2 Samuel 5:17-25 – Lessons From David on How To Handle Difficult People In Your Life

Posted: May 31, 2018 in 10-2 Samuel

2 Samuel 5:17-25
David Conquers the Philistines

You know a couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog entitled “If You Had a Goat, They Would Get It” in which I wrote about dealing with difficult people in a godly manner. There are just those people who get under your skin. They passive/aggressively make you feel uncomfortable or less than with veiled comments about your abilities, or your age bracket, or your personality type, or your profession. Never directly at you specifically but general comments about those things but it is always done in your presence. A chuckle here. A veiled comment there. All the while, promoting themselves as being superior because of their abilities, age bracket, personality type, or profession. These are the difficult persons in our lives. We all have them. You may be lucky and have a stretch in your life where there is no difficult person in your life but most of us are not so lucky. We all have a difficult person somewhere in our lives, all our lives. The names change, the source changes, etc. but there is always that one person. Sometimes, you have multiple difficult people in your life in the same stretch of time. What joy these people can be!

How to respond to such people? The natural inclination is to explode at them periodically. Either that or give me the old “freeze out” – not talking to them even in passing in the hallway or something. Even the freeze out ends up at some point in an explosion, it just takes longer. What is it that we should do? Sure, when I have had such people in my life, I tend toward the “freeze out” technique where after an offense has occurred, I just won’t speak to them or only when they address me directly. This often does nothing but make me angrier at that person. I am one of those people who avoids conflict at all cost even to my own detriment sometimes. I then have confrontations with the difficult person in my mind about the offense many times over. What I shoulda said, runs through my mind a lot. Since these are imaginary scenarios in my mind not based in the reality of the missed opportunity to confront the difficult person, it only serves to multiply the degree of the offense in my mind instead of resolving it. One day then a blow up happens where I let go of all that pent-up hurt in one big confrontation. But even responding immediately to every offense or perceived offense is not healthy either.

So, what to do? We should have a relationship with God such that we can go to him even about such things as how to deal with difficult people. We should consult with God in prayer and through His Word as to how to handle such people. When we do get God’s guidance via God’s Word or that feeling, that thought that He gives us through the Holy Spirit, we need to follow God’s instructions carefully. God’s character always involves honesty. God’s character always involves reconciliation. God’s character always involves love. Thus, it is a pretty sure bet that God will give us His will that involves these elements. As sinful humans, we just want to “bomb the place”, “declare war”, and anything that promotes us having victory of that person. Our way typically does not promote true honesty nor reconciliation nor love. We want to win and step on and over the vanquished. Our way usually leads to another “war” or confrontation in increasing levels of hostility. If we just consult God before we dive into doing it our way, we would often save ourselves great deals of heartache.

That idea of consulting God before a confrontation is what struck me in reading this passage today, 2 Samuel 5:17-25. For David, the Philistines were his “difficult people” in his life. They were always a thorn to Israel and particularly to David. He shows us in this passage, how we should handle our responses to difficult people in our lives. Let’s read the passage now, together:


17 When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king of Israel, they mobilized all their forces to capture him. But David was told they were coming, so he went into the stronghold. 18 The Philistines arrived and spread out across the valley of Rephaim. 19 So David asked the Lord, “Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?”

The Lord replied to David, “Yes, go ahead. I will certainly hand them over to you.”

20 So David went to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there. “The Lord did it!” David exclaimed. “He burst through my enemies like a raging flood!” So he named that place Baal-perazim (which means “the Lord who bursts through”). 21 The Philistines had abandoned their idols there, so David and his men confiscated them.

22 But after a while the Philistines returned and again spread out across the valley of Rephaim. 23 And again David asked the Lord what to do. “Do not attack them straight on,” the Lord replied. “Instead, circle around behind and attack them near the poplar[a] trees. 24 When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the poplar trees, be on the alert! That will be the signal that the Lord is moving ahead of you to strike down the Philistine army.” 25 So David did what the Lord commanded, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon[b] to Gezer.

In this passage, we see that David fought his battles the way God instructed him. In each instance he (1) asked if he should fight or not, (2) followed instructions carefully, and (3) gave God the glory. We can err in our “battles” if we ignore these steps and, instead, (1) do what we want without seeking God’s will in the matter first, (2) do things our own way and ignore advice in the Bible or from wiser persons than us and (3) take the glory ourselves or give it to someone else without acknowledging the help we received from God. All these responses are sinful.

Lord, help us to always consult with you before we enter into difficult situations with difficult people. Help us to respond to them in ways that will yield fruit that reflects your character. Help us to seek your Word for our response. Helps us to seek your will through prayer. Help us to seek you in our response.

Amen and Amen.

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