Seeking God – Like David

Prayer is at the core of the Christian’s life, and at the core of a church’s ministry. Much can be done without prayer (and sadly, it often is), but it is done in the flesh, trusting in talent, skill and determination. But not seeing the power and glory of Almighty God.

If we are going to experience God in a real and powerful way, we have to seek Him in prayer. That has been our focus in recent weeks during our prayer meetings at Vandalia Baptist Temple. We have been meditating on several passages of Scripture that refer to “seeking God” or “seeking” in prayer. What we have observed in each case is that seeking must be intentional, requires effort and sacrifice, or it will never happen on a consistent basis!

Our next passage is found in Psalm 63, one of my favorite passages of Scripture. We know from the last verse that David wrote this while he was king of Israel. But it was at a low point in his reign, probably during Absalom’s rebellion. King David had fled Jerusalem for his life, and was hiding in the wilderness of Judea, away from the Holy City and the tabernacle. But no matter where David was, he had a heart for seeking God. Notice what he writes:

 

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee:

My soul thirsteth for thee,

My flesh longeth for thee

In a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

To see thy power and thy glory,

So as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.

Psalm 63:1-2

 

Seeking was a priority

What I love about this passage is the word early. Not because I enjoy getting up when I’d rather be sleeping, but because it reflects David’s priorities. Of all the things that pulled at David’s life, schedule and physical body, seeking God was at the very top. He was intentional about putting his time with God before everything else – and that makes a difference. When our day begins with other things, it is inevitable that our time with God will get crowded out. So we must decide if it is important enough to us to sacrifice some of our sleep time (or to go to bed earlier) to make it happen.

Some have interpreted the word early to mean “early in life” (i.e. childhood), which certainly is important, and was true in David’s life. But in the rest of the psalm David writes about remembering the LORD while on his bed, and meditating on the LORD in the middle of the night, so it certainly was a regular part of David’s personal habits. It was a priority.

 

Seeking was about God

That sounds obvious enough, but notice what David was thirsting for and longing for: seeing the power and the glory of God. He had experienced it before “in the sanctuary,” and he longed to see it again. When you experience God’s glory in your life it fills you beyond description, but makes you want to experience it again and again. David was hiding for his life in a desert; He longed to see God’s power and glory again. So what did he do? He committed to seeking the LORD.

David knew from experience that God’s “lovingkindness is better than life” (vs. 3). That experience moved his lips to praise God and bless God. It moved his hands to be lifted in God’s name. It caused his heart to “rejoice in God” (vs. 11). It was all about God.

Too often our seeking is not about God, but about us. We pursue God for what we want out of it. There is something we want from God, so we ask for it, seek for it, knock for it. But what we fail to realize is that the thing is not what we really need. What we need is Him. When we seek the LORD for who He is, in all His power and all His glory, it has a way of taking care of everything else in life.

 

So let this be a challenge to us today. Make seeking God a renewed priority in your life, but also in your day, schedule, commitments. Sacrifice for it. Plan for it. Schedule it. Make it come first. And when you meet with God, make it about Him: His power, His glory. That will satisfy our soul like nothing else. 

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Enquiring Of God In Prayer – When Opportunity Knocks

II Samuel 2:1-4a

I cannot recall how many times I have seen people jump at the first opportunity they get, only to find themselves in situations they wish they had avoided. It happens with jobs, relationships, even ministry opportunities. That is why “enquiring of God in prayer” is so vital. Let’s learn a lesson from David.

This story unfolds at a critical moment in the history of Israel. David, still a national fugitive, is living in the Philistine town of Ziklag with his family and the families of his followers. He gets word that King Saul, and especially Prince Jonathan, have died in battle. The entire nation goes into mourning, even David. “How are the mighty fallen!” (1:19). Here is where our story picks up.

 

David’s Moment Of Opportunity

We have to remember that David knew this day was coming. Years earlier, God told the prophet Samuel that He had rejected Saul as king over Israel and sent Samuel to anoint David to be the next king. Even Jonathan, Saul’s son, knew that David would be the next king (not him).

And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons” (I Samuel 16:1).

But what David did not know was when. He kept serving Saul, year after year, playing music, leading the army in battle, earning the respect and trust of the people. David even passed up more than one opportunity to kill Saul when Saul was out to kill him! It wasn’t God’s timing. Now Saul was dead, and David had the opportunity to step in and seize the leadership of the nation. Talk about a job offer! A promotion opportunity!

