25 Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions act as tyrants over them. 26 It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28 CSB
Hey guys! Welcome back to the PSALMS to God podcast. So, today's superlative is "Most Popular Guy." I think that popularity is in the eye of the beholder, to be honest, but it's something that I feel like we've all dealt with. We've all probably desired. In hindsight, is kind of fuzzy on how to define popularity. Today's culture makes it a lot easier because you have things like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Social media makes it really easy to keep a count of how many people are following you, how many people liked your posts and your tweets and your thoughts and things. And so, it's really easy to quantify who is quote-unquote the coolest kid at the school, or who is the coolest person in your office, or amongst your friend group, or whatever, because that person may have tens of thousands of followers, and you may only have two.
And so, there's a much easier way to quantify, I guess, popularity, but at the same time, in today's society, people like things absent-mindedly. It doesn't mean they actually like the person, and people follow people absentmindedly. It doesn't—they can turn on people. We see this all the time, and cyberbullying is real. And so, I think that even still, you still kind of have this vagueness about what it means to be popular. And even then, there is the question of what traits do people have that give them this popularity.
To be real, I think the popularity and leadership kind of go hand-in-hand; they have some similarities to them, because the people who become the most popular are typically influencers. They're going to be the people that people are trying to imitate, that they are looking up to, that they're modeling themselves after. Whether that's a celebrity, whether that's somebody at school, whether that's your mentor at work, you're definitely going to try to imitate the people that you think are quote-unquote popular, or cool, or however you want to phrase it. And so there is a leadership aspect to that, as well. Because by nature of being well-received and well-liked, you also have the platform that allows you to lead, to shape, to mold people.
And in seeing that, I definitely wanted to look to the Bible for who I thought was the most popular, or the best leader—I think they go hand-in-hand, as I said. And so given that, you probably can already guess who I would say, but I gave that superlative to David. King David is probably the most famous king of Israel, for multiple reasons—some of them good, some of them bad. But even to this day, if you look at the flag of Israel, it has the Star of David—we could probably do a whole 'nother podcast about the Star of David, 'cause I read some very interesting things about the Star of David—we're going to stay focused, and we're going to talk about the man David.
King David (00:05:22)
And so, like I said, probably the most famous king that Israel had, and I think that there are three specific traits that David shows that I think you would find in pretty much anybody in our society who is considered popular, well liked, well received, an influencer/celebrity, however you want to phrase that. I think these people would have these three traits, and I think that whether we are striving to be popular and have tons and tons of followers on social media or tons and tons of friends, or whether we moved on past that phase in our life, I think these three traits are still traits that we should be imitating and fulfilling as followers of Christ, because we are also called to be leaders and influencers, and basically ambassadors, for the kingdom of God.
So without further ado, the first trait is that of confidence or fearlessness. One of the first things that we learn about David is that even though he was too young to join the Army, and to go off to battle, he was still eager to play his part and to do his role or to be useful in the time of battle. So David goes, and I believe he takes food to his brothers. He takes something to his brothers. When he gets there, he finds that everybody is sitting around scared to fight this giant named Goliath. And you know this could probably [be] embarrassing, because Israel is the great Israel. God is fighting their battles; they have come out of Egypt; they have taken the promised land; and now they're afraid to have a one-on-one battle instead of having a mass slaughter, because they don't actually believe that God will handle their battle.
But David volunteers to do this. He's not even old enough to be in the Army. so per Israel's laws he had to have been less than 20. He's not necessarily described as ginormous—I mean he was probably of decent stature for what we would consider today, but Goliath is a giant! We're not talking about taking on some guy the same size as you, the same weight... We're talking about this massive giant, and David's just like, "yeah I'll do it, let's go. I have full confidence that God has got this battle in His Hands, and that God has already won the victory. All I have to do is let God use me."
He was fearless. He was not afraid to take a risk. He wasn't worried about failing, and this is what we need in our life, everyday. We have so many decisions to make, and when we second guess what God is telling us to do, and when we second guess ourselves. we fall short. You know, if you don't give it a hundred and ten, if you don't give it your all, it's not going to work. You can't half do something and expect a great and grand result. An example is, if you wanted to start a business—you can't half invest in your business, and expect the business to take off. You have to go into it 100% fully committed, and that's scary because it's a risk. You don't know if it's going to succeed. But David knew that God had his back, and so he was not afraid. He had full confidence and no fear going into that battle, and that is why we remember him today.
So the second trait that David has that I think we all need is humility. So fairly early in the narrative that we learn about David, we see that Samuel comes and anoints David to be the next king. Now, if somebody told me that I was about to be the new queen of the United States—we don't really operate like that, but pretend that we were and that we did and that being queen meant something—you know, you might start feeling a way about yourself. You might be like "I don't have to go to work. I don't have to put up with your foolishness. You know what? The first order of business when I become queen is to get rid of you, and you, and put you in jail. And to get you back for what you did." It's very easy for us to let those kinds of positions and powers dictate our actions and to corrupt us. You know what they say, "absolute power corrupts absolutely," and it's very easy to stray into that.
We see that just with Saul. Saul lost his mind, but David does not do that. David doesn't start boasting. He doesn't start bragging, and he doesn't start acting out, and above his station. In fact, David ends up as a servant to Saul and to Saul's family, and he serves them faithfully and loyally. In fact, when Saul freaks out and descends into madness, and even when Saul is trying to kill David, David does not retaliate and kill Saul. He basically just flees to save his own life. He doesn't really fight back or push back. He still gives his loyalty to Saul as long as Saul is alive as king. He makes friends with Saul's kids, and like I said, he just acts like a humble person. And I think that's very important—to remain humble and not to let success or fame, or whatever you have, to get in the way of being a decent person and treating everybody with respect and not getting ahead of yourself, is what I'm trying to say.
Admission of Wrong (00:11:56)
The final trait that I want to point out goes along with one of David's most famous acts, that you know, he probably wishes we would stop talking about because he did so many other things that were great, but we typically remember David by this one act that was not so great. And the third trait that I'm talking about is, being able to admit your mistakes and pay the consequences and make amends for your mistakes. So of course you know that the situation I'm talking about is that David committed adultery with Bathsheba. Not only did he commit adultery, but then he turned around and had her husband murdered. So obviously on the onset of the issue he didn't look up and say, "oh, I shouldn't have done this, let me repent right now."
He dug himself deeper in the hole, but after all was said and done David does repent of his deeds. And he realizes that he has done some very, very horrible things. It's a genuine repentance, and that's the key. It's not just a fake "oh well I'm sorry I got caught", it is a deep and genuine sorrow for doing something that you had no business doing. We all have a tendency to get caught up in the moment, and we all do things that we should not do. Hopefully, we're not out sleeping with other people’s spouses and then killing the spouse. That's...let's not do that! But, I think that if you dial down the severity a little bit, you can relate to what David did. In the moment, you know, I've definitely said some things or done some things that I probably shouldn't have done. And then when you get called out for it, you get defensive, and then you do some other things that you shouldn't have done, because it's in the moment; it's still raw, and you're hormonal or your, you know, your brain is just not working the way it should. And after you have some time to cool off and to think about it, you look back and you're like, "what was I thinking! I can't believe I did that. I am embarrassed. I don't deserve anything. Like I just feel so heavy with guilt and sorrow, and you have to take that to God and let God do the forgiving and then you have to forgive yourself.
But the thing is, when you're not popular, when you're not an influencer, when you're not a leader, it's a lot easier to do this in your closet, in your house, in your apartment wherever away from prying eyes. It's a lot easier to just deal with one person and be like "Look, I messed up, I shouldn't have cussed you out. I shouldn't have, you know, done this petty act or whatever," and just let it be between the two of you and God. But when you are in these types of positions, whether it's these celebrities, whether it's popular people on Facebook, on YouTube, on Instagram, whether it's the CEO of a company, or you know somebody that's very popular at school, when all eyes are on you, your repentance is public as well. And you have to—not that it's right for us to judge somebody else, but the truth is in order to stay in that position, you have to convince other people that you are genuinely repentant of your actions, as well. And this ties back into being fearless, being confident and being humble, because a lot of times it's pride that keeps us from admitting the truth. It's pride that keeps us from saying "I was wrong." It's pride that keeps us from reaching out to make amends for something we've done. But David didn't let pride stand in the way of him reconciling with God, and that is the most important thing.
Once you realize that you've made a mistake, you can't go back and fix it. Even if it's—like obviously if you kill somebody, you can't bring them back to life, but even if it's just, you said something you shouldn't have said or you know you did something less dramatic, you cannot change the fact that you did it. Even if it's like, say you stole a piece of gum out the candy bin at the gas station. You didn't get caught, so you go back and you put the gum back. OK, yeah no harm no foul, maybe. Maybe you won't go to jail. Maybe the person will never know, but the point is, God knows. You can't change the fact that you actually did that, and if you took a lie detector test and somebody asked had you ever stolen it would still waiver if you said no, because you did steal. Because you've already done it. We can't go back in the past and change things. What we can do is move forward and admit that that was wrong, and decide not to repeat that behavior.
So, I think that that's very important for anybody who's in a position of power, a of position of leadership, a position of influence, to be able to say "Hey I did this, and this was not a good thing to do. I don't know why I did it—or I do know why I did it. This is why I did it, but I should not have done it, and in the future I don't want to continue to do these things." That's the only way to really go about life, but I think that there's something very inspiring when we see people do that. When we see people lower themselves to the point that they can admit their faults, and then watching them rise above that is just a beautiful thing. So I definitely think that these three traits can be found in pretty much anybody you admire, anybody that you would consider popular. I think that they're found in people who are strong leaders and I think they should be found in all of us, as we profess to be followers of Christ, because Christ has called us to be leaders.
Ambassadors to the Kingdom (00:18:38)
I've been reading The Purpose Driven Life with my young adult group at church, and so far, my favorite thing out of the book is a chapter where he talks about—he being Rick Warren, the author of Purpose Driven Life—he talks about the fact that we should think of ourselves as ambassadors to the kingdom of God, not a citizens of whatever country it is that we're in. And so, as ambassadors for the kingdom of God, our responsibility is to show the people who are native to whatever nation we're in—so Earth in general—what the kingdom of God is supposed to look like. So by definition, we're supposed to be influencers. We're supposed to be leaders. We're supposed to be quote-unquote popular—not in the sense of teen movies where everyone likes you, and you get to win homecoming king or queen, but in the sense that people know who you are. People know what you stand for, and people have a desire to be like you, because you're being like Christ and what they really want is to be like Christ!
So I think that as we go through our life and as we go through our day-to-day routines, we should look at our actions and our decisions, and see if we're being confident. Are we being fearless? Are we tackling each situation with the knowledge that God has already won the battle? Are we being humble, because God won the battle not us? And it is not behooving—or becoming—of anyone to be prideful. That's one of the first mistakes that we can make. It's definitely a downward spiral from there, so keeping that humility. And then of course, we will mess up, but when we mess up can we admit that we have done wrong? Can we repent? Can we make amends for it? And will we go about our fullest potential to make right what we have wronged. That is what kind of person David is, and that is what kind of person I hope to be, and I will be like that, too.
Wrap Up (00:21:09)
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References and Footnotes
- 1 Samuel 17
- 1 Samuel 17:16-18
- Numbers 1:45
- Well, that and Bathsheba, but I digress
- This quote is from John Dalberg Acton