I spend a good deal of time talking in my book (When People Speak for God) about discerning God’s voice and also about the way that people use the phrase “God told me” and its like in a manipulative way.
Today on the Spectrum blog, James Coffin has a post titled Divining the Voice in My Head, in which he suggests that some of the people in scripture might have been engaging in the same practice:
Anyway, as I read the scriptures, I wonder if maybe the people in Bible times weren’t given to the use and misuse of the “God told me” expression just as we are now. Maybe even more so. “God told” people a lot of things back then, it seems. And judging just from the context and the ethics of the advice given, I think it possible that there may have been times when God gets the credit for something that came from other sources. …
He continues by discussing the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar and their interactions. It’s well worth reading.