Reading: 1 Samuel 29-31
Summary: As one would expect, David’s relationship with the Philistines–to whom he had fled–was an uneasy one. An understandable lack of trust prevented them from allowing David to join them in the fight against Israel.
Meanwhile David has his own battle to fight with invading Amalekites.
Saul’s reign finally comes to an end at his own hand when the Philistine threat appears to him to be hopeless. Sadly, Jonathan and his two brothers are also killed in this battle.
The Dark Side of Leadership
Like it or not, leaders are targets.
Yes, there’s the sense in which a person must be careful not to get too far ahead of those whom her or she leads. As in, if you’re two steps ahead, you’re a leader, but if you’re ten steps ahead you’re a target. There is that.
Also there’s the fact that as leader, when things don’t go well, you become the target for blame and bitterness.
Right or wrong, fair or not, it’s reality. There’s nothing to be done to avoid or prevent it. That does not mean, though, that one is helpless.
David experienced this reality of leading. After returning from his appeal to join the Philistines in battle against Israel–I know, weird; read 1 Samuel 29–he and his men found that the Amalekites had raided their homes and captured their families. “And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters” (1 Sam. 30:6).
That’s just part of the heat of leadership which one must be willing to endure, the only option for which is vacating the kitchen. (You know, “If you can’t stand the heat…”).
So how does a leader survive such unjust treatment?
Look at David again. He “strengthened himself in the LORD his God.”
David was careful not to make the adoration and adulation of those whom he led the source of his worth or well-being. Leaders must be wary; this is an intoxicating drug. Who does not revel in the admiration and compliments of supporters? But inevitably, the time will come when adoration turns to anger. What then?
David’s affirmation came from God, not those whom he led. There is nothing wrong with sipping the sweet nectar of another’s compliment or favor. But do not become addicted. It soon becomes a quest for men’s approval; a path of spiritual suicide (John 12:42-43).
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psa. 27:14).