Memo 1045: Training for Reigning

I ended last week by pointing out that Saul would torment David until his dying day—not Saul's death but David's—for Saul put things in orbit so that even his descendants could not break free from their gravitational pull. Through all of Saul's murderous intrigue and machinations, however, God protected David and also taught him one valuable lesson—He taught David how not to lead.

DIRTY WORK

Saul had already tried to kill David twice when he decided to pursue a different strategy to get the job done: "Saul said to David, 'Here is my older daughter Merab. I will give her to you in marriage; only serve me bravely and fight the battles of the Lord.' For Saul said to himself, 'I will not raise a hand against him. Let the Philistines do that!'” (1 Samuel 18:17). In other words, Saul assigned David to military campaigns during which he hoped David would be killed. He was hoping that his enemies would do his dirty work.

When that didn't work, he tried to manipulate David by enticing him to marry his daughter so he could control him through a family alliance, even enlisting his servants to persuade David to accept the offer: "Then Saul ordered his attendants: 'Speak to David privately and say, ‘Look, the king likes you, and his attendants all love you; now become his son-in-law''" (1 Samuel 18:22). Of course, David resisted their efforts and we read,

When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days. The Philistine commanders continued to go out to battle, and as often as they did, David met with more success than the rest of Saul’s officers, and his name became well known (1 Samuel 18:28-30).

Saul's son, Jonathan, knew what his father was trying to do and tried to persuade him not to kill David. Saul lied to his son, saying "As surely as the Lord lives, David will not be put to death” (1 Samuel 19:6). After all those broken promises and plots, we learn, "But an evil spirit from the Lord came on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the lyre,  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" (1 Samuel 19:9-10).

HARD LESSONS

God was teaching David an important lesson through all he endured at Saul's. He was teaching David how not to lead. He allowed David to experience firsthand the pain of betrayal and the effects of leadership power gone awry. Eventually when David would ascend to the throne, he would have to decide whether to replicate what he had experienced at Saul's hand or act in a different way. We will see in later lessons that David chose the latter and ended Saul's reign of terror. Saul had assumed the throne because the people demanded a leader but he had no preparation to rule. God then chose His man and put him through decades of training for reigning. That preparation made all the difference in the world.

You may be in a hard place right now as you seek to carry out your purpose. Nothing seems to be going right and instead of seeing your path bringer you closer to a chance to fulfill your purpose, it seems you are moving in the opposite direction. If that's the case, take heart. God will give you chances during this season to lead as He did for David, but He will also hem you in and put you in situations that will teach you what not to do when you are released. Be faithful to the lessons you are learning, for now is the time to decide what you will be like and what you will do when you eventually have access to power. If you wait until you get the power to determine what kind of leader you will be, the power may intoxicate you as it did Saul. And then you will have wasted the days of training for reigning you find yourself in at the present time. Have a blessed week!