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Intro: Criticism! No one like to receive it, but it will come anyway! Regardless of how well you live your life or try to conduct yourself in front of others, there will always be those around you who will find something to criticize.

Who can forget the life of Job? Here was a man that the Lord called "perfect and upright, and one that feared God and escheweth evil." Yet, when various calamities fell upon his life and Job's friends came to be with him, all they could find to do to Job was to criticize him. Notice what they said about this man of God, "You are a hypocrite!", Job 5:4-5! "You are a windbag!", Job 8:2! "You're just getting what you deserve!", Job 5:8-15! "You have a bad attitude!", Job 5:17! There are many more verses that could be mentioned where the friends of Job attacked and criticized this godly man. Yet, through it all, Job stuck with the Lord and never turned on God. As a result, he was restored and blessed by the Father.

Have you ever been criticized by others? Of course you have! And, you will be again! When it comes your way, you need to know how to respond to your critics so that you can have the victory.

In this passage, we find David on the run from King Saul. He has fled to the land of the Philistines and is waiting there for the Lord to deliver to him the kingdom of Israel. During this time, there arose a series of events that lead to David being criticized by his own people. In fact, verse 6 tells us that they were even talking about stoning David to death over this thing.

Tonight, I would like for us to look into this passage and see what brought about their criticism and how David handled himself in the face of their attack. The lessons gleaned from these verses will help us when we too find ourselves the focus of criticism. Let me speak to you for a few minutes about How To Handle Your Critics.


A. 29:1-5 A Misguided Decision - Ill. The context. In all reality, David probably had no business trying to help the Philistines defeat Israel. Whatever his reasoning, David was leading his troops to fight against their own people. When things turned out as the did, his men were justified in questioning David's decision.

(Ill. When criticism comes your way, one of the main things you need to ask yourself is, "Is this true?" Instead of reacting defensively against your critic, try to put yourself in their shoes for a moment and try to see the issue through their eyes. It may be that they are right, at least to degree. Give them the benefit of the doubt.)

B. V. 1-3 A Military Defeat - Ill. The context! When these men returned home, they found that their town had been destroyed by the Amalekites. To the minds of these men David was responsible for this event. If they had been home, instead of away to fight in a war, they could have defended their wives, children and property. Their distress is easy to understand!

(Ill. Apparently David was doing what he thought was right. However, those around him saw things a different way. We just need to remember that not everyone will agree with us all the time. There will always be those who could do it better, or who would do it differently. The critics are always close at hand!)

(Ill. John Wesley was deeply disturbed by people who seemed to enjoy criticizing others, especially those who were in the Lord's work. Once while he was preaching, he noticed a lady in the congregation who was well known for her critical attitude. All through the service she sat and stared at his new tie. When the meeting was ended, she came up to him and said very sharply, "Mr. Wesley, the strings on your bow tie are much too long. It's an offense to me!" He asked if any of the ladies present happened to have a pair of scissors in their purse. When they were handed to him, he gave them to the critic and ask her to trim the streamers to her liking.

After she clipped them off near the collar, he said, "Are you sure they're right now?" "Yes", she said, "that's much better!" "Then let me have those shears a moment," said Wesley. "I'm sure you wouldn't mind if I also give you a bit of correction. I don't mean to be cruel, but I must tell you, madam, that your tongue is an offense to me - it's too long! Please stick it out, I'd like to trim some off." Of course, Wesley didn't follow through on his threat, but he sure made his point!)

C. V. 4-5 A Monumental Discouragement - Ill. The context. When the tragedy is discovered, the men weep until they can weep no more and needing a scapegoat, they turn on David, v. 6. However, what they failed to realize, and the Bible points this put, David's wives were among those taken captive. They were simply concerned with themselves and refused to see the bigger picture.

(Ill. Such is the way with critics! Very often, they are so caught up in themselves, how they feel, what is happening to them and how they are being affected that they cannot see things objectively. The best way to deal with this is to do what David did: Don't respond to your critic! Criticism often has the effect of injuring the critic more than the one criticized! One fellow put it this way, "If criticism had has any real power to harm, the skunk would be extinct by now."

I. The Reason For Their Defeat


A. A Heavy Heart - David is bothered by their reaction. He has suffered just as much loss as they have. His heart was broken that the people had turned on him. In their defense, they were just looking for a scapegoat. Often this is the case in criticism. The critic uses his criticism as a means of raising himself in the eyes of others. Dr. M.R. DeHaan made this statement, "It is a dead giveaway when you meet a person who is always criticizing and finding fault with another brother. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred he's trying to divert attention from his own sins by pointing an accusing finger at someone else."

(Ill. Unfair and unjust criticism always has a way of striking you right in the heart. It is painful, when you have done your best, to know that someone is observing your life to find fault. It is natural to be bothered by criticism. However, criticism should never be allowed to control your life.)

