The problem wasn’t succcess. The problem was too much success. King Saul had been chosen to be the first King of his nation, yet despite his position of power, his influence waned as he became more interested in fame and fortune than he was walking in the presence of the Lord. His desire to be recognized as a notable people pleaser, skewed his thinking and ultimately left him tormented by fear and jealousy.
Presented with a giant problem, Goliath, Saul began to lose mojo among the troops. Almost as if to provide entertainment to the troops, Saul accepts an offer by a ruddy shepherd boy to take down the taunting Philistine tyrant. Much to everyone’s surprise, the kid pulls it off. The crowd stood stunned but no one was more so than King Saul.
Before long the local boy was rising in popularity. His name was showing up in pop culture. Songs were being written and sung about him. As these tunes tickled Saul’s ears his heart turned dark. Rather than appreciating David’s success, he resented it. The headline read, “Saul has killed thousands and David his ten thousands.” The polling numbers were off and Saul couldn’t stand it.
Saul’s appreciation and admiration quickly turned from envy to jealousy. The fear of losing power became more important than maintaining influence. Overwhelmed and tormented by his loss in popularity, the people pleasing, fame-seeking King became a raving madman. So obsessed with the headlines, Saul lost his ability to reason and lead effectively. Saul had chosen his own way and as a result, the Lord left him to himself.
As Saul’s leadership dwindled and declined, everything David did turned to gold. It was not of his own doing but simply because David recognized the source of his strength and to whom credit was due. Credit belonged to the King of Kings not the man sitting in a position of power.
Saul banned David from his presence and worked on his own suffering public image by appearing to offer David a prestigious role in the military. It was a scam and full blown conspiracy to take David out.
Whether by divine intervention, intuition or insight, we do not know, but one thing is for certain, David was selective and literally picked his battles and won! This drove Saul even more insane! Sadly, of his own choice, we learn that David remained Saul’s enemy for the rest of his life. As Saul grew more fearful of David’s success, David grew more and more famous. Why? Simply put, one was a man after the hearts of men. The other was a man in pursuit of the heart of God.
We would do well to examine our own hearts. What motivates us? Are we seeking the limelight? Are we driven to be known or to make Him known? It is one thing to appreciate and admire the successes of others. It is all together different to see our envy shift to jealousy. If we aren’t careful, bitterness and hate take root and before we know it, we are delusional and tormented by the evil that has filled our hearts. It becomes all about us. Our influence crumbles as we fight to hold onto a position secured only by popularity and people pleasing.
Help us Lord to be people so set on pursuing your heart and your ways that we desire your presence more than any fame or fortune that comes our way.