The Side Effects Of Success

14 David continued to succeed in everything he did, for the Lord was with him.
15 When Saul recognized this, he became even more afraid of him.
1 Samuel 18:14-15 (NLT)

We shall continue with the story of David. After David had successfully killed Goliath in a single combat, he became a legend. He did something that no one thought was possible. As such he would have no problem getting good jobs. He was recruited into the king’s army and served under the king. When he was there, he made friends with the prince, Jonathan. As we have read earlier, Jonathan too had strong faith. So, it was not a surprise that both men of faith became good friends.

3 And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as he loved himself.
4 Jonathan sealed the pact by taking off his robe and giving it to David, together with his tunic, sword, bow, and belt.
1 Samuel 18:3-4 (NLT)

David received a lot of good stuff from Jonathan. Have you ever wonder what they talked about when they got together? Since they were both in faith, I suspect they exhorted each other in matters of faith. Their conversations must be filled with positive words. The more they talked, the more positive they got. This is essentially what fellowship is all about. As Christians, we do not get together to talk negative or to form pity parties. We are supposed to encourage each other in faith. Our words must always be positive because positive words can create good results.

David completed all the assignments from the king successfully. He was promoted to be the commander of the army.

5 Whatever Saul asked David to do, David did it successfully. So Saul made him a commander over the men of war, an appointment that was welcomed by the people and Saul’s officers alike.
1 Samuel 18:5 (NLT)

David was so successful that when he was promoted, his promotion was welcome by the people and his colleagues in the army. Why would his fellow officers felt happy about his promotion? He must have done not only good jobs but exceedingly good jobs. The people loved him because he had successfully defeated all the enemies and brought peace to the nation. The soldiers loved him because he always won in every battle. It must be great to be a part of the winning team, not to mention the opportunity to plunder the enemies after they ran away.

In short David was successful in his job. The problem was, he was too successful.

6 When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns of Israel came out to meet King Saul. They sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals.
7 This was their song:
“Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!”
8 This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!”
9 So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.
1 Samuel 18:6-9 (NLT)

The king got jealous. Was that logical? Saul needed capable commanders in his army to win wars and bring peace to his kingdom. Yet, when his commander had successfully done those, he became jealous. Saul was afraid that this commander might seize his throne. How was he going to recruit capable people to his team if he was to be so insecure? This is another reason why Saul could never be a good king.

You could have met similar people in management. They expect their subordinates to do their jobs well but if any of those subordinates became too successful, they got jealous. They even resorted to steal the credits from their subordinates. If you happen to have a boss like that, you will have to seek God’s guidance on your next move. Are you going to look for new jobs or stay on? Let God guide you and help you to win. No matter how powerful that guy is, your God is greater. Trust in God and he will give you’re your success and prosperity.

If you think your problem is big, think about David. His boss was the king. He could not possibly change jobs. His life was in constant danger. His faced the possibilities of being killed from 2 sides, his enemies and his boss. Saul had even attempted to kill David in a fake accident.

10 The very next day a tormenting spirit from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave in his house like a madman. David was playing the harp, as he did each day. But Saul had a spear in his hand,
11 and he suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall. But David escaped him twice.
1 Samuel 18:10-11 (NLT)

Subsequently, Saul realize that he could not get David killed because David was too popular to the people and his own soldiers. He finally decided to send David away from the palace to the battlefront with a small number of soldiers. Saul must be hoping that David might eventually get killed in the battle.

12 Saul was then afraid of David, for the Lord was with David and had turned away from Saul.
13 Finally, Saul sent him away and appointed him commander over 1,000 men, and David faithfully led his troops into battle.
1 Samuel 18:12-13 (NLT)

Why did Saul give David 1,000 men? I suspect the enemies must have armies at least 10 times that size. Saul was planning to use his enemies’ soldiers to kill David. The Chinese proverb for this is called “borrow knife to kill people”. However, that did not happen. David could still win despite having only 1,000 soldiers.

14 David continued to succeed in everything he did, for the Lord was with him.
15 When Saul recognized this, he became even more afraid of him.
16 But all Israel and Judah loved David because he was so successful at leading his troops into battle.
1 Samuel 18:14-16 (NLT)

Saul’s plan was back-fired. Not only was David managed to survive, he became more popular. Saul became more afraid.

Let us stop here to revise the lessons God wants us to learn.

The first lesson here is God wants us to be successful in everything we do. David obeyed God and acted in faith. As a result he killed Goliath and became a legend. After that he got a job in commanding soldiers to battles. He used the same faith and got the same results. He won in all his battles. He became famous. If we are to use our faith and obey God like David, we will also be successful like David.

The second lesson, success comes with oppositions. Sometimes your success could have caused the ones on top of you to be jealous. This is what David faced. His success had caused the king to be jealous. Saul was so jealous that he even tried to kill David. Saul had first pretended to be insane and throw spears at David. After he failed 2 times, he knew he could not repeat the same “accidents” without causing suspicion. So, he gave David the command over 1,000 soldiers and sent him to battles in hope that David could not survive with so few soldiers.

Your current jealous boss could be scheming to trap you right now. What are you going to do? In David’s case, the Lord was with him. What Saul meant for evil, the Lord turned it for David’s good. Saul sent David with only 1,000 soldiers to fight enemies many times bigger in hope that David would get killed. Yet God turned the situation around and caused David to win despite his relatively weaker army. As a result, David became more famous because he could defeat a huge army with a small army. God had caused Saul’s plan to backfire.

If God could do that for David, he can do the same for you and me. No matter how many bad things others can scheme on you, God can turn them around for your good. In other words, what other people meant for evil, God can turn them to your good. The question here is can you trust in him? Can you believe that he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world? If you can, you can rest assured that all things will work out for good. Your only responsibility is to live by faith and obey God.

The Jigsaw Puzzle Of Life

34 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock,
35 I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death.
36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God!
37 The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”
1 Samuel 17:34-37 (NLT)

I am breaking my norm today. Instead of moving on with the story, I am doing a deeper study on the previous story because there is a lot of lessons, which we can benefit from. When David first asked Saul for his permission to confront Goliath, the answer he got was a straight “no”. The reason was simple. Saul did not want David to die. There was no way in the natural for a boy like David to defeat a giant warrior like Goliath.

David did not give up. He persuaded and convinced the king that he was not new to fighting. In his job as a shepherd he had fought lions and bears. According to David, when a lion or a bear came to steal a lamb, David would run after it to rescue the lamb. It the lion or bear turned to attack, David would catch it by the jaw and club it to death.

This passage gives us a new perspective on a relative boring part of David’s early life as a shepherd. If we are to see David’s life biography as a huge jigsaw puzzle picture, I am sure the part of him as a shepherd must look like an insignificant piece. However, the truth is without this piece the rest would not have existed.

