Don’t Be Defeated by Your Victories
1 Samuel 17:45-54
If you’re not careful, a victory you’ve won could turn around and defeat you. It can happen if you don’t learn how to handle victory.
The life of David makes this clear.
When as a shepherd boy David defeated Goliath, it was miraculous. But David would have been defeated by this very victory if he had handled it wrong.
And it can happen to you if you’re not careful. David’s encounter with Goliath sets up a situation to show us how to handle victory when it comes our way.
To start with, David won the victory by three principles:
FOUR IMMEDIATE REACTION’S TO DAVID’S VICTORY
1. Jonathan reacted with partnership.
And Jonathan stripped himself out of the robe that was upon him…” 1 Samuel 18:4.
Little David, a nobody shepherd boy, has won the battle, meets Saul’s son, Jonathan, and the two enter into a lifelong covenant.
Jonathan is one of the finest men in the Bible. Not a hint of jealousy in Him. It’s obvious early on that Jonathan, heir to the throne, will not become king. David will. If anyone had a right to be jealous, it was Jonathan. Yet he has no envy. He sees God give a mighty victory to David and enters into partnership with him as if to say, “I want to share in your victories. I’m so grateful for what God is doing with you and through you. We’re members one of another. Your blessing is my blessing.”
Friend, that’s a wonderful way to be, selflessly rejoicing in God’s blessings on another person’s victory. I want to be that way.
Believers are in blood covenant one with another. When one member suffers, every member suffers. When one rejoices, everyone should rejoice. When God is blessing you, I want to rejoice and get in on it.
2. The women reacted with misdirected praise.
“…the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing…and said, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (18:6 and 7).
This might sound good, but I don’t believe it was pleasing to God. They were glorifying men rather God for this miraculous victory.
Did David kill Goliath? Outwardly, yes. But David himself said in 17:47, “…for the battle is the LORD’S, and He will give you into our hands.” It wasn’t David, it was God.
You know how to lose your next victory? Fail to give God the proper praise for this one.
Remember Jericho? Great victory! Israel went in with the Lord’s battle cry and won. But the next place—the little city of Ai—they were soundly defeated. Many died. An Israelite named Achan had taken some gold, silver and fancy garments from Jericho for himself, hiding them under his tent. God had already told Joshua, “All the gold, silver, iron, and brass is to be dedicated to the treasury of the Lord.” Since the battle was His, the spoils belonged to Him—their way of saying, “Lord, we recognize we didn’t gain this victory; You did.”
Suppose you enter into some spiritual endeavor for the Lord, God blesses, and gives you the victory. Someone says, “You did a great job,” and you receive that praise all to yourself. You just did the same thing Achan did: taking the spoils of battle for yourself. Your next battle is going to see you ignominiously defeated.
When we praise an individual instead of praising God, we’re on dangerous ground. And the one who receives it is on doubly-dangerous ground. That praise must pass through and go right up to Him. I’m glad David didn’t listen to the misdirected praise, or he would have lost his victory.
3. Saul reacted with pride.
“And Saul was very wroth [angry], and the saying displeased him. (18:8).
When the women praised David, Saul was suspiciously jealous of David from that day forward. And because he was filled with pride—and had refused to obey the hand of the Lord (chapter 15)—God rejected him as king.
James 4:6 says, “God resisteth the proud but giveth grace to the humble.” He could not bear David’s victory. He felt David’s gain was somehow his loss. Saul became an utter failure. He received the judgment of turning from God. At the moment you, like Saul, start disliking the person who succeeds, you become a failure.
The marks of pride in Saul were his anger (v. 8), his jealousy (v. 9), and his fear. “And Saul was afraid of David…” (v. 12). Why was Saul afraid of David? Because Saul was a phony. Every person who’s real makes every phony look unreal.
That’s why some people can’t stand to be around others who are living victoriously in Christ when they themselves are phonies filled with pride. They get angry if your life is blessed. They see you as the enemy. Do not have the spirit of Saul who thought somebody else’s gain somehow diminished him.
4. David reacted with prudence.
And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways, and the LORD was with him. (v.14).
When you receive praise, it does something to you, either good or bad. Your reaction is either going to reveal the dross in your life or the gold and silver. David knew how to handle victory. Look at Psalm 131.
“LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself as a child that is weaned of his mother; my soul is even as a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and forever.”
No wonder God called David “a man after My own heart.” Think about it. Yesterday he was a shepherd boy no one thought of, and today he’s the king’s bodyguard with hundreds of men beneath him. Women come out with tambourines singing his praises. Yet David just says, “Lord, You know who I am. I’m still David. That’s all.”
See David’s spirit. When Saul says, “I’m going to make you my son-in-law,” David responds, “Who am I that I should be son-in-law to the king?” He never really took it to heart. He always realized the battle was the Lord’s. That’s why God could bless David and use him.
You know, some people are impossible to get along with because they think they’re impossible to get along without. Have you ever been around people who had a personal victory, then all they do is brag about it? David wasn’t that guy.
When we learn the battle is the Lord’s and the glory belongs to Him, we’ll not be defeated by our victories. We’ll learn how to receive victory, saying, “Thank You, Lord. As You keep pouring the victory on, we’ll keep sending the praise up. We’ll keep saying, ‘To God be the glory; great things He has done.’”
When we come to Him in repentance and faith, we are empowered-and expected-to live the Christian life not by trying, but by trusting. Faith is not only how we receive salvation, it is how we walk, day by day, in grace. Only by faith can we extend forgiveness to others, share God's truth, and leave a godly legacy. As the tapestry of your life unfolds, may you begin to see the wonders of living each day, moment by moment, a life of faith and forgiveness.