In 1 Sam 4, after being defeated from the Philistines, Israel came up with a plan:
- Grab God (via the Ark of the Covenant)
- put Him in battle with us
- fight again
They concluded that this was what they were missing in their previous fighting. But with God on their side, now, they would surely win, right?
Sadly, they lost the battle again. And not only that. The Ark of the Covenant (where God dwelt with His people) was also captured by the Philistines (though all their idols couldn’t stop worshipping it, so they quickly had to get rid of it — read this comical show of power in 1 Sam. 5).
So consider this:
- Israel had a facade of God being with them (in the Ark of the Covenant).
- Israel strongly believed God was with them (shown in their shouts and revitalized energy)
- The religious leaders (the priests) believed God was with Israel, and supported them doing this
- Even the Philistine enemies believed God was with Israel (see 1 Sam. 4:7-8)
Yet, they were all wrong. God wasn’t with them. They never sought His way in the matter. They only “brought” Him along, assuming He supported their way. And they were terribly beaten.
You, religious leaders, even non-believers zealously believing God is with you does not mean He ACTUALLY is.
The antidote, in my humble opinion, to repeating this tragic mistake today is Proverbs 3:5-6:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,and he will make your paths straight.”
In other words:
- Don’t lean on your understanding. It doesn’t say to stop using your understanding, but it does say to stop leaning on it. Just because you believe something, doesn’t make it true (e.g. Prov. 14:12)
- Instead, trust in Him alone. Not you or your understanding or your religious leaders or a whole host of people. Trust in Him.
- And, “in all your ways submit to [or “acknowledge”] him”. Then, “he will make your paths straight.”
In other words, submit to Him and His ways, THEN walk in trust of Him and His ways alone.