The life of Saul, the first king of Israel has always seemed very tragic to me. We read that in stature he was head and shoulders above his fellow Israelites, yet we also read the prophet Samuel’s insightful words to him as his life and kingship began to unravel, ‘though you were small in your own eyes ... God anointed you as king’.
We had already glimpsed Saul’s low self worth in his words to Samuel at their first meeting - ‘I am from the least of the tribes of Israel’. Despite his impressive outward appearance, he was full of insecurity and inferiority – on the day of his coronation we read that he couldn’t be found, because he was ‘hiding in the baggage’.
The unfortunate worldly song of the women, as David returned triumphant from an attack on the Philistines, laid bare Saul’s inner division. Comparisons can do that to us when we come out the lesser one in the comparison, and, to someone who’s struggling with a low sense of self-worth, it can be devastating. As we hear ourselves rated as less than another, labels of rejection and worthlessness seem to be glued even more permanently on our lives.
Continually feeling that we’re inferior can ultimately result in deep anger and the fear of man that, however well suppressed, can finally emerge as bitterness and jealousy. We see that in Saul as he descends into murderous rage, spiritual darkness and, ultimately, tragic defeat and death at the hands of the Philistines.
David, who eventually replaced Saul as king of Israel responded to both success and failure completely differently to Saul. He could have shared Saul’s feelings about being the least in his family. When Samuel visited his father Jesse’s house to anoint one of his sons as the next king, David, the youngest son wasn’t even called from watching the sheep in the fields.
The difference between these two men seems to lie in each of their relationships with God. Saul had experienced the power and anointing of God, but seemed to have no true heart relationship with him. David, however, had come to know God intimately, as he sat under the stars in the fields. In Psalm 8:4 he wrote ‘What is man that you take notice of him?’ Aware of his smallness before the Creator of the universe, he also knew that, even when he was hidden in his mother’s womb, he was loved and known (Psalm 139:15).
Over the years, I’ve had to learn that no amount of coming out ‘top’ in my own or others’ comparisons can ever meet my need for value and worth, or heal my insecurities – only knowing and receiving the love and affirmation of my Heavenly Father can do that.
If you struggle in this area, I encourage you to allow Him to minister that love and acceptance deep into your heart today.
Prayer: Show me, dear Lord, how You see me in Your eyes, so that I can realise Your great love for me. Teach me, O Lord, that I am precious in Your sight, that as a Father loves his child so You love me. (words from a song by Andy Park).
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