Category Archives: Leadership Lessons from the Life of David

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Leadership Lessons Part XV: Building Your Team While Taking Greater Risks

David begins to build his team right after his disgraceful journey through Philistine territory and having to act insane in order to evade capture and death. Our text comes from 1 Samuel 22.1-5:

David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. 2 All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him. 3 From there David went to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king of Moab, “Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?” 4 So he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him as long as David was in the stronghold. 5 But the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.

Now that David is following God and not relying on himself to make critical leadership decisions, we see him taking care of several core problems. And he begins the process of building his team.

Who joins David? We’re told his family, those who are distressed, in debt or generally discontented (bitter) with life are joining him. Not exactly the cream of society was joining David, yet in them, David found the team that God wanted him to have. There were roughly 400 men, so assume their families were with them. From a Christian Business Owner’s perspective, we can learn that God can find “top talent” from any source. I’m confident that how God and American business defines “top talent” are two different things. God looks at who you can become whereas business usually looks at what you can do for them today. When God is the Human Resource Director, you can be confident that He’ll bring you people for work in your business that, at first, may not appear to be what you need. Yet, if you rely on God to help you build your team, you’ll find that He’ll bring you the right people at the right time.

Movement

David crosses the area of Jerusalem several times. He first goes to another country – Moab – who are more friendly to him than the Philistines. He’s now listening to God. Note the phrase “…until I learn what God will do for me?” He first takes care of his immediate family and then begins to focus on solving other problems.

God sends Gad

God sends messengers to leaders. In this story, God sent Gad to David to deliver His messages. Today, we have the Holy Spirit and, I believe, we can hear the voice of God directly for making better decisions. As usual, one of God’s first directives is to put us into a place of greater dependence on Him. Don’t less this transition here lose focus for you: the first thing God told David to do was to leave the stronghold. Get away from the structures that you have built to fortify yourself. Get away from the man-made elements that provide you a sense of security. Let them go. Do not stay in the stronghold. As Christian Business owners, we’re often risking in order to grow our businesses. I’m fond of saying that I’m usually only three to five decisions away from bankruptcy. Growing a business requires taking risk. God will ask us to take risks as well. If we’re serious about fulfilling the four purposes of business (Products, Passions, Profits and Philanthropy), then God will ask us to leave our strongholds and move to a place of much greater dependence on Him. This will be a test He will give you to pass.

“Do not stay in the stronghold” is only part of the message. The rest of is this: “Go live in Judea” – the place where there are forests and caves but also a place that is closer to danger. In Judea, Saul is closer to David. The man and King who wants to kill David will be in closer proximity to David. Yet God calls David to Judea. There will be times when, in order to fulfill the four purposes of business, God will ask you to risk more and move closer to the danger. Bear in mind that no significant ministry is ever accomplished without taking significant risk. And when you are led by God, He shoulders the risk with you and is responsible for the outcomes.

Summary

In this story, we see the less-than-desirable of society gravitating to David. Believe it or not, it is this group that will form the core of his team and eventually, his government. But we also see God moving David into a position of greater personal risk. Most would say the combination of these two elements is a terrible way to start a movement, yet David follows God. The larger lesson is this: when God speaks, you follow Him, unwaveringly so. And count on God’s ways to be different than what you’d expect – but follow Him anyways. If He is calling you to significant ministry, He will also call you to significant risk. Count on it. Plan on it. But only take on that risk when you’re directed to by God Himself.

Leadership Lessons Part XIV: Living Under a Government that is Opposed to Your Faith

Christians in America find themselves living under a Government that is increasingly opposed to our faith. It’s not as strong here as it is in the United Kingdom or Canada or Australia, but it is a growing element that we must factor into the running of our businesses as Christians.

We don’t have it nearly as bad as David did when he was on the run from Saul. In his case, his life was in danger every day for nearly 15 years (as best I can discern). In our story, Saul personifies a godless government, one that is characterized by the following:

  • There is no higher law that itself
  • Trust more in weapons than God’s protection and provision
  • Demand absolute loyalty to laws
  • Unaccountable to the people
  • Self-preserve at all costs
  • Onerous taxes and enrichment of themselves

Yet, what do we find in David’s view of Saul’s position as King? Throughout his 15+ year run for his life, he twice had the opportunity to personally kill Saul and yet, both times, he chose to not lift his hand against “God’s anointed”. Even though Saul was an evil king, David showed him respect, honor and deference until the time when God took Saul in His own time and way.

Here is one passage that illustrates this (1 Samuel 24):

1 After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.” 2 So Saul took three thousand able young men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats.

3 He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. 4 The men said, “This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’ ” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

5 Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. 6 He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.” 7 With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.

8 Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. 9 He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? 10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the LORD delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the LORD’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 12 May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. 13 As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.

