2 Samuel 2 starts with the statement that David “asked” or “inquired of the Lord.” He was About To make a big strategic move, there would have been a lot of factors to consider including the practicalities of moving, safety, the willingness of his men to move back to Judah at a dangerous point and the politics involved in a statement of intent. However, David’s first concern was to know what God thought.
This phrase “asked the Lord” or “inquired of the Lord” crops up through 1 and 2 Samuel frequently but not frequently enough. There are times when David and his predecessor Saul just press on with their own ideas when they do, often calamity befalls them or God has to correct them through his prophet. Sometimes this happens over seemingly good things, the offering of a sacrifice, the building of a temple etc.
This is a reminder that living under God’s rule and reign with Jesus as King must mean that we seek his will as the starting point to any decision making process. This means that a daily prayer life for individuals and a corporate and consistent prayer life for the church are important things. It also means that we must listen to God.
How do we listen?
1. God speaks to us through his Word, Scripture. This is his chosen place to reveal his will to us. Now this is not about finding the special verse that magically aligns with the answer. And of course, we know that Scripture isn’t going to give us specific instruction about every little decision we make. What it does do, however, is enable us to know what aligns with his revealed will. Do our plans put his glory first? do they seek to further the Gospel? Will they help to build up the church? What are my motives? Do they put me or others in a position where we risk going against the clear command of Scripture? Will they cause disunity within the church? Do they demonstrate submission to one another?
2. We are more likely to make godly decisions within the context of body ministry, listening to the wise counsel of other Christians. In 2 Samuel 2:18-23, Asahal, one David’s might men chases after Abner, who is opposing Saul but it looks like he just does this on impulse. He acts alone and without instruction and as a result comes to a sticky end.
3. God uses our circumstances to draw us back to him and get us listening. This does not mean that we must always take the safe option, there is a place for taking appropriate risks.
Sadly, I’ve seen people make decisions where there’s no clear alignment of Scripture, against the best advice of others and where all the circumstances are saying “don’t do t.”
Now here is the dangerous bit. Sadly, people will describe this as “faith.” Sure, it may look unwise and risky but the person is stepping out in faith and God will honour their faith. No, they are stepping out in foolishness and trying to force God’s hand and the hand of others to support them in their venture.
Faith is about obediently listening to God and following him. It means that we trst his promises within the context of his covenant with his people. It means we act obediently in response to both his past grace to us at Calvary and his future grace to us when Christ returns even though things may look uncertain, risky and costly now. Faith means listening to God.