When David became King of Israel the author purposely contrasts David’s listening to the Lord with Saul’s disobedience. Saul was defeated because of his disobedience, he had not listened to the Lord. David, on the other hand, is portrayed as someone who enquires of the Lord. David realises that each situation is different and he needs to seek the Lord in fresh ways. People often say that God has spoken once for all in His word and that is true but that does not mean that he is now a silent God, or a God confined to speaking through the pages of a book. The character and attributes of the Triune God show that he is a God who relates to his people. Obviously, in that relationship, he never contradicts his written word and it is that Word which we use to test everything else. David knows that as he seeks God he will guide David in the best way to act. We too can have a confidence that the living God wants to guide and direct our paths. We should live more in the expectancy of hearing from God through his word and through prophetic direction and the varied gifts of the Holy Spirit.
David found himself as we so often do in the situation where he was being attacked because he was walking in God’s ways, David had been anointed not only by the people but much earlier by Samuel at the express command of God. After years of problems he is at last able to walk in the path, God had singled out for him. It is important to stress here that David knew years before what God would eventually do but he had to wait for God’s timing, David’s life was far from easy as he waited but the trials of the waiting period would help shape his characters for the battles that lay ahead of him. When God keeps us waiting we grow impatient but the Lord uses these times to cause us to grow and become more godly. But I want to show now how David had learnt to depend on the Lord when life gets tough.
17 When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him, but David heard about it and went down to the stronghold. 18 Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; 19 so David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?”
The LORD answered him, “Go, for I will surely deliver the Philistines into your hands.”
20 So David went to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them. He said, “As waters break out, the LORD has broken out against my enemies before me.” So that place was called Baal Perazim. 21 The Philistines abandoned their idols there, and David and his men carried them off.
The New International Version. (2011). (2 Sa 5:17–21). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
The Philistines were opposed to everything that the Kingship of David stood for and they wanted to rid the world of this man. They declared war and gathered in a great number to oppose David but David does not just go and attack the Philistines, he enquires of the Lord and it is only when the Lord promises him the victory that he goes into battle. David knows that his victory has come about because of God’s deliverance not because of his skills as a warrior. We need to realise that in the conflicts of life we too need to see the Lord guiding and leading us.
22 Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; 23 so David inquired of the LORD, and he answered, “Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the poplar trees. 24 As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move quickly, because that will mean the LORD has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.” 25 So David did as the LORD commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.The New International Version. (2011). (2 Sa 5:22–25). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
David realised that fighting the Lord’s battles was not a technique but rather depended upon listening to the Lord afresh in each situation, so he does not presume to go into battle the same way again but rather seeks the Lord and receives his strategy from him. We need to take this same attitude with us into the conflicts of spiritual warfare and indeed as we seek guidance as to how to live our lives in a way that honours our God. Sometimes as in David’s case here we need to go about things in a way that is not obvious but David proved that God’s way is the best way. The challenge of this passage is to remind us that we are in a dynamic relationship with almighty God who in his love and grace know far better than us what is wise and good and therefore we are to depend upon him for all that we need.