David is one of the most well known and perhaps the most respected leader of the Old Testament. He was not perfect, but with God’s guidance he led the nation of Israel to prominence and success it had never experienced in its thousand years of history. (Even an atheist believes David to have been an important figure.)
This blog post will showcase twelve leadership principles from the life of David.
En-Gedi (“Spring of the Young Goat”) was s spring discharged eastward into the Dead Sea. Near the spring was the cave in which David and his men were hiding when Saul entered; David, despite his men’s urging, spared Saul’s life (1 Sam 24:1–22).
Each principle will start with a related Scripture, an observation about David, and then a principle about leadership. Continue Reading…
In today’s post we are studying the Holy Bible, chapter 4 of 2 Samuel in an effort to learn how we can faithfully follow and serve the leader(s) above us based on what David modeled for us as a young man in Israel.
We pick up with the story of David just after Abner has been killed and buried. As a reminder, Abner was the commander of Saul’s army and Ishbosheth’s army. He was killed by Joab, the commander of David’s army. Abner has been buried and word spreads across Israel that he has died.
In this part of our story we see that when Ishbosheth, the king of Israel, hears about Abner’s death at Hebron, all of Israel becomes paralyzed with fear. Abner was the true leader of Israel with Ishbosheth being a somewhat “puppet” king who Abner controlled. Israel is now fearful of what might happen to them as a nation since their more fierce warrior and main leader, Abner, is dead. That’s when we read about two men who take matters into their own hands.
Two brothers named Baanah and Recab are captains of Ishbosheth’s raiding parities (meaning they went to neighboring enemies and captured money, goodies, and people). These two brothers decide to take matters into their own hands.
Baanah and Recab go to Ishbosheth’s house around noon one day. The text does not tell us if these two brothers go to the house with intent to kill the king or if they are going there for other reasons. (It was common in those days for captains such as Baanah and Recab to visit the king to accumulate wheat for their warriors.) What we do know is that these two brothers go into the king’s home and find Ishbosheth sleeping on his bed. The two brothers kill Ishbosheth and cut off his head. Then they run across the Jordan Valley through the night to see David in Hebron anticipating a warm welcome. However, they are surprised by David’s reaction to the head they have brought with them.
When Baanah and Recab arrive in Hebron and see David they exclaim,
“Look! . . . Here is the head of Ishbosheth, the son of your enemy Saul who tried to kill you. Today the LORD has given my lord the king revenge on Saul and his entire family!” 2 Samuel 4:8
Baanah and Recab receive a response from David that they definitely did not anticipate. In fact, the response they receive is very opposite of what they hoped for. Next we read David’s response to Baanah and Recab who have brought him the head of his alleged “enemy”. David responds to Baanah and Recab:
“The LORD, who saves me from all my enemies, is my witness. Someone once told me, ‘Saul is dead,’ thinking he was bringing me good news. But I seized him and killed him at Ziklag. That’s the reward I gave him for his news! How much more should I reward evil men who have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed? Shouldn’t I hold you responsible for his blood and rid the earth of you?” 2 Samuel 4:9-11
Next David orders his men to kill Baanah and Recab because they have killed an “innocent” man. Not only do David’s men kill Baanah and Recab, but they cut off Baanah and Recab’s hands and feet and hang their bodies near a pool in Hebron. Scholars believe this might have been a sign of rejection for what the men have done and is a sign to other people at that time that it is wrong to murder an innocent man.
Reading this story and David’s response to it reminds me that David is much more committed to God’s plans and promises than he is to advancing in his own kingdom and reign. The Israelites think David wants to kill the king (which is wrong to do) if he has the chance. They believe David sees King Saul and King Ishbosheth as his enemies since they hold the position of king that he has been anointed to receive.
Looking back on our studies of the life of David there are four times people thought David would want the king killed:
When Saul enters the same cave David and his men are hiding in (1 Samuel 24)
In the camp when David finds Saul sound asleep in his tent (1 Samuel 26)
When the Amalekite man claims to have killed Saul (2 Samuel 1)
When Baanah and Recab kill Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 4)
In each of these situations David responds differently than how others thought he would. Other people thought David would want to kill the current king so he could become king. But David is different because he wants to ascend righteously to the throne. David wants to do what is right more than he wants to be king (which is a good thing).
But, why did David not want to kill the king?
There are 4 reasons David did not want to kill the king:
Even though David is making small progress towards becoming king he does not condone people killing the king unlawfully. This shows part of David’s commitment to Saul’s kingship and God’s choice of who should be or is king.
“Wrong doers often presume upon God’s favor to justify political ambition. However, David would not reward treachery.”
The message to the people in the text 1 and 2 Samuel is written to tell us that you cannot advance God’s plan by doing ungodly things. We get to read about David living faithfully to God by doing the little things right along the way.