14 “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? 15 May the LORD be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.”

16 When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. 17 “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the LORD delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. 21 Now swear to me by the LORD that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.”

22 So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

May we treat those whom God has placed in authority over us with the same respect, honor and deference with which David treated Saul.

Bill English
CEO, Mindsharp
Associate, The Platinum Group

Leadership Lessons Part XIII: Ignoring Your Intuition

After David has lied to Ahimelek and Saul kills him for not reporting where David was (see the balance of 1 Samuel 22), David was informed that Ahimelek had been killed and his response was recorded for us in the last part of 1 Samuel 22:

“But one son of Ahimelek son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled to join David. 21 He told David that Saul had killed the priests of the LORD. 22 Then David said to Abiathar, “That day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, I knew he would be sure to tell Saul. I am responsible for the death of your whole family. 23 Stay with me; don’t be afraid. The man who wants to kill you is trying to kill me too. You will be safe with me.”

Through the death of another, David learned that his influence was far greater than his position. He knew better than to speak in front of Doeg and yet he ignored his intuition. He spoke anyways. His emotions got the best of him and instead of paying attention to his intuition, he spoke. Yes, Saul was responsible for Ahimelek’s death, but so was David.

As Christian Business Owners, our carelessness can cost others dearly in ways that we can never repay. Our words and actions matter. And when we ignore our intuition, we do so at our peril and usually to the peril of others. God gives us intuition for our own good. When we walk with the Holy Spirit, He informs and directs our intuition to better lead us.

In situations similar to what David faced, hold your tongue and pay attention to your intuition. You’ll be better off in the long run.

Leadership Lessons Part XII: Going without God

In 1 Samuel 21, we find that David is going to let his anger drive his decisions and move forward without consulting and following God’s leading. David makes some crucial mistakes that are both understandable and damaging to him. Here is the text:

David went to Nob, to Ahimelek the priest. Ahimelek trembled when he met him, and asked, “Why are you alone? Why is no one with you?” 2 David answered Ahimelek the priest, “The king sent me on a mission and said to me, ‘No one is to know anything about the mission I am sending you on.’ As for my men, I have told them to meet me at a certain place. 3 Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find.”

4 But the priest answered David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here—provided the men have kept themselves from women.” 5 David replied, “Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever I set out. The men’s bodies are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!” 6 So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence that had been removed from before the LORD and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away.

7 Now one of Saul’s servants was there that day, detained before the LORD; he was Doeg the Edomite, Saul’s chief shepherd. 8 David asked Ahimelek, “Don’t you have a spear or a sword here? I haven’t brought my sword or any other weapon, because the king’s mission was urgent.” 9 The priest replied, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here; it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you want it, take it; there is no sword here but that one.” David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.”

Let’s recall the background we’re working with here. Saul, the King of Israel who is also David’s Father-in-Law, is after David’s life. So David first flees from Saul with Jonathan’s support and goes to Samuel at Ramah. Recall that Samuel is the country’s high priest and is probably just as powerful as the King. They both go to Naioth where a school for prophets is being run by Samuel (the school would be analogous to a present-day seminary for pastors). Saul finds out where David is and sends men to kill him. God protects David and even though Saul’s men reach David, they don’t kill him.

Still, David is no fool. So he goes to Nob and is clearly “on the run”. His interaction with Ahimelech is recorded for us in the first nine verses of chapter 21. What we can see in this interaction are three true elements:

  • He didn’t seek God’s guidance
  • He lied to Ahimelech
  • He puts Ahimelech “on the spot” – cf. Matt 12.1-80

I think we see David in an emerging state in which he’s both trying to survive and is also having to lead an increasing number of disgruntled-with-Saul warriors. I think he wants to protect Ahimelech in case Saul’s men come to him and ask him why he didn’t kill David on behalf of the King. David’s attempt at protecting Ahimelech is clumsy and betrays just how much David has to learn about negotiations and leadership.

When we “go it alone”, we don’t seek God’s guidance. We’re more apt to lie or deceive others and are more apt to break the rules. We vary things just a bit and in the end, it comes back to bite us.

What should David have done? First, he should have been truthful with Ahimelech and asked Ahimelech for guidance from God. Secondly, he should have trusted God like he did on the day when he killed Goliath with the stone. I find it ironic that he now asks for the sword of the one whom he killed with a stone. Lastly, while he should have stayed as far away from Saul as possible, he also should have stayed in Israel. He had a growing band of men around him that he was leading. Placing his faith and trust in God’s expressed anointing on his life to be King, he should have trusted God more fully.

