“Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.”
There are many schools in this world. We have the school of ministry of different types. We have the school of aviation. We have different business schools. We have medical schools. We have school of journalism. We have school of music, and many other school that are popular, but there is a school that is not popular, yet extremely essential for success in life. It is the school of history.
History is the story of what has happened in the past. Some people disregard history, calling it archaic or old school, but the truly wise pay attention to history so as to learn from it.
THOSE WHO FAIL TO LEARN FROM HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT
In the opening text, we are admonished to study history… the old path, asking questions of what things went the way they did, so as to know what to follow after or refrain from, or adjust. That was why GOD always charged HIS prophets to write down some things that happened, so that the ones coming after would learn from them…
“ I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: 3 Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. 5 For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: 6 That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: 7 That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: 8 And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.”
One of the mistakes the Israelites made on their way to the promised land was the issue of the Gibeonites, who deceived them to making a covenant with them, and the Israelites did take time to seek GOD for counsel before going ahead to have the covenant with them. This backfired on them in several ways …
“And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.”
Only to discover three days later that they were not who they said they were. That experience left a sour taste in the mouth of the Israelites because they suffered the consequences even many years after, when David became the king …
2 Samuel 21:1
“Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.”
Many people shy away from painful past. They try not to think about it. Yes, it is true that it is not something palatable to dwell upon, but it is needful to think it through, so as to learn from it. Then and only then will the painful past work together for our good in the present and future.
“Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?”
“The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.”
The Israelites made a poor judgment, and consequently, a great mistake that drew them back through activities that occurred in Gibeon… but fast forwarded to year later, Solomon was at the same place… Gibeon… and he was given the option of making a decision. He thoughtfully made the right decision that moved his life forward…
1 Kings 3:4-5
“And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar. 5 In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.”
Will what happened before happen again?
No. He learnt from the past, and asked GOD for good judgment…
1 Kings 3:9-12
“Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? 10 And the speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing. 11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; 12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.”
Have you made mistakes in the past? Or have your predecessors made mistakes in the past? Learn from them, and rise where they fell.
But those who choose to simply forget the past miss out on its fullest potential. There are valuable lessons to be learned from it. And those who choose to ask the right questions about their past are most prepared to live life to the fullest in the present.
Consider the lessons we can learn from our past. By simply asking the right questions, we can discover…
• Strengths that define us.
The talents and abilities we use to navigate and provide value to this world define the lives we live and the change we can offer. And by recalling our strengths in the past, we can better recognize our opportunities in the present.
• Weaknesses that frustrate us.
We all have weaknesses in personality and competence. When left unaddressed, these weaknesses limit our potential for impact and significance. Discover them. Recognize them. And learn to overcome them by seeking the help of others.
• Relationships that inspire us.
Over the course of our lives, there are, no doubt, a number of people who have inspired us to become better versions of ourselves. What traits do they have in common? And can you surround yourself with more people like them today?
• Environments that derail us.
The company we keep and the cultures we function in either bring us inspiration or derail our progress. Are there relationships in your past that continually brought you down and resulted in destructive decisions? If so, learn from your past to avoid them.
• Pursuits that distract us.
Ultimately, the decisions we make with the resources we’ve been given determine the life we end up living. Most of the resources we have at our personal disposal are finite and limited(money, time, energy). By definition, the allocation of them towards one pursuit limits the amount of resources we have available towards others. It is wise to recognize the subtle pursuits that routinely distract you from the truest desires of your heart.
• Addictions that control us.
We are a people that too often give control of our most precious asset to another. We fall under the influence of substances, possessions, or entertainment. And when we do, our life is no longer our own. Identify the recurring controlling substances (addictions) in your life and humbly seek the help needed to remove their influence over you.
• Temptations that trip us.
Similar to addictions, we each have unique weaknesses to temptation. These temptations may vary in nature, but each detract from the fullest life possible. But they do not need to define us. We can begin anew. However, only those who can identify and admit their mistakes in the past have opportunity to learn from them.