David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem. 1 Samuel 17:54 (NIV)
When Mike Kollin was a linebacker for the Dolphins and a graduate of Auburn University, his former coach, Shug Jordan, asked him if he would do some recruiting for him. Mike said, “Sure coach. What kind of player are you looking for?” The coach said, “Well Mike, you know there’s that fellow, you knock him down, he just stays down?” Mike said, “We don’t want him, do we coach?” “No, that’s right. Then there’s that fellow, you knock him down and he gets up, but you knock him down again and he stays down.” Mike answered, “We don’t want him either, do we coach?” Coach said, “No, but Mike, there’s a fellow, you knock him down, he gets up. Knock him down, he gets up. Knock him down, he gets up. Knock him down, he gets up.” Mike said, “That’s the guy we want, isn’t it coach?” The coach answered, “No, we don’t want him either. I want you to find the guy who’s knocking everybody down. That’s the guy we want!”
And that’s the guy we’re going to meet. A successful guy. The guy who knocked the other guy down. The guy who took the opposition out despite his size. The guy who knew how to get ahead!
You probably know whom I’m talking about. Maybe even read about him in 1 Samuel 17:1-58. His name, of course, is David and his victory over Goliath is one of the great success stories of all time. For it’s a story about an unlikely hero. About a civilian who triumphs over a soldier. About a boy who overcomes a giant. About a youngster who manages to kill the paladin of the Philistine army. About a teenager who was victorious because “the Spirit of the Lord” was upon him (cf. 1 Samuel 16:13).
Here are six keys to David’s success:
- Start young.
If you want to get ahead, you’ve got to begin by preparing for success when you’re young. Success doesn’t fall out of the sky and randomly anoint a chosen few. Years of hard work precedes the success which comes later in life.
From an early age David honed his God given attributes – his intellect, gifts and energy were directed to reaching the purpose that God had for his life. This was accomplished by doing common things uncommonly well. By making the most of everyday opportunities. By concentrating and persevering at a task until it was mastered. By intentionally working to develop his natural skills within the environment in which he lived.
That meant that David worked at being the best shepherd he could possibly be. During the long and lonely days, as he wandered with his flock of sheep and goats, he diligently used the time to play his lyre and compose songs. In so doing he prepared for the future, developing an ability that would eventually come to the attention of others and open up an opportunity for him to play before King Saul (cf. 1 Samuel 16:18-23).
Furthermore, he carried a leather sling and spent countless hours learning to fire a stone with accuracy. I can imagine it. He would walk along, pick up a stone, then fire it at a bush or tree until he got good enough to sling a stone in front of an errant sheep and scare it back toward the flock. Eventually, he became so proficient he could fell a marauding bear or lion (cf. 1 Samuel 17:34-36). No wonder he dropped Goliath with one swing of his sling. For the skill had been developed through years of patient practice.
Thus the first key to success is to start young at honing the abilities God has given you. For, as we learn from David’s life, the success of tomorrow depends on the work of today.
- Stay focused.
Booker T. Washington said, “Success is measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles he has overcome while trying to succeed.” He’s right. “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, nor a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will” Anon.
That’s where David was unique. He was single minded. He was determined. And he stayed focused by doing the things which came naturally. This is illustrated in 1 Samuel 17:38-40. King Saul tried to get David to wear armour and strap a sword around his waist. He thought David should use methods which were tried and tested. That he should do things the way everyone else did. That he should fight with conventional weaponry. But David wasn’t used to a sword and chose to fight Goliath with unconventional weapons – a staff against a spear, a stone against a sword, a sling against a javelin. In making this choice David set himself up for success.
For success comes to the man who doesn’t reach beyond himself. Success comes to the man who keeps his own abilities in focus. Success comes to the man who sticks with what he knows. And success comes to the man who doesn’t allow others to divert him from his intended course of action. So according to how God has equipped you, stick with it. Don’t try to be something God never intended you to be. Be everything God wanted you to be and you’ll succeed.
