The Problem with Self-Promotion

2 Samuel 1:8: “He [Saul] asked me, ‘Who are you?’  ‘An Amalekite,’ I answered” (NIV).

Observation: David had just returned from a victorious fight against Amalekites who had overrun his city of refuge and kidnapped the loved ones of David and his men. Three days later, an Amalekite youth came to David with word that Saul and Jonathan were dead, and that the youth had helped Saul die. First Samuel 31 tells us that Saul had taken his own life, so it is likely that this Amalekite messenger fabricated his involvement in Saul’s death, thinking he would win David’s favor.

Application: Think of it! It had been Saul’s disobedience in failing to destroy all Amalekites that finally led to God’s rejection of him as king over Israel (see 1 Samuel 15). In fact, it was from God’s commentary on the situation that we are told He values obedience over sacrifice. Doing exactly as God instructs is always better than our self-promotion as we seek to make ourselves look good. How ironic, then, that it was an Amalekite that reported Saul’s death to David.

This young Amalekite stood not a chance of surviving his encounter with David; not only was he a remnant of an enemy of Israel whom Saul was to have utterly destroyed, but he was also one of the tribe whom David had defeated a mere three days earlier. David commanded the youth’s execution based upon his testimony (probably false) of having killed Saul (2 Samuel 1:16).

What might the lad have been thinking? Perhaps he regretted his heart motive in reporting Saul’s death at all; there is every reason to think his report to David exaggerated his role in Saul’s death. Sadly, I catch glimpses of my own heart in this young Amalekite’s motives. There have been times when flesh has led to exaltation of my role in a thing being done, times when my eyes were so far removed from the Lord that I was content with “atta-boys” from those around me, rather than seeking to please Him.

God’s requirement is that I find peace and fulfillment in Him alone. When I act as the Amalekite lad, it is always because I have chosen to seek fulfillment from a lesser source, from one whose approval is vanity and whose commitment to my best is fleeting. Psalm 118:15 says, “Shouts of joy resound in the tents of the righteous” (NIV). Anything less is the mere tinkling of fragile glass easily broken and leads to destruction as surely as did the Amalekite’s self-promotion.

Prayer: Father, cause me to seek fulness of joy in You, to be satisfied only in Your gaze. Nothing else satisfies.

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