Many people flounder around in life, unable to satisfactorily make important decisions that determine the course and the quality of their life. Often this inability is because they lack adequate guidance.
But what if people could get the guidance they need – from God? We will consider several Bible scriptures which indicate that people can get guidance from God. However, we first want to be clear as to what we mean when we use the term guide. Webster’s Dictionary indicates that the term guide has essentially the same meaning as direct and lead, so basically the three terms can be used interchangeably.
[Notes: When we quote Scripture in this article, we use the wording in the New King James Version of the Bible. And, when bold print is shown in the scriptures that we quote in this article, it is to emphasize certain words on which we will be focusing in our subsequent discussion. With regard to the excerpts we quote from Bible commentaries, we have selected only those that take into consideration the significance of the focal scriptures for people in addition to those to whom the focal scriptures were specifically written.]
Now we will consider what the Bible says regarding God’s guidance, direction, or leading of His people (i.e., those who trust in Him).
God Guides Those Who Depend on Him for Guidance
Isaiah 48:17 states, “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go.’”
Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible states with regard to this scripture,
God taught them [i.e., the Israelites], as he does his people now, by his Providence, his revealed word, and his Spirit, the way in which they ought to go. It is one of his characteristics that he is the guide and director of his people.
Also, in regard to Isaiah 48:17, John Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible declares,
Teaching thee profitably – He [Isaiah] means that God’s “teaching” is such that it might keep the people safe and sound, if they would only rest upon it.
Leading thee – These words shew more clearly the profitableness which was mentioned a little before. He [Isaiah] means that the way of salvation is pointed out to us, if we hearken to God when he speaks; for he is ready to become our guide during the whole course of our life, if we will only obey him.
It Is Vital to Trust Completely in God for His Guidance
Proverbs 3:5-6 declares, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”
John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible states in reference to this scripture,
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart – Trust in him [God] at all times; in times of affliction, temptation, and darkness: there is a great deal of reason for it; all power and strength are in him to help; his love, grace, and mercy. . . . The phrase denotes not so much the strength of faith as the sincerity of it; it signifies a faith unfeigned. . . .
and lean not unto thine own understanding – or trust not to that; for it stands opposed to trusting in the Lord. Men should not depend upon their own wisdom and understanding, in the conduct of civil life, but should seek the direction and blessing of Providence, or otherwise will meet with disappointment; and, when they succeed, should ascribe it not to their own prudence and wisdom, but to the goodness of God. . . .
David Guzik’s Enduring Word Bible Commentary makes the following comments with regard to Proverbs 3:5-6:
a. Trust in the LORD – Solomon had found that God was worthy to be trusted.
b. With all your heart – If trust in God is to be true, it must be complete. To put half our trust in God and half our trust in self or something else is really failure to trust the LORD at all.
c. Lean not on your own understanding – Trusting God with all our heart means to decide to put away our own understanding and instead to choose to trust God and His understanding, especially as declared in His word.
d. In all your ways acknowledge Him – Trusting God with all our heart means to honor and acknowledgeHim in all that we do.
e. He shall direct your paths – When we acknowledge Him in our ways, He will direct our paths in the fulfillment of His will, into what is right before Him and pleasing to us.
In reference to the same scripture, Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Bible asserts,
We must have a continual regard to God’s providence, must own and depend upon it in all our affairs, both by faith and prayer. . . . We must repose an entire confidence in the wisdom, power, and goodness of God. . . . We must therefore trust in the Lord with all our hearts . . .; we must believe that he is able to do what he will, wise to do what is best, and good, according to his promise, to do what is best for us, if we love him, and serve him. We must, with an entire submission and satisfaction, depend upon him to perform all things for us, and not lean to our own understanding. . . . In all our conduct we must be diffident of our own judgment, and confident of God’s wisdom, power, and goodness. . . .
God’s Guidance Will Be Continuous Throughout the Life of a Person Who Trusts in Him
Psalm 48:14 asserts, “For this is God, our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.”
With regard to this scripture, Barnes states,
He will be our guide even unto death – [H]e (i.e., God) will . . . accompany us faithfully to the end. The thought . . . is simply that as long as we live on the earth, we may have the assurance that he will lead and guide us. This he will do in behalf of those who put their trust in him. . . .
Man needs nothing more for this life than the confident assurance that he has the Eternal God for his guide, and that he will never be left or forsaken by Him in any possible situation in which he may be placed.
