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  • Writer's pictureHigher Expectations Church

When Doing The Obvious Is Obviously Wrong

PROVERBS 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight.

One of the clearest examples of “leaning to your own understanding” is found in the book of Joshua. In Joshua 3, the nation of Israel finally crosses the Jordan River into the Promised Land after a 40 year delay. The first obstacle they encounter is the fortified city of Jericho. In Joshua 6, the Lord speaks to Joshua and tells him that He has “handed” (past tense) the city and king over to him. The Lord then provides very specific instructions on what to do to conquer the city. The Hebrew nation follows the instructions and by verse 21, the fortified city had been conquered.


With the next challenge in Joshua 7, the town of Ai represented a seemingly smaller, lesser obstacle. Joshua sent men to spy out the city and to return and give him a report. The men returned, gave Joshua an assessment of the city, and a plan of attack. Joshua followed their recommendation and sent 3000 soldiers to conquer the city. The result were 36 men killed, the other 2964 men fled, and millions of people “lost heart”. What went wrong?

Two things: 1) Achan sinned; he took some of the things from Jericho that was set apart for the Lord, and 2) they “leaned” (rested, relied) on their own understanding, doing what was obvious and seemingly reasonable.


Achan’s contribution to the defeat is easy to understand…you can’t expect victory in your life if you violate the commands, precepts and character of God. But the second problem was Joshua and the people “leaning to their own understanding”. They did not consult God, or get specific instructions because the challenge seemed “small”. They acted upon their knowledge and understanding of the situation. They did not consider that God has all the facts and that overall, He was glorifying Himself through them in ways they could not imagine.


What assumptions are you making in your daily walk? Do you consult the Lord only on the “big” decisions and leave Him out of the “small” ones? Are you even consulting with God at all? Do you feel like, “God gave me common sense, so I don’t need to talk to Him. I got this.” Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know, and doing the obvious can be the wrong thing to do.


The goal of your life should be to know God better; to see His glory in your daily pursuit of Him. Part of the process involves daily, continual conversations with Him (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) about the “small” issues of life as well as the “big” ones. He may guide you to do something that is “not” obvious in an “obvious” situation. Then you will see a side of Him that you never knew before.

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