November 26, 2020
There are at least two ways to teach on the will of God.
One is to make the familiar list—beginning with Scripture, prayer, and a consensus of godly counsel.
There is another way to teach on the will of God. We can teach inductively from Scripture. That is, we can study those passages where the men and women who graced the pages of the Bible were working out God’s will case by case as that will unfolded.
While still a shepherd boy David provided one of the most instructive examples of someone who discovered God’s surprising will while he was aiming at something entirely different. We find the pattern in the famous Goliath story in 1 Samuel 17. Becoming Israel’s greatest hero was the farthest thing from David’s mind.
David discovered God’s will through a series of concrete steps, which may be repeated in our own experience.
- He was careful to discern the wishes of his father. 1 Kings 17:17-18
His father asked him to carry provisions to his soldier brothers and their commanders on the front lines. David ‘s only goal at the beginning of that day was to submit to the will of the most obvious authority figure in his life. That authority was his father.
- David cheerfully embraced obscure and mundane assignments. Vv. 34-36
He could well have envisioned being asked at a later date what he actually did in the war. It was entirely possible that his only achievement would have been to carry the cheese. That’s all he was asked to do. And that was the only prospect which presented itself at the beginning of his journey.
Hudson Taylor wrote, “A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in a little thing is a big thing.” We must give ourselves over to what we know to be God’s will in the present if we are to hope to discover God’s will for the future. “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3
- David qualified through faithfulness in previous challenges. Vv. 34-36
The process and the progress were incremental. David had rescued the sheep. Now David was ready to rescue Israel. David killed the lion and David killed the bear. Now David was ready to kill the giant.
- David soberly assessed the risk/reward factor. Vv. 26-27
Twice David asked what would be done for the man who slew the giant. We need not regard his motive as mercenary. He wanted to know if anyone cared. He wanted to know if the army was worth saving. Jesus deemed it a prudent thing to “…first sit down and count the costs.” (Luke 14:28) If we could see the will of God more clearly, we might tremble more fearfully. It is not a faithless thing to assess risk. Obedience should be accompanied by sobriety.
- David held his ground against the opposers. Vv. 28-33
David was mocked by his older brother. Eliab could have reasonably expected that Samuel would have anointed him king in the chapter before. Instead, the priest anointed Jesse’s youngest son. David wanted to go and fight. His older brother wanted him to go home. David was opposed by his own government. The carnal king tried to hide cowardice under the guise of strategy.
Saul said, “You are not able.”
David said, “The Lord will deliver me.”
- David was discriminating in his choice of resources. Vv. 38-39
The will of God is not accomplished in a vacuum. God delights in human instrumentality. He may supply us with human allies. He may equip us with non-human assets. But He never enlists us without equipping us. David disdained the armor of Saul. The stone and the sling turned Goliath’s asset of size into Goliath’s liability.
- David moved forward and launched. Vv. 48-49
David possessed the supreme virtue of initiative. Those who never attempt can never achieve. Many are paralyzed by what someone called the Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim syndrome. The army of Israel cowered at a distance. David did not run away from Goliath. He ran at him. Sometimes to discover God’s will we must first discover the enemies of God’s will.
If the enemy is an argument, we destroy it.
If the enemy is a person, we disarm him.
When we take a stand against God’s enemies we are doing God’s will.
We sometimes search out the will of God to discover whether or not we have a call. To paraphrase Timothy Keller, a call involves the confluence of practical opportunity with sanctified desire.
In this life we will all run one way or the other.
The great goal is to run in the right direction.
Run in such a way that you may win. (1 Corinthians 9:24)