Another aspect of going it alone is that you end up losing a portion of your testimony. We’re told that David flees to Achish, King of Gath, a Philistine city. They recognize him there, so he ends up acting like a mad man so that they don’t kill him. Talk about jumping out of the fire and into the frying pan. He loses his dignity in the process. Achish ends up laughing at David and lets him go. While it is a shrewd way to escape, let’s not lose sight of the notion that David lost the respect of Achish as well. This has profound lessons for us as we interact with the unsaved in business.

David is put on the run and starts what appears to be well over a decade of running by not consulting with God or turning to Him for guidance and continued protection. Let’s not repeat David’s mistakes here. When we’re under significant stress, that is the time to turn to the Lord and see His face, direction and protection. God will provide all that we need to accomplish the purposes he has for us. Let’s not lie to others and let’s not degrade ourselves the point where we those who don’t know the Lord end up laughing at us because of our eccentric behavior.

Leadership Lessons Part XI: The Value of a Close Friend and Supporter

David had a huge gift from God in the form of Jonathan, his friend. Even though Jonathan was the rightful heir to the throne since he was Saul’s son, he God had long since given the kingdom to David because of his father’s sin. David learns the valuable lesson of having a close, lasting friendship who will supports his leadership. Our story comes from 1 Samuel 20:

Then David fled from Naioth at Ramah and went to Jonathan and asked, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to kill me?” 2 “Never!” Jonathan replied. “You are not going to die! Look, my father doesn’t do anything, great or small, without letting me know. Why would he hide this from me? It isn’t so!” 3 But David took an oath and said, “Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said to himself, ‘Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved.’ Yet as surely as the LORD lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.” 4 Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.”

5 So David said, “Look, tomorrow is the New Moon feast, and I am supposed to dine with the king; but let me go and hide in the field until the evening of the day after tomorrow. 6 If your father misses me at all, tell him, ‘David earnestly asked my permission to hurry to Bethlehem, his hometown, because an annual sacrifice is being made there for his whole clan.’ 7 If he says, ‘Very well,’ then your servant is safe. But if he loses his temper, you can be sure that he is determined to harm me. 8 As for you, show kindness to your servant, for you have brought him into a covenant with you before the LORD. If I am guilty, then kill me yourself! Why hand me over to your father?” 9 “Never!” Jonathan said. “If I had the least inkling that my father was determined to harm you, wouldn’t I tell you?” 10 David asked, “Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?”

11 “Come,” Jonathan said, “let’s go out into the field.” So they went there together. 12 Then Jonathan said to David, “I swear by the LORD, the God of Israel, that I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed toward you, will I not send you word and let you know? 13 But if my father intends to harm you, may the LORD deal with Jonathan, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away in peace. May the LORD be with you as he has been with my father. 14 But show me unfailing kindness like the LORD’s kindness as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, 15 and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family—not even when the LORD has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.” 16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the LORD call David’s enemies to account.” 17 And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.

18 Then Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon feast. You will be missed, because your seat will be empty. 19 The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid when this trouble began, and wait by the stone Ezel. 20 I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I were shooting at a target. 21 Then I will send a boy and say, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to him, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you; bring them here,’ then come, because, as surely as the LORD lives, you are safe; there is no danger. 22 But if I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then you must go, because the LORD has sent you away. 23 And about the matter you and I discussed—remember, the LORD is witness between you and me forever.”

24 So David hid in the field, and when the New Moon feast came, the king sat down to eat. 25 He sat in his customary place by the wall, opposite Jonathan, and Abner sat next to Saul, but David’s place was empty. 26 Saul said nothing that day, for he thought, “Something must have happened to David to make him ceremonially unclean—surely he is unclean.” 27 But the next day, the second day of the month, David’s place was empty again. Then Saul said to his son Jonathan, “Why hasn’t the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?” 28 Jonathan answered, “David earnestly asked me for permission to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, ‘Let me go, because our family is observing a sacrifice in the town and my brother has ordered me to be there. If I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away to see my brothers.’ That is why he has not come to the king’s table.”

30 Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? 31 As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!” 32 “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father. 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David. 34 Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the feast he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David. 35 In the morning Jonathan went out to the field for his meeting with David. He had a small boy with him, 36 and he said to the boy, “Run and find the arrows I shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 37 When the boy came to the place where Jonathan’s arrow had fallen, Jonathan called out after him, “Isn’t the arrow beyond you?” 38 Then he shouted, “Hurry! Go quickly! Don’t stop!” The boy picked up the arrow and returned to his master. 39 (The boy knew nothing about all this; only Jonathan and David knew.) 40 Then Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and said, “Go, carry them back to town.”

41 After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most. 42 Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’ ” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.