It was during his job as a shepherd that David had developed his faith and fighting skills. His faith must have caught God’s attention that had resulted in him being chosen as a king. Otherwise, his dynasty would never have started. His courage, confidence and fighting skills were developed when he was fighting lions and bears. In other words, if David had never fought lions and bears, he would never be in position to fight Goliath. He would never be a legend. His highest achievement would be the king’s musician and armor bearer.

David must also be very serious in his job as a shepherd. When a lion or a bear came to steal a lamb, David did not run away and hide somewhere. If he did, it will be understandable. After all, how can you expect a boy to fight lions and bears? At the same time, David would have never learned how to fight. His daddy did not send him to any martial arts school. I doubt if there were any in that region in the first place. This means David’s commitment in his job had made the difference in the later part of his life.

How are we going to apply this principle in our lives?

Being a shepherd in those days was not very glorious. It came with heavy responsibility, hard work, dangerous working environment and bad pay. In David’s case, I don’t think he was paid at all. His daddy must have wanted to save cost.

I am sure there are many of the equivalents of shepherds in today’s world. We call those “dead end jobs”. You may be in one yourself. Are you in a job where you have a lot of responsibilities, have to work hard but got very little pay? If you are, you are not the only one. David had been through those as well. Yet God had turned the entire situation to his advantage. David became a great king. If God could do that for David, he can do the same for you especially if you are a Christian. Please note that David was not even a Christian.

So, what must we do when we are in the equivalent of a shepherd’s job. The first thing to do is to think positive. Stop focusing on the bad environment, low pay and how unfair it is. Focusing on the negative will get us no where. We must always remember that God is on our side. There is nothing he wishes more than for us to prosper and be in health as our souls prosper. He even sent Jesus to die poor for us to live rich.

Why then is God not doing something to get you out of this bad situation? The truth is, God is doing something right now. We cannot see it now because God is working behind the scenes. The seemingly bad situation you are in right now must be an important piece of jigsaw puzzle God is using for your future prosperity. So, you your job well and learn whatever needs to be learned. As long as you keep believing and don’t give up, you will see your prosperity manifesting before your eyes.

If there are lions and bears coming to steal the lambs, go after them even if you think your salary is too low for you to justify such actions. It does not matter even if you don’t get a bonus out of the extra efforts that you have put in. God knows what he is doing. Those extra efforts could be the vital pieces of jigsaw puzzle that will give birth to your great prosperity in days to come. How long will it take? If you are prepared to keep standing and don’t give up, it will not take very long. The day will come when you will walk up to Goliath and get his head.

Your days of prosperity, health and success will come very soon. Don’t ever let go of those pieces of jigsaw puzzle.

David Became A Legend

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword.
51 Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head.
1 Samuel 17:50-51 (NLT)

We are back to the story of David again. In the previous chapter we have seen David moving up from being a shepherd boy to become the king’s musician and armor bearer. I don’t know how much he was paid but I am sure it was a very prestigious job. In this article, we shall see how David moved up again to become a legend.

1 Samuel 17 begins by describing a military standoff between Israel and Philistine. Both armies were encamped on hills facing each other with a valley separating them. Both sides were in defensive mode. They were not shooting arrows. This tells us that both camps must be out of arrow range. No one wanted to attack first. Why not? Since there was a valley between them, any side that launch the first offensive must march down the valley and climb up again on the other side to attack. This scenario will put the defenders in a position where they will fight from a higher ground. The defenders would have an unfair advantage over the attackers. Both sides must have known this and refused to be the ones to attack first. Maybe they were hoping the other side would attack first. It was a test of patience.

However, the Philistines had one advantage. They had a giant warrior in their camp. His name was Goliath. They used him to launch psychological warfare on the Israelites. Goliath went out to face the Israelites and challenged them to a one to one combat.

8 Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. “Why are you all coming out to fight?” he called. “I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me!
9 If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves!
10 I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!”
1 Samuel 17:8-10 (NLT)

One to one combat was common in ancient pre-gunpowder warfare. The main purpose was not to kill the other guy although it was often the result. It was meant to inflict a psychological blow to the other side. Such tactics were common in ancient China. In ancient Chinese warfare, when 2 armies confronted each other, a warrior from one side will challenge the on the side for a one to one combat. If the other side do not respond, it will make the commander look like a coward. The morale will drop. This is the reason why good fighters were in high demand during wars.

So, how would the Israelites respond to the challenge?

11 When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.
1 Samuel 17:11 (NLT)

They lost without a fight. They have lost in the inside due to fear. This is what psychological warfare is all about. It is to make the enemies think they have lost even before they start to fight. The Philistines had successfully used it on Saul and the Israelites.

Let us change the scenes to David. At that time, David was on leave. He was not with the king. David was herding sheep for his father. His 3 eldest brothers were in the army and stationed in the camp that was confronting the Philistines. One day, David’s father wanted him to go to the camp to deliver some bread to his brothers (daddy must have a low opinion on army food) and some cheese to the brothers’ commanding officers (Was this their way to get promoted in the army?)

It had been 40 days where Goliath went out shouting his challenges twice a day to the Israelites. The Israel soldiers could only respond in fear. It so happened that when David reached the camp, Goliath was out shouting out his challenge. To David’s surprise, no one dared to take him on despite the rewards promised by the king. In David’s mind, Goliath was nothing compared to the people of God.

26 David asked the soldiers standing nearby, “What will a man get for killing this Philistine and ending his defiance of Israel? Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?”
1 Samuel 17:26 (NLT)

Let us see from the perspective of David. In his mind, Goliath was just a pagan Philistine while the Israelite soldiers were the armies of the living God. David had a high opinion on his team and low opinion on the enemy. He had a winning mentality. It was the opposite on everyone else in the army, including his brothers. His brothers even tried to put him down. However, that did not stop David from thinking positive and off

Then he was sent to the king. Upon seeing the king, David offered to fight the Philistine giant.

32 “Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”
33 “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.”
1 Samuel 17:32-33 (NLT)

Saul’s initial respond was a clear “no”. He was sure that David who was just a boy was no match for a seasoned warrior like Goliath. Surely he did not want his favorite musician to be killed. David replied by citing his past fighting experience.

34 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock,
35 I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death.
36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God!
37 The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”
Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!”
1 Samuel 17:34-37 (NLT)

Looks like taking care of sheep and goat was not an easy job after all. David had fought bears and lions when he was shepherding his sheep. It seems that being shepherding was not be a useless job. That job had trained David to develop his faith and fighting skills. So, if you happen to be in a job that looks like a dead end, do not be despair. God is working behind the scenes to bring prosperity to you and move you to a higher level. There could be something God wants you to learn from this job. Shepherding sheep may not look very glorious but God had used it as a building block for David’s success. No one could have imagined that the skills David learned in fighting bears and lions were used to defeat the giant Goliath.