(Ill. The wife of a hard to please husband was determined to satisfy him for just one day. "Darling", she asked, "what would you like for breakfast this morning?" He growled, "Coffee and toast, grits and sausage, and two eggs - one scrambled and one fried." She soon had the food on the table and waited for a word of praise. After a quick glance at his plate, he exclaimed, "Well, if you didn't scramble the wrong egg!" The moral? Some people will never be happy no matter what you do, no matter what you say, no matter to what lengths you go to in order to satisfy them. People like that are not worth you're the time it takes for you to try and make them happy. Does it hurt when people criticize? Yes! But in the end, the only Person Who deserves to be pleased at all costs is God! Therefore, let the critics criticize and the complainers complain. If God is pleased with your life and mine then we have accomplished something of the first order!)

B. A Humble Heart - Please note that David did not respond to his critics! He was upset and hurt but he did not retaliate.

(Ill. The danger of being criticized is that it can cause you to develop a spirit of bitterness toward the criticizer. The surest way to fuel the fire of criticism, as well as the speculation that the critic may be right, is to go on the defensive. The best response to criticism is no response at all!)

(Ill. Colonel George Washington Goethals was the primary supervisor responsible for constructing the Panama Canal. This feat of engineering called for the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico to be linked by a canal dug across the country of Panama. Since its completion, ships have saved millions of combined miles by being able to go through the canal and avoid the trip around the tip of South America. While the work was being done, Colonel Goethals had to endure severe criticism from back home which predicted that he would never be able to finish, what his critics called an "impossible task". This man refused to listen to his critics and pressed ahead with his work.

One day a subordinate asked this question, "aren't you going to answer your critics?" "In time", the Colonel replied. "How?", the man asked. The Colonel smiled and said, "With the canal!" His answer came loud and clear on August 15, 1914 when the Panama Canal opened to traffic for the first time.

This man answered his critics by sticking to the task at hand and humbly doing the work which he had been assigned! What a lesson for the child of God!)

C. A Hopeful Heart - When David did react, notice how it came about. David turned to the Lord and called on His name. He knew that things might look bad for him and for his men, but David knew that the Lord was in control of all the matters of life. In the face of criticism, David turned to the Lord for encouragement. The word for "encouraged" means "to seize something as a support to give yourself strength." David did what we could all learn to do and that is to take our trouble, along with our critics, to the Lord!

(Ill. Far too often, we try to take matters into our own hands. We want to handle our critics. We want to ell them off. We want to put them in their place. Our best course of action is to take them to the Lord and ask God to show us if their criticism is valid. If it is, then deal with it! If it isn't, then we need to leave our critics in the hands of God. He knows far better than us how they need to be dealt with! And, you had better believe that He will deal with them! Rom. 12:19)

I. The Reason For Their Criticism

II. The Reaction To Their Criticism


A. V. 7-10 David's Faith Was Visible - When the critics began their harassment of David, he responded by turning to the Lord in prayer. He knew that retaliation was not the answer, but the families of David and his men needed to be saved and he went to the Lord to ask for God's guidance. It was evident to all his critics that David was walking with God in spite of their attack!

(Ill. There is a lesson here for you and me. When we are criticized and attacked, our best response is simply to carry on with business s usual! Just keep on serving God and be what the Lord has saved you to be. He will bless that attitude more than He could ever bless an attitude of bitterness and one that lashes out at its enemies.)

B. V. 11-17 David's Faith Was Vindicated - David, through the providence of the Lord was lead in the right direction and he and his men found the Amalekites and they defeated them. Because David refused to get caught up in little personal battles, God was able to use him in a great way to secure victory for himself and for the people. By his actions, David proved that he was who he claimed to be. They doubted his leadership abilities before, but now they know that David is the man that they should be following.

(Ill. Again, there is something for us to learn here. If we will stick by the Lord in the face of our critics and attackers, then we can be assured of God's help and of the fact that He will see us through ever battle!)

C. V. 18-20 David's Faith Was Victorious - These verses tell us about the great victory that the Lord gave to David. Did you notice that they recovered everything, v. 18-19? Did you also notice who got the credit on a human level, v. 18-20? David got the credit! Now, those men who wanted to stone him and were critical of his life were forced to admit that David was right.

Conc: Do you see that truth that is displayed here? Criticism is going to come your way! However, you have the choice as to how you respond to that criticism. As I close, I would like to share with you 4 steps to take when you are criticized by another. Perhaps these will help you when that next critic unleashes his or her long tongue against your life.

1. Accept criticism as inevitable.

2. Carefully examine the source of every criticism. Some may be valid, but many are not! Ask yourself, "Who is the one saying this thing?"

3. Decide not to take criticism personally. Look at it objectively and try to learn from it. Ask yourself, "Is there any truth to this?"

4. Commit the matter to the Lord and with His help rise above it! Allow Him to vindicate you in His own time and in His own way. If we fail to cope with criticism, we will become like our critics!

It may be that you are being forced to deal with an issue like this right now. Maybe you are being criticized. I don't know why the Lord sent this message, but I ma sure that someone here this evening needed some of this. If this spoke to a need in your life, then I would like to invite you to bring that need before the Lord and allow Him the opportunity to do His great work in your life.

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