When I am about to make a decision, especially a ‘minor’ one like should I go and see this person, or should I do this or that activity, or should I apply for this or that job, or even whether I should buy this or that, the thought comes to mind ‘should I ask God?’ But I have made it a habit of brushing aside it aside. More often than not I solely tend to ask God for guidance on more of the... ‘bigger’ things in life. But that is not how it should be.
As I was perusing through the life of David what really was evident from his life and what is recurring in scripture is this line – “...David enquired of the Lord….” (1 Samuel 23:2; 23:4; 2 Samuel 2:1).
David was a man who made it a habit to ask God for guidance, it wasn’t an afterthought.
“It happened after this that David enquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up to any of the cities of Judah?”
And the Lord said to him, “Go up.”
David said, “Where shall I go up?”
And He said, “To Hebron.”” - 2 Samuel 2:1
There are different levels of seeking God’s guidance in life and the steps that we should take. There is a level where we want to know, in a general sense, what God wants us to do and there is another level where we yearn for God to order our steps in a minute type of way. David in this verse opted for the latter, he yearned for God to give him specific direction and instruction.
A little interjection here is key I think. Sometimes God may not guide you minutely and may, depending on the circumstance, want you to exercise the reasoning powers He has blessed you with, so He will allow you to choose a certain course of action. In some cases God will allow you to decide without giving you specific, minute direction or a sign saying go on this path. Sometimes when we come to God with a this or that option, both may be great options and God leaves it with us to weigh the pros and cons of each.
The first observation from David’s interaction with God is that David had a desire to do something, hence why he asked “Shall I….” But his desire was subject to God’s approval. It's okay to want something, God is our heavenly Father and we can tell Him the desires of our heart and it is promised that if we delight ourselves in the Lord He shall give us those desires (Psalm 37:4). But David did not want to do something that would displease God or that would fall short of His ideal plan for Him.
1. Our desires must be subject to God’s approval.
After subjecting his desire to God’s approval, David went on and asked God for guidance in a general sense, “Shall I go up to any of the cities of Judah?”– this is a general seeking of God’s guidance.
To make this verse clearer, consider the fact that there were at least 11 cities in Judah: that is like asking God if should I go to any of the cities in England… think about how many cities there are in England or in your country – many I'm sure. But 2 Samuel 2:1 is an example of the process we should take in seeking God’s guidance in all areas of life: David's search for direction started off broad and then narrowed down.
God could have desired David to go to Assyria or one of the Babylonian cities or another empire. But by starting off broad David wanted to find out whether God even wanted him to go to Judah. Oftentimes in seeking guidance, we start narrow: “Lord, I've been great friends with Jenny for some time now, she is an amazing young Christian lady, so on fire for you and I want to know, please Lord, is she the one? Is she someone that I should take the next step with?”
There is nothing wrong in that prayer but often we start off narrow, we haven’t asked God the bigger and more important question, “is it your will for me to get married or to be in a relationship right now? Is this the right time in my life to be in a relationship?” or “am I in the place I should be spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally to even consider finding a potential someone?”
What we can glean from David’s enquiring of God is that:
2. He asked the more important questions first.
When seeking God’s guidance ask the bigger and most important questions first, by doing so it will also help you answer the initial question you had (e.g. if you are not in the right place to be entertaining a potential someone, let that potential someone be, keep it moving and focus on you until the God see's it fit).
Now it is all well and good to set our hearts on seeking God’s guidance in all areas of our lives but often a key ingredient that we forget in this process is – waiting on God. Waiting according to the dictionary is to “stay where one is or delay action until a particular time or event”, in this case it is for God’s direction, waiting for Him to say “this is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).
After David inquired of the Lord on the course he wanted to pursue, he opened up his ears and patiently waited on the Lord to direct his path.
Practically speaking that means:
3. Spending time in His word.
You cannot say God is silent if your Bible is closed.
The Psalmist says “order my steps”, not my leaps or my skydives, “in your word” – he says “steps” (Psalm 119:133). He also says God’s word “is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). As we open up God’s word to hear Him speak to us, His word will show us where we are, “a lamp to my feet”, and will direct us in the way we should go, “a light unto my path.”
As we seek God’s guidance in the steps we should take, it is key we stay anchored and immersed in His Word because the primary way in which God speaks to us is through the Bible.
But often and I am guilty as charged, we don’t wait to hear God's voice, we grow weary and hasty.
4. Wait to hear His voice
I heard about a woman who, after coming back from a concert in an opera house, discovered she had lost a valuable diamond pin. Frantically, she called the manager of the opera house and asked whether her pin was found. The manager asked the number of her seat, then told her to hold the line and he would have a look. He found the pin, but when he got back to the phone to inform the lady he found that the woman had hung up.
We are that woman sometimes, we grow weary and restless – we don’t wait on the Lord.
Listen to what David says:
“Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!”- Psalm 27:14
After following his own counsel, David received guidance on where he should go, God instructed him, to go “to Hebron”. The beautiful thing about our heavenly Father is that He wants to guide us but what we often forget is that He wants to make us prosper, we forget that the plans He has for us are way better than our plans for ourselves, that His ways are so much higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9; Jeremiah 29:11), that He cares for us more than we care for ourselves! If only we would wait on Him and trust Him.
Now that we have:
1. Subjected our desires to His approval
2. Asked the more important questions
3. Spent time in His word
4. Waited to hear His voice
There is a final step which is the icing on the cake:
5. Obeying what He instructs us to do.
This is where the rubber hits the road.
2 Samuel 2:2 tells us that “David went up…”, in other words, David did what God instructed him to do; James knew what he was talking about when he said “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22).
No matter how hard it may be, no matter how far it may be from our plans and our desires, we must obey – this is where most of us fail.
Recall the closing scenes of Christ as He spent all night in prayer pleading with God, Jesus (I say this respectfully) repeatedly was talking the talk by stating “not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42) but if Jesus did not literally (and figuratively) walk the walk to take up His cross and die for you and me, all of His “not My will, but Yours be, be done” would have been in vain. Why? Because it was the Father’s perfect will for Jesus to suffer and die for you and me; this plan was set in place before the foundation of this world (Revelation 13:8). Jesus, like David, not only sought guidance from God but ultimately He also did it – that is the essence of enquiring of the Lord.
I don’t know what you are asking guidance from God for but above all else when God reveals to you the way that you should walk, I pray that you will genuinely say “all that the Lord has spoken [I] will do” (Exodus 19:8) and that your actions will match that commitment.