Genie In the Lamp

Delight thyself also in the Lord: and He shall give thee the desires of thine hear– Psalm 37:4 KJV

I was a bit amused at the level of interest he displayed in this woman. Laughingly, I said to him, “it appears that you really love her”. He appeared to be lost in thought, and did not respond right away. Then he turned to me and said, “everyone has their place”.

That’s how some of us treat God. He has His place, His own small corner.

I could not help reflecting on this as I looked at 1 Samuel 4. The Israelites went out to war against the Philistines expecting the Lord to show up and defeat their enemies as He did in the past. They ended up fleeing from their enemies.

They could not understand why God allowed the Philistines to defeat them. It somehow did not enter their thoughts that they had not included Him in their plans.

Instead of going to God in humility and repentance, they sent for the Ark of the Covenant, putting their trust in it, rather than in Yahweh. He had become their genie in the lamp (or Ark). He was only expected to appear when needed. Otherwise, He stays in His place.

By taking the Ark into the battle, the Israelites were trying to force God to go with them, and I suppose defend His name. The sovereign God would not be manipulated. Once again they were defeated.

How often have we done a similar thing? For example, we pray God’s word to Him, because He honors His word above His name. We pray in the spirit, because we do not always know what to pray, and the Holy Spirit knows the heart of God, and what we want.

All these practices are godly, and encouraged. However, let us be careful that they do not become meaningless rituals used in our attempts to manipulate God into granting us our wishes.

Instead, let us humbly bring our requests to God, trusting His heart rather than trying to influence His decisions. Allow God to have His way in our hearts, even as we continue to pray His words back to Him, and pray in the spirit. These practices are ways to knowing God’s heart. They are not tools to be used to twist His arm. God is not our genie in a lamp.

Prayer: Father, please forgive us for the times we have attempted to manipulate rather than to please You. Give us an understanding heart oh God, so we know Your desires for us, and may Your will be done in our lives today. Amen.

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