There is a way that seems right to us but it is no where near right. There are times in life when we let our emotions get the best of us and our brains just flat out are not part of the equation. Oh we claim we are thinking things through, but really we are not… we are thinking of ourselves. When we are only thinking of ourselves, then we definitely are not thinking any thing through.
If we take the time to walk trough the recorded life of David we see this acted out and laid out before us. We can choose to learn from it, or we can choose to ignore it and repeat it in our own lives. That is basically the steps of life. We either learn from the mistakes of others, the warnings of others, the wisdom of others, or we can learn from suffering the consequences of doing things our own way.
I went through a time in my life when I chose to learn everything the hard way… I would give anything to go back and learn from the mistakes, wisdom, and warnings of others. I know with all my heart that the Lord has a way of working all things out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, but I also believe that there are some things He wouldn’t have to “work out” if we were just listening and obeying to begin with. Suffering because life is hard is one thing. Suffering from the consequences of our rebellious heart is quite another.
There are four instances in the life of David that I want us to look at as we examine the thought of “What are you doing?” and learning from the mistakes, wisdom, and warning of others as opposed to learning from the suffering or our choices.
- The mistakes of others
David was a young man, newly anointed by the Lord, to be the next King of Israel. He was chosen by God because he was a man after God’s own heart. The Lord anointed him and then orchestrated events to get him up close and personal to the current king, Saul (1 Samuel 16 – 31). David was able to see and learn from the mistakes of Saul’s reign. He was able to learn that you do not touch the Lord’s anointed and when the Lord gives you a command in battle… you obey it fully.
- The wisdom of others
While David was on the run from King Saul he and his men were close to Carmel. There was a man there named Nabal who had significant means. David sent his men to ask for provisions from Nabal and he not only refused, but did so quite snottingly. David was irate when his men returned with the news and so he gathered his men and was off to kill Nabal and every man associated with him. When Nabal’s wife, Abigail, heard of the exchange between Nabal and David’s men, she gathered up provisions and rushed to intercept David. She made it to him before he attacked and she offered great wisdom to him. David chose to listen. (1 Samuel 24). David was acting on tired emotion and utter frustration and not according to the will of God. Abigail stuck her neck out to there and she brought a word of wisdom from the Lord Himself and David received her words as such and he was saved from making a very huge mistake.
- The warnings of others
While David was in flight from Saul he went to the cave of Abdullah. His family met him there and many others also came to find him and so he was no longer alone in his flight. David went to Moab to ask the king if he would protect his parents and he left them with the and then returned to his hiding place. Then the prophet, Gad, came to him and warned him that he could not stay there any longer and needed to flee into the land of Judah. David heeded this warning and was able to escape Saul’s pursuit (1 Samuel 22).
These are the times that we have seen David choose to learn from the mistakes, wisdom, and warnings of others. Yet there times that he did not… and he had to learn through the sufferings of the consequences of his own choices. Lessons that I have no doubt that he would have given anything to not have to learn this way.
After David was well established as King of all Israel there came a time when he got off course. He was home when he should have been off to battle with his men. During the night he saw a woman bathing and well he wanted her. We see through the scriptures that David’s largest struggle was apparently his sexual appetite. At this point he already had at least seven wives that we know by name and no telling how many concubines.
However, this was not enough. He wanted this woman as well. He sent to inquire of her and the one sent offered a word of wisdom and warning to David, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” David would ignore the words of wisdom and warning and the downward spiral of sin would spin to depths that David never imagined he was capable (2 Samuel 11).
After David ignored this man’s warning, committed his sin, and made his best attempt to cover it by murdering her husband, the Lord sent someone else to him with a word. The prophet Nathan comes to David with a problem with two men and a lamb. One man owned a single treasured lamb and the other man had lambs out the wazoo, but the man with the lambs out the wazoo took the one treasured lamb of the other. David hears the scenario and in self-righteous anger pronounces a judgment to only have Nathan turn this judgment on him, for he was the man (2 Samuel 12).
David would spend the rest of his days wishing he had just listened to the warning, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Yes, the Lord would forgive him. Yes, the Lord still loved him. Yes, life would go on… but the consequences would come.
So beloved of God here is the crux of the matter…
When someone comes to us and asks, “What are you doing?” Will we be one who is willing to learn from others mistakes, wisdom, and warnings?
When we see someone and ask ourselves, “What are they doing?” Will we be willing to be used by God to deliver those words of wisdom and warning?
Will we be willing even if the person we are being impressed to address might be in authority over us? Or a stranger to us? Or a friend to us?
And if we do, let us not forget HOW these words of wisdom and warning were delivered… Take the time to really read these accounts in the life of David and let us learn from him, and those associated with him. God gave us His Word so that we don’t have to always learn things the hard way.
Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.