Likewise, God can be using the lessons and experience you gained in this seemingly dead end job as a building block for your future prosperity. So, the best way to live your life now is to do your job faithfully and learn everything that needs to be learned. You may not be able see how it works but you have to trust God if you are really serious on receiving your prosperity. Think about this, it worked for David.

At last Saul allowed David to fight. Maybe it could be due to the fact that he had no other choice. None of his soldiers dared to take on the giant despite the huge reward he promised. In his attempt to help, the king had graciously lent David his armor and weapons.

38 Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail.
39 David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before.
“I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again.
1 Samuel 17:38-439 (NLT)

The intention might be good but the result was bad. The armor was simply too heavy for a boy like David. He could not even move in them. How was he supposed to fight in those outfit? So, he took them off. This tells us that just because something is good in itself, it does not mean that it is good for everyone. King Saul had a good helmet, coat of mail and sword but they were bad for a boy like David.

The lesson for us here is, do not be hasty in buying things just because the salesman says it is good. You have to ask the question, “Is this good for me?” A Mercedes car is definitely good. However, if buying it causes you to be laden with a burden of debt, which you cannot bear, it become bad. Many had fallen into debt because they bought things without asking this question.

So, David went out to pick his own weapons.

40 He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.
1 Samuel 17:40 (NLT)

He used the weapons he knew, staff and sling. He did not need extra weapons from the king. He already had everything he needed. The same goes for us, Christians. Success and prosperity are not somewhere out there, where we have to strive and toil for them. There are inside us. The moment you believed in Jesus, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. He is the source of all success and prosperity. All we need to do is to use faith to bring them out. This is exactly what David did. I am going to show you that David had already beaten Goliath from the inside before he did it outwardly.

When David first walked out to face Goliath, he was subjected to mockery by his enemy

41 Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him,
42 sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy.
43 “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods.
44 “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled.
1 Samuel 17:41-44 (NLT)

Let us read on how David replied.

45 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
46 Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!
47 And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”
1 Samuel 17:45-47 (NLT)

David’s words above tell us that he had already won from the inside. In David’s mind, weapons were not a factor in winning battles. It was the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel that make the difference on who is winning and losing. Since Goliath defied the name of the Lord, he was destined to lose. In contrast, since David came in the name of the Lord he was destined to in. David believed God would give him the victory.

In Verse 46, David made a confession that he would cut off Goliath’s head. How was he going to do that? He did even have a dagger with him. All he had were a staff, a sling and some stones. I don’t think he knew either. He just confessed and believed. Here is the result of his confession.

48 As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.
49 Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.
50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword. 51 Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head.
1 Samuel 17:48-50 (NLT)

The impossible had happened. David who was only a boy, armed with a staff, a sling and some stones had managed to cut off the head of a fully armed giant warrior. The Philistines were shocked. The Israelites seized the moment and attacked. They won.

Let us stop here and review the lessons we can learn from this story. The story of David and Goliath teaches us that our God is fully capable in achieving the impossible. You may be in an impossible situation right now. You may be so sick that it is impossible to get well. You may be so poor that it is impossible to be rich. You may be in a situation where achieving health, wealth and success is like a shepherd boy fighting a fully armed champion warrior in a single combat. The good news is, that had happened. God had recorded the story for us to tell us that if we believe, we will achieve.

David did not win by doing nothing. He believed in the faithfulness of God and he confessed his victory before it happened. He had won from the inside. In his mind, he had already won even before the fight began. This is called faith. He confessed that he would cut off his opponent’s head when he did not even have any sharp object. It was physically impossible for him to do that. Yet it did not bother him. He knew that all he needed to do was to believe and confess. The Lord would do the rest. The rest is history. David became a legend.

If you happen to be in an impossible situation right now, this is the time to make some confessions of your own. If you are sick, confess health. If you are poor, confess riches. If you have failed in anything, confess success in the same thing. As long as you keep confessing and believing, you will have what you want. You can even be a legend.

David Moved To A Higher Level

21 So David went to Saul and began serving him. Saul loved David very much, and David became his armor bearer.
1 Samuel 16:21 (NLT)

We continue with the story of David. In the previous article, we have seen how David was anointed. Since then, David had the anointing from God to be a successful king. However, the anointing was in spiritual form. Physically, everything looked the same although in the spiritual realm David was transformed into a king.

Let us see how Saul was doing. When he was first anointed, he was filled with the Holy Spirit. In those days where Jesus had not died, the Holy Spirit moved in and out from people as he pleased. Today, as Christians we are sealed with the Spirit. The Holy Spirit will never leave us no matter what happens because he is sealed in us. When someone or something is sealed, there is no way out. However, such privilege was not available to Saul. When God rejected Saul as king, his Spirit left Saul.

14 Now the Spirit of the Lord had left Saul, and the Lord sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear.
1 Samuel 16:14 (NLT)

When I first read this verse, I thought Saul was demon possessed. It wasn’t. The reason is simple. Demonic possession cannot be overcome with music. So, I suspect it was a evil spirit planting negative thoughts into Saul’s mind which had caused him to live in depression and fear.

I am sure this is something all of us are familiar of. The devil loves to plant negative thoughts into our minds. When times are bad (like now), the devil will tell us that things are going to get worse. However, when times get better, the devil will tell us that good times are not going to last. His intention is to make us think negative, which will lead us to live in depression and fear.

The good news is, we are not obligated to obey him. We have the choice to think positive even if the devil is planting negative thoughts in our mind right now. We need to believe and be convinced that he who is in us is greater than he who is in this world. Our prosperity comes from within us and not affected by the physical environment out there. We can be rich even if we are living in poor countries.

King Saul did not have the power to overcome the negative thoughts planted by the tormenting spirit. You may notice the phase “Lord sent a tormenting spirit”. I am sure theologians will jump in to use this to convince us that our God is a pervert. However, I would like to point out to you that it is only an expression in their language. The Lord could never send any tormenting spirit because he has none of those. The only place where tormenting spirits are available is hell. God will never go to hell to borrow tormenting spirits from Satan to do his perverted works.

Let me prove my statement.

15 Some of Saul’s servants said to him, “A tormenting spirit from God is troubling you.
16 Let us find a good musician to play the harp whenever the tormenting spirit troubles you. He will play soothing music, and you will soon be well again.”
1 Samuel 16:15-16 (NLT)

Here is my question to you. How did the servant know it was a tormenting spirit from God that troubled Saul? Was he a prophet? Did God tell him? This means the phase “tormenting spirit from God” must be a figure of speech. It does not have literal meaning.

