“So David said, “Look, tomorrow is the New Moon feast, and I am supposed to dine with the king; but let me go and hide in the field until the evening of the day after tomorrow. 6 If your father misses me at all, tell him, ‘David earnestly asked my permission to hurry to Bethlehem, his hometown, because an annual sacrifice is being made there for his whole clan.’ 7 If he says, ‘Very well,’ then your servant is safe. But if he loses his temper, you can be sure that he is determined to harm me. 8 As for you, show kindness to your servant, for you have brought him into a covenant with you before the Lord. If I am guilty, then kill me yourself! Why hand me over to your father?” 9 “Never!” Jonathan said. “If I had the least inkling that my father was determined to harm you, wouldn’t I tell you?” 10 David asked, “Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?” 11 “Come,” Jonathan said, “let’s go out into the field.” So they went there together.” 1 Samuel 20.5-11
The art of asking for a “fleece” is really a lost art in my own experience but this is what David and Jonathan are doing.
David and Jonathan have a plan to keep David safe. The way they can test whether King Saul wants to kill David or not is to set up a scenario where David hides in a nearby field while Jonathan is at the New Moon feast with the king. David will pretend to go to Bethlehem to attend an annual sacrifice with his entire family. Depending on how Saul answers, they will know wether David is in danger or not.
For example, if Saul says, “very well,” suggesting it’s no big deal that David is gone and it’s all good with Saul, then they will know David is safe. But if Saul goes into a rage, like he’s done in the past, “loses his temper,” then it’s certain that the king wants to kill David.
Jonathan pledges himself to David and is dismayed that David would think Jonathan would do him any harm even while Jonathan isn’t convinced his father will hurt David either.
We will see how this is played out in the next entry, but for now, I am interested in the “fleece” they throw before the Lord. They set up a set of circumstances that if it goes one way or another they will determine that David is safe or is in danger. Is this a valid way to test the will of God? Who determines the parameters for the experiment? Can I try this in my own life?
If I have a decision to make, and I am walking with the Lord — is it faithful for me to say to God, “if such and such happens then I will know your hand is guiding me this way, but if something else happens I will know that you are guiding me in a different direction?” This is a matter of discernment and it’s no small test. The Bible tells us not to “put the Lord God to the test,“ (Luke 4.12) but then in another passage it says, “test the spirits to see if they are from God,” (1 John 4.1).
How best to seek the Lord and discern his will for our lives is the question at hand. David and Jonathan did this through a set of circumstances by which God revealed through the actions of the king. Can we do the same?
We do not want to be careless when trying this methodist of “testing” God’s will for our lives but as John Wesley shared in his quadrilateral— Scripture first, followed by tradition, reason and experience — are valid means by which we might discern God’s will for our lives.
This is certainly a larger topic then one entry will permit, but it’s worth discussing as we seek to walk with Jesus and keep in step with his Holy Spirit. Let us be prayerful as we discover God’s will and uncover his path for our lives.
“O Lord God, you are good. Thank you for loving me and for allowing me to abide in you. I am but a humble servant guided by your Spirit. I am not always confident of my choices and ask that you show me your way. Help me learn from your Word and your Spirit that I might choose the path that leads to everlasting life. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen