And they said to him, Ask counsel, we pray you, of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous.
I. MEN WHO ARE UNWILLING TO DO THE WILL OF GOD ARE SOMETIMES ANXIOUS TO SECURE HIS HELP. These Danites are little better than freebooters; they are determined to go their own way; they have no wish to be guided by God; they simply wish to be assured of success. So there are many who have sufficient religious faith to desire the blessing of God on their life, but not sufficient to submit to his guidance and authority. True loyalty to God will make us not merely consult him as to the success of our work, but as to its rightness, and not merely inquire whether the way in which we are determined to go shall prosper, but ask what way God would have us take.
II. THE PRAYER FOR PROSPERITY UNACCOMPANIED BY SUBMISSION TO GOD'S WILL DOES NOT JUSTIFY THE COURSE OF ACTION TO WHICH IT RELATES. We have superstitions about prayer. We are too ready to imagine that all is well if we have sought God's blessing upon our work. But we have only a right to ask for this when we are doing right. Prayer cannot sanctify a bad action. The Danites were not justified in their marauding expedition because they first consulted a supposed Divine oracle. Men seek God's blessing on their business while they conduct it dishonestly, on their country while they favour aggressive wars and national injustice, on their private lives while they pursue a worldly, perhaps even an immoral, course. Such conduct rather aggravates than mitigates guilt, because it betrays blindness of conscience in the searching light of God's presence.
III. AN ASSURANCE OF SUCCESS IS NO PROOF OF THE FAVOUR OF GOD. We are too ready to worship success as though it were a justification of the means by which it was attained. In this world, viewed from a human standpoint, goodness often fails and wickedness often succeeds. Our own feeling of assurance is no ground of reasonable confidence. They who are on the best of terms with themselves are not therefore on the best of terms with God. The timid, diffident, despondent soul may be really regarded with favour by God, while the vain, self-elated soul may be living under his frown. The faith which saves is not self-confidence nor the assurance of success, but submissive and obedient trust in a Lord and Saviour.
IV. THEY WHO MAKE A CONVENIENCE OF RELIGION WILL FIND IN THE END THAT IT WILL BE THEIR CONDEMNING JUDGE. The priest told the Danites that their way was before the Lord. God would watch them. They had invoked his name. They would see ultimately what his presence involved. The recognition of God which is involved in seeking his blessing will increase our condemnation if we disregard his will. - A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And they said unto him, Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous.