until Jesus convinced him of the truth. But once he came to know the Lord, he was determined to follow wherever Jesus led him. Though he faced ostracism by some of his own brethren and brutality and the threat of death from others who hated the truth he proclaimed, Paul wouldn’t stop following Jesus. His determination to go wherever God led him and his deep relationship with his Savior was instrumental in reaching countless millions with the gospel.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.”—Proverbs 3:5–6
In the times ahead we will no doubt make many mistakes, and we’ll give in to our faults and weaknesses at times, but if we make the effort to look to Jesus as much as we can, then He will work in and through our lives to achieve His good purposes.
We can look at Peter, whose worst failure of denying His Savior three times preceded his greatest testimonies and impact on the world. We may feel humiliated and ashamed at times about the imperfections that we struggle with and sometimes fall into. But Jesus’ love is more than able to bring good out of such things; and as we learn, grow, and mature, we will gain wisdom and a heart that more clearly reflects Jesus’ own heart. God’s perfect love for us casts out all fear; it replaces condemnation with forgiveness and hope. It opens our eyes to the importance of relying on Him more and more.
So, as you face decisions throughout your day and throughout your life, remember to do the best you can to keep your mind and heart open to God’s voice, in whatever way He communicates with you. This habit, when developed faithfully in small ways, gradually grows into a foundation of faith for the bigger decisions you face.
God speaks to you through His Word as you read, or through verses that the Holy Spirit reminds you of. When hearing His guidance, it doesn’t have to be through a formal prophecy. It might be the still small voice of God whispering in your heart, encouraging you, giving you gentle hints. It might be a picture, or simply a sense of what needs to be done, or a peace in your heart that He is guiding you.
His direction for you might also come through a sense of warning or apprehension that something isn’t right, even when there is nothing you can see that would explain that feeling. Sometimes He might open doors or allow certain circumstances to occur to help you see a glimpse of His plan. The more we choose to be open to His “voice” in whatever way He gives it, the clearer and stronger it becomes.
All of us who are doing what we can to follow God have faced our share of troubles and failures, and in most cases, we’ve eventually found that precious treasures have grown from the ashes of those things. We have gradually learned to keep going, keep making the decisions the best we can with His help, because we know that
“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.”—Philippians 1:6
We’re all a work in progress, but we can find great comfort in the fact that He has called us “the hope of glory” for others.
“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”—Colossians 1:27
And even when we fail to make the right decisions sometimes, there is no condemnation in Jesus, only mercy and forgiveness. When we look to Him, He can use even the bad things to help us grow wiser and stronger. Praise the Lord!