When you read through the story of David and Goliath you’ll find seven principles that I believe are valuable for success in the life of a man at home and at work. If you like these principles you can also download them as a free PDF at the CrossHope Chapel Men’s Ministry page. As always, if you have any questions, please contact me.
7 Lessons for Success from 1 Samuel 17:24-47…
1) Success is Goal Motivated – In 1 Samuel 17:24-27, David comes upon the army of Israel doing nothing about the heathen Goliath. Then David hears “the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.”
David may have only been a shepherd boy, but he had a heart of a leader and a wise enough mind to be motivated by an opportunity to accomplish and receive a reward for himself and his family. David asks, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
An aimless life gains nothing, because it asks for nothing. Have a plan, an objective, something to gain, a purpose and work toward that end.
Zig Ziglar use to say, “Aim for the stars, but if you don’t get there you’ll at least have gotten higher than if you’ve never aimed at all.”
You have to have goals in life or life will hand you its goals. The circumstances of the day will decide for you if you don’t decide for yourself. You won’t always hit the center of the mark, but you’ll have better results for at least aiming.
One of the neat things about life is getting to my age and seeing where my goals where once fixed and how I sometimes hit them, sometimes missed them, but always ended up in the intended arena of those goals, maybe doing a differently than expected role, but still doing what I ultimate wanted to be doing and ultimately being in God’s will.
Set goals that fit within your personal mission, which is to say, what you sense as your bigger purpose in life. It’s OK to have a general idea of “helping people” or “working with cars” or whatever field interests you then as you aim for a main goal you’ll find more opportunities.
Goals give you a reason to go on, a direction to move toward, and a plan for your future. Not having goals gives you only excuses and reasons to fail.
2) Success Brings Adversity – In 1 Samuel 17:28-31, David faced adversity because he expressed an interest in accomplishing something for the Lord and the reward offered by the King. The story says that “Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David”
People don’t like it when another makes them look bad. Apparently, David’s brothers, like the soldiers, weren’t motivated enough to jump at the opportunity to be rewarded riches and tax-free living for their families.
Success makes failure look bad, so the human tendency is to ridicule the one who out shines them. You’re going to face people who resort to the same tactics used by Satan against truth – they will accuse, call names, try to discredit, anything to get the focus off their own failure. Evil hates good and it will find a way to accuse and stir up dissension against positive progress.
Don’t fret, don’t get sidetracked reacting to allegations, don’t let adversity derail you. If necessary, you may speak to your defense, but resist making your defense an ongoing mission. Let God fight against your adversity and keep your hands to the plow and the work at hand.
Adversity may also arise in the form of unexpected setbacks or issues pertaining to health or family problems and that can delay progress, but it doesn’t need to be a permanent road block.
The presence of conflict and adversity is a natural part of life and in and of itself should never be interpreted as indication of failure, or being out of God’s will, or not succeeding.
Successful people have not arrived at the top of their field without adversity. It is part of every journey toward professional achievement, it is part of every relationship that is now harmonious, and it is something you must plan on.
3) Success Speaks Confidently – In 1 Samuel 17:32, David walks away from the naysayer do-nothing excuse ridden soldiers and goes straight up to King Saul and boldly speaks these words: “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”
In the story it is actually mentioned that King calls for David because he hears of him being in the camp and expressing his interested in the opportunity. There is parallel here in that the true King will call you when you are ready for an opportunity to advance His kingdom.
Someone has said that “Success occurs when preparedness meets opportunity” and we can see that dynamic unfolding in this story.
The first step to accomplishing a goal is to be confident in your commitment to do whatever it takes to achieve it. When you are committed to your goal, you’ll speak confidently about your intention to pursue its accomplishment.
Just as David left the negative people to see the King about the opportunity, you too can’t hang out with negative people and expect to do greater things. Negative people can never help you be positive. You can’t and you don’t want to share your goals with them, because they certainly will not help you achieve them. You can only share your goals with those who believe in you, love you, can help you, encourage you, and support you along that journey.
There is no “can’t” or “impossible” in your dictionary and there is no “well we’ll see” or “maybe I don’t know” or “depends how I feel” or “someday I’ll” in your vocabulary when it comes to setting and achieving goals (you may use those indifferent terms about planning a fishing trip or buying furniture but not about your life or the lives of your family).
In the words of Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
4) Success Goes Against the Odds – In 1 Samuel 17:33, David is confronted by the discouraging odds against him as clearly and immediately pointed out by King Saul when he states “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.”
