Death By Success?

One is never closer to failure than when succeeding.

Ironic, ain't it?

Success seduces us slowly and subtly. Little by little success lulls us into a comfortable complacency.

And that's when we make the always painful and sometimes fatal mistake of dropping our guard.

That's what happened to David.

In 2 Samuel 8—after years and years of struggling, hard work, and trusting God—David seems to finally "emerge" as a leader and king. He began to experience success in depth and breadth. For "the man after God's own heart," the wind was finally at his back and in his sails:
* "The Lord gave David victory wherever he went" (8:6)
* "David became famous after he returned" from a military conquest (8:11)
* "The Lord gave David victory wherever he went" (8:14)
* "David reigned over all of Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people" (8:15)

And the personal and corporate successes of David continued through chapters 9 and 10 as well. David experienced the sweet taste of success and the exhilarating momentum that came with it.

But this amazing God-given success placed David in a very precarious position. As Andy Stanley so aptly warns, "Success is an intoxicant, and intoxicated people seldom have a firm grasp on reality."

Close on the heels of David's successes comes David's most noted failure.

Instead of joining his warriors in battle like other kings, David decided to send the troops and stay at home in his palace (11:1).

He got comfortable.

He dropped his guard a little.

One could argue that he got ntoxicated by his success and he lost his grip on reality.

Through a series of "small" but very deliberate acts of foolishness, David had sex with another man's wife. In an effort to cover up his sin, he made a horrible situation worse: He killed her husband (one of his very best warriors).

Did he get away with it?

"Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?" (Proverbs 6:27) No, God took note of David's unraveling: "...the thing David had done displeased the Lord" (11:27). Subsequent chapters of 2 Samuel clearly show that God set events in motion that would trouble David till his death.

Think about this for a moment.

What preceded David's most notorious failure?

The answer: Success from God.

Kind of crazy ain't it? It seems the wine of success tends to dupe the drinker into small—and then monumental—acts of foolishness. Hence, the result of success is often failure. In other words, David experienced death by success.

So take heed.

When the sweet sunshine of God's success starts smiling it's wonderful face on you, beware lest you become ever so slightly intoxicated and begin to lose your grasp on reality. Yes, bask in the warm rays of God's success, but keep a sharp lookout for the smallest sign of unraveling in the little things in your life.

For one is never closer to failure than when succeeding.

Related Posts:
* The Journey to Purity
* Jesus and Leadership


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