David’s Keys to Victory: Submission to Authrity

David: Keys to Victory
November 21, 2019

1 Samuel 17:17-19 (NKJV) 17  Then Jesse said to his son David, “Take now for your brothers an ephah of this dried grain and these ten loaves, and run to your brothers at the camp. 18  And carry these ten cheeses to the captain of their thousand, and see how your brothers fare, and bring back news of them.” 19  Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.

We are looking at the story of David and Goliath in light of what Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:8-9.  We live in a world that is also occupied by and adversary.  This means we are a people at war, and we need to know how to win.  In our last post, we looked at the first thing David showed in his battle with Goliath that produced victory.  David ran to the battle not away from it.  We cannot avoid the war between darkness and light.  We must “run to the battle” as David did, knowing our God, our covenant and our weapons.  Now I want to begin to look at some more things in Davids life that enabled him to win a battle against seemingly insurmountable odds.

In today’s scripture we see something that may not seem important, but it is.  David’s father sent him on a mission to the battle front.  He was not there because he wanted to see the fight.  He was there under the authority of his father.  Submission to the authorities in our lives puts us into position to win battles.  Even Jesus understood this principle.

John 5:30 (NKJV) 30  I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

The man Jesus was God manifested in the flesh.  The emphasis on he was God.  Yet in this verse we see that, as a man, he only did the will of the Father who sent him.  He could not do anything in himself.  This is hard to understand.  How could God in the flesh be limited in anyway?  Nevertheless, Jesus himself says he was limited.  The reason is made clear in another familiar scripture.

Matthew 8:9 (NKJV) 9  For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

The Roman Centurion speaking in this verse had come to Jesus with a request that he heal his servant.  Jesus consented and said he would come to the centurion’s house.  The centurion understood a principle that most of us do not.  He understood how power and authority worked.  He was a Roman military officer.  As such he represented the power and authority of the whole Roman state.  When he gave an order, it was followed because it was Rome that gave the order.  This centurion recognized the same quality in Jesus. 

For many years I read this scripture incorrectly.  I thought the centurion said, “I am also a man in authority” and that was why the soldiers under him obeyed.  However, it says that the centurion’s claim was that he was under authority.  His submission to the authority over him was what gave him power.  He saw that Jesus was a man under authority and therefore, could operate in authority.  The power of Rome stood behind the centurion’s word.  The power of the Kingdom of God stood behind the words and actions of Jesus.

Why is this so important?  The kingdom of God is a kingdom of order.  It is a kingdom based on submission.  The kingdom of Satan was born in rebellion.  Satan, then called Lucifer, rebelled against God in heaven.  He led the heavenly worship.  There came a time when he began to believe he was worthy of the worship that was going to God.

Isaiah 14:12-13 (NKJV) 12  “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! 13  For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north;

Satan rebelled against God.  His rebellion did not last very long.  He was cast out of heaven and condemned to an eternity in what the Bible calls “the lake of fire.”  Since Satan’s rule was born out of rebellion, all rebellion makes us vulnerable to his influence.  Submission to proper authorities eliminates that vulnerability and opens our heart to the influence of the God to whom we ultimately submit.

It is no secret that this kind of thinking has been abused.  In the guise of submitting to God, unscrupulous leaders have dominated people and led them away from God instead of to him.  That does not change the principle.  What we must do is understand how to safeguard ourselves from the false while walking in the true.  There are some things that will help us do that.  I want to look at two.

First of all, we must understand that the only one to whom we submit unconditionally is God.  We are not required to submit to anything that leads us to do something that is contrary to the will and/or nature of God.  Even if the person asking us to, is someone we have trusted and been submitted to in the past, we cannot submit to anything that is against what God teaches.  Sometimes even good leaders make mistakes.  If they are Godly, they will be open to honest questions.  If they are not, they are not acting in a godly manner in that area and you are not required to submit.

How can we know if someone is asking us to do something we should not submit to?  We must know the Word of God.  Any leader who does not confirm what he is asking by God’s word should not be submitted to.  I am not just talking about giving a chapter and verse to confirm what he is saying.  That is part of it.  However, it is just as important to look at the lifestyle and history of this leader.  Is he or she living according to the principles in the Word?  Have they demonstrated submission to the Word of God in their personal life?  Is what they are asking something you could see Jesus asking or would it be out of character with the Jesus you know. 

If any of these things are true you must respectfully ask for a biblical explanation.  If the leader is unable or unwilling to give it, you must respectfully decline to obey until they can.  If this becomes a pattern, you might need to find another leader that you can submit to more comfortably.  This is never something you do lightly or quickly.  Not only do leaders make mistakes, but sometimes they may know things you do not.  If they are honest, approachable, kind and gentle, give them some time.  If they are not, this could indicate something is wrong. 

The other thing we must look at in the lives of our leaders, is do they pass the centurion’s test.  Are they leading from under authority?  Are they accountable to someone or are they a “lone ranger” who answers to no one?  My ministry became far more effective when I found a leader to whom I could submit my life and ministry.  I did not always agree with him.  Many times, he would give me counsel that we had to talk about so we both would have a better understanding.  In the end I decided to be under authority and receive his counsel.  When I did, I found that people had very little problem submitting to me.

David went to the battle front under authority.  When it came time for him to stand against Goliath, he went to the King who was the authority over the army.  By the time he faced Goliath, his lifestyle of submission and righteousness had put him into position where he could not lose. 

Examine your life.  Are you under authority?  Be careful to whom you submit.  Nevertheless, find a situation that will cause you to pass the centurion’s test.  This will position you to win the battles of life that face you today.

David: Run to the Battle

1 Samuel 17:48 (NKJV) 48  So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hastened and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.

Yesterday we looked at the last character besides David in the story of David and Goliath.  No study of this story would be complete without taking a closer look at the man who won the battle, David.  We began a few weeks ago by looking at 1 Peter 5:8-11.  Peter tells us that we must be sober and vigilant because our adversary, the devil, goes about like a roaring lion. 

We have an adversary.  His primary purpose is to hurt God by keeping his children separated from him by sin.  His secondary purpose is to steal, kill and destroy any human being whether they are born again or not.  This will also hurt God.  Those who are born again must remember that this adversary exists.  He is a defeated foe but not one who is ready to give up the fight.  He is taking many people, both Christians and those who do not know Jesus, down as he continues to oppose God.  The battle between David and Goliath is a type of every battle we fight while on the earth.  What we see in David can give us keys that will enable us to win every time, both for ourselves and those around us.

The verse above is one small statement but it says a great deal about what caused David to be victorious.  It says that David ran to meet the Philistine in battle.  We know Goliath was a massive man, somewhere in the around 9 feet tall.  We know David was young, but we do not know his size.  We do know he was smaller than Saul who was probably more than 2 feet smaller than Goliath.  David wore no armor, he had no weapons that would be considered suitable for war.  Yet he ran toward the enemy not away from him.  This tells us that David was confident he would defeat this mountain of a man. 

We have talked about where David’s confidence was placed.  It was not in his skill, his size or his weapons.  David was confident that God was with him.  He was confident that he was fighting in the power of the God of Israel.  He understood that everything else was irrelevant.  If God was for him no one, not even a 9-foot giant could succeed against him.

What is your battle against?  We know it is against the devil, our adversary.  However, he manifests in many ways.  It could be health, family or financial.  It could be emotional or job related.  No matter the opponent, if God is on your side there is nothing that can keep you from winning except you.  If you quit, you lose.  If you separate yourself from the Body of Christ, you will likely lose.  If you do not give time and self to the God of the Bible and the Word itself, you will have no strength.  David did those things in the context of his life and won.  David ran to the battle.

One of the devil’s favorite tactics is to keep us from fighting at all.  We have seen that was Goliath’s purpose in the battle.  He intimidated the Army of Israel until they hid in their camp and refused to come out.  David would not give in to that intimidation.  He understood who he was in God and who God was in him.  He also understood that the choice was to fight or submit to slavery.  There may be many reasons we are not inclined to fight.  It may not be our personality.  We may have been defeated before or we may be too lazy to fight.  Nevertheless, there will be battles.  We will have to choose between bondage of some kind and fighting for what God has given us. 

David ran to the battle.  All of us would rather avoid the battles of life.  That will not make them go away.  There will be battles.  If the battle is inevitable, do not try to avoid it.  You will not be able to hide from the battle.  Until you show yourself and the enemy that his tactics will not work, he will continue to do the same things.  Until you prove to yourself that Christ in you can win the victory, you will continue to fall in the same traps.  David ran to the battle with Goliath.

Sometimes we think that if we just do not “rock the boat” the devil will leave us alone.  He will not.  He will do all he can to keep you in the condition you are in.  I imagine that very few people ran toward Goliath in a fight.  He was used to seeing them run away.  What a shock it must have been when this young man with no armor and no weapons ran toward him.  So it is with the devil.  He expects you to run away.  When you do not, he is not sure what to do. 

James 4:7 (NKJV) 7  Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

This is a promise from God and exactly what David did.  He was submitted to God.  He believed in his power and promise.  That is one of the ways we submit to God.  We believe he told the truth.  We believe his Word.  When we do that, we can resist the devil.  David ran to his battle with Goliath.  When he defeated him, the rest of the Philistine Army ran away from him.  Sometimes we are going to have to defeat giants in our lives and circumstances.  When we do, the real enemy, the devil will flee from us.

There have been many times in my life that I have had to fight difficult battles.  There were times when I just wanted it all to be over.  I knew that if I quit, I would not find real peace but some type of bondage.  I would never possess the land God wanted me to possess unless I fought through.  It was in one of these times that God said to me, “I thought you were competitive.”  I realized that God was right.  I like to win.  I do not like to win if there is no competition.  I admitted to God that I was.  He said, “Than why don’t you see this battle as a competition.”  I realized that he was telling me to run to the battle.

You may not be as competitive as I am, but you have nothing to lose by trusting God in your situation.  Go to His word and find a promise that applies to you.  Meditate on that promise.  Speak it over your life.  Find a way you can act on what you believe.  Many of our battles have been financial.  When we were facing lack, we often took the last bit of money we had and gave it to God or someone in need.  Inevitably we saw God move on our behalf.  We ran to the battle instead of away from it. 

You may be facing something like depression or some emotional struggle.  These are some of the most difficult battles I have ever faced.  They are very real.  We want to run away and hide or retreat into ourselves.  That will not help.  Find someone to talk to.  You are not alone and there is no condemnation for feeling the things you feel.  Go to the Word of God and let God breathe life into your emotions.  He really is there.  The action you can do is revealed in the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 12:12 (NKJV) 12  Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees,

How do we do that?  He tells us in the next chapter.

Hebrews 13:15 (NKJV) 15  Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

Praise is a powerful thing.  It is not just emotional, but it works through our emotions.  Nehemiah tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength.  Praise releases the inner joy that is ours in Christ.

One more thing about running to the battle.  God has given us mighty armor with which to fight.  We read about it in Ephesians 6.  When we read about it, we find that all of the armor faces front.  There is no protection on the back side of the armor.  God will cover our back, but the armor he gives us is designed for frontal assaults.  Running to the battle seemed like foolishness to David.  In the end it was one of the keys to victory.  It will be for you as well.  Run to the battle not from it.

King Saul

1 Samuel 17:38-39 (NKJV) 38  So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. 39  David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off.

Today I want to look at another figure in this drama.  His name is Saul.  Saul is the King.  His role as king is to lead the people of Israel.  It is also to be the protector of the nation.  He is where he is supposed to be which is with the army on the battlefield and not home in Jerusalem.  However, he is doing the same thing the rest of the army is doing.  He is hiding because of the challenge of Goliath.  In reality, it is his responsibility to determine how to deal with this threat.  If no other solution could be found, Saul should have been the one to go out against Goliath.

Saul is said to be head and shoulders taller than anyone else in Israel.  That would mean he stood somewhere in the vicinity of a foot taller than every other soldier.  He should have been Israel’s champion.  This becomes even more important when we realize that Saul had the same covenant with God that David did.  David did not defeat Goliath by his size or his military skill.  He did not defeat him because of superior weapons or even better tactics.  David defeated the “uncircumcised” Philistine because he had a covenant with God and Goliath did not. 

Saul had the same covenant.  If he had risen up by faith in that covenant, he would have had the same result David did.  It was not about who went out against Goliath, it was about their faith in the covenant and more important in the God of the covenant.  The difference between Saul and David was that it was Saul’s responsibility to go.  He was the King.

One of the things I believe that leaders must remember is that leadership in the kingdom of God is not about authority.  It is about responsibility and accountability.

Hebrews 13:17 (NKJV) 17  Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

There is a lesson for the follower in this verse but, for me, the lesson to the leader is even more important.  It says the leader “must give account.”  Account to whom?  He or she must give account to God.  If I am a leader who understands that God has given me authority only to fulfil my responsibility, I will not have many problems with those following me.  When I do, the accountability will fall to them since I have done my part.  Too many people want the recognition of leadership but they do not want the accountability.

In today’s scripture we see Saul receiving David into his headquarters.  David is a young man, most likely between 17 and 19.  He has probably got some growing to do, so he is certainly not as big as Saul.  Saul points out the fact that David is a youth and not experienced in war.  Yet after David explains that he fought a lion and a bear and defeated them, Saul gives him his armor and lets him go out against the giant. 

It might be said that David showed Saul something that convinced him he could to the job.  We might conclude that God told Saul to trust in David except that there is no indication of that whatsoever.  Even if both things were true, Saul should have at least gone with him.  He did not.  He just let David go.  Why did Saul fail in his responsibility?

I think we can point to a number of things.  All of which can affect us as leaders and as Christians.  We are all leaders of someone.  Even if we have no position, we are fathers and mothers.  We are brothers and sisters.  Most important, people in our community are watching us.  In a sense we are leading them.  There are three things that hindered Saul. 

Just like everyone else, Saul was afraid of Goliath.  Saul had not come up against many people who were physically bigger than he was, but Goliath was as much as three feet taller than Saul.  Just like the rest of the army, he was so fixated on Goliath that he could not see beyond him.  He was paralyzed by fear.  To be afraid is natural, but Saul was not supposed to be fighting in the natural.  God can help us with fear if we turn to him.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) 7  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Second, Saul lacked understanding.  In Hosea 4:6, God says that his people are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge.  When we do not know what God has given us or how to access those things, the devil can deceive us and, if we do not learn, destroy us.  One of the most dangerous things for any leader is to become unteachable.  We who are leaders can fall into the trap of thinking that if we do not have the answers we will be viewed as weak.  No one has all the answers.   A true leader is one who knows how to say either, “I don’t know” or “I am wrong.”  A true leader will receive instruction when he or she needs it.  We must remember that a leader is never destroyed alone.  Their lack of knowledge will cause others to be destroyed with them.

Finally, I think Saul tended to be lazy.  He did not want the job of King.  When Samuel came to anoint him, he was hiding.  Once he became king, things changed.  Just two chapters before this incident, the prophet Samuel had rebuked Saul because he had only partially obeyed the command of God.

1 Samuel 15:17 (NKJV) 17  So Samuel said, “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the LORD anoint you king over Israel?

This certainly applies to our last point as well, but if we were to look into the pattern of Saul’s life, we would see that he tended to take the path of least resistance.  He did not do what he should do.  To me that speaks of laziness.  A lazy leader is a dangerous leader.  God often speaks of diligence.  In Hebrews 11:6 he tells us that he rewards those who diligently seek him.  In Hebrews 4:11 of the New King James Version of the Bible, he tells us to be diligent in order to enter God’s rest.  Proverbs is full of warnings about laziness.  We do not like to see our own laziness.  I know I do not, but if we do not accept God’s correction we will not change.

David was everything Saul was not.  He was not afraid.  I do not know if he felt any fear at all.  I do know that he was not controlled by it.  He defeated Goliath by what he knew, not what he could do.  He knew the covenant of God.  He had walked in its power when he defeated the lion and the bear that attacked his father’s flock.  It was his trust in the God of the covenant that defeated the giant. 

Finally, David was not lazy.  He took care of the flock for which he was given responsibility.  He protected them against enemies.  He made sure they were taken care of when his father sent him to take food to his brothers.  When he was caring for the sheep, he also spent time writing the psalms we so love today.  He must have been diligent to develop his relationship with God.

Saul was the King.  He had the title.  David had been anointed king, but he had no title.  However, David was the leader.  When the time came, he rose up and took the responsibility, the accountability and the risk.  Leadership is not measured by a title.  It is measured by character, integrity and faith.  Which are you, Saul or David?

The Voice of David’s Brother, Eliab

1 Samuel 17:28 (NKJV) 28  Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”

We have been looking at one of the most famous incidents in the Bible, as a type of the battles we fight in our Christian walk.  1 Peter 5:8 makes it clear that we have an adversary called the devil.  This adversary’s primary goal is to oppose what the Lord wants to accomplish through the body of Christ.  His secondary goal is to steal, kill and/or destroy in the lives of God’s children.  He does this in order to take us out of the fight against darkness and simply to hurt our Father because he hates him.

Goliath is the roaring lion in every battle we fight.  The roar is meant to intimidate us so we either do not fight or we fight in such a way that we will inevitably lose.  Last time we looked at the Israelite Army.  They had all they needed to defeat the Philistines.  They succumbed to Goliath’s intimidation to the point they were too afraid to fight.  They were so focused on the size of Goliath that they forgot how big their God was.  When David defeated Goliath, he did it on the strength of Israel’s covenant with God.  That is why he called Goliath uncircumcised.  Circumcision was the sign of the covenant.  David’s defeat of Goliath did not really change the odds.  It changed the focus of the Israelite army from Goliath’s size to the power of the God of their covenant.