In the next verse, the servant recommended music therapy to overcome the “tormenting spirit from God”. Is God afraid of music? I hope my explanation on the phase “tormenting spirit from God” is clear.

In the above verse, Saul’s servant suggested music as a remedy to Saul’s depression. People in those days seemed to know the positive effects from music. The lesson for us here is, if you are depressed, listen to some music.

17 “All right,” Saul said. “Find me someone who plays well, and bring him here.”
18 One of the servants said to Saul, “One of Jesse’s sons from Bethlehem is a talented harp player. Not only that—he is a brave warrior, a man of war, and has good judgment. He is also a fine-looking young man, and the Lord is with him.”
1 Samuel 16:17-18 (NLT)

It seemed like one of the servants knew David. He even had a high opinion of David. He recommended David to the king. I like the last part that says “the Lord is with him.” How did that man knew the Lord was with David? Was he around when Samuel anointed David? It was very unlikely. During the anointing, only Saul and Jesse’s household were around. This tells us that the presence of the Lord in David must have yielded some physical signs.

If you are blessed, your blessings will not be restricted to the spiritual realms for long. It has to come out. The anointing of God in David must have manifested so clearly that those around him could see it and the news of it must have reached the king’s employee. Thus, David was appointed to work as the king’s musician.

19 So Saul sent messengers to Jesse to say, “Send me your son David, the shepherd.”
20 Jesse responded by sending David to Saul, along with a young goat, a donkey loaded with bread, and a wineskin full of wine.
1 Samuel 16:19-20 (NLT)

Finally, David was going somewhere. How was David doing in his new job?

21 So David went to Saul and began serving him. Saul loved David very much, and David became his armor bearer.
22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse asking, “Please let David remain in my service, for I am very pleased with him.”
23 And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul, David would play the harp. Then Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit would go away.
1 Samuel 16:21-23 (NLT)

He got so much favor from the king that he was promoted to be the king’s armor bearer. This must be a great achievement especially for a shepherd boy. The anointing of God worked in David’s life.

Let us stop here to see what we can learn from this story. In the previous article, we have seen David anointed by God. Nothing physically had changed the moment he was anointed. In this article, we are looking at the effect of the anointing.

David’s transformation was so clear that he became the talk of the town. People could see clearly that the Lord was with him. This news even reached the king’s palace and he was recommended to be the king’s musician. After he got in, he got promoted.

The same can happen to us, Christians. As Christians, we were anointed since we believed in Jesus. Nothing physical had changed the moment we became Christians but the transformation had happened in the spiritual realms. We need to spend time with God, build up our faith and obey him. Soon, our transformation will be so clear that even people around us can see them. We will be on our way to reach the sky.

David did not apply for the palace jobs. He was recommended by someone he did not even know. The servant who recommended David did not seem to know him personally. He seemed to know David from hearsay only. Yet he dared to take the risk to recommend David. David had been faithfully tending sheep until the appointment came to him.

If God can do that for David, he can do the same for us. You may be faced with many limitations right now. You may be the equivalent of a shepherd, stuck in a job that has bad prospect and low salary. God’s will is for you to do your job faithfully. He is working behind the scenes to give you a great job. Something great is coming your way. You will be going to the palace soon. Keep believing and don’t give up. Your prosperity will come.

David Was Anointed As King

13 So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.
1 Samuel 16:13 (NLT)

In the previous article, we have read on the fall of King Saul. His lack of faith had caused God to reject him as king. In God’s view, Saul was better off working as a farmer. Although Saul was physically and officially a king, he no longer had the blessing of God to help him to do his job. He was on his own.

The side effect of this was the broken heart of Samuel. After all, Samuel was the one who anointed Saul and guided him to be king. Saul’s failure to live up to his end of the covenant made Samuel very sad. Samuel even mourned for Saul.

35 Samuel never went to meet with Saul again, but he mourned constantly for him. And the Lord was sorry he had ever made Saul king of Israel.
1 Samuel 15:35 (NLT)

Both God and Samuel had been actively promoting Saul to greatness. Saul’s failure must have been a great blow to God and Samuel. After mourning for some time, God had decided that it was time to let go the past and move forward.

Now the Lord said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, so fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.”
1 Samuel 16:1 (NLT)

I am sure many of us have experienced bad things in life. We feel sad and mourn over them. There is nothing wrong about these but there must be a time limit. It is never God’s will for any one of us to spend the rest of our lives in sadness. Whatever bad things happened to you in the past, this is the time to let go. This is the time to move forward.

In Samuel’s case, it was time for him to let go of Saul and anoint a new king.

However, Samuel was afraid of doing that. He must have known that Saul was so determined to hold on to his throne that he would not hesitate to do anything including killing anyone who threatened his throne. Samuel was afraid that if Saul knew of his intention of going to anoint a new king, his life would be in danger.

This was a case of lacking in faith. Saul’s lack of faith had cost him God’s blessings. However, there was a huge difference on their responses. When Saul was afraid of the prospect of his soldiers rebelling against him, he gave in to them and sinned against the Lord. When Samuel was afraid of the prospect of Saul killing him, he turned to God. This tells us that God has no problem with us being honest with him.

If you have problem in obeying God because you are afraid of something, it is alright to tell him. God will not behave like a theologian and say, “I don’t care about your excuses. Obey me or else….”. God is not a cruel tyrant the way the theologians presented him to be. He is loving and kind. So, if you have problem in obeying him, just tell him and he will help you. God helped Samuel to solve his problem.

2 But Samuel asked, “How can I do that? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

“Take a heifer with you,” the Lord replied, “and say that you have come to make a sacrifice to the Lord.
3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you which of his sons to anoint for me.”
1 Samuel 16:2-3 (NLT)

God gave Samuel a plan. Samuel was to use the pretext of making sacrifices and invited someone called Jesse along. Since it was a routine for prophets to do sacrifices at that time, no one would have suspected anything. Even if the news of this event reached Saul, he would not have suspected anything. It was a perfect plan. This tells us that we should always include God’s input in all our plans. He knows how to make good plans.

So, Samuel invited Jesse and his sons for the sacrifice. Jesse must have been delighted. It must be an honor to be invited by a celebrity like Samuel. So he got his sons ready and together they went to the place for the rites. When Samuel saw them, he got his attention to the best looking son of Jesse and said to himself that he must be the chosen one. However, God had a different opinion.

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)

It was never God’s way of judging people by their outward appearance. Why did God chose Saul in the first place? The people wanted a king to look good. So, he gave them a good-looking king. He chose the first king based of the criteria of the people. Unfortunately this king had failed him.

