A Man After God’s Heart: Water Tower Towns
Small towns across the Midwest have two things in common. I used to think one of those was a Casey’s, but then I visited Hepler, Kansas and the good people of Cross Trails Cowboy Ministries and learned one thing: No Casey Gas Station. So the list went from three things in common, down to two: a Water Tower and Rodeo Arena. Granted the water tower tangential to the Hepler arena claims the wrong county, still it is present and rises high above the bucking chutes. Pulling into Hartford, Kansas every Sunday morning, I am greeted by the red and white, the black letters reading “Hartford” popping off the blank background, colors of the Hartford water tower.
They tower above the flat landscape, communicating to travelers where they have arrived. Like GPS beacons, they show where you are located. In towns whose budget lacks the means to erect limestone welcome signs, water towers are a practical and visible way to welcome people. They tell you where you are, but they don’t tell you how you got there. You know you have arrived when you are beneath the water tower, but what happens when you don’t know how to find it. For the Christian, for a man after God’s heart, we know the destination, but often question the direction.
Some of us are following Siri’s directions, others are like me, pulling into a town and looking for lights to get to the rodeo. Seeking God’s direction and following His leading is one of the most difficult parts of becoming God’s man. David sought out the Lord and inquired of him often and sets for us an example in how we as men can do it as well.
Second Samuel 2 begins like this: “In the course of time…” David spent time mourning the death of the King and his best friend and he waited. He was 30 years old now and Samuel had anointed over a decade ago. For years the promise of King had been on him. He was used to waiting. So “in the course of time David inquired”. He was asking, “God is it time now for the promise to become present?” He wasn’t in a hurry or impatient. He wasn’t facing a great army with fear trembling in his bones as Saul was he inquired of the Lord (1 Sam. 28.5) He wasn’t going to God as a last resort, after all else fails. When sacrifices don’t work and altars fail, Saul was prompted to “inquire of the Lord” (1 Sam. 14.35). David was unprompted, un-hurried, and as a first priority, inquired of God. It wasn’t a question in choas or a desperate plea, but in the day-to-day existence of a man waiting. “In the course of time..” communicates the priority and purity of the request and of the action. Saul was motivated out of fear and desperation, David was motivated by Justice (1 Sam. 23.2) and strength (30.8). The purpose of the statement “David found strength in the Lord” is interjected between the mutiny and the inquiry in verse 8, in order to show that David’s inquiry came not from weakness but from strength. There are times when we must ask for guidance and seek God in the midst of a crisis, on a short time table, or out of despair, but seeking and searching God needs to be a consistent and common part of life and “in the course of time”.
“David inquired of the Lord. “Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?” he asked. (1 Sam. 2.1) David most likely used Abiathar and the ephod as his method of asking. That is how he had done it in the past. There are more recorded instances of David inquiring of God than any other person in Scripture and his go to method is Abiathar and the ephod. That is how it began. When Abiathar came to David at Keilah (1 Sam 23.6) is the same time as David’s first recorded inquiry (1 Sam 23.2). Prior to that Ahimelech had and unrecorded inquiry of the Lord for David (1 Sam 22.15). Samuel, a priest, seer’s Miciah, and Elezar, all inquired of the Lord in Scripture (Judges 18.5; 1 Sam. 9.9; 10.22; 22.13; 1 Kings 22.7; Num 27.29). It took a man of God to inquire of God. Abiathar and the Ephod were central to David seeking the Lord (23.6; 23.9; 30.7). Saul, in chapter 28 of First Samuel, couldn’t find anyone who fit the description to inquire of the Lord. He had killed all the priests and Samuel was dead. Saul messed up…so he found a witch and messed up again. It was different in David’s time. God lived amongst His people, but now, God lives inside His people. Through the Holy Spirit and through Jesus, we all have access to Him 24/7. No longer do we need a go between, a man of God, to meet with Him, for Jesus has provided all of that through his death and resurrection.
“The Lord said ‘Go up.’” (2 Samuel 2.1) David’s request was answered. Even more specifically, God told him to go to Hebron. There is a clear connection between inquiry and revelation (1 Sam 9.16; 10.22). How the revelation was given varied. It could be dreams, prophets, the ephod, or the Urim and Thummim (1 Sam 28.6) When it was given it was clearly communicated to the receiver. The problem was that it wasn’t always given. In one particular instance, revelation was withheld. The story takes place in 1 Samuel 14. Saul is prompted to ask God about going after the Philistines (14.36). “But God did not answer him that day.” (17) There was unchecked sin in the camp and in the army. Jonathan had tasted some honey which Saul had prohibited earlier that day. Ignorance apparently doesn’t equal innocence. God’s revelation was withheld because of sin. Every time David inquired of the Lord, he received revelation…the purity and innocence of the man after God’s own heart.
So let us inquire of God, but with different stipulations. How does the man after God’s heart seek God’s guidance.
- Check the sin. First Peter tells us men to be considerate of our wives so that noting will hinder our prayers (1 Peter 3.7) How I love and serve my wife dictates revelation. How we live our lives determines effectiveness of inquiry…how it hurts to write that.
- Simply asking God for the answers. So simple yet so hard to practice. The prayer: “God lead me today” is so seldom on my lips that I should repent of it.
- Search God’s Word. Why do we as God to speak to us, yet forget the words He has already spoken. The question “what should I do today?” is easily answered when I read the words “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22.37-39). I guess we think it means more if it is written in the clouds or spoken from a bright light than it is written in Scripture.
- Godly Counsel. A handful of Godly friends, who will speak truth into your life, are worth more than gold. A word of warning though: check their counsel against scripture, for they should never contradict what God has decreed in Scripture. Godly men have shown me my shortcomings, reinforced God’s commands, checked my motives, and held me accountable. Not enough can be said about them.
David sought the Lord’s direction at key moments of his life. More times than any other person in Scripture, do we find him seeking God’s leading. For David the water tower symbolized more than just the destination but the Being leading the journey.