Maligned and Misunderstood
January 3, 2012
“In everything he [David] did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns.” — 1 Samuel 18:14-16
Perhaps you have worked on a project for your immediate boss, which has captured the attention and praise of the higher-ups in your company. Your intent was solely to do your best work, but in light of the accolades you have received, your boss is now angry with you. She sees your efforts as your intent to undermine her and make her look bad. Your protests to the contrary fall on deaf ears, and now your boss is doing whatever she can to make life unbearable for you at work.
Given that situation, there are a number of ways we could respond: We could fight back and angrily confront the boss; we could make her life miserable by not doing our job; we could go to her boss and seek relief. Or we could do nothing, but continue to do our best work.
That’s what David did. He continued to do his best despite the growing opposition to him. Saul became increasingly jealous of David with each new success — whether it was on the battlefield, or even within his own household, where David was much loved by both Saul’s older son, Jonathan, and even his daughter, Michal. To Saul’s eyes, David was using his success on the battlefield and his popularity among the people as stepping stones to the throne.
And nothing David was going to say or do would persuade Saul otherwise. Unfortunately for David, the consequences were more dire than just having an angry boss. Unable to control his jealousy, Saul wanted nothing less than David’s demise, and so David was forced to run for his life and became Israel’s most famous fugitive.
Despite the hardships he suffered, not to mention the unfairness of his situation, David did not fight back. Throughout this ordeal, David remained humble. Despite having the popular support of the people and a group of 600 men who remained loyal to him, David did not press his advantage against Saul. He did not allow his successes to color his perception of his own importance and demand the throne.
Why? Because David knew the source of his success. He knew to whom belonged the glory and the praise: God. Ultimately, David knew that God was in control and would work out the situation according to His plan and in His time. And God did.
That’s a great lesson for us all. When we are unfairly maligned or misunderstood, we need to step back from the situation, continue to do our best, and ask God for His strength to endure and His guidance in working it out. Like David, we can trust that God is in control and He knows the best possible outcome for us.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein