April 23, 2015 • By Ed Wrather
And David behaved wisely (The Hebrew word is sakal) in all his ways, and the Lord was with him. Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them. - 1 Samuel 18:14-16 NKJV.
18-year-old Austin Hatfield who lives in Hillsborough County, Florida, is in the hospital in serious condition; because…he kissed a snake! Oh, he not only kissed the snake on top of its head once, but 13 times, and that last time was when the Cottonmouth (aka Water Moccasin) bit Austin on his face. Reportedly, Austin had caught the snake while swimming and decided to keep it. Apparently he had also performed the snake kissing on a previous occasion. A friend, James Belcher, said they were at Austin’s home when this incidence occurred. Belcher says that, “We were sitting in the kitchen and he ran out of the room saying, ‘Hospital, hospital, now, now.’” (yahoo7news 04.23.15; WTVY 04.22.15)
In this life there are some things we know, without being told, that we should not do. Kissing a poisonous snake is one of them! However, is kissing a poisonous snake any worse than smoking a cigarette when you know it causes cancer and heart disease? Is kissing a poisonous snake any worse than drinking or doing drugs when you know the horrible toll they will take on your body? The difference only seems to be in the time frame. Kissing a poisonous snake results in immediate negative reinforcement whereas with smoking, drinking, or doing drugs the negative consequences may take years to have full effect. Austin Hatfield may possibly recover from his snake bite, but smoking, drinking and doing drugs will likely result in permanent damage.
King David behaved wisely (sakal) before the people and the Lord. In other words, David didn’t go around kissing snakes! David behaved wisely when confronted with the jealousy of Saul. Saul threw a spear at David intending to kill him. However, David did not throw the spear back, although he could have. David acted wisely by not overreacting and harming Saul, the Lord’s anointed.
The Hebrew word sakal carries the idea of prospering through wisdom and understanding. We see the word used in regard to David’s behavior. The word is also used 69 other times in the Old Testament including Joshua 1:8, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” The word “success” in Joshua 1:8 is the Hebrew word sakal. Someone who has “sakal” is a person who is teachable; and, able to learn and obey the Lord.
You too can have “sakal.” You can avoid kissing poisonous snakes and behave wisely following the example of David. Don’t overreact when there is opposition in your life. Do develop God honoring relationships with other believers as David did with Saul’s son, Jonathan. Do grow in wisdom by studying the Word of God. Then, you will behave wisely and have “good success.”