Summary: David, Pt. 4 of 15
THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE (1 SAM.19)
A pastor who is once of the most educated, talented, and charismatic person I know taught me all I care to know about power and ambition. He is gifted in languages, preaching, and teaching. His alma mater is one of the finest seminaries in the world, his mentor was a widely recognized leader, and his church was one of most established churches in the city. The church grew from one worship service to multiple services, from medium size church to mega-church, and from one ethic group to multi-ethnic groups. His staff was fiercely loyal, his board was typical cronies, and fellow pastors were impressed.
However, his huge success came at the expense of others. Every three years a showdown erupted, an upheaval ensued, and a group left. No one was safe from his short temper, his long memory, and his bully pulpit.
The years of unparalleled success made him less and less aware of his faults, weaknesses, limits, but the payback was fierce. When staff members tried to intervene in a conflict, he asked the board to fire all the staff, or else he would quit. When the board refused to fire them, he had nowhere to hang his head and hide his face, so he resigned and left. The minister had since drifted from church to church, moved from region to region, and jumped from ministry to ministry.
The twin towers of power and ambition can be found in any group, institution, or corporation. However, it’s been said, “The safest place is to be at the center of God’s will.”
One of the earliest lessons in David’s life was that power is overstated. David lived in the king’s house, married the king’s daughter and became the king’s son-in-law, but he saw first-hand the corruption of power and he was not willing to fight tooth and nail for it or pour heart and soul into it. Saul was not himself, things were not pretty and stakes were too high. God’s blessings were not in the palace or politics of Saul but in the person and presence of David.
Power can change lives and affect people. Power in the right hands can nurture a Churchill, but in the wrong hands will nurture a Hitler. How do we decide? Why is it harder to get out than to get in? What is the downside to power?
POWER IS MEANINGLESS WHEN THERE’S MORE HARM THAN HELP
4 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. 5 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?” 6 Saul listened to Jonathan and took this oath: “As surely as the LORD lives, David will not be put to death.” 7 So Jonathan called David and told him the whole conversation. He brought him to Saul, and David was with Saul as before. 8 Once more war broke out, and David went out and fought the Philistines. He struck them with such force that they fled before him. 9 But an evil spirit from the LORD came upon Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the harp, 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.
A man who had a malicious brute and a big bully for a neighbor decided to sell his house and relocate from the area and the meanie, to the surprise of his other neighbors.
The neighbors persuaded him to stay, saying: “His sins will soon come to a head and he will pay in full for his misdeeds. Why not tarry a little longer and see what would happen next?”
The man replied, “That’s exactly why I am moving. I am afraid that his sins will come to a head - through me!”
Saul declared open hunting season on David and placed a “wanted” tag on his head. The Philistines were no longer the choice of weapons. Saul dispatched his son Jonathan and all the servants (v 1) – not some, but all - to do the job and finish David off. However, Jonathan was not cut from his father’s cloth. He looked out for his friend and his sister who was married to David, but Saul looked down on his own son (1 Sam 20:30) and rounded up her own daughter (v 17).