I would like to consider with you one response we might receive from the Lord when we pray and what impact our reaction can have on our lives. It can be a real struggle to even open up to the Lord, but even greater change can occur when we listen to his voice and act accordingly.
Read 2nd Samuel 5:17-25 and 1 Chronicles 14:10-16
Soon after David was anointed king, the Philistines came to attack him. He asked the Lord if he would grant him victory and the Lord blessed him. He received a “yes” from the Lord and was victorious. The story could end right there, and everyone would be satisfied. You ask about something, the Lord says yes, end of story. But there are two key behaviors that we should learn from King David in order to delight in the full capacity of the Lord.
In verse 21, Samuel states “and the Philistines left their idols there, and David and his men carried them away.” (ESV) The enemy attacked unsuccessfully, as they retreated, they left behind their relics, false gods, images and identifiable paraphernalia. The Lord gave David the victory that he needed, and before celebrating, before thanking his men, David goes to work for the Lord. He glorified the Lord by purging the land of all that came from the enemy. Verse 21 shows us the importance of honoring the Lord, regardless of how unfulfilling the action may be. Purging this land of these items also prevented that the enemy find something familiar when returning for another attack. We can never be sure that the enemy has run for good; there may be times when he may dare to attack once again, which is precisely what David experienced.
David also demonstrated humility in recognizing that his job was not done until he took care of the cleanup, the boring administrative work that easily gets pushed off to the side. He put God in first place, and, though he had victory, he knew that he must always be ready. The enemy would no longer find something familiar upon returning, and when they came back, David was ready for them. He was ready, he had already defeated them, and he knew exactly what to do. He already had a word from the Lord, a clear mandate and direction and so he went, and paused. Before carrying out with the direction that the Lord had already given him, he recognized that he must be continuously searching for the Lord’s direction, which is what he did.
David knew how to respond to the Philistines, but revered and feared the Lord. He stopped and sought the Lord’s direction once more. He did not rely on his own experience to tell him what to do, but continued in prayer. The Lord gave him another yes, but this time, David was given a unique set of instructions. He would not attack the Philistines as he had done so beforehand, rather the Lord guided him on an alternative path. He found victory once more in this alternative path.
It is important for us to consider that he may have still found victory if he had done what had worked last time, but such victory would have been victory alone and not a victory that is coupled with honoring the Lord and submitting to his ways and means. The Lord equips us, he teaches us and he raises us up in such a way that we will learn how to advance, but if we open up to the Lord, even in the areas where we are already proficient and trained, we will then gain the opportunity to conquer and obey, to win and to glorify the Lord. As much as we may come to know and understand through the knowledge that the Lord affords us, confirmation can only come from the Lord.
When the Lord says yes, we advance, but we must continuously submit ourselves so that we may have victory and be able to testify to the greatness of the Lord’s grace and mercy. King David placed himself and his army in second place when he ordered his men to carry away the idols that had been left behind. He recognized the need to prepare because he alone does not have the strength to fight, but he receives it from the Lord and will honor him at all times. Then, he presented himself to the Lord once more when he was again challenged, even though he had already been given victory in that place. Similarly, our response to God’s yes must be consistently humble and continue in prayer.