And, as my friend Michael Linn states so simply yet profoundly, “It was wrong to kill the king!”
Instead of killing the king to become king, David wanted to become king the right way according to God’s timeline. He wanted to have a clean slate when he became king.
The application for us as leaders is to ascend righteously in our work just like David did in his 15 year ascension to becomes king. Here are some ways we too can ascend righteously in our work:
Over the past few blog posts that we have observed David show great respect for the king by killing the Amalekite man who claimed to have killed Saul. Then we observed David follow God regarding how he should proceed in becoming king of Judah.
Today we get to see another example of how to faithfully serve and follow God and our leader when we see David Practice Patience in God’s Timeline.
In 2 Samuel 3 we observe David Practice Patience in God’s Timeline through the reaction he has when presented with opportunities and ways to become king over all of Israel. 2 Samuel 3:1 starts out by telling us that a battle between David’s men of Judah and Ishbosheth’s men of Israel "was the beginning of a long war between those who were loyal to Saul and those loyal to David. As time passed David became stronger and stronger, while Saul’s dynasty became weaker and weaker.” David is slowly gaining strength and momentum in his rise to become king of Israel.
Later in chapter 3 of 2 Samuel we see a change happen when Abner, who is the commander of Ishboseth’s troops of Israel, becomes angry with Ishbosheth and pledges to give Israel over to David. Based on careful study of both 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel, Abner is one of the true leaders under King Saul and King Ishbosheth. Abner seems to be the one in power, the one who silently leads Ishboseth. The people and leaders of Israel are more loyal to Abner than they are to Ishboseth.
Because Ishboseth angers Abner, he decides to hand over all of Israel to David. In 2 Samuel 3:10 Abner pledges, “I’m going to take Saul’s kingdom and give it to David. I will establish the throne of David over Israel as well as Judah, all the way from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south.” Abner follows through on his promise by sending messengers to David and goes to meet with him to discuss the possibility of turning over all of Israel to David.
However, while Abner is leaving to return to Israel, he is murdered by one of David’s commanders. The murder of Abner wrecks the plans for David to be anointed King over all of Israel, but this section of David’s life shows us great insight into the patience David displays in God’s timeline.
Several times throughout our study of the young life of David we see evidence that most people know he is anointed to become king. Here are several examples:
Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-3, 1 Samuel 23:17)
Saul (1 Samuel 20:30-31, 24:20)
Men in the cave with David (1 Samuel 24:4)
Abigail (1 Samuel 25:30)
Abner (2 Samuel 3:9)
These are all times when people know David is anointed to become the next king.
In addition to everyone else knowing the plans God has for David to become king, David also knows that he is anointed to become king. David has known this since he was about 15 years old. A person would think that David would jump all over the opportunity to become king over Israel, but from what we read in 2 Samuel chapters 2 and 3, that is not what David does.
Don’t get me wrong, David does do a few things to advance and make progress on God’s plan. Here are three:
He asks for Michal: Michal is his former wife and Saul’s daughter which could be interpreted as a sign he is planning to be king of Israel and that he needs to have the “king's bloodline” to allow him to be king.
He listens to Abner: When Abner sends him a message about wanting to discuss the possibility of becoming king, David throws a feast and listens to Abner’s offer.
He has more wives from strategic families: Some of those marriages might be seen as strategic alliances since David married women from other nations near Judah. 2 Samuel 3:2-5 tells about the sons who are born to David while he is king of Judah in Hebron. These sons born are probably a sign of David wanting to make sure he has heirs to the throne.
Based on this section of David’s life and what we have read, David does not seem very eager to take over Israel. All he does when Abner comes to him with a plan to make him king over Israel is to say, “OK” and then have a feast. Just as David does a few mild things to become king, we can also observe what he does not do: violently take the kingship of Israel. He practices patience in God's timeline.
As we have seen David model for us, it is good to practice patience in God’s timeline. God has a plan for you and I. It is good to work to make progress towards what God has promised us, but we need to practice patience in God’s timeline.
Question: How can you practice patience in God’s timeline?
In my last post about David we learned about him killing the Amalekite man because the Amalekite man claimed to have killed King Saul. Then David wrote a funeral song for Saul and Jonathan while he and his men mourned and wept over their wrongful deaths. Now, in 2 Samuel chapter 2 we read about what David does knowing that Saul and Jonathan are dead. This is important because David (and many other people at that time) knows he has been anointed to become king of Israel.
In chapter 2 of 2 Samuel we see David again relying on God for guidance. After David and his men have mourned over the death of King Saul and Jonathan, David immediately asks the LORD, “Should I move back to one of the towns of Judah?” to which God says, “Yes.” Then David asks, “Which town should I go to?” and the LORD answers, “To Hebron” (2 Samuel 2:1).
