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Detailed Instructions

to those who know Him.

2 Samuel 5:17–25

Now when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. And David heard of it and went down to the stronghold. The Philistines also went and deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. So David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?”

And the LORD said to David, “Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand.”

So David went to Baal Perazim, and David defeated them there; and he said, “The LORD has broken through my enemies before me, like a breakthrough of water.” Therefore he called the name of that place Baal Perazim. And they left their images there, and David and his men carried them away.

Then the Philistines went up once again and deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. Therefore David inquired of the LORD, and He said, “You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly. For then the LORD will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines.” And David did so, as the LORD commanded him; and he drove back the Philistines from Geba as far as Gezer.

The consolidation of Israel under David shocks the Philistines. They’ve been asleep. They were happy to see Abner and Ishbosheth killed. Israel was in tatters. David’s troops could never conquer Jerusalem. Now Israel unified under David is more powerful than ever. They need to hunt this guy down.

David hears of this and goes down to the stronghold. That can’t mean Jerusalem. The Hebrew idioms for going to Jerusalem are always a form of “to rise.” So, this has to refer to some kind of stronghold outpost, presumably in Judah. Meanwhile, the Philistines are in the Valley of Rephaim, southwest of Jerusalem, not far away.

As always, David does nothing without checking with the LORD first. This time, the LORD’s instructions are much more than a simple yes or no.

So, how did David get such detailed instructions for the LORD? The Urim and Thummim yield yes/no type answers. What God told David is way too creative for him to guess in a game of 20 questions. Something else has to be going on. But what?

Scripture doesn’t specify this exactly, but it gives us two huge clues that lay the foundation. First, David is a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). He doesn’t just know about God; he knows God. Second, David, as an author of scripture, has the Holy Spirit.

Okay, but so do we. How can we get so tight with God that we can know His will this well?

This gets back to knowing God instead of just knowing about Him. I highly recommend two things. Read J.I. Packer’s book Knowing God, and make prayer a big part of your life.

These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday ones are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe click here:

The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, can be downloaded here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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