Unlike Saul who had begun his reign soon after Samuel anointed him (1 Samuel 11:1), David has a long and difficult apprenticeship before he is acclaimed as king at Hebron. His first public success comes in slaying the giant Goliath, who is threatening Israel's military security. As the army returns home, a throng of women begin singing, “Saul has killed his thousands and David his ten thousands” (1 Sam. 18:7). This enrages Saul (1 Sam. 18:1). Rather than recognizing how both he and the nation can benefit from David's capabilities, he regards David as a threat. He decides to eliminate David at the earliest opportunity (1 Sam. 18:9-13). Thus began a rivalry that eventually forces David to flee for his life, eluding Saul while leading a band of brigands in the wildernesses of Judah for ten years.
When given opportunities to assassinate King Saul, David refuses, knowing that the throne is not his to take. It is God's to give. As the Psalms express it, “It is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another” (Psalm 75:7). David respects the authority God has given Saul even when Saul acts in dishonorable ways. This seems like a lesson for those today who work for difficult bosses or are waiting to be acknowledged for their leadership. Even if we sense we are called by God to a particular task or position, this does not authorize us to grasp power by contravening the existing authorities. If everyone who thought God wanted them to be the boss tried to hasten the process by seizing power on their own, every succession of authority would bring little more than chaos. God is patient, and we are to be patient, too, as David was.
Can we trust God to give us the authority we need, in his time, to do the work that he wants us to do? In the workplace, having more authority is valuable for getting necessary work done. Grasping at that authority prematurely by undercutting a boss or by pushing a colleague out of the way does not build trust with colleagues or demonstrate trust in God. At times it can be frustrating when it seems that it's taking too long for the needed authority to come your way, but true authority cannot be grasped, only granted. David was willing to wait until God placed that authority in his hands.
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