Do Not Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

22 Again Abner shouted to him, “Get away from here! I don’t want to kill you. How could I ever face your brother Joab again?”
23 But Asahel refused to turn back, so Abner thrust the butt end of his spear through Asahel’s stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He stumbled to the ground and died there. And everyone who came by that spot stopped and stood still when they saw Asahel lying there.
2 Samuel 2:22-23 (NLT)

We shall continue from the previous story. After the news of Saul’s death has spread to the entire Israel, the people of Judah appointed David as their king. At the same time, the remaining forces of Saul, lead by his army commander, Abner appointed Saul’s son Ishbosheth to be the king of Israel. The civil war has begun.

One day, David’s forces lead by Joab confronted Ishbosheth’s forces lead by Abner. Both Joab and Abner agreed to send out representatives to fight each other. The result was one sided. Abner had lost. A fierce battle followed where Abner and his forces had to flee.

On Joab’s side, Asahel who is Joab’s brother had the ability to run very fast. So he pursued Abner to the best of his ability. When he got near, Abner saw him and advised him to stay away from him. Why did he say that? Abner did not want to kill Asahel because he did not want to jeopardize his relationship with Joab. I suspect both Abner and Joab had great respect for each other. They were not enemies to start with. They just happened to work for different political parties.

Unfortunately, Asahel did not listen to Abner. Asahel had managed to catch up with Abner. However he did not have the firepower to follow up. He was defeated and killed by Abner. Asahel had bitten off more than he could chew.

This is the lesson for us today. Let us look at Asahel’s story. He joined his brother in a battle. He was on the winning side. He was successful. His enemies had flee before him. Asahel had another natural advantage. He could run fast. This was a great asset at that time. He pursued his opponents. Why would he do that? Obviously, he was trying to score more points. He wanted his victory to be greater. Imagine what would have happen to him if he managed to capture Abner, the center of power of Israel’s army. Without Abner, Saul’s dynasty was as good as gone. Asahel’s career would have shot upward. Success and prosperity would be at his disposal.

So, we are looking at something good here. Asahel was capitalising on an opportunity to advance himself. He was a high flyer. However, he missed one important point. He had the ability to out-run Abner but he did not had the firepower to defeat the latter. At one point, he was even advised by Abner to stay away but he did not listen. He must have been too blinded by his initial success that he wanted more of it. He got arrogant and failed to realize that he did not have the ability to fight Abner. He got killed.

The lesson for us here is, success can be fatal if we fail to keep control over ourselves. All of us want success in our chosen field. We strive for success. The more success we have, the more we want. We want to move to the higher level. There is nothing wrong with such desire. This is growth. God expects us to advance from victory to victory. This is the true life God wants us to have.

However, we should not be blinded by success in our pursuit for more. Let me give you an example.

God has given you a great idea for a restaurant. You worked on it and build a restaurant. You worked hard and finally your restaurant became a success. You became famous and made a lot of money out of it. You wanted more success and proceeded to open more branches of your restaurant. You used up all the money you have accumulated and borrowed heavily to fund your new branches because you want to set up those branches fast. You have got everything planned out and expect success.

Unfortunately, the economic recession wiped out everything you owned. You have lost all your money and still owe the banks a lot of money. Your success had become a failure.

So, what went wrong? The initial idea was great. You managed to build up your business and made a lot of money. However, that success had made you arrogant. You thought that if it worked once, it must work every time. You took more risk and borrowed a lot of money to multiply that success. In doing so, you are stretching your resources too thin. You have used up those reserves that could have sustained you when times got tough. A downturn in the economic condition wiped you out.

Does this mean you should not expand your business? Of course, not. You should expand your business but you should do it at a sustainable rate. Do not over stretch yourself. Make sure your expansion does not dry up the reserves you will need when times get bad. A successful business is a business that can stay alive in all times, good and bad.

In Asahel’s case, he won his battle. When Abner flee, Asahel chased after him. The Bible tells us that Asahel could run the fastest. This means he must have out distanced his teammates. He was all alone. He was a single man chasing after a fleeing army with his teammates far behind him. However, a fleeing army is still an army. When Asahel caught up with Abner, he was facing a superior force and Asahel was no Rambo. He lost his life. The real killer of Asahel was not Abner. It was his own arrogance that has killed him.

In conclusion, success is good. We should go for more and more success. This is growth. However, we should not bite off more than we can chew. We should not allow our earlier success to blind our senses and make us arrogant. If we do so, we may find ourselves in the same situation as Asahel who won the battle but lost his life.

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One Response to “Do Not Bite Off More Than You Can Chew”

  1. Resources for 2 Samuel 2:22 - 23 Says:

    […] 1Do Not Bite Off More Than You Can Chew « Yeap Chee Seng Weblog SUBMIT […]


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