Manipulation is like witchcraft. We manipulate to get what we want, when we don’t trust God. David had two opportunities to take matters in his own hands. Two times the demonized King Saul was delivered into his hands. Once, at En Gedi—incidentally, one of the beautiful places in Israel (and yes, we go there on our tour!), and then later at the Desert of Ziph.
In the first event, David and his men were in a cave, when Saul went in to relieve himself. “Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.” (1 Samuel 24:4) David could have reasoned, “Samuel already anointed me to be king. Saul knows this.” Jonathan, in the previous chapter, already told David:
“You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” (1 Sam. 23:17)
His men urged him to kill Saul saying,
“This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’” (1 Sam. 24:4)
Bear, Lion, Giant, Saul
But David had learned, long before, that God was big enough to fight his battles. Long before he killed the giant with one blow, he had defeated the bear and the lion, while protecting his sheep. With Goliath, he rejected Saul’s armor and chose to rely on the arm of the Lord. Listen to zeal of David as he confronts the giant:
“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head…the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel…it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Sam. 17:45-47)
“But Ron, in all those cases, David did kill his attackers.” This was different. David had a massive conflict of interest. In the other incidents, he was protecting others. In this case, David would benefit from killing Saul—he would most likely become king. He did not want to become the ruler through his own actions.
In the other case in chapter 26, David says to Abishai:
“Don’t destroy [Saul]! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed.” (1 Sam. 26:9-11)
Promotion Comes from Heaven
This is a lesson for all of us. I have seen people seek to manipulate their way into positions of power. God will not bless that. For years, when I have felt God calling me to something, I would simply pray: If this is your will, you can open the door. I would quote Psalm 75:6-7:
For exaltation comes
not from the east nor from the west,
nor even from the desert.
For God is the Judge:
He lowers one and lifts up another. (TLV)
I’ve come to learn that “the hand of the Lord is powerful” (Joshua 4:24) and that nothing can stop God’s will other than my own disobedience. I can rest, knowing the promotion comes from Him and not from man.
When I first became an associate pastor 1994, another leader came on staff at the same time. He had his heart set on being the next senior leader. And for some reason, he was convinced that I was his competition. He would go out of his way to seek to publicly embarrass me. Others felt the contempt he had for me.
Finally I had enough. I was going to confront him. I had my speech planned out. “What, are you two?” was going to be part of it. I would put him in his place! But before I unloaded on him, I sought council from a mentor.
“You could do that, if you want,” he told me. “Or you could take the high road and begin to pray and fast for him.” Not what I wanted to hear. But it was the right advice.
As I humbled myself and began to pray for this man, he was removed from the equation. Many years later, he came back to the congregation and asked for forgiveness and our relationship was restored. My point is that God fights our battle. I did not need to confront him. I needed to focus on God. Yes, there are times for speaking the truth in love, but only after we have made sure that we have God’s heart for the person we are confronting.
Pray and Wait for God
This is a lesson that I have kept with me for 25 years. If God has called me to something, He will open the door. When I felt that I was to go to Africa and preach in 2008, I began to daily ask God to open a door. Within a month Daniel Kolenda, a former student, invited me to attend a Reinhard Bonnke campaign in Nigeria. On my last day, a pastor invited me back to preach. A year later, I led a group of 18 Israelis to Nigeria, where we preached the gospel with signs and wonders.
On the other hand, in 1987 the Lord spoke to me that he was going to give me a Honda Accord. My father, who refused, at the time, to help me because of my faith in Yeshua, came home with a Honda Accord that he bought for my sister. I knew that was my car. My sister didn’t like it and he was going to return it (he was friends with the salesman). At that point I should have kept my mouth shut and watched God work. Instead, I offered to take the car. He said no—adamantly. But then changed his mind and gave me the car. But it would have been a much better testimony if I had just trust God to do what He said.
So, if God was able to take David—who was being chased by Saul for roughly a decade and had to constantly be on the run or Saul would kill him—and preserve him and make him king for 40 years, surely He can fulfill the call on your life. Just don’t manipulate to get position. Rather, position yourself in prayer and wait on the Lord.