These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.
Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 18 ~ Apr. 27-May 3
1 Chronicles 6-12, 2 Samuel 5:1-10, Psalm 81, 88, 92-93, 102-104, 133, 106-107
We all face difficult and confusing times of decision in our lives. Should I marry this guy or not? Which job should I take? What’s the best plan of action in X situation? How can we know for sure which decision God wants us to make?
1 Samuel 8:4-7, 2 Samuel 5:1-10
In these two passages, we see Israel’s decision to have a king to rule over them. In the first passage, which we studied a few weeks ago, the leaders wanted Saul (they didn’t know his name yet, but they sure had his résumé!). In the second, they wanted David. Two times when the government of Israel was at a crossroads. Two times when Israel’s leadership wanted a king. Two kings coronated. Similar circumstances, the same desire, similar outcomes. But even though the situations were so similar, were both decisions made the right and godly way?
Let’s take a look at some principles for godly decision-making and see how these principles worked themselves out in the Israelites’ situations with Saul and David.
Principles for Godly Decision-Making:
One thing we need to be careful about with the following principles is that we are not using them to manipulate God into making us make the right decision. Any time we modify our behavior in order to try to make God do what we want, we’re guilty of idolatry, even if what we want seems to be godly. The principles listed below are all things we should be doing or believing on a daily/regular basis because they are part of the obedient Christian walk, not just because we have a big decision to make. Godly decisions are a side effect of this kind of walk, not the end goal.
1. In order to make godly decisions, you must be saved (1 Corinthians 2:14-16, 2 Corinthians 5:17).
People who are unsaved aren’t capable of making godly decisions, because the motivation behind making godly decisions is the desire, from the heart, to please and be obedient to God. God, in His grace, may lead an unsaved person via his circumstances to make a certain decision, but the motive of his heart will still not be to please God. We are not capable of that motive unless we are saved.
2. Delight yourself in the Lord (Psalm 37:3-4).
Because Christians are new creatures with the mind of Christ, we have an inborn desire to love God, His word, and the things of God (godly preaching, books, music, friends, etc.). But this desire must be cultivated (3- New American Standard Bible translation) through a daily walk with the Lord, spending time in His word and prayer, and intentionally seeking out godly influences.
It’s like one of those “miraculous” weight loss stories we often hear. An extremely obese person decides he’s going to lose weight. The desire of his heart is there—he’s fed up with his looks and poor health, and he wants to tackle the problem and get healthy. But if he doesn’t intentionally do something, the weight isn’t going to come off, despite the desire. He starts off slowly. Maybe he cuts out cokes and walks around the block three times a week. As he progresses, his desire to cut bad things from his diet, add good things, and exercise more, builds. Not only does he see results, but he begins to enjoy the healthier diet and exercise more and more, and becomes even more committed to them. Eventually, he loses the weight and maintains a healthy lifestyle.
That’s how it is with delighting in the Lord. Through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Christ helps us to intentionally cultivate faithfulness, and we grow in our love and affection for the Lord. As a result, He gives us the desires of our heart—to be more Christlike.
With Saul, were the Israelites delighting in the Lord? Definitely not. In fact, it was their lack of delighting in the Lord that led them to demand a king against God’s wishes. With David? Israel had just been through the consequences of having Saul as king and they knew God had ordained that David be the next king, plus he was a great military leader. Which of these motivated them the most? It’s hard to tell, but it feels like they were acquiescing to the inevitable, and the practical desire for military strength rather than repenting and taking an affirmative step towards godliness.
3. God’s word is sufficient for our every need (Hebrews 1:1-3a, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Often, when we read the Bible, it’s easy to long for God to speak to us one on one, through a burning bush, a fleece, a prophet, or some other form of direct revelation. But now that we have God’s complete written Word, we no longer need direct revelation, nor does God want us to seek that. Hebrews and Timothy tell us that God no longer speaks that way and that His word is sufficient for our every need. Additionally, we now have access to God’s word any time we need it. We don’t have to wait for Him to miraculously show up. Finally, if we were to rely on signs or “hearing God’s voice,” how could we be sure we’re really hearing from God and not our own sinful inner voice, or worse, Satan? God’s word is absolutely trustworthy. When we read it, we can be 100% certain we’re hearing from God. And remember, Israel (and others in the Bible) did hear directly from God, and they still often disobeyed.