It was never God’s will for Israel to have a king in the first place. However, since the institution of monarchy was already established, it was too late to turn the clock back. God preferred to get a new king than to abolish the established system.

As Samuel looked through Jesse’s sons, he could not find the one that God had chosen. So he asked Jesse whether all his sons were there.

11 Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.”

“Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.”
1 Samuel 16:11 (NLT)

It seemed that Jesse had left one out. He left his youngest son to tend the sheep while the rest dressed up to meet the prophet. It sounds like the Cinderella story. Cinderella was left cleaning the house while her step sisters were going to the ball to meet the prince. The main difference here is there was no fairy godmother to help David, the youngest son of Jesse.

It did not matter to Samuel. Samuel insisted David to be there. When David arrived, he was anointed by Samuel in the presence of his family members.

12 So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes. And the Lord said, “This is the one; anoint him.”
13 So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.
1 Samuel 16:12-13 (NLT)

On that day, David received the Spirit of the Lord. Please note that nothing physically changed. Saul was still the king and after the meeting, David would be back tending his sheep. God’s blessings always begin spiritually. It was the same with Saul. Both Saul and David became kings from within before they became king on the outside.

So, if you are a Christian and you still don’t see any form of prosperity around you, do not be disappointed. The moment you believed in Jesus, you were blessed in every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. You are blessed in every area in life. However this blessing is in a spiritual form. All you need to do is to work it out. Work out your spiritual blessings into physical blessings. The only way to do that is to build up your faith. As long as you keep building up your faith and refuse to give up no matter how bad the situation looks like, you will find your spiritual blessings turn into physical blessings.

David did not become king immediately. In fact he went through a lot of troubles but he became king in the end. He became king on the outside because he was king from the inside first. Likewise, before we can be rich on the outside, we must be rich from the inside first. Before we can be healthy in the outside, we must be healthy from the inside first.

The Fall Of Saul

23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”
1 Samuel 15:23 (NLT)

We have come back to the story of Saul. In the previous chapters, we have read on his rise. God chose Saul to be the King of Israel. When Saul was first chosen and anointed, nothing physically had changed about him. He was still a farmer. He did not move into a palace and sit on a throne because there wasn’t any of them at that time. In other words, Saul was a king in name only.

However, a series of wars changed all those. In those wars, Saul had taken leadership in mobilizing the Israelites to fight against their enemies. After he won his first two battles, his enemies began to see him as a serious threat. The ganged up and joined forces to attack Israel from every direction. Saul had not only successfully overcame such odds, he had established Israel’s first permanent army. Saul was no longer a king at war only. With his army in place, he was able to exert his authority throughout Israel. Saul became a real king.

That was a great success no matter what standard we use. Many will see that as the peak God’s plan for Saul. However, God did not stop there. Even after God had helped Saul to defend Israel and secure its borders, he wanted to promote Saul to be his execution arm.

1 One day Samuel said to Saul, “It was the Lord who told me to anoint you as king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord!
2 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt.
3 Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.”
1 Samuel 15:1-3 (NLT)

It looked like Saul’s power would no longer be confined within the borders of Israel. The above assignment means that God wanted to use Saul as his agent of execution. Saul was about to be promoted from a king of a nation to a regional overlord. He was moving up again. Unfortunately, he messed up such a great opportunity through his disobedience.

He did not obey God fully. He left the Amalekite king and the animals live. Why would he sacrifice such a great potential? Let us read his reasons when he was confronted by Samuel.

24 Then Saul admitted to Samuel, “Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the Lord’s command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded.
1 Samuel 15:24 (NLT)

What had happened? It wasn’t that Saul did not understand nor remember God’s instructions to him. He knew about them. He disobeyed God because he was afraid of his soldiers. His soldiers must have demanded their share on the animals. Saul gave in because he was afraid they might rebel and kill him. Did he not remember that it was God and not his soldiers who made him great? Did he not remember that when he made an oath that no one must eat until evening, none of his soldiers dared to disobey him? He was so powerful back then. He seemed to have forgotten all those and sinned against the Lord.

What do you think will happen when the king is afraid of his soldiers? He will not be able to enforce strict discipline on them. His soldiers will be a menace to his kingdom. Will he be able to ensure that they will not kill, plunder and rape his own people? This time, Saul failed as a king even by the world’s standard.

At last, the Lord had decided that enough is enough. He rejected Saul as king.

23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”
1 Samuel 15:23 (NLT)

This means God would no longer want to associate himself with Saul again. Please note that Saul was still physically a king. The difference was, he was on his own. God would no longer help him. This was the opposite of the situation when Saul was first anointed. At that time, Saul was nothing on the outside but a king in the inside. When God rejected him, Saul became nothing in the inside although he was still a king on the outside.

Let us see how Saul responded to his rejection.

30 Then Saul pleaded again, “I know I have sinned. But please, at least honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel by coming back with me so that I may worship the Lord your God.”
1 Samuel 15:30 (NLT)

He was more interested on his honor than the fact that he lost favor from the Lord. This event marked the fall of Saul. He had a great potential but lost it because he was more afraid of men than God.

Let us stop here and find out what we can learn from this story. All of us have the desire to be great. God had put this desire into our hearts. As Christians, we are blessed in every spiritual blessing in Christ. This means we have all the blessings to be great. Like Saul, the blessings are in spiritual form. We need to bring them out into the physical realm through faith. The fastest way to do that is to overcome trials.

Saul became great during the wars. If the neighboring nations did not attack Israel, Saul would remain a king in name only. This scenario is also applicable for us. If you are facing trials or any form of attacks right now, do not be despair. This is the opportunity to turn your spiritual blessings into physical blessings. This is the time for your prosperity.

However, if you find yourself free from any form of trials or attacks from the devil, then it means the devil does not consider you to be a threat. You are not worthy of his time and effort. It is time for you to take the Word of Faith (Bible) seriously.

After we have achieved success and moved to a higher level, God wants us to go even higher. In God’s mind, there is no such thing as “peak of success”. No matter how successful you think you are right now, God wants you to move higher. If you are a millionaire now, God wants you to be a billionaire. If you are a billionaire right now, God wants you to be a trillionaire. God does not know the word “enough”.

However, as we move to a higher level, God expects our obedience to increase because the impact of our mistakes will be greater. If a worker makes a mistake, the company may lose a few thousand dollars. If a midlevel manager makes a mistake, the company may lose a few million dollars. If a CEO is to make a mistake, the entire company may go bankrupt. Look at the world’s financial institutions and you will know what I mean.

This is what happened to Saul. If Saul was still a farmer and he could not control his servants, his farm’s production might drop. However, when he was a king and could not control his soldiers, the entire country would be doomed.

