Today’s reading: I Samuel 28-31.
We have all wished we could hear more directly from God. But ask yourself, what extra responsibility would you bear if you had such a revelation? Continuing I Samuel’s theme of contrasting personalities, we can see that David and Saul had greatly differing experiences with hearing God’s voice. At the end of his life, Saul found himself in desperate fear, longing to hear a word from God, and unable to do so.
The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all the Israelites and set up camp at Gilboa. When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.” I Samuel 28:4-7
Saul’s failure to hear God began with his loss of faith in God. Remember the time he couldn’t wait on Samuel because the Philistines were closing in? His distance from God grew greater as he openly rebelled against God by failing to completely eradicate the Amalekites. Along the way he tried to kill David and his own son and annihilated a village of priests whom he mistrusted. All of these actions were grievous, but the biggest mistake of all was that he never repented of them. It’s no surprise then, that when he called on God he found God unwilling to answer. He was crying for help, but he wasn’t asking for forgiveness.
David also found himself in a desperate situation. He returned home to find his village burned and all the people taken away captive by the Amalekites (whom Saul had failed to eliminate). His men threatened to kill him, but rather than shrinking in terror David call on the LORD.
David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God. Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, and David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?” “Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.” I Samuel 30:6-8
David called on the LORD and received an answer. Unlike Saul, he made it a habit to seek God when questions arose. The Psalms illustrate how much he prayed to God, both in times of trouble and on occasions of triumph. David also confessed and fell on his face before God when confronted with his sin.
The only voice Saul heard was the voice of a spirit called up by an occult medium. Was it really Samuel? I doubt it. It was more likely a voice from Satan himself designed to weaken and discourage Saul, and it worked. Saul went into battle a broken man, and died by his own hand. David heard from God and was strengthened, and went on to victory.
- David made it a habit to seek God’s will.
- David put himself under God’s authority and obeyed.
- When confronted, David confessed his mistakes.
- David lived by faith in God.
When you seek God’s voice and will, remember that today we almost always hear his words through the Bible, prayer, the counsel of wise Christians, and the providential circumstances which God uses to guide us.
Image by Steven Shorrock on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0