But after a while the Philistines returned and again spread out across the valley of Rephaim. And again David asked the Lord what to do. "Do not attack them straight on," the Lord replied. "Instead, circle around behind and attack them near the poplar trees. When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the poplar trees, be on the alert! That will be the signal that the Lord is moving ahead of you to strike down the Philistine army." So David did what the Lord commanded, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer. - 2Samuel 5: 22-25 (NLT)
It can sure seem sometimes in our Christian walk that God is right there alongside of us and others, not so much. Sometimes it seems as if God marches out before us into battle and others we wonder what happened to Him. The truth is that if God ever feels further away from us it is us that has moved. The sad truth is that we often live lives of quiet desperation. The desperation comes from the fallen world in which we live but the quiet comes from us. The Bible says that God is ever at our right hand. Apparently, we are looking at our left hand too often. We have not because we ask not. Frankly speaking, we falter in seeking God in everything we do.
So we come to the story of David right after his ascension to the throne of Israel. After conquering Jerusalem, the Bible tells of two separate battles with the Philistines. In the first battle, David asks God if he should attack the Philistines and God says yes. David attacks them straight on and is victorious. Here was his response:
So David went to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there. "The Lord did it!" David exclaimed. "He burst through my enemies like a raging flood!" So he named that place Baal-perazim (which means "the Lord who bursts through"). The Philistines had abandoned their idols there, so David and his men confiscated them. - 2Samuel 5: 20-21 (NLT)
The Lord did it! The key for future success is to give the proper glory to God for current success. Too often we can start to believe our own press. We can start to over-emphasize ourselves and thus minimize God. The king prior to David was Saul and he started out very humbly before the Lord. God prospered him and made him victorious in battle. He would have a different reaction to success than David. After being instructed by God to destroy the Amalekites, Saul would disobey and spare the choicest plunder and their king. The Prophet Samuel would try and find Saul the next day but where had he gone?
Early the next morning Samuel went to find Saul. Someone told him, "Saul went to the town of Carmel to set up a monument to himself; then he went on to Gilgal." - 1Samuel 15: 12 (NLT)
Sometimes we are so busy setting up monuments to ourselves it is no wonder we stop seeking God. Self-idolatry is still idolatry. Getting back to David we come to the key verses we find the very next time David is facing the prospects of fighting the Philistines, David again inquires of the Lord before going into battle. Within these three verses are several lessons for us today. The first is that past success does not guarantee future success. David is riding a wave of success here. He has been swept into the palace finally after waiting years for the deliverance of the promises of God. He is renowned for his prowess in battle. But he does not confuse his position in relation to God. He does not forget where his victories come from. The danger of success is that we start to forget who gives it to us. We start to think we are self made men. The problem with self made men is that they will have to be self-maintained. Without God, that is a recipe for disaster. I can remember some of the greatest defeats I have encountered and every time it was because I went into the battle without even asking God. Remember, His strength in our lives is only made perfect through our weakness. When Jesus starting baptizing people the followers of John the Baptist became jealous because more people started going to Him. The response from John the Baptist reminds us of our position: