1 Samuel 18:10 & 11, 20-30
Heart of the Message
Successful living requires getting out of the way of God’s activity and other people’s issues.
Prior to President Barack Obama’s inauguration, he stated that according to the constitution, “There can be only one president at a time.” This statement was in response to questions regarding the agenda for his administration. President Obama was acknowledging the reality that until you are actually in the position, you must honor and respect the person currently occupying the position.
God had rejected Saul as the king of Israel and sent Samuel to the home of Jesse to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the next king of Israel. God selected David. God called and anointed David to become the next king of Israel but while Saul was still alive and occupied the throne. David’s appointment came later. Approximately 15 years passed before David ascended to the throne and in between that time, God used life situations to develop David for his eventual appointment. David started out as a shepherd and then became a solider and finally he became king. As a shepherd and a solider, David’s developmental years, he experienced unparalleled levels of success. As a shepherd, David defended his father’s sheep fearlessly and as a soldier, David served loyally and faithfully in King Saul’s army.
Why was David so successful? David learned To Get Out of the Way. The secret to David’s success and the reason he survived the challenges he faced was because David got out of the way of God’s activity and Saul’s issues. Saul who once loved and respected David developed a disdain and a deep hatred for David abated only by Saul’s death. Saul is representative of all of the people who have issues with us. Saul is symbolic of those individuals we encounter, work with, and live with. No matter where we are someone somewhere will have problems with the way we wear our hair, our style of dress, our approach to our job, the way we conduct and carry ourselves, etc. What we need to realize is these are other people’s issues and not our own. What were Saul’s issues with David? Saul was jealous, envious, angry and fearful of David. Saul found David’s success unsettling and extremely disquieting. There will be people who struggle with the fact that we are successful and will do things to try to keep us from being successful. There will be people who take issue with the fact that they are not experiencing the same levels of success that we may be experiencing.
David, like us, had a choice. David had to choose between:
a) Dealing with Saul’s issues
b) Get out of the way of Saul’s issues
David chose to get out of the way. How did David get out of the way?
One thing David did was He found his safety zone. Verse 13 & 14 of the text says, “So he (Saul) sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. In everything he (David) did he had great success.” The battlefield was David’s safety zone. It was David’s job. When David was a shepherd, his brothers also had issues with him. They thought he was an arrogant nuisance. What did David do, in both cases he focused on whatever his assigned role and function was at the time. Part of the reason we run into problems with others is because we step outside our specific role and function. David found his safety zone in his work. Our safety zone insulates us from the madness and hostility directed at us or going on around us. The reality is that from time to time we will find ourselves in hostile and unfriendly environments. The question is how do we not become a casualty and sucked into other people’s mess. One solution is to erect personal boundaries keeping us from being caught in the crossfire. It is clear that David had these boundaries by the fact that He did not romance Saul’s issues. David was not oblivious to the fact that Saul wanted him dead and out of the picture. David did the only thing he could do, his job! There are some people who need to be liked and accepted by everyone – NEWS FLASH, not everyone is going to like us, not everyone is going to love us, and not everyone is going to have our best interests at heart. Therefore, why allow other people’s issues to cause us to become uncomfortable about something we may not have done or did not do. Saul’s issues with David had nothing to do with anything that David had done. Saul’s issues with David stemmed from Saul’s perception of David. Saul perceived David to be a threat to his throne. Altering our self-image to make other people happy will only make us miserable. It is easier to stay in our safety zone and hope that those who have issues with us will work through them. It is also interesting to note that David did no try to play Saul’s therapist or counselor. Why, it was not David’s job. David was locked in on one thing and one thing only, his job. In doing his job, David found his safety zone. I do not know where your safety zone is, but for me it is in the pulpit, the classroom, or rooting for my favorite sports team. When the environment becomes hostile and people start to self-destruct, I get out the way and find my safety zone.
The second thing that David did to get out of the way was, David did not chase opportunity David allowed opportunity to come to him. The text says in verse 23, “But David said, do you think it is a small matter to become the king’s son-in-law?” In addition to romancing other people’s issues, another way we get in the way is when we pursue things that are not for us. In cases like this, we usually become martyrs and not opportunist. A martyr is someone who does good things for people and resents it. A martyr is someone who feels the need to constantly remind others of their contribution, but feels sorry for themselves and openly shares how used and abused they feel. If you do not want to do something, in your heart of hearts, please do not do it you will make yourself and everyone else miserable. The point is that David was an opportunist and not a martyr. Opportunist are goal driven, they want to know how this opportunity fits into the overall plan. They do not jump on the first opportunity or walk through the first open door they see because they have a plan and a goal and everything they do is moving them closer toward their goal or is part of their overall plan, even if it only makes sense to them. Martyr’s by contrast are cause driven and opt to be sacrificial lambs. Martyrs are motivated by a cause, but they have no plan or larger goal than the immediate cause. Each opportunity that David capitalized on opened another door that moved him closer to the throne. When David slayed Goliath it opened the door for him to enlist in Saul’s army and each battle that David fought opened the door for him to ascend the ladder in Saul’s administration. The opportunity to marry Saul’s daughter opened the door for David to move into the palace and he was a heartbeat away from the throne. Some will ask how we will know if it is a God-given opportunity – You will know it is a God-given opportunity when the door opens and you did not have to turn the knob. In each case, the only thing David had to do was walk through the open door. David did not have to go pursuing opportunity by staying in his safety zone and getting out of the way, opportunity found him. When we chase opportunity we will find that, it is elusive and often we only get in our own way. Once again, get out the way, if it is for you, it will find you.
The third thing that David did was He did not believe his press clippings. When confronted with the opportunity to marry into the king’s family, David’s response was, “I am only a poor man and little known.” Think about this with all of the success that David had experienced up to that point David did not become haughty, arrogant, and self-righteous or see himself as meriting any special treatment. In other words, David did not allow what other people said or did influence his actions but rather David stayed true to himself. The bottom line is that people are going to say and do whatever pleases them and we should not allow the adoration or the criticism of others to go to our head or our heart. We are neither as good nor as bad as people say we are. If we have to alter any aspect of ourselves to please and appease others, then we are only getting in the way of God’s activity. God created us and the Bible says, “We are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Therefore, God did not make a mistake and we are whom we are. David did not let the accolades of the people or the issues of Saul derail him. David’s motto and ours should be, if you like me, fine, and if you do not like me, that is OK too.
The secret of David’s success was that he learned to get out of the way. David got out of the way of God’s activity and he got out of the way of Saul’s issues. From David we learn that God does not need our help to fulfill God’s will, purpose and plan for our lives. We just need to learn how to get out of the way. Question, are you in the way? Are you in the way at home? Are you in the way on your job? Are you in the way in your church? Are you in the way in your marriage, your relationship, or even in the lives of your children? How do you know if you are in the way? If you are experiencing unrest, anxiety, angst, fear, anger, resentment or any other negative emotion regarding where you are or the direction you, your life or the life of your family is heading, you might be in the way. This refers to any aspect of life, relations, finances, employment, housing, education, etc.
I want to encourage you; if you are experiencing any of the negative emotions I have mentioned, take a lesson from David and get out of God’s way and/or the hostility that is being directed toward you. When you do this, you will come to know and realize unparalleled levels of success as God directs you and opens your eyes to see the doors and paths leading to God-given opportunity. This friend will be the secret to your success, getting out of God’s way and getting onto God’s path.