King David was one of only three successful kings of Israel. Think about that for a moment. To use approximations, the Israelite exodus happened between 1500-1300 BC. David reigned around 1000 BC. He was followed by Solomon. Then the kingdom fell apart. Before the captivity, only Hezekiah might be considered a successful king as nations are evaluated.
David’s kingship could be categorized as an enigma.
On the one hand, David was God’s chosen leader. Psalm 78:70-72 says it best, “He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.”
David was a skilled leader. He led God’s flock like a good shepherd. He led with integrity. To this day, orthodox Jewish people, still awaiting their idea of a messiah, expect a king like David to lead them.
On the other hand, David was flawed. He wife Michal reviled him for being full of himself and dancing as he returned to Jerusalem after military victory. He ordered the warrior Uriah to be murdered in battle in order to steal his wife, Bathsheba.
David may have been a great king, but he didn’t lead his family well. They were a mess. His son Amnon raped his own sister and was murdered out of revenge by Absalom. Sons Absalom and Adonijah each attempted mutiny to seize their father’s throne. Because of David’s militarism and failures, God would not allow him to build his Temple.
David is a perfect example of the enigmatic nature of each of us who is called to lead. In spite of the sinful condition of our humanity, God has called leaders. God works in spite of our weaknesses. God uses those who live to serve him, seek to be faithful to him, and give glory to his name. Every one of us is called; every one of us is flawed.
Where was David’s purpose in life and his mission as a leader best stated? In his early life, this shepherd boy met a giant. The ancient people believed it was not a human confrontation, but a meeting of the pagan god of Philistia and the God of Israel. Odds were with Goliath.
As David approached the giant, he prayed the stone would fly straight so that the world would know the God of Israel. Throughout his life, David experienced success, and David experienced overwhelming grief and failure.
David’s life is a lesson for those who are called to lead. We, too, are human and will fail. But like David, when we answer God’s call and lead so that the world will know our God, then God will act. He will use us for his purpose and to advance his kingdom. That is our mission. That is our calling.
Devotionals are written by Jeff Blamer, Vice President of Member Services