Listen for Marching in the Trees

“When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over all Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. But David heard of it and went out against them. Now the Philistines had come and made a raid in the Valley of Rephaim. And David inquired of God, ‘Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Go up, and I will give them into your hand.’ And he went up to Baal-perazim, and David struck them down there. And David said, ‘God has broken through my enemies by my hand, like a bursting flood.’ Therefore the name of that place is called Baal-perazim. And they left their gods there, and David gave command, and they were burned.

“And the Philistines yet again made a raid in the valley. And when David again inquired of God, God said to him, ‘You shall not go up after them; go around and come against them opposite the balsam trees.  And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then go out to battle, for God has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.’ And David did as God commanded him, and they struck down the Philistine army from Gibeon to Gezer.” 1 Chronicles 14: 8-16

The Philistines were a formidable and prevalent enemy, and David’s establishment as king in Jerusalem invited fresh attack. This great warrior-leader had skilled men and tested strategies, but he did not rely on his own instincts against this persistent foe. Instead, he inquired of his Commander-God for instruction. He knew that though man could plan well, the ultimate outcome was from the Lord, so he wanted to go forth within the parameters of God’s sovereign plan. He conquered at the sound of marching in the trees. (Proverbs 16:9)

The Lord of the treetops promises to guide and direct us where and how to go, but He does not always do it in conventional ways. David’s heart was so intertwined with his Lord’s that he did not question this unusual and unanticipated advice. He waited for details and obeyed accordingly, without question. He knew God was true to His word and His battle plans were trustworthy. (Psalm 32:8; 104:16-17; Proverbs 3:5-6)

There are times for tested strategies and relying on biblical principles when we come under attack. But it is always prudent, and never wasted, to seek God‘s fresh direction with every challenge. Daily we are to fit ourselves in his armor, daily to seek his guidance and wisdom, daily to be filled with His living Spirit. We cannot trust stale manna to nourish our insight and courage. What He leads us to do in one dilemma or relationship may be different for another. Each best way leads to His overarching victory and glory. (John 7:37-39; Ephesians 6:13-18)

When facing an onslaught of opposition, mentally or practically, do we rely on our own understanding and smarts, and neglect inquiring of God? When we ask Him for direction, do we listen, and heed? He will not fail to rustle our spirit with His to guide our endeavors.

Lord, attune my ears to hear the balsams move, every whisper and beckon of Your Spirit’s guidance. Then give me courage to follow You in triumph.

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