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King David: Tender-hearted leadership

King David was not a perfect man. He had his own share of transgressions, but he had a tender heart and spirit and was quick to repent. There are many reasons why God loved David and promised that the throne of Israel would not depart from his lineage. David was a worshipper. Not only did he pen many of the Psalms, but he danced with abandon before the ark of the covenant as it was returned to its rightful place. Then he declared that he would not offer to God that which cost him nothing. Needless to say, this worship and praise came at great cost because they were birthed out of the things he endured.

David is described as a man after God’s heart. The Psalms reveal his love affair with God. When I read the Psalms, I am touched by the depths of human emotion expressed therein. David experienced heights of joy, love and victory and depths of fear, sorrow and brokenness. In Psalm 56:3, he cried, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in God!” Even his frustrations with his enemies were evident in the prayers he prayed concerning them, while his repentant spirit was revealed in his well-known contrite plea, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit” (Psalm 51:10-12). The Psalms capture the various seasons of David’s journey with God, and through the ages, these same Psalms have provided succor and hope for many.

David was also a humble man. We read about the many opportunities he had to seek revenge, to kill King Saul who was after his life; yet, he spared Saul’s life on more than one occasion. He understood that it was not his place to end Saul’s life and reign, though Saul was envious of David because he saw God’s favor all over him. Saul knew that because of his pride and disobedience, that at just the right time ordained by God, David would replace him as King. So, while he waited for God’s perfect time, David continued to fight battles and build a reputation as a mighty warrior. Time and time again, he found refuge in the God who empowered him to defeat the Philistine giant, Goliath.

It is no surprise, then, that in 1 Samuel 30, when he is in a difficult place, that David turned to this same God. The Bible says “he encouraged himself in the Lord his God” (v.6). While he and his men had been away at war, the Amalekites had raided their town and taken their families captive. In their anger, David’s men turned against him. In his confusion, David inquired of the Lord as to what his next step would be and God encouraged him to fight to get back all that was stolen from them. Only 400 of his 600 men could go to war with him, while the rest stayed back due to battle fatigue.

David and his men went to war, plundered the Amalekites, recovered all they had lost and returned home. The 400 men who had fought with him wanted to keep the loot for themselves. They did not think the 200 men who stayed back deserved any of it. But David displayed great leadership in his response: “No, my brothers! Don’t be selfish with what the Lord has given us. He has kept us safe and helped us defeat the band of raiders that attacked us. Who will listen when you talk like this? We share and share alike—those who go to battle and those who guard the equipment.” (1 Samuel 30:23-24).

Photo by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

David knew something his men did not seem to know. He knew what it meant to be weak and to have his strength renewed. He also knew how unpredictable life could be and that the tides could turn one day for the 400 men and they would be the ones needing mercy. He chose to teach them a lesson in military brotherhood- that when one wins, everyone wins. He also taught them that the battle was the Lord’s and the victory theirs. As recipients of God’s amazing grace, he taught them to extend the same grace to others. What did my study about David reveal to me on an ordinary day? That his life is a lesson in tender-hearted leadership!


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