Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit


As we continue to work through the life of David, I am finding stories of discernment. Last Sunday, we surveyed David’s fleeing from Jerusalem following his son’s (Absalom) rebellion. One aspect of the story was particularly interesting.

As David leaves the city, some choose to follow him. Others remain with Absalom. The two priests, Zadok and Abiathar are planning on going with David. We read,

(2 Samuel 15:24 NIV) Zadok was there, too, and all the Levites who were with him were carrying the ark of the covenant of God. They set down the ark of God, and Abiathar offered sacrifices until all the people had finished leaving the city.

It only seems natural for David to take the ark of the covenant. The ark signified the presence of God. Why would you not want it with you? David’s response is surprising.

(2 Samuel 15:25 NIV) Then the king said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back into the city.

Back into the city? Why? David continues,

(2 Samuel 15:25–26 NIV) If I find favor in the LORD’s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again. But if he says, ‘I am not pleased with you,’ then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him.”

No doubt, David is overwhelmed with guilt. His mistakes led him to this place. Maybe he figures that he is enduring this hardship as a punishment from God. We could read the text this way.

But perhaps there is something more. If you think about it, David is relinquishing control of the ark. In many ways, David is relinquishing control of God. David is willing to let God do what he wills. If God chooses to bring him back to the city and restore his kingdom, so be it. If God chooses to take him out, so be it. David is willing to let God be God.

(2 Samuel 15:29 NIV) So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem and stayed there.

I find David’s response incredibly humble and open to the movement of God. It takes guts to relinquish control. This is what David does in this case. David models for us what it means to let go and let God. As we think about discerning in our churches, we often transport God with our agenda. We bring God along and ask Him to bless us as we do what we want to do. But David is unwilling to take this approach. He leaves the ark in the city. May we discern God’s plan rather than demand that God join our plan. This story is an example of giving up control. May God empower us to be churches willing to let go of our plans and seek God’s plans as we navigate His mission. May we join David in declaring,

(2 Samuel 15:26 NIV) let him do to me whatever seems good to him.