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David and asking God

While reading through the books of 1 and 2 Samuel, I was struck by the way the story of David is told. In his earlier years, David would ask God ‘should I do such and such?’: ‘shall I go down and attack the Amalekites?’, for instance. Later on, once he became king, this seems to stop. It isn’t that his faith is any less; his response to the prophet Nathan shows that it isn’t (see 2 Samuel 12:13). But his instinctive asking of God before acting seems to lessen. Now, I am only saying this based on what I have picked up when reading through these passages, rather than doing an exhaustive survey – you may wish to read them yourself (see 1 Samuel 16 on and the whole of 2 Samuel). Neither am I a biblical scholar, and there may be many reasons why this discrepancy occurs that I am not aware of. But I felt that it was interesting that, while David was vulnerable and an outlaw, he depended on God more than when he became king. (Compare, for instance, 1 Samuel 30:7-8; 2 Samuel 2:1; 2 Samuel 11:1; 2 Samuel 15:14). As David became more secure and confident, did his instinctive asking of God for guidance decrease? Whether this was true for David is not the ultimate point of this blog; what got me thinking is about how likely it is that we might react the same way. Not that many of us are outlaws; but how many of us pray hard when we are in a new situation, or feeling unconfident, only to decrease that prayer once we are feeling surer of what we are doing? Do we depend on God more at some times than others - and should we?

 

There is every good reason to ask God’s help if we are feeling vulnerable, or uncertain; but there are also lots of good reasons why we should also do this when we are in situations that we are more familiar with. I wonder how different David’s life might have been had he continued that instinctive asking of God before taking a major action? God is there for us at all times of our lives, and we should depend on God whether we are confident or not. At those times when we are secure, and when we know what we are doing, then we should run to God for help just as much. For help, not in feeling secure, but to react correctly, to act lovingly and to stay within God’s will. How much of our prayer for help is less about staying within God’s will, but for help in dealing with uncomfortable feelings of fear or stress? Again, there is nothing wrong with praying about these feelings, and it is quite okay to ask God to help with them. But there is more to God’s help than that: there is seeking after God’s will, following God’s way; there is doing what God wishes us to do, rather than what we think we should. There is living our lives in dependence on God, rather than living out of our own strength.

 

So, do we? How much of our lives do we depend on God, rather than ourselves? Do we make a habit of offering each day to God? Do we regularly return to God throughout the day? Do we pray, however briefly, before a meeting or social occasion? How do we structure our lives so that at every moment we are dependent on God, whether we are consciously aware of it or not? It’s easier said than done, I admit; and, like David, there are times when we will get it wrong; times when we will forget, or go our own way; times when we will need to be recalled to the true path. When Nathan confronted David about the wrong he had done to Bathsheba and Uriah, David acknowledged his fault (see 2 Samuel 11 and 12). Do we also have the wisdom to acknowledge our mistakes, and the courage to atone and say sorry? Do we have the ability to return to God when we have strayed, rather than stubbornly maintaining our own way? To let go of whatever gets in the way of our relationship with God?

 

To let go and let God take control involves humility; it means acknowledging that we are not in control. It means honesty, both about ourselves, about others and about God. It means allowing God to be God, and not trying to make god in our own image, or in that of other people. It means knowing that we do not always know the answer, that God is greater than our understanding; it means acknowledging that other people may be right. It means not allowing ourselves to get comfortable, and secure in our own position. It means a daily journey where we can become closer and closer to God, throughout all the various different events and circumstances of our lives. It means, at times, not knowing whether we are dependent on God, or not. Vitally, it is not about our emotions, or whether we feel close to God or not; it is not about whether we feel good about ourselves, or not; it is about whether we depend on God; whether we wish to depend on God. It is not something we can ever achieve; we will never ‘get there’; it is something we can only practice day by day. Daily, hourly, minutely: for each second of each day to become part of our lives through and for God; and, in each second, each minute that we realise that we have gone astray, we need only return to God in sorrow and start again. God is always there, longing for us to return.

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