Read 1 Samuel 18:1-16
Wisdom or Fear?
God had already told Saul through the prophet Samuel that the kingdom would be taken away from him. After God indicated to Samuel that the next king would be David, “a distressing spirit” came upon Saul. Could it be that Saul became paranoid, always looking over his shoulder, always wondering when he would lose the throne?
The inspired record states, “So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely” (1 Samuel 18:5). Upon one occasion, the women danced and sang, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). Saul’s reaction was one of anger, and he asked, “Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” (1 Samuel 18:8). He was jealous of David’s popularity and he realized that losing favor in the sight of the people would lead to his downfall more quickly. He kept an eye on David from that time forward, and even threw his spear at him.
1 Samuel 18:12 is very telling: “Now Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, but had departed from Saul.” God had given up on Saul as the king had disobeyed Him time after time, and Saul knew that God was no longer with him. He could clearly see that the Lord was with David, though, which caused terror in the king’s heart and mind.
David’s behavior was always one of wisdom before the king. David’s behavior troubled Saul because he knew that the Lord would bless David as long as he was faithful and wise. Not only that, but David’s behavior fostered love in the hearts of “all Israel and Judah” (1 Samuel 18:16). There was little Saul could do right in the sight of the people; there was little David could do wrong.
Our reputation is important, as long as it is based on our character and integrity. We should desire people to speak well of us and be honest with their reports. One of the qualifications for the eldership in the church today is that a man “must have a good testimony among those who are outside” (1 Timothy 3:7). And when someone does speak poorly of us, we should let our character speak for itself so that “those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed” (1 Peter 3:16). Let us labor to be wise and faithful, and put away thoughts of paranoia and fear when others do well!