Leadership in the Bible - Young David
I. Re-cap and Introduction
II. Read I Samuel 16:10-13.
10 Jesse presented seven of his sons to Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord hasn’t picked any of these.” 11 Then Samuel asked Jesse, “Is that all of your boys?” “There is still the youngest one,” Jesse answered, “but he’s out keeping the sheep.” “Send for him,” Samuel told Jesse, “because we can’t proceed until he gets here.”
12 So Jesse sent and brought him in. He was reddish brown, had beautiful eyes, and was good-looking. The Lord said, “That’s the one. Go anoint him.” 13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him right there in front of his brothers. The Lord’s spirit came over David from that point forward.
Q1. What do we see in this first description of David that leads us to wonder about whether he might be a leader, but then also to think he just well might be?
III. Here’s a shortened version of the great story of David and Goliath. Read 17:4-11, 26, 32-37, 38-44, 48-51.
4 A champion named Goliath from Gath came out from the Philistine camp. He was more than nine feet tall. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore bronze scale-armor weighing one hundred twenty-five pounds. 6 He had bronze plates on his shins, and a bronze scimitar hung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was as strong as the bar on a weaver’s loom, and its iron head weighed fifteen pounds. His shield-bearer walked in front of him. 8 He stopped and shouted to the Israelite troops, “Why have you come and taken up battle formations? I am the Philistine champion and you are Saul’s servants. Isn’t that right? Select one of your men, and let him come down against me. 9 If he is able to fight me and kill me, then we will become your slaves, but if I overcome him and kill him, then you will become our slaves and you will serve us. 10 I insult Israel’s troops today!” The Philistine continued, “Give me an opponent, and we’ll fight!” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard what the Philistine said, they were distressed and terrified.
26 David asked the soldiers standing by him, “What will be done for the person who kills that Philistine over there and removes this insult from Israel? Who is that uncircumcised Philistine, anyway, that he can get away with insulting the army of the living God?”
32 “Don’t let anyone lose courage because of this Philistine!” David told Saul. “I, your servant, will go out and fight him!”
33 “You can’t go out and fight this Philistine,” Saul answered David. “You are still a boy. But he’s been a warrior since he was a boy!”
34 “Your servant has kept his father’s sheep,” David replied to Saul, “and if ever a lion or a bear came and carried off one of the flock, 35 I would go after it, strike it, and rescue the animal from its mouth. If it turned on me, I would grab it at its jaw, strike it, and kill it. 36 Your servant has fought both lions and bears. This uncircumcised Philistine will be just like one of them because he has insulted the army of the living God.
37 “The Lord,” David added, “who rescued me from the power of both lions and bears, will rescue me from the power of this Philistine.”
38 Then Saul dressed David in his own gear, putting a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David strapped his sword on over the armor, but he couldn’t walk around well because he’d never tried it before. “I can’t walk in this,” David told Saul, “because I’ve never tried it before.” So he took them off. 40 He then grabbed his staff and chose five smooth stones from the streambed. He put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s bag and with sling in hand went out to the Philistine.
41 The Philistine got closer and closer to David, and his shield-bearer was in front of him.42 When the Philistine looked David over, he sneered at David because he was just a boy; reddish brown and good-looking.
43 The Philistine asked David, “Am I some sort of dog that you come at me with sticks?” And he cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said to David, “and I’ll feed your flesh to the wild birds and the wild animals!”
48 The Philistine got up and moved closer to attack David, and David ran quickly to the front line to face him. 49 David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone. He slung it, and it hit the Philistine on his forehead. The stone penetrated his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. 50 And that’s how David triumphed over the Philistine with just a sling and a stone, striking the Philistine down and killing him—and David didn’t even have a sword! 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine. He grabbed the Philistine’s sword, drew it from its sheath, and finished him off. Then David cut off the Philistine’s head with the sword.
Q2. What do we see here in the young David that bespeaks great strength and future leadership?
Q3. What impresses you most about how David handled and overcame this remarkable challenge?
IV. Now we study challenges David faced with Saul and how he dealt with them. Read 19:18-21, 23:15-18, 24:4-8.
19-18 So David fled and escaped. When he reached Samuel at Ramah, he reported to him everything Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel went to stay in the camps.
