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How Do I Know If Insecurity Is Running My Life?

Eye-opening lessons from the life of King Saul
Insecurity running life
Listen to this devotional

When you think of an insecure person, what do you think of?

I often think of someone who is timid or shy, or feels the need to prove themselves to people.

While I have been this definition of insecure many times, the truth is insecurity has many faces and can run deeper in our hearts than we realize. Left unchecked, it has the ability to rob us of our destiny and take over our lives.

In this study, we’ll learn to recognize our insecurity and find security in our relationship with God

Their confidence hangs by a thread. They are leaning on a spider’s web. They cling to their home for security, but it won’t last. They try to hold it tight, but it will not endure.

Job 8:14-15 NLT

The Bible shows us we will be insecure when we base our confidence on anything other than God. When we try to rely on ourselves, people’s approval, achievements, or anything else over God, we will be left insecure. 

Thankfully, people in the Bible are human just like us, and we can learn from their example the effect insecurity has on our lives and how God gives us a way out. 

In 1 Samuel, Saul was chosen by God to lead the people of Israel as their first king. But he didn’t see himself the way God saw him, and this insecurity ended up controlling his life.

…And I am here to tell you that you and your family are the focus of all Israel’s hopes.” [21] Saul replied, “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?”

1 Samuel 9:20-21 NLT

The level of insecurity Saul had should elicit empathy rather than criticism from us, understanding that we are all capable of going down this path when we don’t choose to look to God for security.

Let’s look at some examples from Saul’s life of how insecurity can show itself, and then discover how we can truly be secure with God.

Insecurity…

Panics 

“What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, [12] I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”

“You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time.

1 Samuel 13:11-13 NIV

In 1 Samuel 13, Saul was going to battle against the much bigger Philistine army. The prophet Samuel said he would come to help, but when Saul saw his men running away, he panicked and acted out of desperation.

Saul seemed to have put his security in the size of his army, so he acted impulsively the minute that was taken away and made mistakes he would later regret. 

  • What do you put your security in?
  • How do you react when that security is taken away? 

Seeks security in humanism 

Then Samuel left Gilgal and went up to Gibeah in Benjamin, and Saul counted the men who were with him. They numbered about six hundred.

1 Samuel 13:15 NIV

Saul was obsessed with the size of his army because he was convinced that human effort would save him instead of God. When we rely on humanism for security, we often become obsessed with holding tightly on to what we think will make us feel better.

Some examples might include:

  • Getting good grades
  • Advancing in our career
  • Getting attention from people
  • Having a significant other to make us happy
  • Social media likes and engagement

This obsession often leads us to isolating ourselves and not caring about the people around us.

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them-living and breathing God!

Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God.

Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.

Romans 8:5 – The Message

When I’m obsessed with humanism, I end up becoming completely absorbed in myself, which makes me ignore not only God but the people around me.

Security in God allows us to let go of the things we hold on to so tightly, so we can have room to love!

  • What form of humanism have you become obsessed with?
  • How has this kept you from loving God and others?

Is impatient and anxious 

Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God.” (At that time it was with the Israelites.) [19] While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the Philistine camp increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”

1 Samuel 14:18-19 NIV

When Saul saw the Philistine army coming closer, the ensuing anxiety made him impatient, and he essentially said “nevermind” to asking God for help and wisdom. He was so focused on rushing to relieve his anxiety that he didn’t realize the only one who could do that was God.

Insecurity speeds us up. It makes us rush through life, which often leads to mistakes, distractions, and skipping corners. In all our rushing, we end up missing out on what matters most.

All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].

Proverbs 15:15 AMPC

“Despondent” means in low spirits from loss of hope or courage. “Foreboding” means a feeling that something bad is about to happen. When we don’t deal with these feelings of anxiety and discouragement, the Bible says we turn to more evil.

We need to let our anxious thoughts drive us to God, rather than to more rushing and striving. 

  • What anxious thoughts and discouragement do you need to take to God today?

Blames instead of taking responsibility  

Now the Israelites were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” So none of the troops tasted food…They pounced on the plunder and, taking sheep, cattle and calves, they butchered them on the ground and ate them, together with the blood.

[33] Then someone said to Saul, “Look, the men are sinning against the LORD by eating meat that has blood in it.” “You have broken faith,” he said. “Roll a large stone over here at once.”

1 Samuel 14:24, 32-33 NIV

Saul and his men actually started winning against the Philistines, but in his insecurity he became so impatient and determined to win that he ordered his soldiers to keep attacking without eating any food the entire day.

Once the day was over, the men were so starved that they began to eat meat with blood still in it. Rather than take responsibility for his rash and impulsive decision-making, Saul blamed the soldiers for what they did.

Insecurity makes it difficult to take responsibility, and we often are quick to point the finger in blame. We can’t handle the weight of responsibility, so rather than humbly turning to God, we place that burden on someone else. 

  • How easy is it for you to take responsibility?
  • What in your life are you blaming others for?

Is led by fear of people 

Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the LORD’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. [30] …But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD your God.”

1 Samuel 15:24,30 NIV

We know we are insecure when we cave and give in to people. We become so consumed with getting approval, attention, and recognition from people that we compromise our convictions. 

