Another option before David was that for three months he be on the back foot against his enemies.
Recall that the second option God presented to David after he sinned was “three months during which you flee from your enemies as they pursue you.” Wow! When the hunter becomes the hunted, there is a big problem. David was to choose from what he could not change and what he could not handle without God’s help. This option could not be the choice for David, who in the 56th Psalm had stated his dependence on God against his enemies. “Then my enemies will retreat when I call to you. This I know: God is on my side” (Psalms 56:9).
David knew too well that God was His strength, covering and help against every enemy; like when Saul’s needless vengeance and pursuit after him was rendered fruitless because God did not deliver him into Saul’s hands. David knew that the pursuit of the enemy was going to be devastating if he went without the divine shield and help of God for those three months. For David, therefore, this option was not a choice he could make. And why is this so? There are two reasons I see.
First, Psalm 56 shows that David was sure that God would hear him “when I call to you.” David was a man of deep prophetic prayer in the secret place, and he had great results from his prayers. He knew whenever he prayed that the enemy was going to retreat; this time though, there was going to be a delay for three months before any help would come. I believe this was what David was concerned about. If it was a matter of God deliberately withholding answer because He wanted David to learn the patience of faith, David probably would not mind a three-month wait for answer to his prayer. When God wants us to wait, He remains with us in our trouble, and His presence alone can be so comforting in the midst of troubles. But that God would leave David completely to the mercy of his enemies was something David would not want to happen.
You must make such difference in your circumstances. Usually, God never abandons His children. But sin can push one away from God. I am yet to know any true Christian, a believer, born again, and a carrier of the Spirit of Christ, who can endure one moment, one minute without God, much less a whole three months! So, in your walk with the Lord, discern when God is withholding answer momentarily to help you learn patience, the proper patience with the right attitude; this is an essential virtue to have; and you would come to see the benefits eventually when the trying time is over.
When answers are delayed, or it appeared the situation is getting out of control; what do you do? Mind you though, you must be certain that this delay is not as a result of divine punishment, as was being proposed to David. When the delay is a faith-building process, as we can say about Abraham; then, what are we to do?
One, do not panic or quit praying, even when it looks like God is not ready to change the situation yet.
Two, instead of asking God to stop the enemy’s attack or pursuit, ask Him to change you and give you the wisdom you need, so that you can handle the situation better.
Three, allow God to use the situation to make you a better believer or person.
When we pray we find help and grace to deal with things we cannot handle. Any choice that takes you away from the place of prayer is a dead end, no matter how smart it may appear.
The second reason David would not accept the second option of punishment was because God would not be by him all those three months his enemies would be pursuing him. Recall that in Psalm 56 David had said, “God is on my side.” This presence of God was to be withdrawn for that length of three months. I am not surprised David rejected this punishment. Of course he knew the benefits of divine presence and how to cultivate God’s presence.
As a believer, I cannot withstand a moment without God’s presence; so I know full well why David would not accept this option of punishment. To choose this punishment would have meant he would be void of divine backing for three months. That was a great risk for a man that loved and had enjoyed God’s presence. I must caution you against making choices that could make you void of divine backing for any length of time. If that happens, you would be overtaken and overrun by men and devious enemies, no matter how hard you try to dislodge them.
In his life, David had enjoyed great victories because of God’s presence. In 2 Samuel 22:30, he expressed this joy when he said, “For by you I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.” If we are to enjoy such victories in all areas of life, we got to seek and maintain divine assurance that God is on our side in the choices we make about who to marry, the relationship we keep, the businesses we do, and so on. If you are not sure of divine help, failure is inevitable.
Then, the third and last option was the plague that will ravage the nation for three days.
The third option before David was “a three-day plague in your land.” A plague is any contagious disease that spreads rapidly and kills many people. It is also a singular thing that causes immense trouble or grievous irritation within a period. The impending plague was to be punishment for David’s hasty action. It shows how one’s choice does not only affect one, but could affect one’s family – your lovely wife and your trusting children. And if you are a leader of any degree, one ill-advised action can affect your followers. Worse still, it can affect those tied to you by destiny. We are dealing with the rapidity and the number of people this option of punishment will impact negatively.
It brings me back to the story about the following instinct of the sheep. Stunned Turkish shepherds, who had left the herd to graze while they had breakfast, watched as nearly 1,500 followed the leading sheep, each leaping off the same cliff. In the end, 450 dead animals lay on top of one another in a billowy white pile. The ones that jumped later were saved as the pile got higher and the fall more cushioned. The plague was caused by the leading sheep. One sheep chose to jump, and others followed to their death.
Apparently, haste without wisdom is a plague. Do not be caught in the plague of haste in making a choice; else, you would regret it. If you are not greedy, lazy or hasty, you will not be a victim of swindlers or Ponzi schemes that are plaguing many today, with huge losses.
