Back in the day, my brothers and I used to share a room. One evening, my brothers had gotten into trouble for some random things boys do. As my mother finished her speech, which usually included some threat of bodily harm in the event of a repeat offense, she left the room.
Unfortunately, she hadn’t gotten far enough away before one of my brothers committed a cardinal sin of childhood. He uttered something like, ‘Man, she crazy,’ louder than a whisper.
Time stopped, but only for a moment.
My mother, now 75, would find it funny if one of my brothers called her crazy today. They’d almost certainly laugh it off. However, the younger version of my mother raising three children didn’t have the same sense of humor that she has now that we’re adults. When she came back into that room, I feared for all our lives because she believed in being guilty by association.
Thankfully, we lived through those consequences and many others over the years. While my siblings and I learned different lessons, the one that stands out for me: there is a way to behave, especially when someone in authority is angry.
My younger self believed the answer to anger was silence. Now I know it’s best to behave wisely, whatever that means at the moment.
Nearly a year ago, I had the opportunity to put this into practice. I was in the middle of a situation where my actions were deemed intentional. Whereas in truth, I misunderstood the instructions. My initial reaction was to explain and attempt to justify. My next thought was to retaliate, but in my study time one day, David taught me better.
In 1 Samuel 18, David has killed Goliath, gained favor with King Saul, and found a brother in Saul’s son Jonathan. David had receipts for being a warrior long before Saul knew his name. However, as David’s victories grew, it brought unwanted attention and Saul couldn’t handle it. It made him jealous and angry that people sang David’s praises. Worse, it made him suspicious of David’s motives. Unlike my brother, when Saul began to come after David, he behaved wisely.
In light of what David was facing, many would’ve justified him battling Saul, saying, ‘He started it!’ Thankfully, David understood his submission to Saul was God’s order. It wasn’t that he couldn’t win the battle; he was more interested in pleasing God than defending himself. That’s true wisdom! It’s one thing to have wisdom, yet another to walk it out. How could David consistently walk out this wisdom? More importantly, how can we?
- Learn how to bob and weave. (1 Samuel 18:10-11)
Sometimes your best defense is a swift exit. David discerned the situation and knew that wasn’t a time to try and talk Saul out of what he was feeling. Discernment can save you from making a costly mistake. Where would David be if he ignored what he saw with Saul? Don’t minimize what you’re seeing. Know if and when you need to make a move.
- God is with you, so act like it. (1 Samuel 18:12-14)
Saul’s issue wasn’t David; his problem was how God favored David. Still, he gave David a promotion. Sometimes people give promotions to those with whom they don’t agree because God has proven to be with them. In his new role, David didn’t focus on what happened with Saul. When you know God is with you, have tunnel vision about your assignment and let it fuel your behavior to do all things well.
- Focus on the love of the people who are with you, more than the opposition of those against you. (1 Samuel 18:15-16)
Verse 16 in the Amplified version says, But all Israel and Judah loved David because he publicly associated with them. Despite his success, David interacted with the people, and they loved him. Why does that matter? David didn’t isolate himself sulking over how Saul felt about him. He found people who celebrated him and kept it moving!
Saul’s campaign against David didn’t end there, but he continued to have great success. How? No matter what the obstacle, David used skills he’d developed behind the scenes, remained focused, and even in the face of opposition, he behaved wisely.