Monthly Archives: May 2014

David was great when he inquired of the Lord

When the historians wrote of David’s life, they did so with much admiration.  What he contributed to his generation was astounding.  How does one live to serve the purposes of God in his or her generation (Acts 13:36) and leave such a legacy?  It requires having a heart after God.  And, developing a heart after God will be in direct proportion to the quantity and quality of time invested with God.  I want to introduce what I believe is a major flaw for many leaders.

I suspect that when most people think about time with God, they think about talking to Him.  In Proverbs 15:8 we learn that the prayer of the upright is His delight.  So by asking or inquiring of God, we delight Him.  But, as any parent (or grandparent) knows, a love relationship involves more than asking.  It involves shared time and experiences together.

During David’s early life as a shepherd, he cultivated a habit for reflection and meditation and enjoying time with God.  We observe such a posture continuing after he was anointed and when he eventually became recognized as God’s choice of king.

In particular, we see that David disengaged from his disheartening situation at Ziklag after the wives, children, and possessions were taken captive by the Amalekites (1 Sam 30).  He found strength from the Lord for making the needed decisions.  In another difficult time when his sons were in rebellion (2 Sam 13), David’s reflection and processing of how his sin complicated life is apparent by his disposition.  Also, after his crisis with Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Sam 12), he apparently resisted reflection but eventually came to his senses and through deep reflection, he repented (Ps 32, 51).  We learn that David did not use reflection as a leadership practice only in times of trouble but when there was peace he practiced reflection as well.  This was how his dream to build a house for God came to pass (2 Sam 7).  We can only assume this reflective practice was often repeated resulting in Psalms of thanks and praise.

The art of reflection is essential for effective leadership.  Wise men and women, extroverts as well as introverts, will intentionally disengage on a regular basis to refocus their perspective and replenish their inner strength for the complicated responsibility of leadership.  When times for reflection are few, a leader is far more susceptible to making poor decisions.  Even David, a man after God’s heart, was all too human in illustrating both the benefits of and consequences for the lack of reflection.

Building upon the habitual practice of being with God, David was able to inquire with sincere motives that flowed from a lifestyle of intimacy with his Shepherd.  Seeking and inquiring of the Lord became a hallmark of David (1 Sam 22:10).  Also see 1 Sam 22:13; 23:2,4; 30:8; 2 Sam 2:1; 5:19, 23; 14:10; 1 Chr 14:10,14.  By contrast, the only mention of this practice with Saul is that he did not inquire of the Lord (1 Chr 10:14) or that the Lord did not answer him (1 Sam 28:6).  In 1 Sam 27:8 and following David did not inquire of the Lord and so these killings were murder.

What is your habitual practice of disengaging from the routine of leadership and life to draw near to God in an undistracted way?  How often do you make this a priority?  Weekly, monthly, quarterly?  What support do you need to ensure that this priority is not compromised?  Spouse, supervisor, friend?  All great leaders take time for reflection.  Great Christian leaders inquire of the Lord from a habitual practice of disengagement with reflection.  When is your next scheduled time to do so??

 

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David was great because of the people he attracted

In 1 Samuel we learn that David was a man of good appearance (16:7, 12); he was a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, a handsome man, and the Lord is with him (16:18); he exhibited great courage in fighting wild animals as well as the giant (17:32-37); and we could go on listing his admirable qualities. Such qualities do make someone attractive.

In general, people are attracted to leaders, regardless of age, gender, or race, for one of three reasons. A leader can have positional authority. The Bible teaches that those in authority are there by God’s doing (Ps 75:6-7; Rom 13:1) and worthy of respect. With a leadership role comes visibility and power, both of which can be attractive to those watching or wanting something. Hopefully, the way a leader lives and leads from their position is for the good of those following. Positional authority can also have a cultural dimension. In many cultures around the world, authority rests exclusively with those who have a certain pedigree or are of a certain age. David had the former (lineage) but not the latter when he was initially attracting men.

People are also attracted to leaders because of their personal authority. By this we imply that the leader has gained likeability and credibility through competence, charisma, and character. In most leadership studies, integrity is the most sought after quality in an attractive leader. David seemed to shine in these areas except for a few times when his baser humanity dominated.

Although men were clearly attracted to David because of his positional and personal authority, what surely stood out above all else was David’s spiritual authority. He was a man who knew God experientially as well as theologically. I suspect that people chose to join him and continued to follow him because they sensed God’s anointing on his life (2 Sam 23:8-39).

After some immediate popularity, David went through several years of being chased by his adversary, Saul. During those years, David learned crucial lessons that guided his leadership throughout life. Trust and dependency upon God were foundational. Persevering through difficulties was essential. Living and leading from personal integrity was indispensable.

Mighty men sought him out and wanted to be on his team (1 Chr 11-12). Women found him physically attractive as well as authentic and desired his company (1 Sam 25; 2 Sam 11). David had capacity for deep friendships and was unashamed to show emotions (1 Sam 20:41). In short, David was great because of the men (and women) he attracted; and the reason men and women were attracted was largely due to his spiritual authority.

How does a person today develop spiritual authority? It does not come from being anointing with oil by a prophet/priest as Samuel did for David. We glean insight about spiritual authority from Peter and John in Acts 4:13 when their authority was attributed to having been with Jesus. They were empowered to speak the Word with boldness. They performed mighty acts that resulted in the healing of bodies and souls. They were sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Their enemies could not refute their spiritual authority.