Everyone thinks they are an expert at something, and if there is one thing seniors do wrong in thinking they are helping youth, it is dumping their own experience through lectures. Expect the world to be full of self-proclaimed advisors who seem to think it’s their calling to see that every potential successful young person gets screwed up like them, probably so they can feel better about their own failure.
Some spread discouragement because they are merely discouraged with themselves. Just know that hurt people hurt people, so unless part of your goal is helping them, move on against the odds, because what they are really telling you is they gave-up and they want you to give up, too.
However, don’t avoid seniors or those who are senior in your profession. Instead, seek out those whom you respect and as you have a chance to do so, ask them questions that will help you in your goals.
Going against the odds is not always in the form of discouragement, but sometimes it’s facing obstacles. Just remember that obstacles usually look worse than they really are. Problems are usually bigger in our thoughts than they are in real life.
Don’t be afraid to set you sail against the wind. The same wind that helps one ship come in the harbor helps another go out of the harbor. Consider the goal, commit to the goal, decide a plan to accomplish the goal, move toward the goal, and allow God to confirm or deny through opportunities or circumstances, but not the odds thrown at you by man.
Learn how others are succeeding in their context, apply what you can to your context, but don’t be afraid to go against the odds.
5) Success Recalls Success – In 1 Samuel 17:34-37, David recalls his past successes that the Lord gave him. After being confronted with the “you can’t face these odds” speech, David said to King Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Likewise, you must keep fresh in your mind and close to your heart the way the Lord God has led you in your past.
Even the most basic remembrance of your past successes is important to know. Success in school, success in sports, success in speaking to a group, you have past success and God desires to build on those successes to carry you onto greater success. In case you haven’t noticed, success generates success, while failure generates failure.
You have nothing to fear for your future, except as you forgot the successful ways, the work, and the word of God upon your life. It’s a good idea to make notes in a journal or some type of app that will help you remember how God has led you. Prayer is the means God chooses to show Himself in our life, so keep record of prayer requests and answers to prayer so your faith can be refreshed when you remember.
Read stories of others and how God has led in their lives, because just as surely as He led and intervened in the life of another, He will lead and intervene in your life.
Always be thankful that God has provided for you, has been with you, and has brought you success in many different ways and means. When you consider God’s success in your life in your past, you can move toward the goal confident in God to bring about success again in your life.
6) Success is Unique – In 1 Samuel 17:38-40, David gives us thought to realize that success is not uniformed to all. Success can be defined differently, but generally success is doing or being what one wants to do or be.
Here is my own definition of success: Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal that gives glory to God and helps people. Success looks differently to every person, but sometimes people will try to impose their way to success upon you.
King Saul wanted David to succeed his way, so he places his armor upon David, but David says, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested [not use to them] them.’ So David put them off. Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.”
As you move toward your goal you’ll realize that the majority of the accomplishment is in learning about a subject, developing a skill, or acquiring the experience necessary for the reward. Before you have, you must become. Before you reap, you must sow. Before you earn, you must work.
You should devour any information you can about the matter for which you seek. You should listen to those who are doing now what you want to be doing then. You should welcome an appetite to continually grow in the profession of your goal. Learning is truly a lifelong habit that will always pay dividends.
However, just because someone says you have to do it their way doesn’t necessarily mean you should. If you want the same results as they, then do it their way. If you want greater or better results than they, then do it your own unique way which is usually the way God has given you success in other situations.
Just don’t be afraid to go after your goal in your own armor.
7) Success is in the Name of Jesus – In 1 Samuel 17:41-47, David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”
Herein is the greatness of David, the man after God’s own heart. His success was accomplished because his goal was in the name of the Lord. That means he put the character of God before his own and sought to give glory to God through it.
Understand that the media image of the so called successful business mogul with eyes on the ticker tape, pen in hand, and a phone to the ear is not what goal setting is about.
Truly successful people set goals for themselves because they want to bring glory to God and help those they love. You may set goals for gaining wealth, and you should, but know that it is God who will give you that wealth.
Put glorifying God and helping others first and the wealth will follow. You’ll have the things you want from life if you can just help enough other people get the things that they want.
The marketplace is in desperate want of men and women who will be less concerned about how much they will get in their paycheck and more concerned about how much they can give in services to others.
Remember this, money is temporal and wealth changes, but only God is eternal and faithful.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.