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

Waking Up

I am presently working on a sermon series on the life of Solomon. We will begin in a few weeks and the series will take us through a good portion of the fall. Last year, we spent over twenty weeks in the life of David. The study as fascinating; I read stories that I never realized were in the Bible. I hope we will have the same experience in our Solomon study.

So far, I am only into the first 2 chapters of 1 Kings. The story is anything but boring. 1 Kings opens with David (as an old man) snuggling up with a young virgin. All the while, his son Adonijah is planning to grab the throne from Solomon once David is dead. Nathan and Bathsheba convince David to intervene. This is the short version, but this story offers plenty of application in terms of discernment. I would encourage you to read the entire story.

One observation is that David is unaware of Adonijah’s actions. Adonijah has rallied the support of key leaders in the kingdom, secured horses and chariots and is holding a sacrifice ceremony to prepare for his royal assent. The author of 1 Kings comments on David’s lack of fatherly discipline in Adonijah’s life.

(1 Kings 1:6 NIV11-GK) His father had never rebuked him by asking, “Why do you behave as you do?” He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom.

Adonijah’s actions are similar to Absalom’s, who ran David out of town in order to overthrow the throne. The political situation is disastrous. Yet David seems oblivious to his son’s behavior. Certainly, David is old. He is more concerned with keeping warm. In the same way, we are often more concerned with comfort than actively participating in God’s mission. Thankfully, God will prompt David to action through his prophet and wife. But at the beginning of the story, David is completely ignorant of the situation. As we discern, may we learn to keep our eyes open to the movement of God. May we continually seek God’s guidance as we ascertain the context around us.

A second observation is around Nathan and Bathsheba’s role. We don’t know if Nathan is prompted by God. While an encounter between Nathan and God is not recorded, Nathan is a prophet and we might assume God’s direction in his life. He sees a potential mess and approaches Bathsheba with the information. Certainly Bathsheba has a vested interest in Adonijah’s plan. Her life would be on the line as Solomon’s mother if Adonijah becomes king. Maybe Nathan believes that Bathsheba’s influence on David is substantial. Perhaps he simply wants support from David’s immediate family. Either way, Nathan orchestrates the conversation. He sends Bathsheba in and follows her request with information about Adonijah’s actions. We can learn much from Nathan. While David is blind to the world around him, Nathan is carefully watching the events unfold. He develops a plan to inform David, pulling in the right people at just the right time. Nathan uses strategy to accomplish God’s plan. We often think that strategy and discernment are polar opposites. However, careful consideration of our context and discerning the necessary responses, actions and timing are essential.

Finally, we learn, in this story, the satisfaction of waking up to God’s promptings in our lives. David is unaware that Solomon’s reign is in danger. But when God (through Nathan’s actions) brings the matter to David’s attention, David faithfully addresses the situation. David’s response is recorded in verse 47-48.

(1 Kings 1:47–48 NIV11-GK) And the king bowed in worship on his bed and said, ‘Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who has allowed my eyes to see a successor on my throne today.’

David is thrilled that God prompted him to action. His response is worship. As we discern the movement of God and realize his direction, we experience joy. While God’s direction is not always easy, it is always accompanied by God’s presence. And as we experience the dynamic of following God, our instinctive response is worship.

I am looking forward to walking through the life of Solomon over the next several months. I am sure that God will reveal new insights into the nature of discerning God’s leading. I am confident that Solomon’s story will relate to our story. As I close this post, may we be reminded of the necessity and privilege of discerning God’s leading and following him on His mission.