By Christopher Raley
Celebrity culture is nothing new. People have always elevated individuals based on position, talent, or status. We find an interesting example of this in the life of David.
David was a very young man, likely a young teen, when he first met King Saul. At that time, in the eyes of the nation, Saul was a celebrity. He had defeated the Amalekites and secured his authority as king. He continued to fight Israel’s enemies and lead them to victory.
But Saul’s character was questionable, at best. When he recruited David into his service, he was a troubled man who knew, from the prophet Samuel, that God would take the kingdom away from him.
In Saul’s service, David was warrior by day and musician by night, fighting Saul’s battles against the Philistines and soothing Saul’s troubled spirit with music. David soon found himself in a popularity contest with the king. 1st Samuel 18.6-7 tells us “when David returned from striking down the Philistines . . . the women sang to one another as they celebrated, ‘Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.’”
The exorbitant praise of David was not lost on Saul, and it wasn’t long before Saul, in a jealous rage, attempted to kill David and pursued him relentlessly in the wilderness. If anyone had the right to bitterness and disillusionment toward Saul, it was David.
Yet at the time of Saul’s death David not only lamented, he heaped praise on him saying that “the sword of Saul returned not empty,” and that Saul and his son Jonathan were “swifter than eagles” and “stronger than lions” (2 Sam 1.22,23). He focused on acknowledging Saul’s virtues, and praised the man who had sought his life and shown a disturbing lack of confidence in God.
How was David able to do this? By remembering neither he nor Saul had become king because of their celebrity. God is the sovereign king. It was only by His sovereign will that Saul became king, and by that same will that he was rejected. Because Saul was the Lord’s anointed, David refused to strike against him in word or deed.
We misplace our faith when we put too much importance on the celebrity of Christians, whether positive or negative. We would do well to check our disillusionment or our elation at the throne room of God and remember that whatever good or bad they do is arbitrated by our sovereign God whose purpose extends far beyond the short lifespan of their fame.