David faithfully follow’s God’s instructions, and he and his men settle in the villages near Hebron. (They had to settle in the villages near Hebron because 600 of David’s men and their families would have overwhelmed a small city such as Hebron.) Then, we see what might be the most exciting moment of David’s young life.
While David is in Hebron, “The men of Judah came to David and anointed him king over the people of Judah” (2 Samuel 2:4). This means a part of God’s promise to David has come true. All the way back in 1 Samuel 16 we read about the prophet Samuel coming to David and anointing him to become king of Israel. It has been at least seven years since Samuel anointed David, but now a part of that promise from God has come true at Hebron. However, David’s position as king over all of Israel has not come true, yet.
Meanwhile, Saul’s main commander, Abner, has anointed Saul’s son Ishbosheth as the king over Israel. This means David is king over the southern area which is known as Judah and is much smaller than the northern area of Israel, which Ishbosheth is now king over.
We now have David in the south and Ishbosheth in the north which is “the beginning of a long war between those who were loyal to Saul and those loyal to David. As time passed David became stronger and stronger, while Saul’s dynasty became weaker and weaker.” (2 Samuel 3:1). Even though David has become king of the southern area of Judah he has not yet been crowned king of all of Israel which was the original promise of God.
To help us understand the context of this part of David’s life and the story of Israel and Judah we need to remember how kings often became kings in David’s time. In David’s time a person often became king because he was the son of the current king, or because he “usurped” the king to become king (meaning he killed the current king and violently took the throne), or both. While reading 1 and 2 Samuel it is very clear that the author(s) of these books (which were at one time one book) intends to show that David does not violently become king. David becomes king because of his faithfulness he has to God.
In contrast to the historical context above, David’s rise to the throne is very different than that of most kings for several reasons:
David could easily have marched around Israel and Judah conquering and becoming king. He has 600 bad-boy warriors (who have already proven themselves in battles we read about in 1 Samuel) with him who are ready and eager to fight anyone for their leader.
David’s response is quite intriguing because God has chosen him to be king of Israel, so it would be easy for David to see this “circumstance” as God’s will that it is now time to become king of Israel. (On a side note, we learned in chapter 24 of 1 Samuel that a circumstance does not necessarily mean God’s will is shown.) Instead, David still asks God what His will is, and David follows it.
David’s men probably are encouraging him that this time period just after Saul and Jonathan have died is the time for David to seize the kingship of Israel. In 1 Samuel 24 and 26 we read about David’s men encouraging David to kill the king. In both of these instances David refuses to “hurt the LORD’s anointed one” even though David’s men are eager to kill Saul for David. Thus, David had to restrain them from hurting and killing Saul.
David does not seize the throne through violence. Yet David still needs to earn it. David has an opportunity as the king of the small area of Judah, but he still must earn his opportunity to be king of Israel.
Now that David has received his first opportunity to be king he needs to do several things to earn that opportunity:
David needs to continue to follow God’s will and he needs to faithfully serve as king. By leading Judah successfully for seven years, he proves he is capable of leading all of Israel.
Often in current culture we want God’s promise to us to come true immediately. But, we don’t see that happen with David. David is given kingship over a limited area and now he is responsible to successfully lead the people of Judah and show that he is worthy of having more territory and area to be king.
Even though David has gone through times of pain, hard work, and endurance, he is given an opportunity as the king. But he still needs to earn his power and influence as king.
On a side note some people of the Christian faith have a hard time believing that we have to “earn” anything. Sometimes because of the strong emphasis of grace and forgiveness expressed in the New Testament Christians have a hard time taking responsibility to earn things. I disagree with some of that thinking. Yes, we have been forgiven by Jesus because of His death on the cross for our sins and that definitely was something we could not earn. I do believe that we cannot earn our salvation or earn our way to heaven by the good deeds we do. Salvation and the path to heaven come through Jesus, not by something we do or earn. My blog post above has been strictly for the purpose of work here on earth where we have to work hard towards goals and the promises that God has given us. The Bible book of Proverbs is full of emphasis on how people who work hard are wise and will not go hungry while people who are lazy and wait for things to happen are fools who will find themselves hungry and in poverty. Again, my emphasis on this post about earning our opportunity is for works here on earth, but does not pertain to salvation or how to get to heaven.
Question: What is an opportunity we are hoping to have and how can we earn it?
(Sorry for the delay in finishing up this series about the life of David, but I am back to blogging daily this week.)
In our study of David we take a slight shift today. Today’s blog post is a little different because we are digging deeper and seeking to discover what is going on inside of us. We already know from 1 Samuel 24 that we should, Never Hurt the LORD’s Anointed One. But today we are going to look for why we do what we do, specifically, why we might hurt our leader.
The book of 2 Samuel begins after David is sent home from the Philistine army because the commanders do not trust that he will fight against the Israelites. The Philistines and Israelites go into battle against each other and the result of that battle is that Saul, the king of Israel, and all of his sons die.
