When David made this inquiry, he had just fought the Philistines and gained a classic victory. The Philistines came up in great numbers, but, by the help of God, David had easily put them to flight. Note, however, that when they came a second time, David did not go up to fight them without inquiring of the Lord. Once he had been victorious, and he might have said, as many have in other cases, "I shall be victorious again. I may rest quite sure that if I have conquered once I shall triumph yet again. Why should I delay by seeking God?"
Not so David. He had gained one battle by the strength of the Lord; he would not venture upon another until he had ensured the same. He inquired, "Shall I go up against them?" He waited until God's sign was given.
Learn from David to take no step without God. Christian, if you would know the path of duty, take God for your compass; if you would steer your ship through the dark billows, put the tiller into the hand of the Almighty. Many a rock might be escaped if we would let our Father take the helm; many a shoal or quicksand we might well avoid if we would leave it to His sovereign will to choose and to command.
The Puritan said, "As sure as ever a Christian carves for himself, he'll cut his own fingers." This is a great truth. Another old divine said, "He that goes before the cloud of God's providence goes on a fool's errand," and so he does. We must mark God's providence leading us; and if providence delays, wait until providence comes. He who goes before providence will be very glad to retreat.
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go,"1 is God's promise to His people. Let us, then, take all our perplexities to Him and say, "Lord, what will you have me do?" Do not leave your house this morning without inquiring of the Lord.