Rather than haste, ask for time to make a decision that can prevent a plague. Ask for more time if you are to think through something thoroughly before making a decision. Ask for it like Daniel did, asking “Why is the decree from the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the decision known to Daniel. So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation” (Daniel 2:16).
Interestingly, even God gave David time to think through the three options He presented to him. The messenger said to David, “Think it over, and decide what answer I should give the one who sent me” (2 Samuel 24:13).
The Final Choice
At last, David admitted his frailty to make a choice, so he chose the merciful hand of God. “…David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” David knew the attributes of God as the only gracious One. When David said “For His anger is but for a moment, and his favour is for a lifetime” (Psalms 30:5), he simply was admitting that when no choice can be made without harsh consequences, the believer should simply fall before God in brokenness of heart and trust in His mercy.
Brokenness unlocks His mercy and grace; but pride will shut you out of God’s mercy. In making a choice, depend on God, not your experience or the counsel of ungodly men. Whatever choices you have to make in life let it be God-centred, whether favourable or not. There is no way we can avoid failure in life if we make the mistake of choosing like the ungodly. The choices we make in life must be guided by godly values and content.
“Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the LORD” (Joshua 9:14).
It is said that there are three C’s of life: Choices, Chances and Changes. It is the choices we make that create the chances we get, and ultimately the changes we will make in our daily lives. It takes right choices to get the right opportunity(chance) to make the right changes. We are confronted with choices, chances and changes daily. The healthy changes we make are the direct results of the right choices influenced by how intimate our relationship is with the God of all grace.
The quality of information you have will influence the quality of choices you make. If they are God-centred, your life will be far better than any man that is self-centred in his choices. Every day we are faced with choosing between choices; but we are instructed to go God’s way. One thing is choose-able, and that is choosing to stay with God’s choices for you. We know those who spurn God and the results they got. “Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the LORD” (Joshua 9:14). These men of Israel took God’s counsel for granted and followed what they saw and felt. At last they had to live with the consequences of their choices when they discovered the deception of the Gibeonites. By then it was already too late.
How does Psalm 37:4 admonish us? It says, “Delight yourself also in the LORD; and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” It does not mean delight equals our desires; it is simply saying when we begin to delight ourselves in the Lord, our heart begins to agree with the desires or choices of God. What God loves, you begin to love, and what God hates you hate. That’s when it becomes natural for you to do the things God wants.
Learn the act of prayer because one of the ways to delight in the Lord is to frequently resort to Him in prayer. Prayer changes you to conform to God’s will, and not the other way round. Some people are afraid to pray because they know the impact it will have on their carnal desires. True, no one draws close to God in frequent prayers and remains the same. Mind and spirit are changed into the likeness of God. Show me a man who delights in prayer, and I will show you a man who grows in confidence in God, delights in His will and is not in a haste to do anything without God’s approval.
Never be in haste to choose, until you have searched to know the mind of the Spirit of God. This you do both from the Word of God, and at the place of prayer. And no matter how short the prayer may be, you shall always find peace with every contact you make with God. “And in the same way — by our faith — the Holy Spirit helps us with our daily problems and in our praying. For we don’t even know what we should pray for nor how to pray as we should, but the Holy Spirit prays for us with such feeling that it cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows, of course, what the Spirit is saying as he pleads for us in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans” (Romans 8:26-28).
We all need the help of the Spirit to deal with life’s challenges and choices. Sometimes the most powerful prayers are not the longest. “Lord, help me….” “Lord, give me grace…..” “Lord, open my eyes….” “Lord, help me not to make mistakes….” These are short prayers, but are potent enough when they come from a sincere and hungry heart.
Before I was married, I learnt to pray such short and powerful prayers. I would pray, “Lord, I do not want to make mistakes, especially in my choice of a wife, no matter how far I have gone or invested in the relationship. If Your hand is not in it, end it, Lord.” And God always answered those short prayers. He actually put an end to a lot of relationships that would not have favoured my life and ministry, though painful at the time, or so I felt because I didn’t understand much. And, though letting go and starting over again was tough, my sincere prayers paid off. God was working for me, as I later came to see.
As Simeon Afolabi would say, “Stop labouring to continue what God wants to end in your life, or end what He wants to continue.” Today, I thank God! God took some people out of my life for His will to be done in life as it is in heaven. I am thankful for the wife He later blessed me with.
In marriage the process of finding a suitable spouse is as important as the marriage itself. If you miss it at the finding stage, it will take divine help to amend it. Let God be the centre of your choice, not men or things. One thing is important when making a choice: make God the centre of the choices you make, if you are not to make mistakes in life. Someone said, “We make our choices, and then our choices will eventually make us.” So, if you make wrong choices, the wrong choices will make you wrongly in future. David was wise. He chose to fall into the hand of God, for His mercies are great, than to fall into the hands of men or the enemy – Satan.
Beloved, when you choose wisely, timely and rightly, you will eventually preserve your life and other great destinies.