"And when David inquired of the Lord, he said, Thou shalt not go up; but fetch a compass behind them" (II Samuel 5:23).
As one reads through the Old Testament narratives the danger of spiritual complacence and self-confidence quickly becomes apparent. Believers are tempted to think that past victories assure future success, and they cease to realize the need for constant communication with God and dependence upon Him for direction.
When Joshua went into the land, the Israelite army followed God's directives exactly and saw a major victory at Jericho (Joshua 6). But then they became confident in their own power and comfortable that they could similarly defeat the next town in their path. "And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai . . . saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up . . . for they are but few" (Joshua 7:2-3). The Israelites never inquired of God and learned a hard lesson when the few men of Ai defeated them. Only after they communed with God and dealt with the sin that had removed His protection and blessing from Israel were they prepared to go up and gain victory.
The newly anointed king David won a great victory over the Philistines in II Samuel 5, much like the Israelite victory at Jericho. However, "the Philistines came up yet again, and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim" (v.22). Rather than assuming that he could repeat the previous victory, David was wise enough to again commune with the Lord. It was well that he did so, because this time God instructed him, do "not go up" (our text). If David had employed the same strategy that earlier had brought victory, it would have resulted in a defeat like Ai. But because he stayed tuned in to God, he won a key victory and secured his kingdom. DW