Now that Saul is dead there is no king of Israel. Saul’s sons have also died with him in battle, so there is no direct heir to the throne. Many people at that time knew that David had been anointed years earlier to become king of Israel, and some people believed that David was the next in line to be king.
In 2 Samuel chapter 1 we learn about David’s character and attitude when we see how he reacts to the news that king Saul and Saul’s son, Jonathan, have been killed. And from that reaction we can learn about why we have hurt the LORD’s anointed one.
2 Samuel 1 starts out with David and his men in Ziklag. They welcome an Amalekite man who comes from Saul’s army camp. This man brings news that king Saul has been killed, and David eagerly asks this Amalekite man how Saul was killed.
The Amalekite man explains what I believe is a fabricated story. He says Saul asked him to kill Saul in battle because “enemy chariots and charioteers [were] closing in on him” (v. 6) and that Saul was in “terrible pain and want[ed] to die” (v. 7).
When David realizes that this Amalekite man standing in front of him is responsible for the death of Saul, the king of Israel, David and his men mourn and weep and fast all day. Then, David goes to this Amalekite man and asks him the question that we are going to camp on for our study today. David asks the Amalekite man,
“Why were you not afraid to kill the LORD’s anointed one?” – 2 Samuel 1:14 (NLT)
The Bible does not gives us an explanation from the Amalekite man. Perhaps David’s question was only a rhetorical question. But what happens next we do know.
David tells one of his men to kill this Amalekite man who claims to have killed Saul, the king of Israel. Then David declares to the dead Amalekite man, “You have condemned yourself.” David said, “for you yourself confessed that you killed the LORD’s anointed one” (2 Samuel 1:16).
Killing a man on the spot because he has allegedly killed the king seems a bit harsh. So let me share a little information about the context of that time:
The word "king" in the English language is translated from the Hebrew word “melek,” which appears more than 2,000 times in the Hebrew OT. The word “melek” may “refer to God or to human rulers. Generally it designates one invested with ultimate authority and power over his subjects. In the OT, the word melek designates the ruler of a tribe, a city, a nation, or an international power.”
An early death in Old Testament times often meant someone was being punished for sin. That was a big deal!
Israel had never had a king until Saul. They had prophets, judges and leaders such as Moses, Joshua, Deborah, and Samuel, but never an official king. Saul was their first king which gave him extreme significance in Israel’s history.
This Amalekite man was killed by David because he “hurt the LORD’s anointed one.” This was definitely a big deal as I have outlined above. Hurting “the LORD’s anointed one” was something David had resisted doing himself and was something that he had prevented his men from doing as well (1 Samuel 24:4-7 and 26:7-11).
Please allow me to clarify that when I say, “Hurt the LORD’s anointed one” I mean the leader you work for. For example, at United Way of Stanislaus County, I report to our Campaign Director and unofficially report to our President/CEO. Both of these people, at least by my view, are the “LORD’s anointed ones” over my life because God has placed them in authority over me. For you, the LORD’s anointed one might be your boss, the person who does your performance evaluation, or the person who signs your paycheck. We all have someone we work for and under, and it is up to us not hurt that person.
Unfortunately, there are many ways we might hurt the LORD’s anointed one who we work for and under. Here are a few that I can list:
Opposing the leader publicly in front of others.
Talking poorly about our leader to fellow co-workers.
Not giving our best when doing the task our leader has delegated to us.
Failing to give our best effort mentally and physically to serve the leader above us.
Now that we have a list of ways (that is not exhaustive by any means), I believe there are several reasons why we hurt the LORD’s anointed one. The actions I listed above are caused by beliefs, thoughts, rules, or values we have about leadership and the people we work for. Those beliefs, thoughts, rules, and values sometimes lead us to hurt the LORD’s anointed one.
Here are a few reasons I think we might hurt the person we work for:
We think the leader we work for is incompetent.
We don’t have compassion for the leader we work for.
We grow lazy, perhaps because we are frustrated and think nothing will change.
We are angry at our leader for a past decision or statement.
We are proud and think we know better than God and the people in charge.
The entire purpose of this blog post is to prevent us from hurting the LORD’s anointed one in the future. I believe it can be done! I know I have improved in this area of my life, and I think you can too.
Here are a few ways I believe we can prevent ourselves from hurting the LORD’s anointed one:
We can remind ourselves that God has placed us where we are for a reason.
I am not sure about you, but I am loving this study on the life of David which shows us how to faithfully follow and serve both God and our leader.
Today we pick up on a period in David’s life where we see him make some decisive decisions, which happens to be a great characteristic of a leader.
Throughout our studies we have watched David make many decisions, most of them quickly. (Sometimes too quickly.) And in 1 Samuel 30 we see those decisive decisions being made by David again.
