Home arrow Blog Format arrow Chapter XXI David and Saul (Personal Boundaries)
Chapter XXI David and Saul (Personal Boundaries) Print E-mail
Written by Ray Fairman   
What is it that keeps a person from reaching their full potential? Many things can block or distract the still maturing leader and from II Samuel 5:1-4 we are going to learn about one of those things, called dealing with personal limitations, from the team of David and Saul. They were both Kings whose leadership abilities determined their ultimate effectiveness. We will find that these two Kings held different perspectives on what they felt they could and could not do. A person can let their perceived boundaries put a manhole cover on their dreams or provide them with an opportunity to take that often self imposed manhole cover and turn it into a Frisbee. Most of us undoubtedly know that both King David and King Saul were historical leaders of the Israelite nation, but what was it that made them such different people. The answer is found in their ability to understand and utilize properly the leadership gifts with which God gifted each of them. It has often been said that a man only rises to the highest level of his own incompetence and there he remains (The Peter Principle). That might seem to indicate that most leaders reach a level where they become incompetent and thus stagnant. Perish that thought, amigo! Real leaders will lift the bar, lid or ceiling of limitations wherever, whenever and however they encounter one. Doing that requires leadership ability. An ability that allows them to force up even the most difficult and restrictive lids that the world ostensibly wants to screw so tightly down on their jar of life.

For a few minutes we are going to scrutinize their lives and see just what made David succeed where Saul failed. We'll call this message our "Principle of Personal Boundaries" if that is OK? As we proceed, we will find out that David often exceeded his perceived limitations, While Saul failed to come close to his own capabilities.

Let's look first at some of the similarities in their lives, shall we? Both of them received counsel from God. Saul received his through Samuel and David through Samuel and later from Nathan. Samuel also anointed both as kings. They both faced similar and great challenges including the challenge of facing Goliath. But look closer at their differing responses, Saul a tried and proven great warrior hid from Goliath and the Philistines in fear while David a mere boy responded with courage and honor. Later in their lives both of them had an opportunity to repent and to change or not to change when confronted with their shortcomings. Saul chose to speak not a whisper of repentance nor express any appropriate sorrow over his unauthorized burnt offering. David, however, felt and responded to his guilt, broke down, and repented when confronted by Nathan regarding his sordid affair with Bathsheba and subsequent involvement in the death of her husband Uriah.

Next let's concentrate on Saul for a minute or two and see if you can recognize some perceived barriers in your own life from things that acted as barriers in his life and learn to deal with them by examining how he dealt with his boundaries.

First there was fear. Fear is found in all of us but it was not put there by God. Fear comes from the devil and from God comes the spirit of courage. Remember though that without fear courage can never be evidenced. When faced by Goliath of the Philistines, Saul succumbed to his fears and was found hiding amidst the equipment, when he should have remained faithful to God and never allowed his fear to surpass his faith.( if I remember this also happened to Peter with regard to Jesus' arrest, but unlike Saul, Peter felt remorse and repented. Judas on the other hand it seems was more from the mold of Saul, though not entirely the same.)  Saul also had a problem with impatience. When he refused to wait for Samuel and offered an illegal sacrifice, you see, he assumed privileges that God had not intended for him. Playing God is never a good idea, though in both my career as a U.S. Marine and my career as a law enforcement officer that role is often played by some of my brothers and sisters in arms. (Not very well I might add) It also pays to remember when you are in a hurry, that Christ advised us that those who would be first will end up last. Another problem Saul had dealt with accepting the facts as they were presented to him. He refused to relinquish his reign after Samuel told him God had rejected him as king. "Killing the messenger" never changes the message. At best it delays the message but never the consequences of ignoring it. Saul was impulsive as well. He made a rash oath that almost cost him the life of his son. Have you ever made a rash commitment or an off handed promise, one you really have no intent to keep? Who do you think it harmed the most? Saul was also deceitful. He offered his daughter's hand to David hoping and fully expecting that David would die in battle. Saul also had a jealous streak. I guess he never understood that if you seek first the Kingdom of God then all these things he was jealous for and of would be added unto his storehouse. He was also quite upset over his being compared to David by the people and his anger was exhibited by his pursuit of and repeated attempts to kill David. AAAAHHHHHH finally, here it is, the intoxicating effects of power. I think one of the more well known comparisons was "Saul has killed his Thousands and David his Ten Thousands." I guess Saul didn't realize that honor begets honor and that his reputation was not diminished by that comparison?

A leader's duty in life is to pass on to the next generation better leaders than those that existed before his time and even better than he himself can claim to be.

Now let's take a look at the barriers David had to remove in order to succeed. First there was his family. When Samuel asked Jesse to gather his sons so God could reveal the next king, nobody in the family thought to include the inconsequential David. Test yourself and see if you can answer the question how many of our country's greatest leaders came from underprivileged beginnings?  God has a way of confounding the proud and intellectually superior while using the humble and insignificant (I might also add reluctant) to do his best work. When David visited his brothers on the battle lines he was scorned by them. Have you ever forgotten that "Dynamite comes in small packages" or that Diamonds are not all that big? When David took umbrage at Goliath's blasphemy he was chastised by his brothers and told to go home. Sometimes doing the right thing will not really be the most popular thing. Even his leader Saul continually tried to sabotage David's effectiveness and eventually tried several times to kill him. Yet his loyalty to his God and the leadership of his commander did not waiver. 

Yes, David faced many personal boundaries but found ways around them. He did not come from the most royal of backgrounds, as he was from a poor family of shepherds and was the youngest of the sons. His age alone though was not truly a barrier as he was not the only youngest son ever to be chosen by God to lead his people. His youth and inexperience were initially viewed by many as restrictions since he had never fought a battle. Yet he went from leading sheep to fighting Goliath after Samuel's anointing. Time and again he was disrespected and underestimated much to the chagrin of those who did so. 

So you see, it is not a question of having "personal boundaries," every leader has them. It is though, a matter of acting like David and raising those ceilings or those impending barriers. What will you choose to do?

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