In conclusion, obedience to God is vital if you want to move to a higher level of prosperity.

Saul Established His Permanent Army

52 The Israelites fought constantly with the Philistines throughout Saul’s lifetime. So whenever Saul observed a young man who was brave and strong, he drafted him into his army.
1 Samuel 14:52 (NLT)

We continue with the story of Saul. In the previous chapters, we have read on how Saul was selected to be the king. He started with nothing. Yet that did not stop God from blessing him and made him great. He made mistakes but God still delivered him from his troubles. When he was faced with a huge army of the Philistines, he got panic and disobeyed God in performing the sacrifices. As a result he had forfeited God’s guarantee on an everlasting kingdom but he was still delivered. God helped him to defeat the Philistines army that was superior in numbers and weapons. God had been good to Saul.

After the battle with the Philistines, Saul grasp on power became firm and he had the real power as a king.

47 Now when Saul had secured his grasp on Israel’s throne, he fought against his enemies in every direction—against Moab, Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. And wherever he turned, he was victorious.
48 He performed great deeds and conquered the Amalekites, saving Israel from all those who had plundered them.
1 Samuel 14:47-48 (NLT)

The above passage tells us that after Saul had secured his throne, he had more enemies attacking from every direction. In other words, Saul had more opposition after he had secured his throne. Does this sound familiar to you? You may have some problems in the past. You trusted God and fought your way out. Right now, you have managed to overcome this problem and begin to think of taking a break to relax. However, you find yourself facing more attacks. You are wondering what has gone wrong.

Welcome to the real world. In the real world we have an enemy called Satan. He is not working alone. He has a huge army of demons and religious people to help him to oppress us. When we are down, he will crush us but when we manage to overcome him, he will intensify his attacks. Why is that so? We have become a greater threat to him. So, when you find yourself moving up to the next level, you have become a bigger target for Satan.

When that happens, do not be surprised. Do not be despair. Those attacks are not due to something wrong in you. You are attacked because Satan is seeing you as a threat. The reason why he sees you as a threat is because you have moved to a higher level with God where you have become a threat to him. You can see the same pattern both in the Bible as well as in the real life. Those who are making huge positive impact in the world happen to be the ones most heavily persecuted.

In Saul’s case, he had no time to relax to enjoy his royal lifestyle. After he defeated the Philistines, he was attacked by his neighbors. Why did they attack him? They saw him as a threat. They were afraid that if Saul was allowed to secure his kingdom, Israel would be strong. A strong Israel was bad for them. That means they could no longer oppress and plunder the Israelites again. They were taking preemptive strike against Saul to destroy his kingdom before it was too late.

However, what those enemies failed to consider was the God of Israel role in blessing King Saul. Saul fought and beat them all. In doing so, he manage to further secure his kingdom. By then, Saul had more victories in his resume. His position got stronger after each victory. The end result was the exact opposite of what his enemies intended.

In fact, Saul had benefited greatly from those attacks. Imagine what would have happened if the enemies did not gang up to attack Israel from every direction? Let me remind you that Israel did not have professional soldiers at that time. Their soldiers were volunteers. They were not full time soldiers. They got together to fight in battles but when the battle was over, they went back to their farms.

In Saul’s case, his army of 600 men would have been disbanded. Everything would have gone back to square one again. Saul would have become a king in name only. He would have no more power. What do you think will happen if after the war, Saul went knocking from door to door asking people to pay him taxes? They would have thrown him out, king or no king. Let us face the facts, none of us like to pay taxes. The only reason why we pay taxes is because we have no choice. The government will punish you severely if you do not pay your taxes. Without the money from taxes, Saul could never set up his government.

However, the prolonged wars from the neighboring states had turned the situation around for Saul’s favor. In that situation, farmers could no longer farm in peace. Their harvest would be plundered and properties destroyed. They would have no time to do farming. Their income was from farming and not soldiering. Under those circumstances, it made sense to contribute part of their income to the king to form a full time army to protect them thus giving them the peace to make money. After all, receiving lesser income (due to taxes) is better than no income at all. Thus, a full time army was born where soldiers were regularly paid.

How did the situation benefit Saul? When the war was over, the army was still around to take orders from the king. Saul could continue to demand taxes from the population. He had his army to enforce his rule. So he could continue to collect taxes to build his palace, recruit civil servants and fund public works. He became a real king. In other words, what the enemies meant for evil, God had turned them to good for Saul’s sake.

The same can happen to us. Just because our enemies are doing their best to defeat us, it does not mean that they must be successful. We have God on our side. He is our assurance of victory. We are destined to win in every battle. The only way we can lose is when we choose to give up. Why would we want to give up when we have the guarantee of victory? The reason always lies in us focusing on the natural instead of the supernatural.

In the natural, Saul would not have survived let alone established his throne. He had enemies from every direction. They had more men and better weapons. Yet Saul won. Saul won because he had God on his side. If God could do that for Saul, he can do the same for us. All we need to do is to believe and obey. He will turn our situation around.

If you find yourself being attacked non-stop from every direction, do not be discouraged. God is working behind the scenes to turn the situation around. As long as you continue to believe in God and don’t give up, you will win. The bigger and longer the attacks, the bigger your victory will be. Rejoice and be glad.

Saul’s Foolish Oath

24 Now the men of Israel were pressed to exhaustion that day, because Saul had placed them under an oath, saying, “Let a curse fall on anyone who eats before evening—before I have full revenge on my enemies.” So no one ate anything all day,
25 even though they had all found honeycomb on the ground in the forest.
1 Samuel 14:24-25 (NLT)

In the previous article, we have seen how Jonathan’s faith turned the situation around. The might Philistine army was shattered and the Philistines were running away. The Israelites were having a great time chasing and killing them. King Saul was in the offensive again. However he said something that was very unwise.

He laid a curse on anyone who ate before evening. He wanted to revenge. He was so bitter that he refused to eat anything until he could kill enough of his enemies and he subjected his soldiers to the oath. As a result no one dared to eat anything. How can you fight a war with hungry soldiers? It seemed that Saul himself had crippled his own army.

However the problem did not stop there. His son, Jonathan did not know about the oath. When he found some honey comb, he ate some honey. When told of his father’s oath, Jonathan found it silly. He knew that soldiers cannot fight with an empty stomachs. The need energy and morale to fight.

29 “My father has made trouble for us all!” Jonathan exclaimed. “A command like that only hurts us. See how refreshed I am now that I have eaten this little bit of honey.
30 If the men had been allowed to eat freely from the food they found among our enemies, think how many more Philistines we could have killed!”
1 Samuel 14:29-30 (NLT)

In other words, allowing the soldiers to eat will only produce better results. Not only that, after the Israelites had chased and killed the Philistines the whole day without food, they were very hungry. So, when they saw some cattle, they proceeded to eat tem raw with blood in the meat, which was a violation of Moses’ Law.

