There is an important phrase buried in the middle of 1 Samuel 18:12-14. “The Lord was with him”. It is important for us to learn what that means, not least because it is also clear that The Lord sometimes departs from someone. This was a major prompt for Saul’s jealousy of David.
As usual when considering something like this it is useful to look at other passages where this phrase is used. What are the marks of The Lord being with you?
- God grants you success. Here, David’s success is attributed to The Lord being with him. We see the same thing in a number of other places, including Joseph in Genesis 39:1-3, and also 2 Kings 18:7 . We see in Judges 1:19 that this success is sometimes only partial.
- You receive favour from others. Here we see this described as the people loving David. For Joseph the favour leads to promotion.
- Some will fear you. Saul here is not just jealous but actually terrified of him. Some leaders today inspire a similar sense almost of awe. Those who do shouldn’t abuse that.
- God demonstrates steadfast love to you. (Genesis 39:21)
- You inspire trust from others with minimal oversight (Genesis 39:23)
- Fame may be granted to you (Joshua 6:27). When we are evaluating successful ministries today, we do well to recognise that, at least in some cases, fame will have been granted someone because God is with them. We should not reflexly reject popular ministries.
- Blessing is shared with those who are associated with the one God is with. (Judges 2:18). Note that when a Judge died Gods stopped overlooking his people’s sin
- God establishes your word. ( 1 Samuel 3:19-20). A major part of leadership is making decisions and having others want to follow them. Often ineffective leader’s words “fall to the ground” and simply be ignored?
- The hand of The Lord is also associated with the miraculous (Luke 1:63-66)
- In the New Testament a clear mark of God being with you is a great number of people being saved. (acts 11:21). Spurgeon urged his students to expect salvations every time the word is preached.
Why is God with some people more than others? Mostly the answer to that seems to be simply grace. God is more favorable to some than others, though he does this in order that all may be blessed through his anointed.
But we do see hints that there are some things that we can do to increase the extent God is with us. So, for example, it is said of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 17:3-4 that God was with him because he walked obediently and purely before God rather than turning after idols.
No wonder then that we are wise to pray “God, be with me!” And when selecting a leader today we do well to choose someone who God is clearly with in a particular way.