Have you ever been so sure of a course of action that “you just knew” that it was the right thing to do? Has there ever been a thing that you just couldn’t live without (car, jewelry, clothes, house…etc) and which the acquisition of that thing only brought about more complication in your life? Surely there are people who knew that their first wife was the person that they were supposed to marry. They divorce but now they learned their lesson and they just know that this second marriage is the correct next step for their lives.. Does that sound familiar? It should, because it has happened to all of us. These decisions can easily set us back a few years by turning us in a different direction than where God’s will is leading us. Once we get off track, we have to spend extra time and energy to get back on track. This is why it seems like our lives are never lived in a strait line. As a friend of mine says “it seems like my life is like a sailboat that I am constantly having to tack and jibe in a zig zag line in order to keep it on the right path.” He is right and we ourselves are the culprits. We consistently make our lives harder than they have to be and less fulfilling than they should be.
Have you ever seen a friend about to make a huge mistake that you were sure was not the best thing for them but nothing you could say to them would convince them otherwise? They might be about to buy a brand new car even though they are struggling to make their house payments or they are about to marry a guy that you know has a tendency to be unfaithful. I myself have made a huge mistake financially that has set me back big time. Here is the truth: I do not know what is best for me and you do not know what is best for you! Only God knows what is best for us. King Solomon tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
We have heard this verse time and time again but never understood its’ wisdom. Let’s break it down. First off in verse 5, we tend to hear “trust in your heart” when it should be “trust in the Lord – with all of your heart.” We constantly hear “what is your heart telling you to do” as a guide for how to make decisions. This is the reason why we end up overweight, in debt, heartbroken…etc. My heart rarely says “no dessert tonight” or “I really love her but we are not a good match.” Instead it says things like “yes, you can have another piece of cheesecake” and “she probably wouldn’t make a good wife, but man she is so hot.” I am as guilty of making this mistake as anybody. Often there is a way that seems right to me (proverbs 14:12) and I take it. I just assume that because circumstances have lined up the way they have and because “my heart is in the right place” that I know the right way to take. This is not so and oh how we pay for incorrect assumptions.
This was the sin that was credited to Saul in the old testament. In 1 Chronicles 10:13 it says “Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance and did not inquire of the Lord.” What I take away from this is that Saul, by choosing his own way, removed himself from God’s protection. I do not think that God killed him because he did not inquire of the Lord. If he would have consulted God, he probably would not have been fighting the battle that he was fighting when he died.
David on the other hand was considered righteous and was granted success because he inquired of the Lord. Look in 1 Chronicles 14, verses 9-11 “now the Philistines had come and raided the valley of Rephaim; so David inquired of God: ‘shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?’ The Lord answered him, ‘Go, I will hand them over to you.’ So David and his men went up to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them.” Verse 13 says that the Philistines “once again raided the valley” and I’m sure that if you or I were in charge of the Israeli army we would probably just assume “ok well God gave them into my hands the last time and this is the same exact situation. There is no reason why he wouldn’t do it again.” And we would attack, potentially like Saul, making a fatal mistake. David however, (v.14) “inquired of the Lord again, and God answered him, ‘Do not go straight up, but circle around them and attack them in front of the balsam trees. As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, move out to battle, because that will mean God has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.’ So david did as God commanded him, and they struck down the Philistine army..”
Going back to proverbs, God tells us that if we acknowledge or submit to Him in all of our ways, He will make our paths strait. There are many times when what God tells us does not make sense and we wonder why we cant just do it our way. We are free to do it our way, it will just make life a lot more complicated. I’ll bet david wondered “why do I have to attack them in front of the balsam trees, why not near the olive trees, which look like a much better spot strategically.” In times like this we should not “lean (or trust) in our own understanding” but trust in God until it makes sense and we understand.