In chapter 30 of 1 Samuel we catch up with David and his 600 men as they have been turned way from fighting with the Philistines against the Israelites. King Achish of Gath has sent David and his men home from the battle because the Philistine commanders did not allow David and his men to participate in the battle.
David’s state of mind is not the best right now. He is struggling to feel connected with God, he is in a foreign country, and he is trying to find a way to feel safe from Saul’s desire to kill him.
In chapter 30 of 1 Samuel David and his men are returning to the town of Ziklag where their wives, children, and possessions are stored. When David and his men arrive at Ziklag they find that the Amalekites have raided Ziklag, burning it to the ground, and then carried off all the women and children. This causes David and his men to cry and weep because of their loss.
Then, on top of dealing with the loss of his family and wives, David faces the reality that his men are angry with him. He is their leader and they start to hold him responsible for what has happened to their wives and children. They even talk about stoning David. Bible teacher Chuck Swindoll describes David’s situation this way:
“David had reached the point in life where some people think of taking their own lives. He was so far dawn the ladder of despair that he’d reached the bottom rung. The last stop.The place where you either jump off into oblivion or you cry out to God for His forgiveness. For rescue. The wonderful thing is that we do have that choice, because God never gives up on His children. David made the right choice.”
Now, we get to see David make the right choice that Mr. Swindoll talks about.
In 1 Samuel 30:6 we read, “David found strength in the LORD his God.” (There was not much time to wait as the women and children were being carried away.) So David calls Abiathar the priest and asks God what he should do. With God’s permission, David and 600 of his men set out to find and rescue their wives and children from whoever might have taken them (because David and his men probably don’t know who raided and burned their town and took their wives and children). David makes a decisive decision to search for and find the people who took their wives and children.
In the pursuit two crucial things happen.
200 of the men become too tired to continue the pursuit, so they stop while the other 400 men continue on.
400 men who continue on encounter an Egyptian man who tells them who burned Ziklag and where the raiders were going. When David and his men find the Amalekites who burned Ziklag and took their wives and children, they fight the Amalekites and rescue all of their wives and children.
David and his men triumphantly return to the other 200 men who had been too tired to continue the pursuit, which presents another challenge to David. The 400 men claim that since the 200 men who were too tired to continue on did not actually participate in the battle, they should not be allowed to enjoy any of the plunder that was gathered. The 400 men claim that the 200 men should receive only their wives and children, nothing else.
Again, we see David make a decisive decision to intervene and tell everyone that God has been good to them by giving them their wives, children, and lots of plunder from the Amalekites. Because God has been good to them, David explains, the plunder should be shared with everyone because they all played a role in getting their wives and children back. David claims that it does not matter who did what part in the battle. Everything should be shared, and he encourages the men to share what they have earned.
In this chapter we see David make two decisive decisions:
To chase after the Amalekites and rescue his family and the families of his men.
To share the plunder with the 200 men who stayed behind.
What is surprising is that both of these decisions David makes are diplomatic. He makes both of them quickly with the end result being good. In both cases David’s decisions are beneficial for everyone because David and his men get back their wives and children and the men come to an agreement of how to divide up the plunder.
I think it is good to note that in this section of David’s life he does not make decisions rashly. My friend Daniel explained this well saying, “David was not making decisions ‘hot.’ He cooled down and then he went to God.”
From 1 Samuel 30 I believe there are several principles we can incorporate into our own lives about deciding decisively.
David’s Decisive Decision Making Principles
He let’s himself morn (v. 4)
He seeks God’s guidance (v. 8)
He makes the decision and includes others (v.9)
He makes the goal clear throughout the decision (v. 23-24)
We continue our study of the life of David today, but we are taking a turn in how we look at David's life.
In chapter 29 of 1 Samuel we start to see some of the parts of David that are less admirable and less commonly talked about regarding his character. David was not perfect and he had faults (just as we all do). This chapter brings to light some of those faults.
Let's catch up with David who is hiding from Saul in the Philistine area under King Achish of Gath. David is hiding because he is fearful that eventually Saul is going to catch and kill him. And there were certainly some times when Saul was close to catching David. David has also been raiding towns and killing the people in those towns who were "kinda" allies of the Philistines, but they were also enemies of Israel.
Now in 1 Samuel 28:1-2 and chapter 29 we see what David does when he must face the results of his previous lies. While doing some research on this passage of scripture I found a great quote which I believe accurately paints a picture of David's current attitude and state of mind:
“Over time David grew weary of Saul’s pursuit and chose to escape to the land of the Philistines. He became vague about his purpose, defensive about his leadership, and lost the trust of Israel. Even great leaders become vulnerable when they grow tired, lonely, angry, or hungry.”