 

David’s Response To This Moment

As soon as the time of mourning passed, David went to “enquire of the Lord” (vs. 1). David didn’t assume that it was God’s will for him to go back to Israel. He didn’t presume to know God’s timing for the transition. He turned to God and began asking questions.

Should I go up to the cities of Judah?” In other words, was it even time to move back at all? God responded, “Go up.” David then asks a follow up question, “Where should I go to?” God replied, “Go to Hebron.” Hebron was that famous town that Caleb wanted when they conquered the Promised Land.

David wanted God to guide every aspect of his decisions. This would affect his future, his family, and his country. David was willing to listen to God’s voice, and wait on God’s timing. Even when the opportunity must have seemed like a “no-brainer” to everyone around him, David still took time to pray about it and seek God’s counsel and direction.

The results were worth it (vs. 2-4a, 11). David was anointed king over the house of Judah for seven years, then would become king over all Israel for another 33 years. He would reign as king for four decades. But the transition came about by David enquiring of God in prayer.

 

This is how we ought to approach every decision – especially those that will impact the direction of our life and family. Too many times Christians assume that just because they get offered a job or promotion, or because they meet a great guy or girl, or face any “open door,” that it is God’s will. The devil can open doors too! Human wisdom, determination, and ingenuity can open doors. That doesn’t mean it’s God will and God’s time (both are vital). Our most important response to moment’s of opportunity is to turn to God in prayer (guided by His Word) for wisdom, discernment, and direction.

Enquiring of God in Prayer: When Your World Comes Crashing Down

I Samuel 30:1-8

 

Never is our faith put to the test more than when we face tragedy (tornados, fires, death). And the more unexpected the tragedy, the more it exposes what is truly in our heart, where we immediately turn. We certainly see that in the life of David.

During the time of David’s life in which he was fleeing from King Saul, he spent a year and four months in the land of the Philistines. He was given the town of Ziklag, where he and his troops set up residence, where their wives and kids lived as the men were off to battle. One day David and his men returned home to find the shock of their lives.

 

Tragedy At Home (vs. 1-5)

The soldiers approach their hometown to find it in smoldering ruins, and their wives and children gone. The Amalekites had burned down the city, and captured everyone present, including David’s two wives. They had lost everything they cherished. Not only did they experience what people experience after a tornado or house fire, but they didn’t know what this brutal enemy had done to their wives and daughters. Surely, they feared the worst.

These hardened soldiers begin to cry out and weep and it doesn’t stop until literally “they had no more power to weep” (vs. 4). They had no strength left in them to cry any more. They were broken.

 

Turning On David (vs. 6a)

That was a heavy enough burden to carry. But things got worse for David. The men who followed David turned on him. Their grief and mourning led them to direct their anger at their leader. Now they wanted David dead. They wanted someone to blame, and the leader is the easiest target.

The Bible says David became “greatly distressed.” He was under pressure, literally cramped and bound, emotionally. Feeling the weight of the world crashing down on him. Here is where we see the response of a “man after God’s own heart.”

 

Turning To God (vs. 6b-8)

David turned to the One who identifies Himself in Scriptures as “the God of all comfort” (II Cor. 1:3-4). When David was broken-hearted by the loss of his home and family, when he felt betrayed and unfairly accused, he literally found strength in his relationship with God. Gk. chazak – to strengthen, be courageous, grow firm, be resolute. He encouraged himself by turning to God. But it didn’t stop there.

David enquired of God as to what step to take next. He consults Abiathar the priest to ask God, “Should we go after the Amalekites?” As a husband and father, the natural instinct is to respond in anger, to seek revenge, to try and rescue your family (if they are still alive). But even those God-given emotions have to be yielded to the will of God. Sometimes we can do something honorable, but in a dishonorable way. We need to be sure that even in the midst of tragedy, we enquire of the Lord and seek His counsel and direction. David did, and God gave him the green light.

 

As you read the rest of the story you learn that David and the 600 men with him pursue the Amalekites, overtake them, slaughter the army all night long, and amazingly rescued every single thing or person that had been stolen (vs. 19). By turning to God for comfort, strengthen, and direction, David also restored his credibility and trust as a leader. Even today, when our world comes crashing down, we must be resolved to enquire of God in prayer.