An entire book could be written about the friendship between David and Jonathan. The larger point in this post, from a leadership perspective, is that David was well blessed by God with Jonathan’s friendship. As much as David didn’t trust Saul that was how much he trusted Jonathan, Saul’s son. He had already married Michel, Jonathan’s sister and Saul’s daughter. He was, in many respects, family. But still, God blessed him with a strategic and real friend and supporter in Jonathan.

Most effective leaders have significant friendships that turn out to be both strategic and intensely personal. I don’t believe David would have been the leader he turned out to be without Jonathan in his life. The love and support of a deeply personal friend can have significant, positive impact for the leader and indirectly, those whom are led by the leader. Jonathan proves to be that friend for David.

As a Christian Business Owner, do you have such a friend? I’m not talking about your spouse (if you’re married). Spouses are our friends, but they cannot be everything we need. No, I ask: do you have someone who supports you and yet will tell you when you’re off-base? Do you have a friend who will warn you of impending danger? Do you have someone who stands up for you to those who most want to see your demise, even at the risk of their own reputation? If you have such a friend, you are, indeed, a rich person.

But if you’re an island – a leader without such a friend – then ask God to send you a friend who will be this person for you. Ask God to give you a friend – a Jonathan. And when God brings this person into your life, don’t dismiss him or her. Foster that friendship and grow it. Make it one that you invest in. And then be sure to thank God every day for giving you this gift of a supporter and friend.

Leadership Lessons Part X: God’s Protection

God’s Preparation of David for leadership led Him to put David into a multi-year (well over a decade, actually) experience in which he was on-the-run and without a “base” that many of us take for granted: he was a hunted and wanted man by the government, he lacked a physical home and he spent years away from his first wife.

Leaders go through “desert” experiences. God refines His leaders for His own purposes – changing their definition of success, refining their character, weeding out pride and arrogance, building into them the ability to hear His voice and follow Him and so forth. Suffering is a part of leadership and leadership development because leading involves suffering. Leading means that you are sometimes the shock absorber of the dysfunction in the business. Leading means that at time, you live with the anger and gossip of the masses because you cannot fully explain yourself – hence, you live with being misunderstood. Desert experiences teach us these lessons – and they nearly always are taught while we are leading others.

Our text comes from 1 Samuel 19.11 and following:

Saul sent men to David’s house to watch it and to kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.” 12 So Michal let David down through a window, and he fled and escaped. 13 Then Michal took an idol and laid it on the bed, covering it with a garment and putting some goats’ hair at the head. 14 When Saul sent the men to capture David, Michal said, “He is ill.” 15 Then Saul sent the men back to see David and told them, “Bring him up to me in his bed so that I may kill him.” 16 But when the men entered, there was the idol in the bed, and at the head was some goats’ hair. 17 Saul said to Michal, “Why did you deceive me like this and send my enemy away so that he escaped?” Michal told him, “He said to me, ‘Let me get away. Why should I kill you?’ “

18 When David had fled and made his escape, he went to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel went to Naioth and stayed there. 19 Word came to Saul: “David is in Naioth at Ramah”; 20 so he sent men to capture him. But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came on Saul’s men, and they also prophesied. 21 Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied. 22 Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern at Seku. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” “Over in Naioth at Ramah,” they said. 23 So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even on him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. 24 He stripped off his garments, and he too prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay naked all that day and all that night. This is why people say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?

After the test of the broken vow, God takes David into an extended time of trial, testing and development. He uses current events to push David into the desert. And the first lesson he learns in the desert is that God protects him.

David runs to Samuel’s abode in Ramah. He needs a safe place to “hole up” while he figures out his next steps. Naioth was the location was where Samuel ran a school for prophets – similar to Elijah at Gilgal and Jericho. Naioth is near Ramah – the birthplace for both Saul and Samuel – also Samuel’s permanent residence. So they both go to the school. Samuel was the recognized prophet in their day. They understood that a true prophet spoke God’s message to the people in God’s name and under the influence of the Holy Spirit. He called the people to faithfulness in their covenant with God and sometimes predicted future events and he ran a school to teach others about leading God’s people to God’s heart.

Now, Saul sends 3 different groups of men to capture David – the Spirit comes on all three – disabling and disarming them. In the end, Saul goes himself with the same result. God protects David because God’s purposes for David protected him from being killed or harmed at that time. God demonstrated His protection His Way. And we learn that God’s protection does not always include His resolution of the immediate problem. God protects David, but Saul will continue to hunt him for years to come.

It is not unusual for permanent conflict or problems to exist in a leader’s life. Why? Because inherent within leadership is the reality that the most difficult decisions and the most thorny relationships to managed bubble to the top of the organization. Some conflict is managed, not resolved. Some relationships cannot be resolved, they must be managed or ended. A leader must learn to sense the spiritual reality behind the physical reality and act as God would have the leader to act. The leader must learn that God’s call may include managing a difficult situation because there is no other solution.

