July 7, 2021
Jo Alison Lobertini
Laity, Middlebrook Pike UMC
Tennessee Valley District
17 When the Philistines heard that David had been crowned king of Israel, they tried to capture him; but David was told that they were coming and went into the stronghold. 18 The Philistines arrived and spread out across the valley of Rephaim.
19 Then David asked the Lord, “Shall I go out and fight against them? Will you defeat them for me?”
And the Lord replied, “Yes, go ahead, for I will give them to you.”
20 So David went out and fought with them at Baal-perazim and defeated them. “The Lord did it!” he exclaimed. “He burst through my enemies like a raging flood.” So he named the place “Bursting.” 21 At that time David and his troops confiscated many idols that had been abandoned by the Philistines. 22 But the Philistines returned and again spread out across the valley of Rephaim.
23 When David asked the Lord what to do, he replied, “Don’t make a frontal attack. Go behind them and come out by the balsam trees. 24 When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the balsam trees, attack! For it will signify that the Lord has prepared the way for you and will destroy them.”
25 So David did as the Lord had instructed him and destroyed the Philistines all the way from Geba to Gezer.
Devotion: Asking for Advice
Do you find it difficult to ask for directions, advice, or a lending hand? I know these things are difficult for me. Call me stubborn, but some part of me hesitates to ask, usually because I don’t want to be a burden to others. Often I feel as if this asking is a sign of weakness. In my mind, I will just figure things out as I go along. Sometimes, I just dive head-first into situations where it would have been more prudent to “look before I leap.” To be honest, even if I ask for advice, I will probably still do things my way. This situation also is the case when it comes to my prayer life.
King David serves as a model in today’s story for how not to dive head-first into such situations. He trusts in his relationship with G-d, and knows that to be successful in his efforts to deal with the Philistines, he has to “look before he leaps.” He goes to a quiet place and asks G-d what to do. King David does not think he should have things figured out. He doesn’t think asking for advice will make him a burden. He certainly does not think he will just jump into a battle and figure things out. He stops, asks, listens, and acts.
Amazingly, he does it again. Not once, but twice, in this situation with the Philistines, he goes directly to G-d. Both times, he follows the pattern of stop, ask, listen, and act. No debating, no second-guessing, no “maybe I really know better.” King David is actively seeking and doing the will of G-d. Why is this so difficult for those of us who may be regarded as a little stubborn? I can only speak for myself, but I think it comes down to trust. No matter how many times G-d has answered my prayers (with a yes or a no), it is still difficult to believe that He isn’t getting tired of me. Is He really listening? Will He listen this time?
King David seemingly had no such doubts or stubbornness. He was able to rely on his active relationship with G-d and not start second-guessing himself. He was able to approach G-d again and again. Was King David perfect? No. Was his life easy? Not necessarily. Did he always please G-d? Probably not. However, these very real circumstances did not interfere with his active relationship and belief in the advice and directions of G-d. Perhaps the lesson for the stubborn among us is to emulate King David by stopping, asking, listening, and acting. These actions will take practice, but I believe they will be worth our effort.
Dear Heavenly Father, please help us to stop second-guessing ourselves about Your love for us. Remind us that You are always there for us, and we are not a burden to You. Help us to practice active faith. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Jo Lobertini is a native east Tennessean and a member of Middlebrook Pike UMC. She attended the University of Tennessee, and is a member of the UT Wesley Foundation board. She has two adult children, 3 grandchildren, and a wonderful husband, Paul ...