Today I want to look at another character in this story.  His name is Eliab and he is David’s brother.  David came to the battle location because he was sent by his father.  His mission was to bring some food for his brothers and the men in their unit.  His father also wanted to know how his sons were doing.  When he got there, he observed the daily taunt of Goliath.  When he heard the soldiers talking about this situation and what the one who kills Goliath would get, this was his response.

1 Samuel 17:26 (NKJV) 26  Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

I do not see anything wrong with that response.  David knew his covenant and knew that the size of the giant was irrelevant in light of it.  To his mind, defeating the giant was no problem, so he asked about the posted reward.  His response was not about how great he was, but about how great God is.  We read his brother’s response above.  Let us look at Eliab’s list of accusations against David.

The first thing he did was question David’s motive for being at the front.  He accuses David of being proud and of just wanting to see the battle.  The truth was, David was there because he was sent by his father.  What he saw at the battle was a result of his being where he should be according to his authority.  Eliab’s judgement of Davids motives proceeded from a false assumption.

Second, he accused David of neglecting his job.  The truth is that David made sure his responsibilities with his father’s sheep were covered.  The 20th verse tells us that “David rose early and left the sheep with a keeper.”  He did not neglect his responsibilities at home.

So once again Eliab’s response to David was based on an assumption that was not correct.  I think we can see something more in what Eliab said to David.  He asks David “Who did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness with?”  I do not know how many sheep Jesse had, but It seems he was a man of some influence.  David was over that part of his father’s business.  I doubt “few sheep” was an accurate description of David’s responsibility at home.

What was really at the heart of Eliab’s accusation?  He was angry because David was willing to do what he was not.  All of Israel’s army was terrified of Goliath.  David was not.  That put pressure on Eliab.  He was not willing to fight Goliath, but his little brother was.  I think it is also telling that David says to Eliab, “What have I done now?”  It would seem that David was regularly willing to do by faith what others were too intimidated to do. 

The voice of Eliab is one we will often hear when we choose to believe God when others will not.  We may rise up in faith over one of the promises of God.  We may rise up in faith to walk in holiness and righteousness.  We may rise up in faith declaring that Jesus has made us the righteousness of God in Christ.  We may choose to commit ourselves to grow in the Lord, to serve in the church, to pray, fast and study the Word of God.  We may choose to accept the evidence of the truth of God’s word above all else.  When we do, we will often hear the accusations of Eliab. 

We may here, “You are proud.  You think you are better than everyone else.”  It is pride to not do the things above.  When we choose the way of the flesh or the way of everyone else, we are rejecting the wisdom and the word of God.  That is proud.  It is not prideful to say, “I am going to believe in God and walk in his ways.”  It is prideful to say I can do anything because of my strength.  It is not prideful to believe and therefore say, “I can do all things through Christ.”  It is not prideful to say, “Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.”  It is not prideful to say, “If God is for me who can be against me.”  That is what David was doing.

When we choose to be better Christians or when we choose to stand in faith there will always be voices saying, “Who do you think you are?”  Sometimes they come from without.  Some people do not like it when someone rises up and says, “I am going farther in God than where I am now.”  Often the voices come from within.  Our own failures or weaknesses condemn us.  We must remember that if we are truly believing in what the Word of God says, our weaknesses are not at issue.  We are depending on God’s strength.

Whether the voices are from without or from within, we need to listen to the voice of God instead.  We must not be arrogant towards those who may not understand.  We also must not be intimidated by those who may not be willing to take the risk.  Our job is not to condemn others, but it is also not to allow others to discourage us because they may not be willing or capable to do what we know we must do. 

I think the tactic of the enemy can be boiled down to one thought that comes out when Eliab speaks of Davids “few sheep.”  I am hearing Eliab say to his brother, “Go back to your small, insignificant life.  If we cannot defeat this giant, you certainly cannot.” 

Let me make this statement and I want you to hear it clearly.  You do not have a small life.  No life lived by faith in God is small.  You can do whatever God says you can do.  Your contribution may look small in the eyes of man, but it is not small in the eyes of God.  When you choose to be better in your walk with God, that is not thinking more highly of yourself than you should.  That is submission to God and his Word.  Nothing less than that will do. 

Do not let the Eliab’s in your life convince you to turn back.  Do not let the same voices in your own heart keep you from rising up in faith.  Where would Israel have been if David had listened to Eliab.  History may have been written very differently.  You may feel your walk of faith in God does not matter like David’s, but at the time, David was just a young man.  You count in the battle between darkness and light.  Your faith counts.  Your life counts.  Do not back down because of those who do not understand.