When King Achish tells David that he expects David to help the Philistine army in their next battle against the Israelites, David responds, "Very well. Now you will see for yourself what we can do" (28:2 NLT). Betraying your own country was a big deal in David's time just as it is a big deal today. As a reader it is hard to believe that David is going to follow through with this plan of fighting against his fellow countrymen.
In chapter 29 we see David marching at the rear of the Philistine troops with King Achish. From a reader's perspective it appears that David is going through with this plan to kill his fellow countrymen. This must have been devastating for David because I am sure he did not want to fight against the Israelites. My guess is that David must of had tremendous inner turmoil about what he should do.
Then, a Philistine commander recognizes David and asks King Achish what David and his Hebrew friends are doing there about to attack Hebrew Israelites. The end result of the chapter is that the Philistine commanders do not allow David to go to battle with them because they are afraid he will turn against the Philistines and kill them. Thus, King Achish is forced to send David back to Ziklag.
Luckily, David is not required to fight his own countrymen, the Israelites.
Because David was operating in fear, he made a poor decision to go and live with the Philistines where he believed he was safer from Saul. Then, that poor decision led to the possibility that he might have to fight against his home country of Israel, his king, Saul, and his best friend, Jonathan.
Saying that David is less than perfect is an understatement in this passage.
Here are three changes we have seen David make:
Previously David was loyal to Saul, Israel, and His God. Now he is loyal to King Achich, Philistia, and he has abandoned his God.
Previously David held on to God's promise. Now he has given up on that promise.
Previously David was a servant (and armor bearer) to King Saul. Now he is a servant to King Achish and Philistia.
While thinking about this chapter through the lens of David and his character, I believe it might be a lesson for us that we do not have to be perfect. Maybe it is a lesson that God loves us and that he wants us to follow Him, but even after years of faithful service, when we fall away, God can still use us for good.
I believe David is perfect in some areas, and in some areas he is not perfect.
David is perfect in the fact that he is a man after God's own heart. In 1 Samuel 13:14 Samuel declares, "for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart." That is in reference to David who Samuel anoints to become king at a later time.
David is also perfect in the fact that he served God, Israel, and Saul for most of his life. With the minor exception of the 16 months David and his men lived with the Philistines, David always faithfully served God, Israel, and Saul.
David is not perfect because he abandoned God by going to the Philistine territory. In those times, the people had a strong belief that God was in a place, and that place for a Israelite was in Jerusalem. When David fled to the Philistine area, he abandoned God.
David is also not perfect because he lied. Clearly in chapter 27 David lies about where he has been going and who he has been fighting. There are some biblical scholars who believe David also lies when David confirms King Achish's request for David and his men to fight in the Philistine army against the Israelites. Some scholars believe that David lies to the King about being loyal to them, stating that David's plan was to turn on the Philistines while in battle to continue his allegiance to Israel and his God.
If we look at this chapter to see that even a future king is not perfect, the question I think it is good to ask is this: If God's criteria for David to eventually becoming king was David's performance, would God have allowed him to become king? I believe the answer is, "No." God would not have allowed David to become king if God's choice of a king was based on performance. God knows that David is a man after His own heart, and that is what He admires about David (as we learned from 1 Samuel 16, God Looks at the Heart). David seeks to please God and faithfully follow Him.
In fact, my friend Gene Hill believes that God uses our imperfection. He believes God uses it as a way to draw us closer to God and that it allows us to point to God when good things happen because they are not all on our own.
Another great quote that I believe summarizes our point that a future leader does not need to be perfect is when Andy Stanley comments on David:
“While the details of our lives may overlap very little with David’s, there is one thing we all have in common with him. We’ve all put God’s grace to the test. We have broken his law. We’ve been irresponsible with his blessing. We’ve confessed a sin only to turn right around and repeat it. It’s those occasions when I begin to wonder, How many times? How many times can I expect God to forgive me for the same sin? All of us in our own ways have wondered, Where does grace end and retribution begin? If David’s story is any indication, grace has no end.”
Question:For God to use you to do great things in the world, do you need to be perfect?
Thus far we have worked through 10 chapters of 1 Samuel and 10 lessons from the life of David.
I hope this study has been as beneficial for you as it has been for me. I am learning about how to faithfully follow the leader above me, how to hold on to God’s promise in my life, how to deal with discouraging times, and how to allow a best friend to help me.
Chapter 26 of 1 Samuel allows a great opportunity for us to pause in our study of the young life of David to reflect on what we have learned. Several of the lessons we have already studied from David’s life are found in this chapter. Below are the lessons we have learned followed by the text of 1 Samuel 26. Together let’s take a look at 1 Samuel 26 and see what lessons we can observe again.