31 They chased and killed the Philistines all day from Micmash to Aijalon, growing more and more faint. 32 That evening they rushed for the battle plunder and butchered the sheep, goats, cattle, and calves, but they ate them without draining the blood.
33 Someone reported to Saul, “Look, the men are sinning against the Lord by eating meat that still has blood in it.”
“That is very wrong,” Saul said. “Find a large stone and roll it over here.
34 Then go out among the troops and tell them, ‘Bring the cattle, sheep, and goats here to me. Kill them here, and drain the blood before you eat them. Do not sin against the Lord by eating meat with the blood still in it.’”
1 Samuel 14:31-34 (NLT)

This is not the end yet. Next, Saul asked God whether they should continue to pursue the Philistines. God did not reply. According to their protocol, it means someone had sinned. The procedure to find out was to draw lots. Saul made another vow to kill the person who sinned regardless of rank.

They drew lots and found out that it was Jonathan who sinned. What was the sin? He took some honey when the king laid a curse on anyone who ate before evening. Since when does not obeying the king’s oath become a sin?

As the king, Saul represented God’s rule over his people. Therefore, his oath is God’s oath. Violation of the king’s oath is sin. Jonathan did not know about it but the Law had no provision for that. So, Jonathan was found guilty and according to the king’s latest oath, he must be put to death. King Saul had no choice but to kill his own son because of his oath. If he broke his own oath, no one s going to respect him anymore.

Fortunately, the rest of the Israelites pleaded for Jonathan’s life. After all, it was Jonathan that got them this victory. Jonathan’s life was spared.

What can we learn from this story? We have heard of thinking before talking. The more serious one is think of the consequences before making a promise or an oath. King Saul got a lot of problems doing that. Talk is cheap. Anyone of us can make promises. The problem is in keeping them. Before we decide to make any promise, we should ask ourselves the following questions:

1. Are we able to keep them?
2. What will the consequences be, if we keep this promise?

Unless, you can get positive answers for the above questions, do not make that promise. King Saul would have spared himself a lot of troubles if he had not made those oaths in the first place.

Jonathan’s Breakthrough

6 “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”
1 Samuel 14:6 (NLT)

This article continues the story of Saul. In the previous article, we have seen how King Saul, when he was under intense pressure made a mess of himself. He performed the sacrifices, which were restricted to prophets. As a result, he had forfeited God’s guarantee of an everlasting kingdom. His dynasty had been reduced to a single term government.

However, despite all these, Saul was still the anointed King of Israel. Let us review the situation Saul was in. As we have read in the previous chapters, Saul was facing the largest and the most advance army at that time. The Bible tells us that the Philistines had 3,000 chariots, 6,000 charioteers and many foot soldiers. It does not state the amount of foot soldiers but that does not stop us from making a rough guess.

Among the people in the army at that time, the foot soldiers were the cheapest and the least skillful. Therefore their numbers were always the largest. If we are to assume the ratio of one charioteer to five foot soldiers, then the amount of foot soldiers will be 6,000 X 5 = 30,000. Add them up with the charioteers, there were 36,000 men in the Philistine force.

On the Israel side, King Saul started with 3,000 foot soldiers. However, they got scared and started to run away. In the end, there were only 600 left.

Not only that the Philistines knew how to make iron weapons. Israel did not have the knowledge at that time. The only people in the Israel’s camp who had iron weapons were King Saul and his son Jonathan. The rest of the soldiers must have bronze or wooden weapons.

In short, Saul was in a situation that was impossible to overcome. His disobedience to God did not help either. Have you ever found yourself in the same type of situation? You may be facing some serious problems right now. The problems could be in the form of a terminal disease, financial lack or in any other area. You have looked in every area and tried every way but nothing worked. You may feel like giving up now.

If you happen to be in the above situation, God is telling you not to give up. He will make a way even if there seems to be no way. He is not limited to our idea of “impossible”. Our God is more than capable in doing the impossible. All you need to do is to believe.

In this story, we shall see how God delivered King Saul from the situation where he was out-numbered and out-gunned.

The Philistines must have noticed that the Israelite soldiers had been deserting their camp. So, time was on the side of the Philistines. The longer they camped, more and more Israelites would flee. They could have been looking forward to an easy win, win without fighting. They must have thought of the Israelites as cowards. They were right except for 2 men in the camp, Jonathan and his armor bearer.

Jonathan must have decided that rather than staying with the rest of the 600 men to defend against the 36,000, he might as well take his chances in going to the enemy’s camp.

6 “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”
1 Samuel 14:6 (NLT)

What gave him the courage to approach the enemy? The above verse tells us that it was Jonathan’s faith in the Lord. I like the last part of this verse: “for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”

Jonathan believed that the Lord could help him to win the battle regardless of the size of his army. This was the exact opposite of his father’s mentality. King Saul panicked when he saw his own people running away from him that he did the unthinkable. After that he did nothing because he was in fear.

Fears and worries paralyze. They stopped us from taking actions to help ourselves. What is fear in the first place? Fear is nothing more than a safety mechanism designed by God. When a deer sees a panther running at it, its fear will cause it to run as fast as it can to safety. The deer would have been eaten if not for its fear. This is what fear is meant to be. Fear gives us the additional energy to run toward safety.

However, an overdose of fear will cause the opposite effect. Too much fear can paralyze us and prevent us from running. Lions’ roar has such effect. Lions roar to paralyze their prey, thus cause them to remain where they are, until they are eaten alive.

The Bible describes Satan as a roaring lion looking for people to devour. Please note that Satan was only described as a “roaring lion” and not a “lion” because he is only capable of doing the roaring part. He only knows how to roar and talk big but lack the ability of a real lion to launch a real attack. This is why Satan has to actively looking for his prey. Not every one of us can be his prey. If we choose to believe in the Word of God and refuse to respond in fear, Satan’s roar will have no effect on us. Consequently, we will not be his prey.

So, if Satan has been telling you that he is going to harm you, make you poor, cause you to fail or any other threats, you have just heard some roars. Nothing but roars. At the Cross, Jesus had removed Satan’s power over us. Satan can never cause us harm. The only way Satan can harm us is to get us to respond in unbelief and fear. Once we are at that stage, we will be at his mercy. However, if we continue to stay in faith, Satan can never harm us.

This is why churches that preach on faith are under constant persecution from Satan. Satan has been using his religious people to persecute Christians who choose to believe in God. Terms like “Prosperity Gospel”, “Health And Wealth Gospel” and “Me First Gospel” should be quite familiar to us now. The bottom line is, since Satan has been working so hard to persecute faith, he must be very afraid of it. We as Christians should spend more time on it.

