Saturday, July 7, 2012

True to the End

In last week’s lesson we studied the leader Samuel (1 Sam 7:3-11, 15-17) as he enacted the just laws of God. Samuel was called as a prophet, Levitical priest, and judge. When the people insisted on a king, Samuel was hesitant, but it was already in God’s plan for them to have a king. Saul was tall and impressive and the people’s choice, but he lost God’s favor when he began doing things his way and forgot God. Samuel was tasked by God to transfer title of kingship by anointing the youngest son of Jesse, whose name was David. Our lesson today is a study from King David as he profiles the life of godly leadership, maintaining a just society, and God’s covenant to him and his descendants (2 Sam 23:1-7; 1 Chron 18:14).

“Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said,” 2 Sam 23:1 These were David’s last words to the people reflecting his life as a leader and his personal relationship and experience with God. He was close to his final days. But his actual last words are recorded at 1 Kings 2:1-9 with instructions he gave his son Solomon to walk in the ways of God and keep his statutes, ordinances, and commandments. “So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David. And the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years: seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and three years reigned he in Jerusalem.” 1 Kings 2:10-11

Prior to the recorded words found in 1 Kings, we have our message today. David wanted to testify about his lowly upbringing. He was the youngest son, a shepherd boy, of Jesse. Jesse was a descendant of Nahshon, who was the chief of the tribe of Judah during the time of Moses. (Numbers 1:1-7; Matthew 1:1-6) He was raised up from this low upbringing and exalted by God to be king over Israel. It was not because of anything he had done in choosing to be king. God saw in David a man after his own heart to fulfill all His will. Acts 13:22 So, David was anointed/consecrated as a king by Samuel during Saul’s reign. But he did not take possession of the united kingdom of Israel and Judah until 15 years later. While he was both fleeing Saul, his enemies, and as the ruler of the united kingdom, David wrote more than half of the psalms which are onsidered the sweet songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.

“The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.” 2 Sam 23:2 David was directly inspired by God when he communicated the words which are recorded herein for the good of the people. If the people are led by the ways of man, and not God’s, they soon find themselves following unjust practices and idols.

“The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.” 2 Sam 23:3-4 The God of Israel is the Rock. He spoke to David and advised him how to be a good leader. Leaders must be just. They rule over men, but under God. They cannot follow their own rules or require some to follow the rules and allow others to get by with the slightest part of the rules. They must be fair to all in their rulings, in fear and reverence of God. ‘Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.’ Deut 1:17 And because they lead in such just manners as required by God, they are compared to the beauty and goodness of the light of the morning when the sun rises and wipes out the darkness. This was not only a comparison of the leadership of David, but of the prophetic rule of Jesus Christ when He would come to lead us out of darkness.

“Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.” 2 Sam 23:5-6 Many times a righteous leader follows the will of God, but it is not so with every person within his household. So it was with David. He prayed differently, but he held on to the everlasting covenant God had made with him and his descendants that his seed would sit upon the throne. (See Psalm 132:11-12; 2nd Samuel 7:7-16)

“But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands: But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place.” 2 Sam 23:6-7 The sons of Belial are also known as evil men, good for nothing, or worthless. They are like thorns that should be tossed aside and burnt where they lay. They are not good for the spiritual growth of the kingdom of God. ‘If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.’ John 15:6 The sons of Belial are the children of the wicked and are not to be followed because their outcome is that of fire.

“So David reigned over all Israel, and executed judgment and justice among all his people.” 1 Chron 18:14 David was not only a good general, but he was an efficient administrator. The people enjoyed his righteousness and justice under God. Long after David lived, the model society he ruled was held up as ideal. David achieved what Saul never did nor could achieve. He united the entire nation of twelve tribes under one monarchy and created Israel’s golden age of justice and righteousness. Despite his faults, he was sincere in his repentance to God and revered as the king who did what was right in the sight of God and best for all of the people.

If God were to inspire you with last words for a last will and testament, would you be able to say you were a good leader? Would you be able to say you did what was right in the sight of God and best for all of the people?

Written by Deborah C Davis

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