Scripture: The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth. 2 Samuel 23:3-4 ESV
Observation: The author of 2 Samuel tells us that verses 1-7 are King David’s last words and testament. So what does David want his son and heir to the throne and all his subjects to remember? The mark of a godly ruler and his legacy. He begins by appealing to a higher authority who has given him this insight: the God of Israel, who is Israel’s Rock (a solid foundation). David then identifies the basis and the mark of godly leadership: fear of God and just rule, respectively (verse 3). Lastly, in verse 4, David employs three metaphors from nature to describe how a god-fearing ruler blesses his people: a clear vision for the future with the assurance of prosperity.
Takeaway: In verse 5, David reminds the people that the Lord has made an everlasting covenant with him that is secure and will prosper. This Messianic undertone points us to Christ and his mission. As the prophet Jeremiah foretold, our God has a plan for his people: to “prosper” them and grant them a “future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). And this dawn of a new age in Christ includes a new covenant where God, through his Holy Spirit, will speak to our hearts to teach us his Son’s godly ways (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
So how does this conceptual leadership model apply to us? Fear of God guards us against self-aggrandizing and self-reliance. And when we earnestly seek godly wisdom, he will reveal his just ways to us. Moreover, holy fear and justice make room for the Lord’s grace. Consider that David shared these insights post adultery, murder, and family turmoil. For many of us, it would be tempting to call it a day. But David, having a solid understanding of God’s grace, trusted in God’s forgiveness and rightfully discerned that kingdom work remained for him. Indeed, godly fear and justice are marks of a prospering leader—to the very end.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for the godly example of David’s leadership perfected in your Son. Would you please help us appropriate divine wisdom that invokes a sense of holy fear of you and an understanding of your justice, that we might lead ourselves and others well and prosper your kingdom? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling