When writing to faithful Christians in Ephesus, the apostle Paul urged them: “Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:10) The wisdom of doing that is illustrated by many situations reported in the Scriptures.
After the ark of the covenant had been returned to Israel and had been kept for many years at Kiriath-jearim, King David desired to transfer it to Jerusalem. He consulted with chiefs of the people and said that the Ark would be moved ‘if it seemed good to them and it was acceptable with Jehovah.’ But he neglected to search adequately to ascertain Jehovah’s will on the matter. If he had done so, the Ark would never have been loaded onto a wagon. It would have been carried by Kohathite Levites on their shoulders, as God had clearly instructed. Though David frequently inquired of Jehovah, he failed to do so in a proper way on this occasion. The result was disastrous. David later acknowledged: “Jehovah our God broke through against us, for we did not search after him according to the custom.”—1 Chronicles 13:1-3; 15:11-13; Numbers 4:4-6, 15; 7:1-9.
When the Ark was finally transported by the Levites from the house of Obed-edom to Jerusalem, a song composed by David was sung. It included the heartfelt reminder: “Search after Jehovah and his strength, seek his face constantly. Remember his wonderful acts that he has performed, his miracles and the judicial decisions of his mouth.”—1 Chronicles 16:11, 12.
Before his death, David counseled his son Solomon: “If you search for [Jehovah], he will let himself be found by you.” (1 Chronicles 28:9) Upon taking the throne, Solomon went to Gibeon, where the tent of meeting was located, and sacrificed to Jehovah. There Jehovah invited Solomon: “Ask! What shall I give you?” In response to Solomon’s request, Jehovah freely gave him wisdom and knowledge to judge Israel, and to that He added riches and honor. (2 Chronicles 1:3-12) Using the architectural plan provided by Jehovah to David, Solomon built a magnificent temple. But in the matter of his own marital affairs, Solomon failed to search for Jehovah. Solomon married women who were not worshipers of Jehovah. In his later years, they inclined his heart away from Jehovah. (1 Kings 11:1-10) No matter how prominent, wise, or knowledgeable we may seem to be, it is important to “keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord”!
The need for this is reinforced by the record of the kingship of Asa, a great-grandson of Solomon. Eleven years after Asa became king, Zerah the Ethiopian led a million-man army against Judah. Would Jehovah deliver Judah? Over 500 years earlier, Jehovah had clearly stated what his people could expect if they listened to him and kept his commandments and what they could expect if they did not. (Deuteronomy 28:1, 7, 15, 25) At the beginning of his reign, Asa had removed from his realm altars and pillars used in false worship. He had urged the people “to search for Jehovah.” Asa had not waited until faced with calamity before doing that. So with faith in Jehovah, Asa could pray to him to act in their behalf. The outcome? Judah was given a resounding victory.—2 Chronicles 14:2-12.
Nevertheless, when Asa returned victorious, Jehovah sent Azariah to meet the king and to say: “Hear me, O Asa and all Judah and Benjamin! Jehovah is with you as long as you prove to be with him; and if you search for him, he will let himself be found by you, but if you leave him he will leave you.” (2 Chronicles 15:2) With renewed zeal, Asa promoted true worship. But some years later, when again faced with war, Asa failed to search for Jehovah. He did not consult God’s Word, and he did not call to mind what Jehovah had done when the Ethiopian army had invaded Judah. Foolishly he made an alliance with Syria.—2 Chronicles 16:1-6.
For this, Jehovah caused Hanani the seer to reprove Asa. Even at that point, when Jehovah’s view of the matter was explained, Asa could have benefited. Instead, he became offended and put Hanani in the house of the stocks. (2 Chronicles 16:7-10) How sad! What about us? Do we search for God but then refuse to accept counsel? When a concerned and caring elder uses the Bible to counsel us because we are getting entangled with the world, do we show appreciation for the loving help being given us to know “what is acceptable to the Lord”?