David Brandt Berg
Your usefulness to the Lord and His kingdom depends upon your yieldedness to Him and His will. To be truly “strong in the Lord,” to have the kind of strength that God can and will use, you’ve got to be submitted to Him and led and inspired by His Spirit.
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord. He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23, 24; 1 Corinthians 1:31).
This was the main difference between David and Saul: David relied on the Lord and gave Him all the glory. He knew that if it wasn’t for God, he’d just be a shepherd boy out in the fields somewhere. It was God who made him what he was, and he knew it.
In the beginning, Saul knew that too. He was very shy. When Samuel came to anoint him, the Bible says he was so shy that he went and “hid himself among the stuff,” even though he was head and shoulders above his brethren. (See 1 Samuel 10:21–23.)
The trouble was that he soon forgot that it was only the Lord. It went to his head, and he thought it was Saul who put him where he was. He got to thinking it was his own arm that had saved him, that it was his own brilliance that had made him king. So God said to him, “When thou wast little in thine own eyes, I did highly exalt thee” (1 Samuel 15:17). But when he became exalted and lifted up in his own eyes, God had to greatly abase him.
Saul is a good example of someone with a lot of natural strength and ability. He was a big man, head and shoulders above his brethren, a man of talents, a man of ability, a great leader, a good organizer, a tremendous king. God was with him and God blessed him as long as he was yielded and obedient to the Lord. But when the day came that Saul thought he could get along without obeying the Lord, without heeding God’s Word or obeying His prophet, that he could do things his own way, that was the beginning of his end.
Saul got to where he thought that he knew better than God, that he knew better than the prophet. He became rebellious and disobedient and went his own way and wrecked everything, including his own career and family.
Saul’s problem was that he began to trust in his own strength and his own wisdom and his own arm instead of the Lord. Look where it got him! He lost the kingdom and his place in it, and the whole thing had to be given to somebody else who was led of the Spirit and the Lord and not just his own mind and wisdom. What a sad, sad story! But what a good reminder to all of us that none of us are smart enough or strong enough in ourselves. We need to constantly cling to the Lord and continually seek His guidance.
Although he was called, ordained, designed and gifted by the Lord, because of his unyieldedness and disobedience, God was through with Saul, and had to toss him on the scrapheap of history—a brittle, unbending, unyielded, unusable tool who kept going his own way and kept going further and further astray till God had to choose a little shepherd boy out of the field, a little nobody, to take his place.
To be truly “strong in the Lord,” you’ve got to be strong in faith—which Saul obviously wasn’t. It was his lack of faith in God and God’s Word that caused him to disobey and go ahead in his own strength. He lacked faith because he didn’t heed the Word of God, and as a result he completely came to nought. (See 1 Samuel 13:8–14.)
No matter how talented you are, how great you are, how terrific you are, what great ideas you have, if they’re not God’s ideas, you’ll fail, and fall flat on your face like Saul did. You’ll go the way of all flesh instead of the way of the Spirit. The way of Saul instead of the way of David. Saul tried to do things in his own strength, and he found he wasn’t strong enough. David learned you have to let God do everything.
“It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63). Regardless of all your gifts, talents, and strengths, without the Lord’s anointing and inspiration, you’ll never be as greatly used by God as He wants you to be. What makes you and your accomplishments really great is the greatness God gives—His Spirit, His inspiration.
Without the Spirit, there is no anointing or power, no real emotion. The fire’s gone! What good is a furnace when its fire goes out? It’s cold and dark and useless! Regardless of all of its intricate parts and wonderful abilities and marvelous design, without the fire, it’s dead, cold, and dark!
Whether your talents and strengths are many or few, to truly be used of the Lord to bring His life, light, and warmth to others, you must be yielded and obedient to Him. That’s the key.
So what is strength? True strength, godly strength, strength that God can use for His glory? It’s the result of believing God’s Word, yielding to God’s will, and obeying His plan and humbly fulfilling the role He has for you. God bless you as you yield to Him and let Him have His way in your life!
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