Unlike his father, Jonathan chose faith over fear. He and his armor bearer crossed over to the enemy’s camp with nothing other than faith in God. He even dared to attack them. Both Jonathan and his armor bearer managed to kill 20 people. That is 2 against 20 and win. Such is the power of faith.

Not only that, God followed up by creating an earthquake and caused panic to break out in all the Philistines’ camps. The Philistines army started to kill each other. When Saul got to know about it, he found himself some reinforcements from the Israelites prisoners of war in the Philistines’ camps and the Israelites who were earlier hiding. King Saul had an easy victory and gained honor from the victory all because of Jonathan’s faith.

What can we learn from this story? God could have started the earthquake much earlier. Yet he didn’t. What was he waiting for? He was waiting for someone to act in faith. No one in the Israel’s camp, other than Jonathan and his armor bearer dared to do anything. Only Jonathan had the faith to make the first step. God loved it. Not only had God helped Jonathan and his armor bearer to defeat 20 men, he gave them an earthquake.

This mean, if it really takes an earthquake for you win, God will give it to you. The question is, are you willing to take the first step of faith like Jonathan? What should your first steps be?

No matter what troubles you are facing right now, the first priority must always be God. After all, he is God. He has all the answers to our problems and he is willing to give them to us. However, he will not force his deliverance to us because he respects our rights. We need to trust in him, be in faith and thus give him the permission to deliver us. The questions we have to ask ourselves are:

 Are we willing to trust in God to deliver us?
 Are we willing to stay in faith?
 Are we determined to refuse to give up no matter how bad the situation looks like?
 Are we willing seek him for the answers?

Next, we have to take action.

If you are poor, go out and get a job. If you cannot get the type of job you want, then get whatever legitimate job that is available. That job may be terrible but you have to trust God to turn the situation around. Jonathan only had one man with him but together they killed 20 others. If God could help him, he can do the same to you. Likewise, you may be only serving burgers but God can still make you a millionaire. Do you work faithfully even though you cannot see any good prospect in it. God will never abandon you. As long as you keep believing and don’t give up, success and prosperity are yours. Your breakthrough will come.

Soon, there will be an earthquake that will cause your enemies to fight among themselves and you will have allies appearing to help you.

In conclusion, trust God and move to the other side. Your earthquake will come.

Saul’s First Mistake

13 “How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.
14 But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”
1 Samuel 13:13-14 (NLT)

We shall continue with the story of Saul from the previous article. Saul began his career as a king with a bang. He managed to build an army and defeated the Ammonites. Soon, the Philistines attacked Israel again. Again Saul selected 3,000 men and defeated the Philistine garrison at Geba. His reputation grew among the Israelites. Unfortunately, his victory got the Philistines more determined to destroy him.

5 The Philistines mustered a mighty army of 3,000 chariots, 6,000 charioteers, and as many warriors as the grains of sand on the seashore! They camped at Micmash east of Beth-aven.
1 Samuel 13:5 (NLT)

They sent in their main force. Even their charioteers were double the amount of Saul’s soldiers, not counting their immerse numbers of foot soldiers. Not only were the Philistines superior in numbers, they also had technological advantage. The Philistines were in Iron Age while the Israelites were still in Bronze Age. When Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt, the only metal they used for weapons and instruments was bronze. However, when they reached the land of Canaan, the inhabitants there like the Philistines had discovered the method to extract iron and they kept the technology secret. This means the Philistines had better weapons. The Israelites were out numbered and out gunned. The only people in Israel’s camp that had proper weapons were Saul and his son Jonathan. The Israelites responded in fear.

6 The men of Israel saw what a tight spot they were in; and because they were hard pressed by the enemy, they tried to hide in caves, thickets, rocks, holes, and cisterns.
7 Some of them crossed the Jordan River and escaped into the land of Gad and Gilead.
1 Samuel 13:6-7 (NLT)

King Saul was in a desperate situation. His soldiers were deserting him and there was nothing he could do about it. It seemed that the Philistines had succeeded in defeating him even before the battle began. They just scared off the Israelite soldiers.

Incidentally, Samuel had instructed Saul to wait for him to offer burnt sacrifices to the Lord. Traditionally, worshiping the Lord through burnt sacrifice and peace offering could turn bad situations around. Saul knew that and he was relying on Samuel to be on time to do those. He also realized that only selected people like prophets were allowed to do those.

However, as more and more of soldiers ran away from him, plus the fact that Samuel had not arrived, Saul lost his cool. He took over Samuel’s role in offering sacrifices. Maybe he was hoping that God did not notice. When Samuel arrived, he was shocked by the sin Saul had committed and he pronounced God’s judgement on Saul.

13 “How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.
14 But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”
1 Samuel 13:13-14 (NLT)

It was a real pity. Saul’s dynasty could have last forever. Yet, a momentary panic made him lost it. Now, the Lord only allowed his kingdom to be limited to his rein. In today’s language, Saul only had a one term government. The only difference is his term lasts until he died. In other words, Saul could still keep his job but not allowed to pass on his kingdom to his son.

A potential great dynasty was reduced to a single term government.

Let us stop here and revise the lesson here. King Saul had missed the chance of a lifetime. How often has God promised an everlasting kingdom to anyone? Saul was the first one who got this promise. The only condition he had to fulfill was to obey God. He knew he should not perform the sacrifice but he still did that when he was panicking. It was totally irrational. Think about it. God had promised to bless Saul’s kingdom. This means Saul could never be destroyed even if the enemy had 3,000 chariots and 6,000 charioteers. Did Saul believe in God’s faithfulness in delivering him? There can only be 2 answers, yes or no. Let us explore each of them.

If Saul truly believe in God faithfulness, there was no reason to be panic. His only job was to keep his end of the covenant, which was to obey God. He should just relax in his tent while waiting for Samuel to come. His soldiers were running away but his true deliverer is the Lord. Just wait for Samuel.

However, if Saul had stopped believing in the faithfulness of God, then there was no reason to do the sacrifices in the first place. He could run away, stay to fight or even work out peace. The bottom line is performing sacrifices to the Lord was meaningless if Saul had stopped believing in his faithfulness.

The lesson for us here: When we are in a highly stressful situation, the first thing we must do is to keep our cool. We must remain rational at all times because if we are not, we may end up making bad decisions. In other words, never make any decision when you are not calm and rational. When you are in an agitated state, your first priority is to calm yourself as soon as you can. Only when you are calm, then you will be in position to analyze the situation, produce alternatives, seek God, select the right solution and execute your solution.

Don’t be like Saul where a momentary panic caused him to lose an everlasting dynasty.