1–7 October 2017.
As David’s life comes to an end, what’s left over from his reign? What is it about David that we will remember the most? Is it his poetry and songs, his military battles, or his many failings and sins?
When historians sit down to write about the past, the main thing they focus on is wars and battles. The historical books of the Old Testament are no different. They write about the deeds of great men, the courageous actions of soldiers in battle, and the victories they won in war. At the end of 2 Samuel, we even find these lists commemorating the great soldiers that served under David: the “Group of Thirty” mightiest warriors, as well as the victories of those who rose to become the greatest three soldiers in the nation. But at the end of an era, at the end of a king’s life, is that all that’s left over – just wars and battles and bloodshed? Is military power really the best way to measure a nation, or its king?
In David’s final words we see a different view. In 23:2–4, God reveals to David what it really means to be a great leader. It means ruling in a way that respects God’s will, ruling with righteousness, and working for justice and fairness in the country. That’s what makes a leader really great, not military power or how many people his soldiers can kill.
To have a leader who cares for justice and for what is right – that’s the greatest blessing a country can have. As we see in v.4, such a leader creates a feeling of hope, like seeing the first rays of morning light after a dark night. Such a leader brings joy, like the arrival of worry-free, clear skies. And such a leader brings new life to the nation, like the fresh rains which water the earth and help it grow. Those are the real signs of a great leader.
But now as David lies on his bed at the end of his life, did he wonder whether he had achieved that high standard? Did he have any last regrets about the way he led Israel? At the end of life, it’s only natural to ask those questions. But sadly, at the end of life it’s too late to do anything about it!
But for us, the good news is that it’s not yet too late. We may not be kings or rulers, but in our lives now we still have the chance to follow God and work for what is right and just. For us, it’s not yet too late to make a great change in this world, and to leave behind something truly wonderful for the next generation.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis