Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic suggested when it comes to leadership success, self-confidence is overrated. Low selfconfidence is better because it causes the leader to be more self-critical, can be a motivation to work harder, and suppresses natural arrogance.
But in our passage today, we discover the key factor that made David a better leader than Saul. It wasn’t primarily a matter of skill or level of confidence. David’s success was a result of his reliance on God. The Chronicler shines a spotlight on two major events in David’s career: when Israel accepted him as their leader, and when he established his capital in Jerusalem. Neither of these events was a result of David’s personal brilliance or natural leadership ability. According to verses 1 through 3, all Israel came together to acknowledge David as their king because of what the Lord had said. Similarly, the military success that enabled David to capture the Jebusite fortress that would eventually be known as the City of David was “because the Lord Almighty was with him” (v. 9).
Experience, skill, and opportunity can contribute to effective leadership. But none of these can substitute for God. Without sensitivity to God’s guidance, our experience and natural ability may lead to a false sense of confidence. We might think we are leading well, when in reality we are drifting away from God’s purposes. The secret to David’s success was his dependency on God. David was responsive to God’s word and dependent upon God’s power.
David was a better leader than Saul, but not a perfect one. He sinned, too. The difference was that Saul covered his sin and tried to save face. David submitted to God’s evaluation of his behavior and repented.