Leaders often face opposition and unsolvable situations. God often takes leaders through “desert” experiences of intense opposition and/or difficulties to refine and mature them, yet in the midst of this, He protects them for His purposes and glory. God is easily able to strike the balance between allowing suffering into the life of the leader while ensuring that the leader is sustained and protected. During these seasons of extended trial, God leads us to see that leadership is less about what you do and much more about who you are. Character becomes paramount. Courage is forged in the fire of trials. And we learn the value of love, patience, endurance and perseverance in our leadership as we work with the short-comings of those we lead even while we ask God to forgive our own faults and failings.

As a Christian Business owner, you need to expect that God will take you through significant periods of suffering and trial to mature you and complete you in your faith. Such trials may come through a significant business downturn, employees who lie to you and end up costing you millions, competitors who undermine you with customers or other industry partners, vendors upon whom you depend for critical supplies prohibitively raise prices or suddenly go out of business and so forth. But the trials may also be personal: an affair, a divorce, a sudden health problem, a rebellious child and so forth. Know that God is not surprised by any of this. He might be taking you into the desert. Just remember, during this time – which may last months or even years – God will be with you, taking you to new places and asking you to trust Him like never before. As you emerge from your desert experience, you will have a strength, a maturity and a relationship with God that you could not have had without it. So, learn all you can while you’re in the desert. Don’t extend it unnecessarily. And be sure to hang in there – because the best is yet to come!

Leadership Lessons Part IX: The Test of the Broken Vow

If you’re in leadership, chances are good that you have had someone lie to you and perhaps even break their promises to you. This is as aspect of Christian Business Ownership which many who get into business ownership don’t anticipate: a few employees will take purposeful actions that they know will hurt you and the business. In essence, an employee or partner will break their promises to you. Sometimes, these employees are in key positions which gives them significant opportunity to inflict real damage on your business. But in most cases, when someone close to you breaks their vow to you, it doesn’t also involve their attempts to kill you. In David’s life, the person who broke his vow to David was his Employer and King – King Saul. And yes, the broken vow meant that David’s life would be in real danger.

In 1 Samuel 19.1-18, we read:

Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan had taken a great liking to David and warned him, “My father Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding and stay there. I will go out and stand with my father in the field where you are. I’ll speak to him about you and will tell you what I find out.”

Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly. He took his life in his hands when he killed the Philistine. The Lord won a great victory for all Israel, and you saw it and were glad. Why then would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?”

Saul listened to Jonathan and took this oath: “As surely as the Lord lives, David will not be put to death.” So Jonathan called David and told him the whole conversation. He brought him to Saul, and David was with Saul as before. Once more war broke out, and David went out and fought the Philistines. He struck them with such force that they fled before him.

But an evil spirit from the Lord came on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the lyre, 10 Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape.

11 Saul sent men to David’s house to watch it and to kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.” 12 So Michal let David down through a window, and he fled and escaped. 13 Then Michal took an idol and laid it on the bed, covering it with a garment and putting some goats’ hair at the head.

14 When Saul sent the men to capture David, Michal said, “He is ill.”15 Then Saul sent the men back to see David and told them, “Bring him up to me in his bed so that I may kill him.” 16 But when the men entered, there was the idol in the bed, and at the head was some goats’ hair. 17 Saul said to Michal, “Why did you deceive me like this and send my enemy away so that he escaped?” Michal told him, “He said to me, ‘Let me get away. Why should I kill you?’ “

18 When David had fled and made his escape, he went to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him.

What is a Vow?

A vow is a more intense form of a promise and they are taken seriously in the Scriptures (Num 30.2, Deut 23.31, Eccl 5.4-5). In Matthew 5.37, we’re instructed that our speech should be as serious and abiding as an oath/vow: “let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no”.  A Christian Business Owner should be known for fulfilling his/her promises and commitments. We should not be known for saying one thing and then doing another. Unfortunately, Saul was known for not keeping his word.

Saul’s Vow

Saul made a vow to not kill David after Jonathan had reasoned with his father. In turn, Jonathan told David about Saul’s vow and how he would not attempt to kill David again. One can surmise what was going through David’s mind:

  • It is the King making the vow
  • It is made in the name of the Lord
  • I can trust it!

But as in previous scenarios, we found that Saul couldn’t stomach David’s success. Note the pattern that leads to Saul’s intense hatred of David and his deep desire to kill him:

  • War breaks out
  • David is successful
  • Saul become jealous and scared
  • Saul tries to kill David

It is no small thing for a leader to break his/her vow. When we don’t keep our word, we lose the respect of those around us and we don’t ensure that our organizations are run well. This was one of David’s core faults as a leader: he didn’t pay attention to his staff and correct them when needed. As a result, two of his sons attempted a coup on his throne – one drove him from Jerusalem.

