In our series on Hearing God's Voice we've looked at different elements to help us recognize when God is speaking. This time we're going to take a slightly different look at the same topic by starting with a passage from 1 Kings; where Solomon is preparing to build the temple.
King Solomon conscripted laborers from all Israel--thirty thousand men. He sent them off to Lebanon in shifts of ten thousand a month, so that they spent one month in Lebanon and two months at home. Adoniram was in charge of the forced labor. Solomon had seventy thousand carriers and eighty thousand stonecutters in the hills, as well as thirty-three hundred foremen who supervised the project and directed the workers. At the king's command they removed from the quarry large blocks of high-grade stone to provide a foundation of dressed stone for the temple. The craftsmen of Solomon and Hiram and workers from Byblos cut and prepared the timber and stone for the building of the temple.
1 Kings 5:13-18 (NIV)
The Hebrew word translated "prepared" in verse 18 of this passage is a word that means, "to be firm, be stable, be established." It's a word that can be used communicate "stand up straight," or "perpendicular to the ground." Based on the verses we just read, it's clear that a lot of work went into building the temple. "Preparing" the wood and stone for the temple would have been an arduous task--especially without the use of modern-day machinery! It would have required skilled trades people and a lot of planning.
The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
Psalm 37:23-24 (NIV)
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the Lord upholds him with His hand.
Psalm 37:23-24 (NKJV)
The NKJV says our steps are "ordered" and the NIV translates them as being made "firm." The interesting part of this passage from Psalm 37 is that those two translated words are the same Hebrew word we read in 1 Kings 5:18; the word translated "prepared." What this illustrates is that God is arduous about directing our steps. He works strenuously to shape us so that we stand straight (perpendicular to the ground) as we journey through our lives, to fulfill His plans and purposes.
The key element in all of this is that whether or not in any given moment we recognize the voice of God, God's Word promises that He is directing and leading us. The only condition to this promise is that we set our hearts to seek Him. As the NIV says, "If the LORD delights in a man's way," and the NKJV, "The steps of a good man."
An excellent example of this in practice is in Acts 16:6-10, where we find the apostle Paul roaming across the countryside to share Christ with people. At nearly each step the Bible says the Spirit of Jesus stopped him. Paul never got stressed out about being told repeatedly that he was going the wrong way. It's almost humourous that while Paul clearly felt the Spirit's leading to not go to certain cities, he still couldn't recognize God's voice as to where he should be heading. In fact, in this instance the only time God was able to get through to him was while he was sleeping.
Even if we don't hear from God about what we're supposed to be doing; if we set our hearts to seek Him, when we're about to really miss the mark, He's faithful to let us know. If we don't hear from him--period--we can trust that our path is directed while we're pursuing Him.
Galatians 5:22-23 ↩︎