Tag Archives: God’s will
Wouldn’t it be great if you could inquire of the Lord — and He would answer you directly? David learns of the Philistine’s attacking the people of Keilah and looting their threshing floors. David asks the Lord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?”
The Lord clearly responds, “Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” (vv. 1-2).
But David’s men are fearful. They say, “Here in Judah we are afraid. How much more, then, if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!” (v. 3). Apparently they had not heard the Lord’s voice in telling them to attack the Philistines.
David condescends to his men and inquires a second time of the Lord. The Lord repeats His command: “Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand.” (v. 4).
David and his men obey, fight the Philistines, inflict heavy losses on them, and save the people of Keilah (v. 5). Obeying the Lord is always the right choice!
But how did David know what to do? [I’ve used several commentaries to help with the rest of this post]. We are told parenthetically: “Now Abiathar son of Ahimelek had brought the ephod down with him when he fled to David at Keilah.” (v. 6). One commentator says that in his fright and flight Abiathar came down with the ephod in his hand. Not the linen ephod on his back which the priests in common wore, but the ephod with the Urim and Thummim in his hand. It is likely that this wasn’t just any ephod; this was the ephod of the High Priest, which had the breastplate of judgment (Exodus 28:15) attached to it (Exodus 28:28). The breastplate had in it a pouch with two stones, known as the Urim and Thummim (Exodus 28:30). When David inquired of the LORD, he probably asked Abiathar to use the Urim and Thummim.
How did the priest use the Urim and Thummim to inquire of the LORD? The names Urim and Thummim mean “Lights and Perfections.” We aren’t sure what they were or how they were used. Most think they were a pair of stones, one light and another dark, and each stone indicated a “yes” or “no” from God. The idea is that High Priest would ask God a question that could be answered with a “yes” or a “no,” reach into the breastplate, and pull out the stone indicating God’s answer. This ephod, with the Urim and Thummim, was more helpful to David than a thousand soldiers, because it helped him discern the will of God.
Many Christians today would consider the Urim and Thummim as crude tools of discernment — sort of an Old Testament “Magic 8-Ball.” In fact, using the Urim and Thummim was superior to the tools many Christians today use: relying purely on feeling, or on outward appearances, or simply using no discernment at all. The key to the effectiveness of the Urim and Thummim was that God’s Word gave them. In seeking God through the Urim and Thummim, one was really going back to God’s Word for guidance, because it was the word of God that commanded their place and allowed their use. Today, if we have the same focus on God’s Word, He will guide us also. One old preacher was asked to explain the Urim and Thummim. He said, “Well, this is how I understand it. When I need to know God’s will, I get out my Bible and I do a lot of usin’ and thummin’ through my Bible, and God always speaks to me.” More Christians would know God’s will if they did more usin’ and thummin’!
“Go, and attack the Philistines, and save Keliah!” By all outward appearance, this was a crazy thing to do. First, David had 400 men whose had thin resumes and bad credit reports (everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him, 1 Samuel 22:2); not exactly a regular army! Second, David had enough trouble with Saul, and he didn’t need to add trouble from the Philistines – one enemy is usually enough! Third, this would bring David wide open out before King Saul, and expose him to that enemy also. This was a dangerous course of action!
Then why do it at all? David had two great reasons: the command of God, and the need of the people. David was willing to spend himself, to endanger himself, so that he obey the command of God, and meet the need of the people.
The area they use has two cliffs: one called Bozez and the other Seneh. Jonathan says “Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether, by man or by few.” (v. 6).
Jonathan then proposes a test: “After the Philistines see us, if they say ‘wait there and we’ll come to you’, we’ll stay where we are. If they say, ‘Come up to us’, we’ll climb up, knowing the Lord has given them into our hands.” (vv. 8-10).
They show themselves to the Philistine outpost who say, “The Hebrews are crawling out of their holes”! They then invite Jonathan and his armor-bearer to “come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson!” (v. 12).
Jonathan leads the way up the cliff (I assume the armor-bearer was supposed to advance ahead of him?) and they kill 20 Philistines! (v. 14).
Some takeaways for me:
1. While not everything in the Bible is prescriptive (meaning that every believer should do this or that action), all is certainly descriptive (what biblical characters did is described to us). There are no Philistines for us to sneak up on and attack, so we are reading descriptive material here.
2. Jonathan’s statement: “Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether, by man or by few.” (v. 6), is profound. We don’t always know God’s will. Sometimes it is that we fail. But the problem is never one of His lack of power.
3. The puzzling thing in this text is Jonathan’s either/or test of the Lord. He bases his decision to engage or not engage this Philistine outpost on what those enemy combatants will say! And their “Come up here — We’ll teach you a lesson” is confirmation enough for Jonathan to go to battle! Again, this is descriptive of what Jonathan did. I don’t believe it is prescriptive for every believer!
4. Notice that there was still a battleground to be climbed up to (sorry for the poor English) and a fight to be fought. The Lord, indeed, gave the Philistines into Jonathan’s hands, but then those hands had to fight!
Biblically we can affirm Jonathan’s statement about the Lord’s ability in verse 6 without resorting to his way of determining the will of God in verses 8-10. And by God’s strength, we can do our best in fighting the battles the Lord puts before us!
What a contrast: Eli’s sons showing contempt for the Lord’s sacrifice; Samuel’s mother providing clothing for her son as he was serving the Lord!
Eli prays for Elkanah and his wife [note the non-mention of Penniah] — that she would bear more children to take the place of the one she “gave to the Lord” (v. 20). We read, “And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters.” And the boy Samuel “grew up in the presence of the Lord” (v. 21).
We learn of the further wickedness of Eli’s sons. They even slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting! They effectively treated the Lord’s presence as an opportunity to pursue prostitution! (v. 22). Eli tries to rebuke them, asking them why they do such things, that their deeds are wicked, and that there can be no mediator for their sins against the Lord! (vv. 22-25). We then read, “His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the Lord’s will to put them to death” (v. 25). What an amazing statement!
Here we have the juxtaposed positions of man’s refusal to listen and the Lord’s will to execute them for their wickedness. But we read of Samuel that he “continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people” (v. 26). This reminds us of the Lord Jesus of whom we read in Luke 2:52- “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Thank God for our great Intercessor, the Lord Jesus, for all our sins are “against the Lord,” aren’t they?