The Folly of Open Doors

1 Samuel 24:4-7 – And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed.” So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.

Often, Christians look for any hints they can find for making a decision that is the will of God. This is, to many, a very difficult field. Often, when we ask Christians how to determine if a particular action is the will of God, they will tell us to ask the counsel of other believers and watch for open doors, ways in which God gives us opportunity to take a particular action. Many Christians reason that, if God wants me to do something, he will open the door; but if he wants me not to do something, he will not give me the opportunity.

David’s experience in 1 Samuel 24 demonstrates for us that open doors are by no means a good way to judge the rightness or wrongness of an action. David had been running from King Saul. David even knew that he was to be the king of Israel upon Saul’s demise. Then, in an amazing turn of events, David and his men are hiding in the back of a cave where Saul goes, alone, to relieve himself. As Saul is in a most vulnerable position, David’s men tell him that the time is right. They counsel him that God has opened the door for him to take Saul’s life, and so that must be God’s will. David sneaks out, but only cuts Saul’s robe short, refusing to take Saul’s life after all.

Notice how David responded to what he had done. Once he recognized his action for what it was, David repented of sin. He knew that he was not supposed to stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, chosen king. David should have waited for God to set things right, and not have tried to take matters into his own hands. David’s heart struck him, because, though the door was open, the act was sin.

We can learn from David’s experience that open doors and the counsel of others does not necessarily lead to the will of God. As one Christian author quips, “Open doors sometimes lead to elevator shafts.” We therefore can not judge the rightness or wrongness of an action based on an open door. We can not say that anything is God’s will for us simply because a door is open or closed.

Let us turn ourselves away from superstitious tests of the will of God, and turn to the solid ground of the word of God. Our lord has given us his commands and his precepts, his standards for living, in the Bible. The Bible is the solid, inerrant, perfect revelation of God. It has inn its pages and principles everything we need to follow God’s will. We need to turn away from superstitious tests, and turn ourselves to the hard work of truly knowing God’s word and how it applies to our lives in every situation.

Dear Lord, help me to learn from David’s experience that open doors do not always indicate that anything is your will. Sometimes you lead us away from open doors. Sometimes you lead us through apparently closed doors. Your word is the standard, not my understanding of circumstances. Let me learn to live this to your glory.