(chapter) – (title of lesson)
16 – God Looks at the Heart of a Potential Leader, Not the Skills
17 – Preparing for Leadership When You are Not in Leadership
18 – Faithfully Serve in Spite of the Leader
19 – It Is Ok to Hurt When We Have Done Good
20 – A Best Friend Helps Us
21 – Hold on to God’s Promise
22 – You Don’t Need a Title or Power to Do Good
23 – No Matter How Tough Things Might Be, Seek God’s Guidance
24 – Never Hurt the LORD’s Anointed One
25 – Keep Faith and Keep Patience
Now that you have a brief review of the lessons we have learned over the past couple weeks, let’s look at the text and see what we can observe.
1 Samuel 26
1Now some men from Ziph came to Saul at Gibeah to tell him, “David is hiding on the hill of Hakilah, which overlooks Jeshimon.”
2So Saul took 3,000 of Israel’s elite troops and went to hunt him down in the wilderness of Ziph.3Saul camped along the road beside the hill of Hakilah, near Jeshimon, where David was hiding. When David learned that Saul had come after him into the wilderness,4he sent out spies to verify the report of Saul’s arrival.
5David slipped over to Saul’s camp one night to look around. Saul and Abner son of Ner, the commander of his army, were sleeping inside a ring formed by the slumbering warriors.6“Who will volunteer to go in there with me?” David asked Ahimelech the Hittite and Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother.
“I’ll go with you,” Abishai replied.7So David and Abishai went right into Saul’s camp and found him asleep, with his spear stuck in the ground beside his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying asleep around him.
8“God has surely handed your enemy over to you this time!” Abishai whispered to David. “Let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t need to strike twice!”
9“No!” David said. “Don’t kill him. For who can remain innocent after attacking the Lord’s anointed one?10Surely the Lord will strike Saul down someday, or he will die of old age or in battle.11The Lord forbid that I should kill the one he has anointed! But take his spear and that jug of water beside his head, and then let’s get out of here!”
12So David took the spear and jug of water that were near Saul’s head. Then he and Abishai got away without anyone seeing them or even waking up, because the Lord had put Saul’s men into a deep sleep.
13David climbed the hill opposite the camp until he was at a safe distance.14Then he shouted down to the soldiers and to Abner son of Ner, “Wake up, Abner!”
“Who is it?” Abner demanded.
15“Well, Abner, you’re a great man, aren’t you?” David taunted. “Where in all Israel is there anyone as mighty? So why haven’t you guarded your master the king when someone came to kill him?16This isn’t good at all! I swear by the Lord that you and your men deserve to die, because you failed to protect your master, the Lord’s anointed! Look around! Where are the king’s spear and the jug of water that were beside his head?”
17Saul recognized David’s voice and called out, “Is that you, my son David?”
And David replied, “Yes, my lord the king.18Why are you chasing me? What have I done? What is my crime?19But now let my lord the king listen to his servant. If the Lord has stirred you up against me, then let him accept my offering. But if this is simply a human scheme, then may those involved be cursed by the Lord. For they have driven me from my home, so I can no longer live among the Lord’s people, and they have said, ‘Go, worship pagan gods.’20Must I die on foreign soil, far from the presence of the Lord? Why has the king of Israel come out to search for a single flea? Why does he hunt me down like a partridge on the mountains?”
21Then Saul confessed, “I have sinned. Come back home, my son, and I will no longer try to harm you, for you valued my life today. I have been a fool and very, very wrong.”
22“Here is your spear, O king,” David replied. “Let one of your young men come over and get it.23The Lord gives his own reward for doing good and for being loyal, and I refused to kill you even when the Lord placed you in my power, for you are the Lord’s anointed one.24Now may the Lord value my life, even as I have valued yours today. May he rescue me from all my troubles.”
25And Saul said to David, “Blessings on you, my son David. You will do many heroic deeds, and you will surely succeed.” Then David went away, and Saul returned home. (New Living Translation)
Here are a few of my observations about the lessons being lived out in David’s life again.
Never Hurt the LORD’s Anointed One (verse 9)
I am not sure why David goes into the camp where Saul is sleeping, but regardless of why David goes into the camp it is illegal to kill the king.
Hold on to God’s Promise (v. 10)
David believes that God has a plan and will fulfill the promise made to him through Samuel. David is holding on to God’s promise that someday he will become the king of Israel.
Faithfully Serve in Spite of the Leader (v. 10)
David is committed to doing what is right until his time comes to be king.
Faithfully Serve in Spite of the Leader (v. 15-16)
Abner, regardless of the bad thing that the king is doing (in trying to kill David, an innocent man), should have been protecting the king. Abner is Saul’s commander and will become the one who announces Saul’s son, Ishbosheth as king over Israel after Saul dies.
It is Okay to Hurt When we Have Done Good (v. 19-20)
David is sad to not be able to live among his own people because he is “far away [geographically] from God.” At that time in history God’s presence was believed to be in one place, not inside of each of us as we believe today. For David to have to live in other nations and be “far away from God” is a big deal and must cause him great pain. Not just that, but because of David’s need to flee from Saul, David has had to separate from his family.
