Sometimes you only get 4 words.

Sometimes it feels like God is quiet. I want paragraphs of conversation and tweet length thoughts don’t even come through. It’s during these moments that I tend to run into people that tell me God is talking entire phone books of information to them.

Like the guy I’ve mentioned before who played a song at church in Birmingham. I asked him if he wrote it. He said, “No, God did.” Fantastic. That didn’t feel condescending at all. My friend is a musician and sometimes people will tell him, “God gave me this song for you.” The songs are usually horrible and my friend thinks to himself, “God probably gave it to you because he didn’t want it. Angels prefer to sing good songs.”

But there are moments of quietness in our lives and its interesting to see in the Bible that other people had similar moments.

In 1 Samuel 23, David and his men are hiding from Saul when they hear that the Philistines are attacking Keilah. Against the wishes of his men, David leads his army into Keilah to defeat the Philistines. Saul figures that with David and his men tired from their battle and trapped inside the walls of Keilah, now is the perfect time to attack. David learns of Saul’s plans and tells his priest, “Bring the ephod.” He cries out:

“O Lord, God of Israel, your servant has heard definitely that Saul plans to come to Keilah and destroy the town on account of me. Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me to him? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Lord, God of Israel, tell your servant.”

Sometimes I feel guilty about asking God specific questions but David is detailed here. God’s answer to the question will Saul come down?

“He will.”

The verse continues “Again David asked, ‘Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and my men to Saul?’”

God’s answer?

“They will.”

Forget for a moment that certain death is marching toward David. Forget that the people he’s just saved are going to turn him over as soon as that certain death arrives.

At this point in the story there are 600 adrenaline drunk, battle beaten men trapped inside the walls of a city that is not their own. The streets were littered with the dead, the doors and windows of every home shut.

David reaches out to God for a message. Surely God has some deep, possibly detailed thoughts about this situation. Surely he has instructions for David.

But all God does to break that silence is give David four words. He will. They will. So often I demand more words than that from God just to motivate myself to get out of bed. David had four. With four words he had to motivate 600 men to flee. Have you ever tried to motivate six people to choose a restaurant for dinner?

Verse 12 ends “And the Lord said, “They will.” Verse 13 begins with “So David and his men, about six hundred in number, left Keilah and kept moving from place to place.”

Where was the analysis? Between verse 12 and 13, where was the wrestling and triple checking and months of prayer? There wasn’t any. In the space of a verse, David left and in doing so saved the lives of his men and the entire city, for the second time.

Next time I find myself asking God for detailed instructions I should instead ask him for the wisdom to hear the four words he does give me and the courage to act on them.

We’ve talked about the quietness of God before on this blog, is that something you can relate to?

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  1. Renee says

    I realized recently that sometimes God doesn’t have a preference of what you do but instead leaves it in your hands to make a choice. For me, those are the biggest faith exercises of all. I’m the “hit me over the head and tell me exactly what to do” type of girl.

  2. Sergio says

    I was reminding my students the other day (I teach a Religion class at a private high school) that God always responds to us. The problem is that sometimes we don’t hear Him because there’s so much noise in lives, sometimes we only hear part of the response, and sometimes we don’t like the response so we ignore it in hopes that we’ll soon hear what we want to hear.

  3. says

    Jon this spoke to me. I went through a divorce that crushed my spirit. I cried out to God and begged Him for help. For peace. For anything.
    He gave me a peace that I could not explain. He did not speak to me with words like he did to David – but He overwhelmed me with peace. It was warm, it was beautiful – and did not come from me. So grateful.

    Thank you for this.

  4. says

    too funny..”My friend is a musician and sometimes people will tell him, “God gave me this song for you.” The songs are usually horrible and my friend thinks to himself, “God probably gave it to you because he didn’t want it. Angels prefer to sing good songs.”

  5. says

    Here’s God’s will for you:

    “Love God and your neighbor as yourself.”

    Here’s God’s answer to your refusal to do so:

    “Your sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake.”

  6. Ray says

    Something we may be missing – God spoke to David. David didn’t “feel impressed” that Saul was going to attack, he didn’t “feel like God was telling him” that the people of the city would turn them over, he didn’t “sense that God was saying” to leave the city. God sent sound waves to David’s ear which formed the Hebrew words “He will” and “They wil”.

    When God spoke to people in the Bible, He spoke to them. If you hear audible words from heaven you can trust it and act on it. If you read it in the Bible you can take it to the bank. The thoughts in your head? Not so much.

    Here’s a link to a sermon from Voddie Baucham that really cuts through a lot of the mumbo-jumbo in mondern Christianity on finding God’s will –

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  8. says

    oh, yes indeed. Jon, I love how you draw us in with humor and then smack us upside the head with some really deep and challenging thought.

    Sometimes when I feel like I’m not hearing from God, the problem is I’m not actually listening. But yeah, other times He’s quiet because He’s already told me what I need to know. Amen.