And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” And Saul eyed David from that day on (1 Samuel 18:7–9, ESV).
Ever feel insecure? Insecurity isn’t rational. Even leaders and successful people who seem to have everything going for them can feel insecure, but this sense of insecurity undermines their effectiveness, service, and well-being. We see this clearly in the life of King Saul, who, despite being tall, handsome, and handpicked by God as the first king of Israel, struggled with a deep sense of insecurity. If it can happen to Saul, it can happen to us too. Here are five clues to help us spot insecurities in ourselves. “I know I’m insecure when . . . ”
1. “Others do well, and that bugs me.” When those around you succeed, do your thoughts veer this direction: How come he’s being honored? Why is she recognized? Why didn’t I get the raise? Note Saul’s response to the recognition David received. Rather than being glad for David’s military victories on behalf of the kingdom of Israel, Saul resented David’s success.
2. “I’d rather do nothing than risk looking bad.” After God called Saul out on his shortcomings, he became paralyzed as a leader, afraid to do the wrong thing, frozen and ineffective. Like Saul, do you feel afraid to fail? Are you willing to take a risk?
“I know who I am because I know whose I am.”
3. “I take myself too seriously.” If you can’t admit your faults; if you can’t laugh at yourself; if others laugh because you say something silly or make a mistake, and that makes you seethe with anger; then you need to chill out! We all make mistakes. King Saul became so stressed out, obsessed with power, jealous of David, and consumed with himself that he couldn’t enjoy laughter or lightness. He lived in a perpetual funk.
4. “I put myself down and can’t accept a sincere compliment.” Even though David persistently honored and respected King Saul, Saul refused to receive it. He couldn’t accept David’s loyalty or feel comfortable around his perceived rival. Do you do the same, shrugging off a compliment with a self-deprecating quip or hiding behind cynicism?
5. “I think other people are out to get me.” This is a terrible way to live, and it’s obvious in Saul’s life. His anxiety grew into bouts of paranoia, provoking him to attack others. Saul almost speared David (his son-in-law) and Jonathan (his own son) to death, neither of whom had done anything disloyal at all. Are you constantly looking over your shoulder, assuming every comment is a conspiracy against you?
Insecure people often become self-absorbed, tiresome, and annoying, which leads to their rejection by others. If you find that people are pushing you off because you’re consumed with yourself, then you’re in danger. A personal, abiding sense of security is a by-product of a right relationship with God and reflects this mentality: I know who I am because I know whose I am, and I know where I’m going. Nothing can shake that. The person who can rest securely in that trust relationship with God is happier, healthier, more effective—and more enjoyable to be around.
Father God, insecurity comes naturally to me at times, yet it’s so uncomfortable. I see the price in King Saul’s life, and I don’t want to live that way. Please grow in me a deep, abiding sense of security—not a false confidence in my own resources, abilities, and wit but an unshakable confidence in You. Please show me signs of insecurity in my life, when I take myself too seriously or resent others or feel afraid to fail. I’m Your child, and You love me. My future and identity are sure because of You, and I can trust You, always. In the name of Jesus, my Savior, amen.