“They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands…” (1 Samuel 18:8 NIV).
How do we react when someone else receives praise? When you’ve worked hard and poured yourself out for something, and then someone else is thanked or recognized for their service, what happens in your heart? Many of us can relate, at least a little, to Saul’s thought from 1 Samuel 18:8.
Saul had been used to receiving all the accolades, but now David is on the scene. Everyone in Saul’s army, including Saul himself, was too scared to face Goliath. But David, who would most likely have been 13 or 14 at the time, killed the Philistine’s most celebrated warrior in single combat. David gained tremendous popularity with the soldiers and showed his mettle on the battlefield while Saul cowered in the tents. Imagine the embarrassment Saul felt. He sent a boy to do a man’s job, and David did it handily! It’s no wonder the people credited David with exceeding the military exploits of Saul.
But the real point that pressed into my heart when I read these verses was not that David was better than Saul, but that Saul struggled when David was recognized more than he was. As a pastor, I’ve experienced this come around to bite me. I’ve recognized or complimented some, only to have another become angry with me and say, “You said nice things about them, but nothing about me.”
As a human being who struggles with sin, I’ve also thought Saul’s thought in my own heart. When I read these verses, the Lord lovingly reminded me that I serve for His pleasure alone. My reward is from Him. I do receive a lot of feedback from people, mostly positive. But ultimately, I must guard my heart against becoming too dependent upon the praise of people, and continuously refocus my ears to God’s voice. I’ve actually grown to enjoy hearing others receive recognition because it has become a way to test where my heart is. If I react like Saul, I recognize a growing pride in myself. I can confess that sin, pray a quick prayer of blessing over the other person, and hammer another nail in my pride’s coffin.
My prayer for the week is that the Lord reveals in you an area of needed growth and that you take that step!