- Step out in faith.
You seldom drift into success. If you want to get ahead, you need to step out in faith. To walk in the realm where you’re “sure of what you hope for and certain of what (you) do not see” Hebrews 11:1. To move forward in such a way that you “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5.
That’s what David did. When the time came to move forward, he acted decisively. He stepped out in faith. He put God between himself and his circumstances and advanced against Goliath with a certainty that God would help him. As David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” 1 Samuel 17:37. With that simple declaration of faith David was dead to doubt, dumb to discouragement, and deaf to failure. As he placed his trust in the Lord his faith made “the up look good, the outlook bright, and the future glorious” Anon.
Yes, success comes to those who “attempt something so impossible that unless God is in it, it is doomed to failure” John Haggai. So don’t hesitate when you know God is calling you to live in the confidence of His grace. Step out in faith and God will give you success.
- Stand your ground.
Success comes to the person who’s determined to stand his ground. It comes when you’re prepared to count the cost. When you say you’re not going to be moved. When you hold your position. When you refuse to cower or retreat. When, like Martin Luther, you say, “Here I stand, I can do no more.” When you know that if at first you don’t succeed, you certainly don’t succumb. And when you learn that “success is never final and failure never fatal. It’s courage that counts” George F. Tilton.
So stand your ground. Don’t run away from your problems. Don’t shrink back from the giants in your life. Face the challenges before you and God will give you success. David did. “The Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy . . . and he despised him. He said to David, ‘Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. ‘Come here,’ he said, ‘and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!’” 1 Samuel 17:41-44.
Now I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that most boys in David’s sandals, after hearing this challenge, would have turned tail and run for all they were worth. But David stood his ground. He refused to be intimidated. He refused to back down. He refused to grovel or beg for mercy. And he refused to succumb to fear. For David knew that success comes from God. That victory comes to those who face adversity “in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel” 1 Samuel 17:45. And that success comes to those who stand their ground and give the battle to the Lord (cf. 1 Samuel 17:47).
- Strike with confidence.
There comes a time when success comes to those who are prepared to step up to the line. When a person sees the opportunity God has presented and responds with a positive move. That’s what David did. “As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead . . . and he fell face down on the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword” 1 Samuel 17:48-51.
When the time was right, David took the initiative. He struck with confidence and got a head! Likewise, when it’s time for you to move to action you must get on with it. You must move forward. You must engage the opposition. And you must strike with confidence. Not the kind of confidence which comes from the world. For “it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves” 1 Samuel 17:47. It’s not man made weapons with which you secure success. No, when you deal with the challenges of life you must do so by making sure that God is before you and the world behind you. “For the battle is the Lord’s” and he will give success into your hands when you strike at His impulse and on His command.
- Share your success.
In David’s case he got ahead by displaying a head. For “David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem” 1 Samuel 17:54. Now I know this looks very gory from our point of view but we need to see past our mental pictures and recognize what David was doing. In taking Goliath’s head to Jerusalem he was essentially sharing his success with the nation. He was providing an object lesson about the power of God. He was demonstrating publicly that the God of the armies of Israel was greater than the gods of the Philistines. He was letting everyone know that God triumphs over His foes. And he was showing the crowds that God enables His people to overcome formidable odds when they trust in Him.
If I had been a youngster on the streets of Jerusalem and seen David carrying Goliath’s head, it would have been something I would never have forgotten. I would have looked at the size of the head, realized how big Goliath must have been, and realized that size doesn’t count with God. That it doesn’t matter how mean, how strong, or how invincible you may think you are; you haven’t got a chance if you defy God. Furthermore, as I thought about it in the days ahead, it would have dawned on me that if God is with me then no one could stand against me.
So when you get ahead, share your success. Testify to what God has done. Put the might of God on display. Let everyone know that your success comes from God. And tell people that it’s “not by might nor by power, but by (God’s) Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6) that you were able to get ahead.