Calvin declares in reference to the same scripture,
He will be our guide even unto death – [T]he people of God assure themselves that he will be their guide and keeper for ever. [T]hey] express generally, and according to the common people’s way of speaking . . . that God will take care of all who rely upon him even to the end.
Also, with regard to Psalm 48:14, Adam Clarke Commentary says,
He (God) will be our guide – Through all the snares and difficulties of life,
Even unto death – He will never leave us. . . .
God, in the Form of the Holy Spirit, Guides People Who Have Genuinely Trusted in Jesus Christ As Their Savior
John 16:13a says, “[W]hen He, the Spirit of truth [i.e., the Holy Spirit], has come, He will guide you into all truth.”
Gill says with regard to this scripture,
he will guide you into all truth – necessary to be known, useful to men, profitable to the churches, even the whole counsel of God; what relates to worship, the nature, form, and spirituality of it, as well as doctrine. He is as a guide, he goes before, leads the way, removes obstructions, opens the understanding, makes things plain and clear, teaches to profit, and leads in the way men should go, without turning to the right hand or left, which, without such a guide, they would be apt to do.
With reference to the same scripture, Guzik states,
He will guide you into all truth – In one sense, this was fulfilled when the New Testament writings, divinely inspired by God, were completed. In another sense the Holy Spirit continues today to personally lead us into truth. . . .
In light of the foregoing considerations, why do many people who believe in God not regularly ask Him to guide them? We believe that among the primary reasons why these people do not regularly seek God’s guidance are the following:
- People are not sufficiently informed about their privilege to ask God to guide them.
- People lack faith that God will guide them.
- People regard themselves as self-sufficient.
- People are stubborn about asking God to guide them.
- People place their highest priority on their own preferences.
We will now briefly consider each of these reasons.
People Are Not Sufficiently Informed about Their Privilege to Ask God to Guide Them
Evidently, there are a number of people who are not aware that, if they genuinely want to live in accord with God’s will for them, they have the privilege of asking God to guide them. This lack of awareness by these people is apparently due to the fact that they have little or no understanding of what the Bible says in this regard, including not only the scriptures that we previously quoted, but also other scriptures. Therefore, these people should benefit from learning what the Bible teaches about seeking God’s guidance.
People Lack Faith that God Will Guide Them
Other people do not think that God will guide them, even if they are genuinely trying to live in accord with His will for them and they were to sincerely ask Him to guide them. These people may believe that God has the ability to guide them, but they do not believe that He will guide them, probably because they think they do not deserve His guidance or that He will bother to guide ordinary people such as themselves.
People Regard Themselves as Self-Sufficient
Still other people believe that they can handle almost any matter that confronts them and, therefore, they generally do not think that they need God’s guidance. However, when there is an extraordinarily difficult situation that they are unable to deal with satisfactorily, they may be willing to ask God for His guidance in dealing with that situation. Foxhole religion is an example of this. Thus, although these people are usually confident that they do not need God’s guidance, they may be willing to ask God for His guidance if they are faced with an extremely difficult situation.
People Are Stubborn about Asking God to Guide Them
This reason for not seeking God’s guidance is similar to the immediately preceding reason, since people who are stubborn in this regard do not think they need God’s guidance. However, even if the people in this category face an extraordinarily difficult situation, they are highly unlikely to ask God for His guidance. They would rather suffer the adverse consequences of their stubbornness than to concede that they might benefit from God’s guidance, at least sometimes.
People Place Their Highest Priority on Their Own Preferences
Many people do not seek God’s guidance because they give a higher priority to their own preferences than to what God wants. These people are not willing to allow God to guide them when they need to make important decisions, because they want to do what they prefer to do, regardless of whether or not their preferences are in accord with what God would want them to do.
If a person does not trust God to guide him (or her), that person can have no assurance of God’s guidance for them. No matter what the reason is for a person not to seek God’s guidance, it is in the best interest of that person to seriously consider the possible consequences. Proverbs 14:12 asserts, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” Therefore, even if in the past a person has been comfortable not seeking God’s guidance with regard to important matters, the potentially serious negative outcomes of decisions made without God’s guidance should motivate every person to seriously contemplate whether or not they need to reassess their thinking about seeking God’s guidance.
Philippians 4:6-7 assures us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Thus, asking God for His guidance and trusting Him to do what He knows will ultimately be best should result in less anxiety and a greater sense of peace for those who seek God’s guidance.
[To get additional perspective regarding seeking God’s guidance, read our articles entitled “How to Pray Effectively” and “Why Prayers May Not Be Answered,” which can be accessed by clicking on their respective title.]