Saul is unable to discipline himself. His heart is filled with such evil that an external vow spoken (perhaps rashly) cannot stop the inner drives which compel his actions. This is one illustration of why external disciplines do not change a man’s heart. Much like the demon-possessed man in Mark 5 whose evil could not be constrained by physical chains, we find Saul’s inability to keep his vows as revealing of the depth and breadth of the evil that was in his heart.

Incidentally, this is why Christian Business Owners need to persistently and consistently confess their sins to God. Before we attempt to run a business God’s way, we must first be people of righteousness. One outcome of living righteously before the Lord will be a heart that is transformed by God and that will enable us to keep our vows.

Results of Broken Vows

As a result of Saul breaking his vow to David and attempting to kill him, David is forced to flee for his life (with the help of his wife). A proximate result is that David was not able to fulfill his vow to Michal for a long period of time, so he turned to the Lord for support and help: 1 Sam 6.17-23. David also broke his vows and married other women. It didn’t turn out well for either of them to have broken their vows.

Test of Broken Vows

Leaders sometimes find that trusted partners or employees break that trust. It usually occurs within a context of conflict. Broken vows will test your personal maturity and reveal your character to you. Who we are in the conflict is more critical than what we do because what we do depends on who we are. I think this is the great principle of this entire site and the Christian Business Reference Architecture: who we are and what we believe dictates how we will run our business.

When someone breaks their vow to you, essentially you’ll have two choices: A) become bitter and let it destroy you or B) turn to God and let it be the best thing that has ever happened to you! You’ll need to forgive the other person for their sin against you. You’ll be entrusting them to God’s system of justice.

Nearly everyone will disappoint us at one time or another. As a Christian Business Owner, you need to remember that God will be with you and will provide a means and the grace to handle the pain and disappointment. When people do betray us, we’ll have a choice in how we react and it’s the reaction that is the larger issue for us. How we handle ourselves in the midst of the pain and conflict will be more important than the resolution itself.

Bill English
CEO, Mindsharp
Associate, The Platinum Group

Leadership Lessons – Part VI: David Fights Goliath – Part III

Being Yourself in Your Calling

Reading from 1 Samuel 17.15-40:

Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”

26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

27 They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”

28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

29 “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. 31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

41Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

In this study on the leadership lessons that God taught David as he was preparing to be King of a nation, David had learned:

The lesson of being underestimated: People may underestimate what a leader can accomplish based on any number of factors.

The lesson of submission: In order to be a good leader, one must first be a good follower

The lesson of knowing when to risk: Leaders take risk in order to lead. Knowing when to assume risk and when to demur from risk is essential for good leadership

The Lesson of Authenticity: Being Yourself in Your Calling

After David had learned what Goliath was doing day after day – defying Israel and the Lord Himself, David inquires about the reward for the man who would take out Goliath. One wonders if David hadn’t already decided in his heart to go fight, but was asking this question in almost as a sidebar. David’s larger motivation, it seems, is to defend the name of the Lord and defeat a rather annoying and arrogant person in the process: Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

His own brother’s “despised” him. The text doesn’t tell us why, so we are left to speculation. It seems to me that they despised him because, in part, he was showing a faith in God and a confidence that (in their minds) bordered on arrogance. There is often a fine line between confidence and arrogance and those who are not walking closely with God often get the two confused. David learns that those who most oppose you as you move out for God may be those who are closest to you. And we also learn that it is not unbiblical to be motivated by rewards – cf. Matt 6.19-24.

So David volunteers to fight Goliath. He is probably around 20 at this point. When he is taken to Saul, the King, who himself is terrified of Goliath, Saul discounts David to his face. He tells him he is too Young to fight and that he lacks the proper experience to handle a difficult situation like this. Doesn’t David know that Goliath is older, wiser, and more experienced at fighting? It is so often true that those in leadership who demonstrate an inability to solve tough problems will still discount those who think they can. Saul is portrayed as a man hanging onto a no-win situation – something that leaders who move projects, teams, organizations or countries forward – cannot afford to do. And we learn that those who have deep faith in God never find themselves in a no-win situation because with God, all things are possible.

So David gives his resume to Saul. He has killed lion and bear and besides, God will kill Goliath for His own glory. David couches this in terms of rescue: God will rescue me from Goliath. The only possible way that God could do this without bringing shame on His name is to ensure that David kills Goliath.

