Inquiring of the LORD
Last night I felt like there was a passage of scripture waiting somewhere for me to read, but I had no idea where to find it. Bizarre thought I know!
I remembered the verse at Proverbs 16:33 which says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” And I remembered the words in James 4:3 where it says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” So I came up with my own creative way to cast the lot to find out if my feeling of some scripture waiting somewhere for me was out there or if I was just imagining things. I mean really, scripture always needs to be read, but I really felt a strong sense that I needed to search out one particular thing last night. It’s hard to describe.
But here’s is how it went. I went to a random number generator website and typed in the starting number 1 and ending number 66 (number of books in the Bible). It returned the number 34. But before I even looked up what book that was (Nahum for those checking now), I felt compelled to believe that it was a Psalm number. So I found Psalm 34 and began to read.
The header of Psalm 34 says it regards when David pretended to be insane before Ahimelek. I remembered the insane David story and found it in 1 Samuel 21. I read over Psalm 34 but did not feel any great insight over it. I went back to cast the lot using the numbers 1 and 22 because there are 22 verses in this Psalm; asking the Lord if there was a particular verse that he wanted me to read. The number 13 came up. Psalm 34:13 says, “keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies”. I was cut to the heart because all of this led to a verse that made me wonder if I had lied to him or someone recently, and I spent time thinking about it. I checked to see if he had another verse to show me by casting a lot once again. The number 2 was the result. Psalm 34:2 says, “I will glory in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.”
I wondered what someone else’s glorying in the LORD would mean for the afflicted, and then what it had to do with warning about keeping one’s tongue from evil and lying.
Believing there might be something more to make sense of all this, I went back to the random number and it came out with 52. Psalm 52 has the header describing when Doeg the Edomite went to Saul and told him about David’s whereabouts at the house of Ahimelek. I searched for that story and imagine my surprise when I discovered this story about Doeg begins in 1 Samuel 21 and goes to 1 Samuel 22. What are the chances that casting a lot like this would render two Psalms that have a back story related and located in the same place in scripture I thought?!?
Now the Lord had my attention. I did not know what he intended to show me just yet, but I was in this thing now and knew I wasn’t just being silly in what I felt compelled to do in the very beginning. So here is what I discovered…
When David went to Nob and found Ahimelek, and David lied more than once to him even though Ahimelek trembled before David, and Ahimelek wished to help David. David proceeds to tell Ahimelek that the king had sent him on a mission, and he asks for a spear or a sword for protection. David says he did not bring one because once again caught up in lies he tells Ahimelek the king’s mission was urgent. He sees Doeg the Edomite, Saul’s chief shepherd there but David does not consider what that might mean to Ahimelek if Saul finds out they were together. No, instead David flees to Gath and once there he acts insane so that the king of Gath wouldn’t hurt him. Having too much fear in Gath he escapes to a cave and other places. He’s on the run, fearing for his life, thinking of himself the whole way.
Doeg ends up telling Saul about the meeting of David with Ahimelek, so Saul kills Ahimelek and all the priests of the LORD. Only Ahimelek’s son escapes and flees to find David. David then acknowledges at the end of 1 Samuel 22 that he knew Doeg would tell Saul and that he, David, is responsible for the death of this son’s entire family because of it.
But look what happens from the beginning of 1 Samuel 23 onward, David begins to inquire of the LORD with all of his dilemmas now. David’s fear for himself overpowered any thought to inquire of the LORD about things he was facing in life. David and Abraham had that in common didn’t they? How many times did Abraham have Sarai lie and say she was his sister rather than his wife; for fear of his own life?
And last night I realized this went deeper with God for Abraham and David than I ever realized. When they became afraid to the point that inquiring of the LORD doesn’t even come to mind, it comes across to God as their forgetting his promise to them. He sees Abraham and David not taking him at his word and instead getting caught up in protecting themselves with lies or running - anything but remembering his promise.
So going back to the verses the LORD pointed out to me in Psalm 34 things finally came together. Keeping our tongue from evil and lips from telling lies has everything to do with believing his promise to us (in our case we have eternal life and nothing can take that from us; not even death or what people think of us or what they say about us). And as Psalm 34:2 says, when we glory in the LORD (rather than fear for ourselves); the afflicted hear and rejoice. Why do they rejoice? Because seeing our praise and joy in him through own difficult or impossible situations gives others, who are afflicted, hope. They see in us our confidence in the LORD’s promise. Therefore filled with faith in their own afflicted state – they now rejoice.
“Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” – Genesis 15:6
Now when I read Psalm 52 I do not see David speaking bad about Doeg, Saul’s chief shepherd. I see David getting down about David regarding what Doeg did. Of David it was said “Saul has killed his thousands, but David his tens of thousands”. David was a heroic, tender hearted young man because of the Lord but also a little proud and fearful. This moved him to fear for himself when his life seemed on the line and it cost a man and all the priests of the LORD their lives. This was a turning point in David’s life because as soon as the page is turned to 1 Samuel 23 David begins to inquire of the LORD for every little thing.
And so though David’s head hung low through verses 1-7 of Psalm 52, it came with a good ending in verses 8 and 9. His eyes were turned not only to God’s unfailing love as he mentions in verse 8 but also toward what God has done in verse 9. He finds hope in the LORD’s name and may the afflicted hear and rejoice because of the glory David found in the LORD.