The danger of natural attributes
1 Samuel 17: Go. And God help you!
I’ve been thinking about why Saul, himself, didn’t fight Goliath. After all, Saul is the king, leader of the army. He’s never been afraid in previous battles and has a reputation for being a fierce fighter. Goliath stands over nine feet tall, but Saul towers a head and shoulders above all the other men of Israel. Yet day after day, he allows his army to cower before Goliath’s challenge. I think the last part is the key. Saul is used to being the biggest. David isn’t a big man in the first place, but Saul is. In fact, and I’m just guessing here, it may be that Saul has never in his adult life seen another human being who’s taller than himself. Think of the psychological impact of that. Saul sees in Goliath not only a man bigger than he is, but also a man who’s clearly more skilled at hand-to-hand combat. This frightens Saul in a way that he’s never been frightened before. In fact, it has frozen him to the point that he’s ready to send young David, with all the confidence of his youth, to battle the giant in his stead. I think that it’s possible for our advantages to become our disadvantages. Natural attributes can blind us to our own weaknesses. Gifts can hinder the development of skills. For instance, a person who’s naturally a good speaker or singer may rely on that gift, but ultimately will be less useful to God than a person who had to early on learn to rely on God if they were to effectively minister. Sooner or later life sends us a Goliath, a circumstance in which our natural gifts, as great as they are, aren’t enough. Even gifted people must learn to rely on God, or they risk becoming Saul, hiding in his tent instead of battling Goliath.
Take Away: Ultimately, we all come to the end of ourselves so it’s better to early on learn to rely on him.
2 Chronicles 8: Solomon built impulsively and extravagantly.
From other passages we know that Solomon built other things, including his palace before he built the Temple. Some think that’s a bad thing. I think it was just practice. Still, once he started building things David’s son could hardly stop himself. In fact, Solomon’s psychology is that of an impulsive overachiever. From the rest of his story, especially from the Book of Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs I see Solomon being consumed by one thing after another. At the beginning of his story he asks for and receives the gift of wisdom, now he can’t rest until he has mastered whatever it is that catches his attention. In fact, the same thirst for understanding that causes him to be a great builder and king will become his downfall as he becomes infatuated with the women he marries and then their various gods. I don’t think the Lord sat Solomon up for a fall in granting him wisdom, but I do think that the seed of failure was in it. In fact, I think that all gifts granted to us: natural ability, attributes, and talents have the potential of being a great blessing or the source of great failure for us. In Solomon, even as we celebrate his wisdom and understanding of an encyclopedia of things, we see a red flag of warning that there’s danger in natural abilities. These things must be continually balanced by an honest admission that we’re incomplete without God, who brings balance to even the most gifted life.
Take Away: When the Lord gifts us in any way the wise course of action is to bring those gifts right back to him and place them under his authority.