Consenting to this seemingly foolish plan, Saul nevertheless wants to give David every chance possible to win. So, Saul dresses David in His armor. Now, remember that Israel didn’t have swords and spears for every fighting man. Only Saul had such weapons. In this context, a sword was the latest and greatest weapon of warfare. The Philistines had them – the Israelites did not. The present day analogies are clear: To be successful, one must adopt the latest techniques and technologies. So, do this ministry this way and you’ll be successful using our methods and our tools and our philosophies. But David is right to throw off such things: If the present leader’s methods, tools and philosophies have rendered that leader (in this case, Saul) impotent to lead a nation against a Goliath (or any seemingly insurmountable problem), why would those who believe that Goliath can be defeated depend on that leader’s ways? If the leader’s dependence on the latest techniques and technologies, methods, tools and philosophies have rendered that leader unable to act, why would we adopt those elements if we intend to win? Saul is the picture of a leader who is paralyzed by the belief that there is no winnable solution. And this is because he lacks faith and confidence in the power of God.

David rejects the armor and will kill Goliath as he had the lion and bear – with the King’s armor. David will trust God for deliverance. So he goes to the brook and picks up five stones , though he will need only one. David approaches Goliath alone. Note the contrast: Goliath – big, bold and bombastic – has a shield bearer in front of him. David – confident and swift – comes alone. David predicts victory and gives the glory to God before it happens: This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.

David “ran quickly” toward Goliath. Note the contrast: Israel “ran” from Goliath while David “ran” toward him. We learn from this that Godly leaders “run toward the bullets” and take care of problems quickly and decisively. David slings his stone and kills Goliath, who falls face down, just as Dagon had fallen earlier (5.1-5). For those who don’t walk with the Lord (both unsaved and carnal Christians), God’s way seems foolish to them. Yet, often, God’s way is one of comparative loneliness and risk. David didn’t ask Saul to “back him up” – David had the Lord and that was enough for him.

This victory defied natural explanations. David didn’t use conventional techniques or the latest technologies. Yet this victory brought to each nation what they needed: Israel needed to see God at work and the Philistines needed to know that God exists and is more powerful than any of their gods. America is such a stunningly unbelieving nation: we search high and low for natural explanations for miracles. We defy faith, unless it is faith in ourselves. And some Christians make it worse: they are only interested in miracles of healing or other “cool” stuff that provides immediate excitement but little long-term glory to God. But if you want to see the full power of God at work, then consider this: the greatest miracle that God ever performs is a life changed because God has regenerated them and given them a new heart and a new nature (cf 2 Corinthians 4).

At the end, the writer doesn’t tell us that Saul thanks David or is pleased with David’s faith and what God accomplished through him, instead, Saul appears to not know who David’s father is and is most concerned about having him join his court. Saul is the picture of a leader who has the form of Godliness but lacks its’ real power. Saul is the picture of a self-centered leader who intended to follow God but who really doesn’t. The church has many such leaders.

Learning the lesson of Authenticity:

  • Being faithful to the experiences that God has given you
  • Being faithful with the gifts that God has given you
  • Being true to the methods you feel comfortable with and which have stood the test of time

What we learn from David’s route of Goliath is this:

  • Don’t be surprised if opposition to your ministry efforts come from those closest to you
  • Rewards are sometimes a proper motivation
  • Godly leaders “run toward the bullets” and take care of problems quickly and decisively
  • Greatest miracle is a life changed because God has regenerated them
  • Godly leaders factor in God’s presence and power: Ungodly leaders do the opposite
  • Faith in God plus your willingness to follow God is a greater combination than anything the world can throw at you

Bill English, CEO
Mindsharp

Leadership Lessons Part V – David Fights Goliath – Part II

What David Can Teach Us About Assuming Risk in Business

 

Consider the text of our story in this post from 1 Samuel 17. 12-24:

Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.

17 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah w of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. 19 They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”

20 Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. 22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were. 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 24 Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.

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David goes to check on his brothers as directed by his father, Jesse. Goliath has been challenging Israel for 40 days – twice each day. David arrives as they are going to their battle lines with a shout – which is just for show since Israel runs in fear when they hear Goliath’s shouts. We find that David is surprised that the army is putting up with Goliath’s rantings and is afraid of him. Including Saul, David is the only one with God’s perspective on Goliath, so David volunteers to fight him. Saul consents and David fights Goliath. God delivers Israel, not David.

God had prepared David for this moment back when he was tending sheep: God delivers David from the lion/bear, in which David learned faith, confidence and integrity. He was stretched into comfort zones and as he matures, God is constantly stretching him. Increasingly, God places David in a situation where he must demonstrate faith, confidence and integrity. It is true of all leaders who are developed by God: He asks leaders to live out publicly what He has taught them privately and asks them to serve through example.

Note also, that David wasn’t expecting this event when he started out that morning. But he was able to respond because he had been developed by God in Discerning the real issue, knowing God’s character, experiencing God’s deliverance and freedom from the bondage of sin. As a result, David developed a Godly integrity which allowed him to take on increasing levels of responsibility for the Lord’s work.