What is your spiritual authority quotient? SAQ. It can be developed—not by more education or nurturing talent but only through the growing sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and having shared life experience with Jesus. Just as people were attracted to David and to Jesus because of their spiritual authority, people will want to follow you as a leader when you exude the same.

Next Blog: David was great when he inquired of the Lord.

 

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David was great because he was focused on God’s glory

In the well-recognized Greek lexicon by Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich, the Acts 13:22 use of “after” is referred to under the heading of norm, similarity, or homogeneity. Its usage includes: according to, in accordance with, in conformity with, and corresponding to. Thus, Paul’s usage would seem to indicate an intention of communicating a certain and close association in kind. Paul, under inspiration, added to 1 Sam 13:14 (after My heart) the words, “who will do all My will.” So, a vital aspect of understanding how David’s heart was like God’s heart includes what one ultimately considers being God’s will?

David was deeply mentored and impacted by Samuel (1 Sam 19:18) who never recovered from the Ark of the Covenant being treated as a magical instrument and lost to the Philistines (1 Sam 4:1-18). The Ark, from the time of Moses onward, represented the presence of God with His chosen people. David came to grasp how God longed to be present with His people—that foreshadowed Immanuel. The recovery of the Ark and eventually establishing a place for it to reside was a life long focus. Finally he was able to retrieve the Ark (2 Sam 6, 1 Chr 15) and after an embarrassing and costly delay, returned it to Jerusalem. In the dedication that followed, David expressed his heart—he was consumed with God’s glory and committed to His being known among the nations.

The pinnacle of David’s life comes in 2 Sam 7 (1 Chr 17) when he expressed his deep desire to build a house for God (that is, for the Ark). In response, God pulls back the curtain and explains why He chose David. Although a house for the Ark was part of God’s plan, David understood correctly that God’s will was more fully realized as He became known and glorified.

The record of David’s life ends with final exhortations about the temple to be built as a place for God to dwell and where peoples from all over the earth would worship Him. David passionately did all he could in preparations for the magnificent building and in motivating others to get involved. In his final words of wisdom to Israel, David expressed his heart desire that was God’s heart desire and His will.

“Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.”

David had a heart after God and did God’s will. If God’s will is ultimately understood in His delight to glorify Himself (as the beginning of the Westminster Shorter Catechism suggests), then that must also be the willful determination of everyone who has a heart after God.

How do you understand God’s glory? How specifically do you glorify God? What could possibly be more important than growing in our understanding and advancing of God’s glory? If we want a heart after God, like David, it will be because we are focused on God’s glory.

Recommendation: Piper, J. (1998). God’s passion for his glory. Wheaton: Crossway Pub.

Next Blog: David was great because of the men he attracted.

 

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David was great because he was humble

Many people have been baffled by the divinely inspired words describing David as a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22; 1 Sam 13:14; 16:1) because of the many deficiencies recorded in the Bible of David’s life. In order to fully understand the meaning of this statement (which is beyond the space of this blog) we must both understand the original context of 1 Sam 13 and how Paul quotes this designation in Acts 13.

What we can begin to understand is that the biblical meaning for heart is not just the seat of physical life but also the seat of feelings, emotions, desires and passions. Often the heart is the seat of mental, spiritual, and volitional decisions. The heart refers to all one is and does (Prov 4:23). God sought a man who at the very core had certain qualities that would resonate with His heart.

Isaiah concisely summed up what God looks for in a heart like His when he wrote in chapter 66:2 …“but this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” Let us look at how David was humble.

David was the youngest son. He had the least seniority and did the most undesirable tasks. We assume he had a good attitude and made the most of his situation (1 Sam 16:12). David served Saul well, ministering to his needs when all the while he knew he was anointed to be King one day. David was learning to be a servant (1 Sam 16:23). David submitted to his father with respect and obedience. He continued serving as a shepherd even after he and his father knew he would be King (1 Sam 17:20). It took humility for David to acknowledge his responsibility and regret for the deaths of the priests (1 Sam 22:22). Abigail reminds David of his destiny and he listens to this stranger woman (1 Sam 25:32). David made the poor decision to go into battle with the Philistines against Saul but later he regains equilibrium by humbling himself (1 Sam 30:6). Numerous other times we can observe the posture and attitude of humility in David but two references deserve special notice.

David’s first response, after Nathan told him that God would give him an enduring legacy (2 Sam 7:18f), is to sit before God and pray. David is humbled by God’s grace: “Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?” He acknowledges that he is but a servant and goes on to praise God’s greatness. Here is David at his best!

Then, after life unravels due to his sin with Bathsheba, Uriah, Amnon, and Absolom, requiring him to flee Jerusalem, David responded to Zadok the priest with faith and humility in the sovereignty of God (2 Sam 15:25-26). “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his dwelling place. But if he says, ‘I have no pleasure in you,’ behold, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.”

Although a man with flaws, for sure, David was humble. How much of this humility does God see in you? How do you handle menial tasks that seem to have little value? What is your response when people do not give you the respect that your position or anointing should elicit? Can you acknowledge responsibility when others suffer because of your decisions? How well do you listen to and appreciate what others say, especially those who might not be of your maturity? How do you immediately respond when receiving blessing? And, when you have sinned, even multiple times, what is your posture of repentance and waiting on God to restore you?

To this one I will look says the Lord. David was great in part because he was humble. By God’s grace may we be like David in this regard!

Next Blog: David was great because he was focused on God’s glory.

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