If we want to follow God’s will, we need to make room for him to work in our lives!
2 Samuel, chapter 10; 1 Chronicles, chapter 20; Psalm 20; Matthew 22
2 Samuel 10:6-12 (NLT):
When the people of Ammon realized how seriously they had angered David, they sent and hired 20,000 Aramean foot soldiers from the lands of Beth-rehob and Zobah, 1,000 from the king of Maacah, and 12,000 from the land of Tob. When David heard about this, he sent Joab and all his warriors to fight them. The Ammonite troops came out and drew up their battle lines at the entrance of the city gate, while the Arameans from Zobah and Rehob and the men from Tob and Maacah positioned themselves to fight in the open fields.
When Joab saw that he would have to fight on both the front and the rear, he chose some of Israel’s elite troops and placed them under his personal command to fight the Arameans in the fields. He left the rest of the army under the command of his brother Abishai, who was to attack the Ammonites. “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then come over and help me,” Joab told his brother. “And if the Ammonites are too strong for you, I will come and help you. Be courageous! Let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. May the Lord’s will be done.”
When the king of the Ammonites died, David sent a delegation to express his condolences to the king’s son. The new king’s advisors smelled a rat. They suspected that David’s delegates were spies, so they dishonored them by shaving off half of their beards and cutting off their robes at the buttocks. This was a huge insult! Imagine if the president of the United States sent a delegation to another country, and those representatives were mistreated and humiliated. We probably wouldn’t start a war over it, but you can be sure we would express our outrage.
David didn’t have to express his outrage; the people of Ammon realized how seriously they had angered David. They didn’t wait for David’s response. David had conquered all of his enemies. The Ammonites knew they should prepare for David to come after them. In addition to their army, they hired outside help: they sent and hired 20,000 Aramean foot soldiers.
Joab led the army of Israel out for the battle. His experience helped him to shape his strategy. He took a small elite force to fight on one front, and left the rest of the army under the command of his brother, Abishai. “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then come over and help me. And if the Ammonites are too strong for you, I will come and help you.” Joab was not so arrogant as to assume that his strategy was fool-proof. He made contingency plans in case he had miscalculated – just what a wise general would do.
He also encouraged Abishai, and by extension all of Israel’s forces: Be courageous! Let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. He reminded them that they were fighting for their families and their God – two powerful motivations for the men of Israel. They were confident in their abilities, and they were strengthened by the knowledge that the battle was important.
“May the Lord’s will be done”
Joab’s last comment to his brother caught my attention: May the Lord’s will be done. Even though he knew that God had been with David, and the people of Israel, through all their battles, he did not assume that they would win this one. As the familiar disclaimer goes, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” He knew that if God wanted them to win this battle, they would; but if that was not God’s will, they would trust in God. May the Lord’s will be done.
Of course, God was with them, and they won their battle – not once, but twice. They not only defeated the Ammonites, but also forced the surrender of several other kings who had been allied with the Arameans. God’s will was indeed done – and the result was much greater than anyone had anticipated!
May the Lord’s will be done. It is easy to trust God when everything is going well. But does that trust extend to our acceptance of God’s will when it is different from ours? Joab believed – as David surely believed – that God would be with the Israelites when they went into battle. But Joab did not presume upon God. He called his men to do their part. Be courageous! Let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. If God was with them, their part would be enough. But if God’s will was something else, Joab was ready to accept it.
Do we really understand this concept? Do we recognize and admit that sometimes we’re wrong about what God’s will is? At times, it may be something small – like the young man or woman who is convinced that God’s will is for them to marry a specific person. (I’m certain there have been many of these!) But sometimes the mistake is much more serious. And the challenge is that we can believe that we’re “stepping out on faith” when in fact we’re “stepping outside God’s will.”
That’s why staying connected to God is so important. When we’re in Scripture each day, God will keep us focused. When we give Him time to speak to us, He is faithful to do so. We need to guard ourselves against becoming so busy that we just assume that we know God’s will instead of intentionally seeking it. That’s why listening is a vital part of prayer!
Father, thank you for reminding us today that we need to listen to you. At times we may be susceptible to assuming that you are with us, when your will is something else. Help us to hold loosely to our plans, and to hold tightly to you. You have proven that you are faithful; when we seek your way, you lead us. Help us to approach each day with the mindset, “May the Lord’s will be done.” May your Kingdom come and your will be done in our lives today, for your glory. Amen.