Never Hurt the LORD’s Anointed One (v. 23)
Again, David reminds Saul that he could have killed him but does not. Here David reminds Saul that God is the one in control and with the real power. David knows that at God’s chosen time, God will punish Saul for what he is doing and reward David for doing the right thing.
Questions:What lessons do you see in this chapter? What has impacted you the most?
As we have seen from 1 Samuel and some of the Psalms that we have read, David is hurting, sad, and desperate.
When we endure following a poor leader (just as David did), we need to be mindful that we are not as tough as we might think we are. While our leadership and character is tested we might have less patience to handle circumstances and situations that come our way.
Where we left off yesterday in our study of the young years of the life of David is when he restrains himself and his men from killing Saul in the cave. Then, once Saul leaves the cave, David confronts Saul. He says that he (David) is innocent of the accusations that he is trying to harm Saul, but that Saul has tried to kill him. (You think your leader is bad, David's leader actually threw spears at him in an attempt to kill him!)
In chapter 25 of 1 Samuel we get to see David's patience tested.
In this chapter David has moved down to the wilderness of Moan where he and his men are protecting the herds of a wealthy man named Nabal who owns 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats. It was a common practice at that time for brave men to help protect shepherds and sheep from wild animals and thieves. Sheep were often the main income for families so this was a very important task.
David hears that it is time for Nabal to shear the sheep and collect the profits. So he sends 10 of his men to ask Nabal for a "tip" for their efforts to keep Nabal's sheep and shepherd's safe in the wilderness. Nabal harshly turns David's 10 men away saying they deserve nothing.
When the men return to tell David that Nable refused their request, David loses it and says to his men, "Get your swords!" (25:13). David and 400 of his men head toward Nabal's home intending to kill him, saying, "A lot of good it did to help this fellow. We protected his flocks in the wilderness, and nothing he owned was lost or stolen. But he has repaid me evil for good. May God strike me and kill me if even one man of his household is still alive tomorrow morning!" (25:21-22). David is clearly on a mission to kill Nabal and every man part of Nabal's household.
Luckily for David, Nabal's wife, Abigail, greets him with gifts, grace, and respect. These gifts along with her sincere apology for angering the anointed king of Israel eases David's anger. Thanks to Abigail's discernment and quick response to David's men, who were harshly turned away by Nabal, David decides not to kill Nabal and everyone in his home.
David's faith in God's promise and patience waiting for that promise to come true helps David refrain from killing Nabal and his household. That would have been something David regreted for a long time. Abagail says to David, "When the LORD has done for my master every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him leader over Israel, my master will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the LORD has brought my master success, remember your servant" (vs. 30-31).
The point of this story we are going to focus on is that David was at the end of his rope. He was almost killed by Saul on multiple occasions, is running from Saul, and has lost most of the prestige he had received as a leader, warrior, and commander in the Israelite army. When he is denied by Nabal, David loses all self control. He becomes angry, grabs his sword, and swears to kill Nabal and lots of innocent people.
It is akward to say, but this is a position many of us may find ourselves in as we struggle with working for a poor leader or having to deal with situations we can no longer tolerate.
Here are a few observations of David's faith and patience:
Faith: reliance, loyalty, or complete trust in God; a system of religious beliefs. (NLT Study Bible)
Patience: the power or capacity to endure without complaint; something difficult; disagreeable; for bearable; long suffering. (NLT Study Bible)
After all of the running, hiding, and restraint, David does not have any patience left.
David responds quickly without any thought. In fact, he responds in anger.
David's emotions (and hunger) control his actions.
Because David "ran out of faith and patience" he almost did something he would have regretted at a later date. If he would have killed Nabal and everyone in Nabal's household it would have been a terrible mistake that might have haunted David for years.
Know what happens in your life that takes away your faith and patience.
What takes away my faith and patience is when I do not get alone time in the morning with God. I have written about this before, but in the mornings I need at least an hour to journal, read my Bible, and pray. When I am able to have that time alone with God I feel grounded, centered, and ready to take on the day and handle it well. If I have several days where I do not have that time with God, I quickly become irritable, lose my tempter, and anger easily. My friend Daniel experiences less faith and patience when he is overly busy and when he does not get quiet time. You might have a similar thing that happens when you begin to have less faith and patience.
God doesn’t give you patience on credit. Every day is a new day.
Every day is a new day and we will need to keep faith and patience. Every day we must remind ourselves of the promises God has given us and the faith we have in Him.
We might not be as lucky as David to have someone to prevent us from doing something we will regret. We need to be careful and find ways to keep our faith in God and stay patient to wait for His promises to come true.
Question:For us as leaders, what happens in our lives that puts us in a position of patience and faith?