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Seeking God or going it alone?

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They should have asked. The Israelites should have asked the Lord God whether they would gain the victory. Instead, they pushed ahead without consulting Him and thousands lost their lives.

In a day and time when men “did what was right in their own eyes,” (Judges 21:25), Israel was no exception. The people had long forgotten the one who led their ancestors out of slavery in Egypt. Maybe they had not forgotten Him totally, but they no longer revered Him. He was just a by-word — merely a good-luck charm, a token used when something was needed.

Sounds a lot like today, doesn’t it?

Anyway, in 1 Samuel 4, we find the Israelites doing exactly what God had told them to do. They were supposed to rid the Promised Land of all the inhabitants, including the Philistines. So, Israel got the troops together and attacked, expecting victory. Instead, they lost 4,000 men. Then, they turned on God blamed Him for the disaster. They said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies.”

Did you notice that after they blamed Him for allowing their plans to fail, they moved right past their own question? Then without listening for a reason “why,” they moved quickly to another plan — a plan which would this time cost them 30,000 footsoldiers.

Really? Why would God allow the Israelites to fail miserably in the endeavor He had told them to accomplish? Well, if we take a second look, I think we will better understand.

Scripture doesn’t tell us that the Israelites consulted God before they attacked the Philistines. It doesn’t say that God told them to go. Even after they lost the first time, we aren’t told they begged God for an answer. Instead, it says that they blamed God, coming up with their own plan.

I wonder what they would have heard if they had listened? I wonder if His answer to them would be for them to repent of their godlessness, of using Him as a token God, or of taking the things that He says are holy and treating them as commonplace? I wonder if they would have recognized their deliberate sinfulness and repented, gaining the victory over the Philistines without losing any husbands, fathers, grandfathers or sons.

Yet before we chide them for their obvious mistakes, we’d better look a little closer to home. How many times do we push past God in our attempt to get something done and then blame Him when it doesn’t turn out well? How many times do we force His will for us, having no idea of the sin that has taken control of our lives and distorted our thinking?

The “take-home” is this: We’d be so much better off making sure that before we do anything in our day (not just the big stuff), that we have spent time with the Father. We must hear His heart.

We must be pure before Him in order to truly accomplish His desires. We must ask Him about the plans for our day and then listen to hear Him speak. We might be surprised to find out that there is something else we need to do before we do the thing He’s called us to do.

Prayer: “Oh, Father, forgive me. Forgive me for turning a blind eye to your words to me, so that I can fulfill the plans I think You have for me. Help me listen better. I love You, Father.”

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