In 1 Samuel 15, Samuel tried to tell Saul that his fear of people and compromise was costing him his kingship. But Saul was so consumed with his image that he cared more about looking good and being “honored” in front of the people than he did about what God chose him to do.

  • What purpose are you missing out on by being consumed by people?
  • How has your fear of people led you to compromise?

Is desperate for credit 

Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?”

1 Samuel 18:8 NIV

Saul could have been grateful for the compliments that were made about him, but because he was insecure he got jealous for not receiving more credit. 

When we are insecure, we can become desperate for getting every bit of credit we think we deserve. Then we get bitter and critical toward others who are being recognized. 

Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do. So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others.

Romans 12:4-5 TLB

Saul could have seen the credit David received and admired and learned from him. But because he was so insecure, he didn’t see that he and David were meant to work together, not against each other.

Insecurity makes us isolate ourselves, and we don’t end up valuing the strengths of others and working together as a team. 

  • How has your desperation for credit made you bitter or critical towards others?
  • Who are you meant to work together with toward something greater?

Is consumed with competition   

So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.

1 Samuel 18:9 NLT

Because Saul was so insecure, his view of people was twisted. To him, David was a competitor, not a friend.

[28] When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, [29] Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.

1 Samuel 18:28-29 NIV

Insecurity will lead to bitter jealousy whenever we feel like we are on the losing side of a comparison. When I feel this way, I look at everyone through the lens of competition – I measure myself against others, calculating who is better or worse in every way.

But this makes me miss out on the refreshment relationships can bring, and my feelings of inferiority drive me deeper into insecurity.

  • How do you view relationships? Do you see what you can learn from others, or how you compare?
  • What refreshment are you missing out on by competing?

Pushes away relationships

Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? [31] As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!”

[32] “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father. [33] But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David.

1 Samuel 20:30-33 NIV

Ultimately, amidst everything else that came from Saul’s unaddressed insecurity, the saddest and most damaging thing was that Saul’s insecurity made him push away the relationships in his life. He assumed his son Jonathan was conspiring against him, even though Jonathan was trying to help him.

When we get suspicious and assume people are against us, we are often operating from a place of deep insecurity. Even when others try to care about us, we push them away.

  • How has your insecurity made you push people away?

How do I break free from insecurity?

Secure in love

Samuel continued, “You may not think you’re very important, but the LORD chose you to be king, and you are in charge of the tribes of Israel.”

1 Samuel 15:17 CEV

Saul’s insecurity was that he was terrified he wasn’t important enough, so he did everything he could to prove that he was. But in trying to make himself secure, he missed out on the confidence and peace that come with knowing you are chosen by God.

God didn’t expect Saul to prove himself, because he already chose him for who he was. 

“The LORD did not set his heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations!

[8] Rather, it was simply that the LORD loves you, and he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors. That is why the LORD rescued you with such a strong hand from your slavery and from the oppressive hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.”

Deuteronomy 7:7-8 NLT

We can be content with who we are and where we’re at when we see that God chose us simply because he loves us.

We don’t have to prove ourselves, pretend to be someone we’re not, or measure up to an impossible standard. We are chosen simply because we are loved.

  • What insecurities are you stuck in?
  • Do you believe God loves and chooses you for who you are?

Secure in who we are

…They won’t lie, won’t use words to flatter or seduce. Content with who they are and where they are, unanxious, they’ll live at peace.

Zephaniah 3:13b MSG

When we see we are loved for who we are, we can be content. We can be unanxious and at peace, because we have nothing to prove. We can embrace our flaws, weaknesses, and even strengths for what they are because we don’t need to be better or perfect to be secure. This kind of heart takes humility.

David was just as flawed as Saul. But he was secure because his focus was on God instead of himself. While Saul saw his weaknesses and was driven to insecurity and pride, David’s weaknesses drove him to be humble and grateful for God:

Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and prayed, “Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? [19] And now, Sovereign LORD, in addition to everything else, you speak of giving your servant a lasting dynasty! Do you deal with everyone this way, O Sovereign LORD?

[20] “What more can I say to you? You know what your servant is really like, Sovereign LORD. [21] Because of your promise and according to your will, you have done all these great things and have made them known to your servant.

[22] “How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you!

2 Samuel 7:18-22 NLT

David didn’t suppress or try to hide his weaknesses. He didn’t try to prove himself or compete with other people.

Instead, he was just grateful that God chose him anyway. His insecurity drove him closer to God, rather than away from him.

  • How do you respond to your weaknesses and flaws?
  • Do you try to cover them up and prove yourself?
  • Or do you let them humble you and express gratitude to God for loving you anyway?

Secure enough to love

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it.

For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

1 John 3:18-20 MSG

A great way to shut down debilitating insecurity and self-criticism is by choosing to love. When we are insecure, our focus is solely on ourselves.

But when we choose to focus on loving others, there isn’t much room for insecurity. You don’t need to be strong or perfect to love, so our insecurities don’t need to have any power over us.

For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them.

2 Timothy 1:7 TLB

It is enjoyable to love others!

When we are focused on making the people around us feel loved, we don’t have time to be afraid of them. This is what it truly means to be free from insecurity.

  • What insecurities wouldn’t have so much power over you if you chose to love?
  • Who can you choose to love today?
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