4. Know God’s word and study God’s word in context as it applies to your situation (Psalm 119:11, Deuteronomy 17:14-15).
We must study God’s word daily; even memorize it, so that we can apply it to every aspect of our lives. As we do, it’s very important to study it in context so we can be sure we’re applying the correct biblical principles.
Did Israel know God’s word as it applied to the situation with Saul? Yes. They certainly knew Deuteronomy 17, which predicted they would demand a king, and outlined the regulations for a king of God’s choosing. They also knew that God was, and always had been, the only king they needed, and that He did not want them to demand a king.
With David? Yes. Through Samuel’s prophecy, Israel already knew David was to be the next king and that he had already been anointed.
5. Obey God’s word (1 Samuel 15:22).
As we can see with Israel’s demand for a king (Saul), knowing God’s word isn’t enough. We also have to obey it. Sometimes it can seem like sin is the most practical way out of a situation, but it is only a temporary fix. Even when we try to put a godly spin on our disobedience, as Saul did in 1 Samuel 15, it is still disobedience. As Saul learned the hard way, God wants us to be obedient to Him regardless of our circumstances. With David, Israel, whatever her motivations were, obeyed God and made David king.
6. Know your “bent” (Psalm 139:13-14).
God has created each of us uniquely. We are all “bent” toward certain things and away from others. One of the ways God may show us the things He wants us to do and not do is through the talents, tastes, and abilities He has given us. If you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, that’s a pretty good indication God doesn’t want you to sing for a living. If you love numbers, that may be God’s way of leading you into a math-related field. Other times, we may be thrust into a situation in which we have to learn a new skill. We might just discover a talent we didn’t know we had!
7. Pray, and ask others to pray with you about the situation, especially for wisdom and guidance (James 1:5-6).
Some things we don’t need to pray about because they are clearly taught in God’s word. We don’t need to pray about whether we should attend church regularly, be faithful to our spouses, help those in need, etc. But, some situations aren’t as clear. James tells us that if we lack wisdom, all we have to do is ask God for it in faith, and He will give it to us. It’s a promise. We may not feel very wise, but we don’t operate on feelings. We take God at His word and trust Him as we continue to take the next step and the next.
With Saul, did Israel pray about the situation or ask God for wisdom in selecting a king? No. And even though God tried to provide them with wisdom- spelling out the consequences of their demand- they insisted on disobeying Him. They did not need to pray about making David king. God had already made it clear that he was the next to take the throne.
8. God has given you (and others) a brain for a reason (Proverbs 11:14, 24:5-6, 18:15)
Seek counsel from godly people you trust. Take what they say, make sure it matches up with Scripture, and pray about it. In other situations, such as a medical diagnosis, you may need to do some research and gather information so you can make an educated decision. Finally, trust that God, our wonderful Creator has hard wired you with the ability to process information and make the best decision you can with His help and guidance.
With Saul, God directly gave Israel godly counsel and information through Samuel. They chose to reject it and disobey, and suffered the consequences. With David, Israel also had all the information they needed to make the right decision. This time, they obeyed.
9. Trust in God’s sovereignty to direct your steps and work things out for your good (Proverbs 3:5-6; 16:9, Psalm 37:23-24, Romans 8:28).
Sometimes our desire to do what God wants us to do is so strong that we become paralyzed by the fear that we’re going to do the wrong thing. When we do that, our trust is no longer in God’s sovereignty over the situation. We have shifted our trust from God—where it should be—to ourselves—where it should not be.
God’s sovereignty over situations does not rest on our actions. We can clearly see this in Israel’s situation with Saul. Even though they didn’t desire to please God, He had complete control of the situation and worked it out for His will to be done in the long run. How much more can we trust God to take care of our situations, if it is our desire to please Him, since He promises to do so?
10. Trust that God understands and has compassion on the frailty of His children (Psalm 103:14).
You aren’t God. You aren’t omniscient, knowing all the ins and outs of your situation. In most cases there is at least some aspect of the situation in which you are powerless. Every time you make a decision, you do it with only partial knowledge and partial control (at best). God knows all of this better than we do. That’s why He tells us to love Him, seek to honor Him, ask Him for wisdom, and trust Him.
One of the natural outgrowths of walking with the Lord is making more godly decisions. We must use the resources He has given us: His word, godly counsel, information, prayer, and wisdom, and trust Him to work everything out for our good.
The Problem with Seeking God’s Will by Matt Papa