O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
9 There shall be no strange god among you;
you shall not bow down to a foreign god.
10 I am the Lord your God,
who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
11 “But my people did not listen to my voice;
Israel would not submit to me.
12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
to follow their own counsels. (Psalm 81:8-12)
The danger of refusing to listen to God is to get what you want. I know that sounds strange and you might be thinking, “well, that’s good then!” Only on the surface is it good. God does not warn us without cause. Think of it like this: God’s looking from an airplane at all the things you are about to come to as you drive your car through treacherous terrain. He can see the dangerous places in the road and the potential obstacles in your path ahead and you cannot. He finds a safer path and radios the turn to you but you refuse to listen. So God gives you over to your own counsel.
This never turns out well in the Bible. During the prophet Samuel’s day Israel asked for a king “like the nations.” It was the wrong thing to do. Samuel knew it and pleaded to God about this. But God said to Samuel, “give them what they want, but warn them what he will do to them.” Samuel did and Saul was chosen. Interestingly, Saul winds up chosen in a scene reminiscent of the judgment of Achan in Joshua 7:14-15. Saul was not a good king and paved the way for kings in the future that would be even worse (though God’s grace gave them hope in a future king by giving them David). The apostle Paul explains in Romans 1 that many of the depraved practices that we see today are a result of God giving man over to what he wants, after he has “exchanged the truth of God for a lie.” (Romans 1:21-32) It never turns out well when God gives man what he wants, unless that man’s wants are given to him by the Holy Spirit.
The good news is that God longs to give us good things. He longs to be in communion with us and so pursues us that he might bless us. He hasn’t left us to ourselves but has sent his Son into the world, Jesus, to pay for our turning away from him. And he has sent his Holy Spirit to retune our desires. Our prayer should be in line with the psalmist who says, “delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps 37:4) The idea there is that God not only gives you the thing(s) you desire but he puts the right desires in your heart. That’s what we need!
What are the desires of your heart?
Ask the Lord to give you desires that line up with His desires for you.
McCheyne’s reading plan: 1 Ch 1-2, He 8, Am 2, Ps 81-82