For the past few months I have been involved in a study of the life of David. As I review his story, I am struck with the variety of ways that God guided him, especially when David was on the wrong path. I wonder if we are tuned to hear God’s voice through both obvious and less direct ways. If we are to influence others, listening for God’s voice is critical.
What means did God use to speak to David—and to us?
- God’s word
Clearly Nathan the prophet was God’s spokesman to David in several significant situations (e.g. 2 Sam. 12:1-15). As a prophet he spoke for God, as the Bible does for us today. How often have I wondered as I listened to a sermon if my Pastor somehow knew about my problem? Or I felt that a particular verse quoted was just for me? I take biblical messages that pierce my heart seriously.
- Other people
It’s a bit more difficult to discern God’s voice, however, when the messenger is just a regular person—someone who has no clue she may be conveying God’s message. For example, more than once Joab’s advice was critical to David’s choices (2 Sam. 14, 19:1-8), enabling him to see a different perspective. Was God in it? God uses all sorts of people to guide us, even those without pure motives. If God’s Spirit confirms it within us and we find that it aligns with scripture, we should listen carefully.
Haven’t you heard wisdom from those who don’t follow Jesus? We all have! God uses some great advice or counsel to provide needed guidance. According to Proverbs, we should listen to wise counselors, others’ instruction, and their reproof (e.g. Prov. 15:22, 23, 31-33). Sometimes God uses unlikely people to speak.
When a three-year famine hit the land, David recognized that God was pointing out a violation of the Israel’s covenant with another nation (2 Sam. 21:1-2). When we face difficult circumstances it is wise to ask God what he is teaching us through it.
Hebrews says that God disciplines his children out of love so that we learn and grow in godliness (Heb. 12:5-17). The word discipline means child-training so it involves both positive teaching and what we think of as discipline. Tough circumstances present opportunities to hear from God if we are open and humble
Whenever I face hard situations, I try to listen well to what God may be doing, and pray that I learn it the first time!
Hearing God is an important aspect of spiritual leadership. If you struggle with it, find some wise and mature friends to give you counsel and help you discern his voice.