The Bible contains a lot of contrasts in terms of the types of people it portrays. Few intrigue me more, however, than the contrast between Saul and David. One was a man whose fear defined his life and destiny, the other was defined by his love for God and his faith.
When the people asked for a king, God gave them Saul. The Bible says that he was taller than anybody and really quite an impressive person. Funny enough, when they gather at Mizpah to find out who God chose to be king and Saul is chosen, he is hiding amongst the luggage. As humerous as this was to me as I was listening, it proved to be the first sign of the kind of man Saul was – a fearful man. When Samuel tells him to wait for him in Gilgal for seven days, Saul waits and waits and waits. Apparently, the people grow fearful and begin to scatter because Samuel has not come yet. Instead of being the leader that inspires people to have faith, Saul cowers and offers the sacrifice himself – something he was absolutely not allowed to do. From that day on, the kingship begins to slip away from him until ultimately, David takes his place as king.
Saul was afraid of the people, did not believe in God or in Himself, and had his eyes constantly on himself and on what the people thought of him. Instead of letting his faith in God define him, he let his fear of the people and his lack of faith in God define him. I imagine that the reason he set up a monument for himself is because he wanted to establish his reputation in the eyes of the people. He fails to execute the command of the Lord in 1 Samuel 15 which ultimately translates into Saul losing the kingdom, the Spirit of the Lord departing from him, and a tormenting spirit following him around the rest of his life.
Then we meet David. While Goliath is taunting the armies of the living God, Sauls and the people of Israel cower in deadly fear. There is no faith, no courage, and nobody to stand up to this giant…but David. A young man, a heart after the Lord, who understands that if God is for him, nobody can stand against him. With that simple faith and his love for God, he defeats Goliath and starts on a tumultuous, strenuous, but faith-filled journey to the throne of Israel. What defined David? His faith in God and his love for God. What a contrast with Saul, who was defined and defeated by his own fear, cowardice, and lack of faith in God!
When those thoughts become personal, they also become confrontational. What is defining my life – my fear of people? My fear of failure? Do I truly believe God will win my battles and take care of my issues? Can I face the Goliaths in my life by faith or will I run away due to my incessant fear? What have I done with the lions and bears God has brought my way to prepare me for Goliath?
For me, these questions drive home some important lessons I need to continuously learn: approach life from God’s perspective of reality, not mine; keep my eyes on Jesus, not on people, circumstances, or my own incompetence; trust and believe that if God is for me, nothing and nobody can stand against me. And finally, keep my heart pure before God and love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Then I will be a David, not a Saul.