RANDALL J. BREWER
On a recent adventure a rock climber saw something that taught him a valuable lesson on the subject of humility. Two mountain goats stood facing each other on a narrow ledge, one going up the mountain, the other coming down. There was not enough room for both of them to pass each other at the same time so there they stood facing each other in a silent confrontational showdown. Moments later the lesson was learned. The climber watched in utter amazement as the goat going up the mountain lowered itself down onto it's knees and then laid down further on it's stomach and became perfectly still as it allowed the other goat to walk over him on it's way down the mountain. Once passed over the goat got to it's feet and continued it's journey up the mountain. The lesson here is that when you humble yourself in the sight of the Lord you may sometimes be walked over and downtrodden but ultimately the Lord will lift you up to success and victory. On the other hand, prideful people who walk over others are all heading downhill on the path to defeat and destruction. The book of 1 Samuel tells the story of a humble young man who personified the story of the one mountain goat who made it to the top of the mountain.
The people of Israel wanted a king. The sons of the prophet Samuel did not rule uprightly as their father had. They were greedy and instead of judging honestly they took bribes from the people. At the same time, the surrounding countries were ready to harass and oppress them on all sides so the people went to the elder Samuel and demanded that he anoint them a king who would lead them in victory over their enemies. They were turning from faith in the invisible God in order to put their confidence in a visible king. When approached by Samuel about this God told the prophet to "heed their voice and make them a king." He also told the prophet to forewarn the people and show them the ungodly behavior of the king who would rule over them. Still, the people persisted and was therefore given a king whose name was Saul.
Saul was a tall man, head and shoulders above every person under his rule. By outward appearances he seemed to be the perfect man for the job but inwardly Saul considered himself unworthy and was ruled by low self-esteem. When told that he was chosen by God to be king and that he was the desire of all Israel he replied, "Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin?" (1 Sam. 9:21). Saul lacked confidence in himself and in the Godly heritage of his family. When the time came for him to become king he ran away and hid. Saul was a deceitful, jealous, moody, and faithless man who as king turned his back on God in willful disobedience.
The day soon came when God told Samuel He wanted a new king for His people. He told Samuel to go to Jesse's house and one of his sons would be the new king. When the prophet arrived a great feast was given and a sacrifice was prepared. All were invited to the celebration. All, that is, except one. A humble shepherd boy named David, Jesse's youngest son, was left in the fields keeping sheep in submissive obedience to his father. He was left in obscurity and contempt but God often exalts those whom men despise and look down upon. One by one the sons of Jesse stood before the prophet and each time God revealed to Samuel that they were not the one to be chosen king. When told of a younger son out in the fields tending sheep the prophet refused to let any-body sit down to eat until David was brought in. He who was designed not to sit at the table is now waited upon as the principle guest. David was the last one called but he definitely was not the least of his brethren.
David had an honest look on his face, sweet and lovely. He had a clean complexion, a good eye, and a lovely face. His name means "beloved" for he was a type of the beloved Son of God. The Lord told Samuel when David arrived, "Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!" (1 Sam. 16:12). In the midst of his brothers David was anointed to one day be king. 1 Sam. 16:33 says, "And the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward." A divine power went along with the sign of being anointed with oil. Because of his humility and obedience David soon found himself inwardly advanced in wisdom, courage, and all the necessary qualifications of being a king. David was a first-rate type of individual. He was good looking, knew music, and was a skilled warrior. He had a genuine concern for God's people and was quick to learn and comprehend. He was humble, obedient, submissive, and the Lord was with him. Everything that a king needed for success David had. He humbled himself and God lifted him up (Matt. 23:12). And humble as he was, David did not forget his obligations to his father and before long he was back in the fields watching over his father's sheep.
Throughout Saul's reign the Israelites were continually at war with the Philistine army. On one occasion the two opposing armies were drawn up on facing mountains with a valley between them. These armies had fought before but this time it was different. The Philistine army brought with them a giant from the city of Gath. Gath was well known as being the residence of a remnant of the Anakim, men of great stature. All their confidence was placed in the prideful Goliath. This fearsome giant was nearly ten feet tall and had six fingers on his hands and six toes on his feet. He had been a warrior since his youth and had the finest armor and the best weapons a soldier could have. Daily Goliath would go out into the valley and jeer at the Israelite army. With arrogance and pride he pro-posed a challenge for one man to come out and fight him and the winner would determine the outcome of the war. As king, Saul should have been the one to rise up to the challenge and fight Goliath but like the rest of his army he also cowered in fear and low self-esteem. There was no person alive who could defeat this giant. Or so they thought.
Three of Jesse's oldest sons were in the Israelite army and one day David was asked to bring some provisions to his brothers. David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, and went as Jesse had commanded him. While there the Philistine champion Goliath once again came out into the valley and challenged the Israelite army. All the men of Israel fled from him and were dreadfully afraid. David saw this and spoke to the men who stood by him, "For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" (1 Sam. 17:26). David was then brought to Saul to whom he said, "Let no man's heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with the Philistine" (1 Sam. 17:32). A little shepherd boy just come in from the field had more faith and courage than all the men of Israel. Notice also the humility of David. Three times during this conversation with Saul he refers to himself as "your servant." Next David tells the cowardly king why he should be allowed to go out and face the giant Goliath. He tells of facing down and killing a lion and a bear who came and attacked his father's sheep. And, most important of all, David gave God the glory for these two victories. That's humility! 1 Sam. 17:37 says, "Moreover David said, 'The Lord Who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of the Philistine.' And Saul said to David, 'Go, and the Lord be with you!'"
As the humble young shepherd left the presence of the king to face the giant he was in between a man of low self-esteem and a man of pride. That's precisely where humility should be. Unworthiness is wrong and so is ignorance. When Goliath saw David coming out to meet him he distained the youngster and began to curse him by his gods. "Then David said to the Philistine, 'You come to me with a sword, 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. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand'" (1 Sam. 17:45,46a). With bold confidence David ran toward the towering giant and with skilled precision slung a smooth stone at his adversary and struck him in the forehead. In an instant moment of time the pride of the Philistine army lay motionless on the ground. "Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of it's sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled'' (1 Sam. 17:51). Humility had once again prevailed over low self-esteem and pride. David humbled himself and was lifted up to become the greatest king in the history of Israel. Lifting you up is what humility is all about. It worked for David and a mountain goat on a rocky ledge. Surely it will work for you as well.
RANDALL J. BREWER