One day news came to David that the Philistines were at Keilah stealing grain from the threshing floors. David asked the Lord, “Should I go and attack them?” “Yes, go and save Keilah,” the Lord told him.
But David’s men said, “We’re afraid even here in Judah. We certainly don’t want to go to Keilah to fight the whole Philistine army!”
So David asked the Lord again, and again the Lord replied, “Go down to Keilah, for I will help you conquer the Philistines.”
So David and his men went to Keilah. They slaughtered the Philistines and took all their livestock and rescued the people of Keilah. Now when Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, he brought the ephod with him.
Saul soon learned that David was at Keilah. “Good!” he exclaimed. “We’ve got him now! God has handed him over to me, for he has trapped himself in a walled town!”
(1 Samuel 23:1-7)
Through the Urim and Thummim that Abiathar the priest brought (23:6), David sought the Lord’s guidance before he took action. He listened to God’s directions and then proceeded accordingly.
But when Saul heard that David was trapped in a walled town (one with gates and bars), he thought God was putting David at his mercy. Saul wanted to kill David so badly that he would have interpreted any sign as God’s approval to move ahead with his plan. Had Saul known God better, he would have known what God wanted and would not have misread the situation as God’s approval for murder.
Not every opportunity is sent from God. We may want something so much that we assume any opportunity to obtain it is of divine origin. As we see from Saul’s case, however, this may not be true. An opportunity to do something against God’s will can never be from God because God does not tempt us. When opportunities come your way, double-check your motives. Make sure you are following God’s desires, and not just your own.
Rather than trying to find God’s will after the fact or having to ask God to undo the results of our hasty decisions, we should take time to discern God’s will beforehand. We can hear him speak through the counsel of others, his Word, and the leading of his Spirit in our hearts, as well as through circumstances.