What can we learn about assuming risk?

David took a real risk in this story by putting himself out in front as the person who would fight Goliath. So, what are the elements in this story that allowed David to take on this risk? I would submit to you that David took this risk because:

  1. He had God’s leading to do so
  2. He understood the core issues and elements from God’s perspective
  3. He had a clear plan for success that was both reasonable and attainable
  4. He was able to draw on his own experience and talent that had been previously developed
  5. The potential reward was worth the risk

When you’re facing a decision about whether or not to risk, the first thing you should not is if you have God’s clear leading to take on the risk. The other 4 points are moot if you don’t have God’s leading. But if you do have God’s leading, check yourself on the other four points. Usually God will supply sufficient resources in those four points that the assumption of the risk is a reasonable decision.

Bill English, CEO
Mindsharp

Leadership Lessons – Part IV: David Fights Goliath – Part I

We’ll spend this lesson and the next in the 17th chapter of 1 Samuel:

1Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.

A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.

Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.

17 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah w of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. 19 They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”

20 Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. 22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were. 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 24 Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.

25 Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”

26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 27 They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”

28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” 29 “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. 31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” 33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. 51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron. 53 When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp.

54 David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem; he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.

55 As Saul watched David going out to meet the Philistine, he said to Abner, commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is that young man?” Abner replied, “As surely as you live, Your Majesty, I don’t know.” 56 The king said, “Find out whose son this young man is.”

57 As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head. 58 “Whose son are you, young man?” Saul asked him. David said, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.”

Philistines – the Constant Thorn in Israel’s Side

Philistines are constantly fighting the Israelites. They must have some economic control over the Israelites (1 Sam 13.19-22) since the Israelites must go to them to for blacksmithing services. The armies meet, but the idea is to send one man out to battle to represent the entire army. This was an effort to avoid mass bloodshed on both sides. Of course, it didn’t work – but it was a noble idea. Symbolically, the Philistines represent our sin – our enemy, nemesis & life-long battle

In this story, the enemy is Goliath, who was over 9′ tall (Uffdah!). His armor weighed (roughly) 125 lbs and the tip of the spear was (roughly) 15 lbs. Some have scoffed at the idea that a man could be over 9 feet tall, but there is ample evidence that some men in recent history have been over 8.5 feet tall, so it is not out of the realm of possibility.

Goliath comes out armed for battle, protected, arrogant and defiant and he seemed impossible to defeat. The ultimatum is simple: win or lose. If you lose – you serve us. Hence, they are betting national security and independence in this battle. Like Goliath, there are problems we face that can seem larger than life and impossible to defeat. They can weigh us down and seem as if they are more than we can carry. These problems might take on similarities of Goliath: they appear well armed for battle (difficult to defeat) and they may evoke fear and trembling within us. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this, but there have been times when my problems seemed so insurmountable that I would wake up with waves of fear sweeping over me. It’s not a fun place to be. The trials of life can seem big, overwhelming, impossible to win and stronger than us or God.

God allows trials to test our faith (James 1). The enemy will try to leverage trials to defeat our faith (Job 1, cf 2.9).

When it comes to winning and losing, the Way of God vs. the World is stark. In God’s economy:

  • We win by losing
  • We prosper by giving
  • We lead through service
  • We lose our lives to save it
  • We become wise by becoming fools
  • We become strong by becoming weak
  • That which seems big is small
  • That which seems strong is weak
  • That which seems protected is vulnerable
  • Ultimatums are hidden opportunities

Israel – the Picture of Weakness

The Israelites are the picture of weak, faithless followers of God. Saul and his army were “dismayed”, lit. shattered, can’t keep it together and
“terrified”, lit. intimated + frightened + awesome. They melted when Goliath came out. Why? Saul was not leading them to the Lord – Saul was afraid too. Saul was operating under his own power, not the power of the Holy Spirit. It is important to note that the masses rarely rise above their leadership. Saul was scared and faithless – hence, the entire army was that way too. Without God, they didn’t have a solution to overcome their problem.

Fortunately for them, however, David found all this to be utterly disgraceful. In our next lesson, we’ll see how faith overcomes adversity. We’ll learn that when one relies on the Lord and then acts under His guidance and direction, victory is the outcome. And we’ll see that when you move out in faith for the Lord, sometimes, those closest to you will represent your greatest opposition.

As a Christian Business Owner, are you facing problems today that seem insurmountable? Do you wake up with waves of fear and terror at night? Do you see no way out of your mess? If so, this is the time to quiet yourself and turn to the Lord. Rely on Him, the one who reminded us at the end of John 16 – “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world!” [emphasis added]

Bill English, CEO
Mindsharp