1 Samuel 23

The Life-Changing Difference that Asking Makes

I am the mother of four adult children—plus three wonderful daughter-in-laws, all of whom I love dearly. I’m very grateful to God for the relationship I have with each of them, and I try not to be an interfering, overbearing mother or mother-in-law—although they might tell you that my ‘trying’ needs some improvement! I admit there are occasions when I’ve had to ‘bite my tongue’ so I don’t overstep my bounds and give unsolicited advice. I readily admit that because I love them, want to help them, and have ‘been where they’ve been before’, there are things I’d love to share with them that I think could be helpful to them…in their marriages, as they parent, and for their life in general. But I haven’t shared a lot of that advice. Why? Simply because they haven’t asked me for it! 

 I’ve also thought back and can now realize how much heartbreak I could’ve avoided in my own life if only I’d asked my parents for their advice…on things like boyfriends, peer pressure, marital problems, parenting, and financial decisions. I also have thought of times when I might have avoided pain if I’d only asked a godly friend for her counsel before proceeding to do things I chose to do, and later regretted. What about you? Can you think of times when you might have avoided poor or painful choices if only you’d asked someone for advice?

 What is it that kept me from asking my parents or others for advice, or causes you to not ask for others’ counsel? When it gets right down to it, like most things, doesn’t it come down to the big ugly thing in all of our lives… that thing called ‘Pride? I thought that I knew what was best for my life and didn’t think I had a need to confer with anyone else. Or, when I did seek advice, I think I often sought it from people I knew would agree with what I’d already decided I was going to do; I usually wasn’t looking for advice as much as for affirmation. There were also times when I operated in ignorance. I didn’t even realize that there was another way of doing things so I didn’t even think to ask anyone for their advice. I just presumed that I should do what I thought was best without ever seeking counsel from my parents, my pastor, godly friends, and most regrettably, God.

 I’m not the only one who didn’t ask for advice and suffered the consequences of not doing so. Courageous, God-fearing Joshua had been told by God not to make a treaty with any of the people in the Promised Land, lest they be a snare to the people of Israel and turn them away from God. Yet, he made a binding treaty with the Gibeonites who were natives of the land because they pretended to be foreigners who had come from a long distance. Joshua disobeyed God’s strict instruction because he failed to inquire of God before making the treaty with the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:14). He and the leaders did what was right ‘in their own eyes’ and presumed upon their own understanding rather than asking God for His wisdom, guidance, and counsel that would have kept them from sinning against Him. 

 In contrast, it is frequently recorded in scripture that David, who had a ‘heart after God’ (Acts 13:22) often asked God for His counsel before taking action. For instance, David asked God whether he and his men should attack the Philistines who were fighting against the people of the town of Keilah. In response, God told David that He would give the Philistines into his hands; and it was because David asked and obeyed God that he defeated the Philistines and saved the people of Keilah. David could easily have presumed that since God gave him that victory—a victory that resulted in the people of Keilah being saved--that the people of Keilah would in turn save him from King Saul who sought to take his life. Yet, rather than act on his presumption, David once again inquired of the Lord. The Lord told him that the people of Keilah would indeed turn him and his men over to Saul, so David and his men fled Keilah and escaped to the desert. David’s asking of the Lord saved not only his own life, but also the lives of the approximately 600 men with him (1 Samuel 23). How important is it that we ask for God’s counsel? It literally can be life saving! 

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 How about you? What pain have you unintentionally brought on yourself or others because you failed to inquire of the Lord before taking action? Perhaps you have had a failed or miserable marriage because you married the person of your choosing without inquiring of the Lord. Or, maybe you’ve had financial problems because you made purchases without asking God if He wanted that money (which is really His money since everything we have belongs to God) to be spent on those purchases.  Or, perhaps you have a wayward child and you’ve experienced great pain and wish that you had sought God’s counsel on raising and responding to him or her. Whatever the situation, it’s important to realize that it’s never too late to seek God’s counsel! He is an ever-present help for you and for me and He longs to give us His wise counsel! God is more than able to make beauty from the ashes we have made! (Isaiah 61:3)

 Can you also think of a time when you sought and obeyed God’s counsel and He spared you--or others- from pain because you asked and obeyed Him?

 As much as I would love my children and their spouses to come to me and ask for my advice so that I might help them avoid making mistakes they might regret, my FAR greater desire is that they daily go to their Heavenly Father and inquire of Him, ‘What is it, Lord, that You would have me to do?” I hope and pray that they ask the Lord for His counsel—and obey His leading-- on such decisions as: “Should I marry this person?” or “Should we buy this house?” or “Should I take this job or volunteer assignment?” or “Should I go into business with this person?” or “Should I invest Your money in making this home improvement, or on buying this car?” as well as on things such as, “Whom should I contact today to encourage them?” or “What would You like me to do this weekend?” and especially to ask Him, “What would You like me to do with the gifts, talents and abilities that You’ve entrusted to me?”

 God is the wisest Person in the Universe. As His children, we have the amazing privilege of being able to come before Him each and every day and ask Him what we should do regarding the ‘small’ as well as ‘big’ decisions in our life. Wouldn’t we be foolish not to take advantage of the incredible opportunity we have to ask the Greatest Counselor in the World for His perfect, all-knowing counsel? Especially when He is the One Who knows us best and loves us the most?

 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5- ESV

 The more we read God’s Word, the wiser we become, and the wiser we become, the more we realize that we desperately need God’s wisdom in every area of our life if we desire to be protected from harm and live a God-pleasing, regret-free, joy-filled, abundant life. 

 There is a cost to obtain that wisdom. It requires us humbling ourselves, exercising self-control so we don’t just act upon our own understanding-- as Joshua and the Israel leaders did when they made the treaty-- and taking the time to ask God, to really listen to Him, and then to obey the counsel the Holy Spirit gives to us. 

If we inquire of God and obey His wise counsel we will be able to eliminate regret in our lives and the worry that often comes from wondering if we made the right decision, because God’s counsel is always right, and He always has our best interest in mind!

 Lord, forgive me for the many times when I have acted as if my life is my own and not Yours, and I have done what I have thought was best without inquiring of You. I believe that You always and only want what is best for me, and You alone know what the ‘best’ is! Help me to always look to You and ask, “What would You have me do?” Give me ears to hear Your voice, and a heart willing to obey whatever it is that You tell me! Thank You, Lord, for always being available to me and for loving me! Amen.

 Written by Julie

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