Wanting to be a good citizen, I’ve been paying more attention to politics. It’s a good thing to be aware of what’s going on, but this morning, as I was listening to a pastor who is very involved in politics, I found myself being overwhelmed by the “shoulds.” I “should” be more outspoken; I “should” learn how to debate; I “should,” I should,” I “should.” I started feeling bad about myself until Jane and I talked and the Lord gave me revelation from the Bible, where David got tricked by the “shoulds.” The record is found in 1 Samuel 27-30.
King Saul of Israel was coming after David to kill him, so David found refuge with the Philistines. He was given the city of Ziklag, where he brought his wives, children, his men and his wealth. But then there was going to be war between Israel and the Philistines. David felt that he “should” get involved in the fight. He took his men and stayed in the back, close to the man who befriended him—Achish, the Philistine King’s son. But while David and his men were away, intending to do what they thought they “should” be doing—their politically correct thing to do—another enemy went after David’s own city, Ziklag.
Even though David wanted to be involved, and his Philistine friend, Achish, thought it was a good idea, the other Philistine leaders weren’t receptive to David. They didn’t trust him and didn’t want him there, so “David and his men rose up early to depart in the morning to return” (1 Sam. 29:11).
“And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag, that the Amalekites had invaded, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way.
“So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives. Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep” (1 Sam. 30:1-4).
Because David had stepped into the land of the “shoulds,” he wasn’t walking in the light of what the Lord really wanted him to be doing. The consequences were devastating, but not a total loss. David hadn’t intentionally disobeyed God, so the Lord made a way for him to recover his losses. He went after the Amalekites.
“And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away; and David rescued his two wives. And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all” (1 Sam. 30:18-19).
It would take some time to rebuild the burned city, but at least no one was killed and they got back their form of income in the goods that were stolen. Thank God the goods went with them, because if they had been left in Ziklag, they would have been destroyed in the fire. In God’s foresight, He knew that David had made an error in judgement, but not in heart. And if, in our hearts we truly want to always to do His will, He will find a way to always provide for us, even when we mess up.
When things in our world present themselves and we get emotionally upset about them, we tend to want to do something about them and that’s good. But wisdom, it says in God’s Word, is the principle thing and wisdom comes from God. We don’t want to be tricked liked David, into taking action on something just because of some false feeling of responsibility, or obligation. The “shoulds” can be tricky.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that pastors, preachers, Christian leaders or Christian people at large are not supposed to get involved with politics—quite the opposite. I feel that more of us need to be actively involved. We definitely have opinions and we need to express them. Christians are never going to all agree on politics, or Biblical doctrine for that matter, either. But that’s okay. We do our best to assess and discern.
Honestly, a lot of Christian leaders in America don’t speak their opinions because of the Johnson Act that gives them tax exemption if they keep their mouths shut about politics. Personally, I’m praying to see pastors and preachers be bold enough to voluntarily opt out of the tax exemption, so that they can freely speak on anything the Lord wants said.
Many of us need to step out of the cloisters, but not to the exclusion of our first calling—to do the will of the Lord always in everything.
Let’s not be tricked by the “shoulds” in any category. David felt he “should” go to war on the side of the Philistines, but it wasn’t what God wanted him to do, so he ended up having to start over and rebuild his whole city. We don’t want to be in a place where we have to rebuild something in our lives that we’ve already spent good time doing. I started to feel I should do more politically, but that doesn’t mean I have to get totally immersed.
I need to only follow the Lord, detail by detail. When He directs me to be more politically outspoken, I do it. When not, I don’t. Simple. We can’t let other people dictate how we “should” act. Only the Lord has the right to direct us, and in Him we walk freely, just like Him.
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