II Samuel 5:17-25
There are many things in life (perhaps even most) about which we already know God’s will. We don’t have to pray about it … we know (moral commandments, tithing, sharing the Gospel, church attendance). But when it comes to specific decisions about which God has not specifically revealed His will, we must be faithful to enquire of God in prayer, to seek counsel of God. And we must do this each and every time, every single time.
Today we encounter another case of David not making assumptions, but seeking God before acting. And he gives us another great example to follow. After reigning for 7½ years as king over Judah (in Hebron), David is approached by the elders of Israel about becoming king over all Israel. David agrees and is anointed king, to eventually reign from Jerusalem for the next 33 years. But this decision didn’t sit too well with Israel’s long-term enemies: the Philistines.
The Enemy Advances (vs. 17-18)
It was like an automatic reflex: David becomes king, the Philistines attack – possibly trying to defeat him before he could set up his kingdom and build the city of David. They spread their armies out in battle formation across the valley. David hears about it and heads to the “hold” (lit. stronghold, castle, fortress; possibly even the cave of Adullam, 23:13). But he doesn’t go to hide.
David Seeks Direction (vs. 19-21)
David did as was his custom: he enquired of the Lord. “Should I go fight the Philistines? Will we have your blessing? Will you give us the victory?” These are important questions! Does God want us to commit to a task, endeavor, project, ministry – even if it’s a good one? If we commit, will we have God’s blessing? Will God give us the victory?
David sought the Lord first, then obeyed as soon as God gave the command. This is how it ought to be. And as a result, the Philistines were defeated. But these were stubborn rascals…
The Enemy Returns (vs. 22)
It was like a broken record, like a swatting a fly that keeps coming back. “The Philistines came up yet again,” and set up their army in the same valley as before (possibly the next year, we don’t know the time lapse). Second verse, same as the first!
It would be great if problems would go away after the first blow. If temptations could be defeated once and for all, forever. If Satan would get the hint, and leave us alone! But that is not reality. The war is not over, nor will it be during our lifetime on earth. So what do we do when the same problem presents itself again? Look at David…
David Seeks Direction Again (vs. 23-25)
Notice the word when (vs. 23a). Enquiring of the Lord was an automatic thing for David. It had become an engrained part of his life and leadership. What a testimony! You see, he didn’t assume that what and how God wanted things done the first time, would be true the second time. He didn’t just go after the Philistines because that’s what God said the first time. He sought the Lord again, every single time.
And it was a good thing he did. Even though God would give them the victory again, He would use a different method, strategy. David was not to go straight up, but to go around them and attack from behind. (“Going round the mulberry bush”) David again obeyed God’s command and experienced yet another victory.
In the Christian life and ministry, we know we need to seek the Lord’s guidance and direction. But we tend to think that God’s methods don’t change, that what God used once is what He will always use; that what God wanted us to do last year is what He wants us to do this year. We make assumptions. We talk about “doing things God’s way,” but we need to be careful. What if God wants us to do things differently, or not at all? We must enquire of God in prayer continually, and be like David, willing to follow whatever God’s commands – even if it’s different from before. Only then can we experience His blessing and victory.