But we’ve always done it that way!
Have you ever tried to persuade a church or other organization to change some long established practice? Often people who oppose the change will say something like, “We’ve always done it that way.” They believe that because something has worked well in the past they should continue to do it and not change anything. Are they right? Is the fact that something worked well in the past a reason we should keep on doing it and not change it? There was an incident in the life of David that I believe answers that question.
When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. But David heard of it and went down to the stronghold. Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim.
And David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?”
And the LORD said to David, “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand.”
And David came to Baal-perazim, and David defeated them there. And he said, “The Lord has broken through my enemies before me like a breaking flood.”
Therefore the name of that place is called Baal-perazim. And the Philistines left their idols there, and David and his men carried them away. (2 Samuel 5:17-21)
When faced with a crisis David asked God what he should do and when God answered he obeyed and won a great victory. But the Philistines came back.
And the Philistines came up yet again and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim. (2 Samuel 5:22)
They were faced with the identical situation as before. David might have said, “This is the same thing that happened before. Let’s just do what we did before and not bother asking God what to do.” Fortunately he didn’t do this.
And when David inquired of the LORD, he said, “You shall not go up; go around to their rear, and come against them opposite the balsam trees. And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then rouse yourself, for then the LORD has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.”
And David did as the LORD commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba to Gezer. (2 Samuel 5:23-25)
This time God told David to use a different strategy. David obeyed and was once again victorious.
If you think about it I believe you can see why David needed to do things differently the second time. No doubt the Philistines analyzed the tactics David used to bring about their first defeat and planned a way to counter them if David used them the second time. David had no way of knowing what their plans were but God did. We face that situation in everything we do for God. There are often changes in conditions that require us to change the way we do things. God knows about all of these changes even though we don’t.
While we often need to change how we do things, we shouldn’t make changes just for the sake of change. Sometimes the things that worked in the past are still working and we need to go on doing just what we are doing. When faced with the question of change we must always ask God to guide us rather than relying just on what we know.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5,6)