And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king’s son-in-law. Before the time had expired, David arose and went, along with his men, and killed two hundred of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. And Saul gave him his daughter Michal for a wife. But when Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him, Saul was even more afraid of David. So Saul was David’s enemy continually. — 1 Samuel 18:26-30
The other day I spent time with someone who — in my opinion — is very insecure. I’m no expert, but it seemed as if signs of this insecurity kept popping up throughout our interaction: lots of boisterous claims, backhanded compliments, negativity, even a few biting criticisms that came completely out of left field. I could be wrong, of course, but I walked away from our interaction with the ripe smell of this person’s insecurity in my nostrils.
Insecurity tends to spread like wildfire. Spend enough time around an insecure person and their thoughts slowly become your own. It’s easy to hear their voice and begin to believe that maybe they’re right. That typically isn’t a big problem for me — I usually just remind myself that such a person doesn’t know anything and I’m able to move on. But even so, I found myself reflecting on the negative comments and the criticism — almost like the words were echoing in my mind. And I think of myself as a fairly secure person!
The truth is that we’re all insecure in more ways than we’re willing to admit. The only cure to insecurity — at least the only one I’ve found — is to rest in my identity as God’s image-bearing creation. That seems to be one of the over-arching themes of David’s story: the young shepherd boy finds his security in the shepherding presence of the LORD.
We are quick to look at David charging to the battle line to meet Goliath (1 Sam. 17:48) but the truth that propels David in that moment was learned “off stage”, in an episode that doesn’t receive the spotlight treatment in the Bible. In fact, this story is only remembered after the fact by David.
Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “G0, and the LORD be with you.” — 1 Samuel 17:33-37
First of all, “uncircumcised Philistine” is just about the best insult of all time.
More importantly, David recognizes the provision of God as his source of security in the battle with Goliath. As God delivered me then, so too will He deliver me now. Lion, bear, giant…it makes no difference: David’s security flows from his relationship with the LORD, the Good Shepherd he later describes in Psalm 23.
Contrast this with Saul, whose insecurity leads him to act in hatred toward David. Almost immediately, Israel recognizes David’s secure sense of self, with the women singing, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” Of course, this drives Saul batty with jealousy and fear. Repeatedly, the narrator of Samuel points out that Saul was afraid of David, even in awe of him. Repeatedly, Saul makes attempts on David’s life by throwing spears at him, sending him off on ridiculously impossible missions (200 Philistine foreskins…seriously?), even plotting his downfall with his administrative cabinet. But the more Saul acts out of his fear and insecurity, the more he drives away the people he loves, particularly Michal (his daughter) and Jonathan (his son) — both of whom are drawn to David. Worst of all, Saul can’t even recognize this when it happens because he’s consumed with insecurity.
If we are to learn anything from Saul’s example, it’s this: You don’t realize how your insecurity is impacting those around you. Like I said before, insecurity spreads. It infects those around you. So (hard truth ahead)….maybe that’s why your loved ones pull away from you. Maybe that’s why your relationships are in the toilet. Maybe that’s why you’re so lonely. I know that harsh reality might simply feed even more insecurity in your heart, but recognizing this is really important.
But even more importantly is the truth we learn from David: True security comes from a defined sense of self. David knows who he is; he’s learned the truth when no one else was looking, long before his story was forever changed by giants and wives and monarchy and uncircumcised Philistines. David’s sense of security flows forth from the reality of his experience of YHWH. And this experience defines him.
Who am I? I am the one delivered by YHWH.
I am the one YOU have rescued.
I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, yet I fear nothing.
For YOU are with me.
YOU comfort me.
YOU lead me beside still waters.
YOU restore my soul.
YOU anoint me and my cup overflows.
Goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life.
And I shall dwell in YOUR house and feast at YOUR table forever.
This is the wellspring of David’s security. May the same be said of us.