TODAY’S READING: 1 Samuel 28–31; Psalm 18
The text details the international realities of the moment on the day that David became king. The Philistines were once again invading Israel (1 Sam. 31:1), conveniently removing King Saul, his sons, his armorbearer, and all his men from the picture (v. 6) and leaving the way open for David to be crowned. Meanwhile, the Amalekites (who, with their camels, ranged from Sinai to northern Arabia) attacked David’s camp, and an Egyptian provided vital information for war. For David, this particular day, this day of Saul’s death, included the Philistines releasing him from fighting for them, winning his family and possessions back from the Amalekites, and having the threat of Saul removed once and for all. Psalm 18 likely refers to this consequential period as it was written to celebrate the day that David was delivered from all his enemies and from Saul.
Noteworthy in the psalm in which David celebrated deliverance from his enemies, he framed the effects of it all in global terms:
You have delivered me from the strivings of the people; You have made me the head of nations; a people I have not known shall serve me. As soon as they hear of me they obey me; the foreigners submit to me… The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted. It is God who avenges me, and subdues the people under me; He delivers me from my enemies… Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and sing praises to Your name (Psalm 18:43–50, emphasis mine).
It is impossible to read with comprehension the story of David’s ascension to the throne of Israel outside the context of global consequences. The nations were part and parcel of the ascension, and their fate was linked to David’s rule. In the short term, God continued His covenantal mission promise to Abraham: God will be Israel’s God, they will be His holy people, David will build a dwelling place for God to tabernacle among them, and God’s blessing on Israel and manifest presence among them will be an invitation to all the nations to come to the joy of all the earth. In the long term, from David’s seed will come the divine God/man who will tabernacle with us and deliver us from sin. David’s rule was not just about a tiny people on a tiny sliver of land, somehow surviving between the superpowers of then and now. David’s rule was about all the nations, all the Gentiles hearing the praise of Jehovah, every people group bowing before God’s Messiah who is David’s seed.
It is impossible to comprehend God’s perspective of any promotion, advance, or leadership position granted to us outside of these same global implications. Did you just get pregnant? That child is intended by God to have some impact on the nations. Did you just get a raise? That blessing is intended by God to have some part in God’s global glory. Did you just get elected foreman, sergeant, leader, chair, president, or director? That position is not for your glory, but for the fame of Jesus—and not just locally (school, business, civic body, national entity), but globally. Whenever God gives us a leadership position, it’s never about us and it’s never confined to just a parochial blessing. God advances us locally that He might be praised and worshiped globally. Our task is to see how every leadership opportunity (however humble) is to be leveraged to make much of Jesus everywhere.
The tragedy of Saul’s ending, confused and afraid (1 Sam. 28:5), was inevitable once he thought his leadership position was something to preserve, rather than something to be given to God’s global glory. What might have happened among the Philistines for the glory of God if Saul was not threatened by David, if he did not care how God was glorified or through whom? When we view our positions or promotions selfishly and jealously, we abuse them and violate the reason God granted them to us. God’s blessings have ever and always will be intended for His glory amongst all peoples of the earth. We only hold onto the blessings we give away, and this is most true as regards the gospel and all nations.