The other day while reading through second Samuel, a phrase caught my eye, and I followed it. The saying came from David, who asked for direction from God with the simple expression, “Shall I?” When David becomes King of Israel, second Samuel 2:1, says, “After this David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” And the Lord said to him, “Go up.” David said again, “To which [cities] shall I go up?” Then in chapter 5:19, “And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?” Then, a few verses later, it says, “And when David inquired of the Lord, he said, “You shall not go up.”
It is evident to me that David received the title: “A man after God’s own heart,” because of his desire to do God’s will and not his own. David’s desire to please God and to seek His wisdom gained him much favor with the Lord. It is a shame that David did not ask God before calling Bathsheba to his quarters to have an affair, nor did he seek God before putting Bathsheba’s husband in the front lines of a battle to kill him. David’s life would have been much different if he had.
When I turned on the news that same day, the commentary debated whether the State’s government should reopen for business while the number of Corona Virus cases surged. Soon after, a news conference appeared, and the experts pulled out their charts, graphs, and medical reports, which spouted both bad and good news simultaneously. As expected, a few hours later, another news agency hosted Financial experts to address the virus vs. the economy. On and on, the discussions raged based on public opinion, history, and current trends.
I finally turned it off and sat quietly, wondering who or what to believe. It was then that I remembered James 4:13-17 that says, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is a sin.”
In his sermon, “Responding to the Will of God,” Pastor John MacArthur says of James 4:13, “You see, the issue here is not in what is said, the issue here is in what is not said; that’s the implication. In fact, careful planning is essential and careful planning is expected, and nothing that is said there reveals the problem. But what is not said does reveal the problem, because there’s no mention of God. There is no thought for God. And we would say that this is practical atheism; this is living your life as if there was no God at all, the foolishness of ignoring the will of God, planning your life as if God did not exist at all, though you even may believe He does. And believe me, there are folks who believe God exists, but do not include Him in their plans.”
Read that last sentence again, “There are folks who believe God exists, but do not include Him in their plans.” Why are we, as Christians, living as if God does not exist? I have done this as well. I plot my future, I count my pennies, and I work towards a goal, trying not to stress out or worry if things fail.
I see now that I plan my life as if God does not exist, He is not control, and He will not bless and provide for me. For a long time, I even worked on Plan B, in case Plan A didn’t pull through. How dumb is that? It was then I realized that I needed to destroy plan B because it lacked faith. Plan A will always work out when we seek God—first. God will not place us on a path to success, and then bring us failure, He gains no glory in doing such a thing.
So going forward, before putting pen to paper, keystrokes to Word documents, or daydreaming about our future, let’s seek the Lord first, and ask, “Shall I…?”