19 When Saul was told that David was in the camps at Ramah, 20 he sent messengers to arrest David. They saw a group of prophets in a prophetic frenzy, with Samuel standing there as their leader. God’s spirit came over Saul’s messengers, and they also fell into a prophetic frenzy. 21 This was reported to Saul, and he sent different messengers, but they also fell into a prophetic frenzy. So Saul sent a third group of messengers, and they did the very same thing
23-15 While David was at Horesh in the Ziph wilderness he learned that Saul was looking to kill him. 16 Saul’s son Jonathan came to David at Horesh and encouraged him with God. 17 Jonathan said to him, “Don’t be afraid! My father Saul’s hand won’t touch you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be your second in command. Even my father Saul knows this.” 18 Then the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. David stayed at Horesh, but Jonathan went back home.
4 David’s soldiers said to him, “This is the day the Lord spoke of when he promised you, ‘I will hand your enemy over to you, and you can do to him whatever you think best.’” So David snuck up and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 5 But immediately David felt horrible that he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
6 “The Lord forbid,” he told his men, “that I should do something like that to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lift my hand against him, because he’s the Lord’s anointed!” 7 So David held his soldiers in check by what he said, and he wouldn’t allow them to attack Saul. Saul then left the cave and went on his way.
8 Then David also went out of the cave and yelled after Saul, “My master the king!” Saul looked back, and David bowed low out of respect, nose to the ground.
Q4. David is patient with Saul, though God had already designated him as King. This is so, even though Saul keeps trying to kill him. Why does David show such patience? What strength of leadership do we see in this?
V. Here is the beautiful story of Abigail’s powerful advocacy. Read 25:4-6, 10-11, 23-31, 32-35.
4 While in the wilderness, David heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep. 5 So David sent ten servants, telling them, “Go up to Carmel. When you get to Nabal, greet him for me. 6 Say this to him: ‘Peace to you,[b] your household, and all that is yours!
10 But Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is David? Who is Jesse’s son? There are all sorts of slaves running away from their masters these days. 11 Why should I take my bread, my water, and the meat I’ve butchered for my shearers and give it to people who came here from who knows where?”
23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and fell facedown before him, bowing low to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said, “Put the blame on me, my master! But please let me, your servant, speak to you directly. Please listen to what your servant has to say. 25 Please, my master, pay no attention to this despicable man Nabal. He’s exactly what his name says he is! His name means fool,[g] and he is foolish![h] But I myself, your servant, didn’t see the young men that you, my master, sent. 26 I pledge, my master, as surely as the Lord lives and as you live, that the Lord has held you back from bloodshed and taking vengeance into your own hands! But now let your enemies and those who seek to harm my master be exactly like Nabal! 27 Here is a gift, which your servant has brought to my master. Please let it be given to the young men who follow you, my master. 28 Please forgive any offense by your servant. The Lord will definitely make an enduring dynasty for my master because my master fights the Lord’s battles, and nothing evil will be found in you throughout your lifetime. 29 If someone chases after you and tries to kill you, my master, then your life will be bound up securely in the bundle of life[i] by the Lord your God, but he will fling away your enemies’ lives as from the pouch of a sling. 30 When the Lord has done for my master all the good things he has promised you, and has installed you as Israel’s leader, 31 don’t let this be a blot or burden on my master’s conscience, that you shed blood needlessly or that my master took vengeance into his own hands. When the Lord has done good things for my master, please remember your servant.”
32 David said to Abigail, “Bless the Lord God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today! 33 And bless you and your good judgment for preventing me from shedding blood and taking vengeance into my own hands today! 34 Otherwise, as surely as the Lord God of Israel lives—the one who kept me from hurting you—if you hadn’t come quickly and met up with me, there wouldn’t be one single one who urinates on a wall left come morning.” 35 Then David accepted everything she had brought for him. “Return home in peace,” he told her. “Be assured that I’ve heard your request and have agreed to it.”
Q5. What profound leadership does David recognize and value in Abigail? Why does it also impress us so?
VI. Read II Samuel 1:18-27.
19 Oh, no, Israel! Your prince[d] lies dead on your heights.[e]
Look how the mighty warriors have fallen!
20 Don’t talk about it in Gath;
don’t bring news of it to Ashkelon’s streets,
or else the Philistines’ daughters will rejoice;
the daughters of the uncircumcised will celebrate.
21 You hills of Gilboa!
Let there be no dew or rain on you,
and no fields yielding grain offerings.[f]
Because it was there that the mighty warrior’s[g] shield was defiled—
the shield of Saul!—never again anointed with oil.
22 Jonathan’s bow never wavered from the blood of the slain,
from the gore of the warriors.
Never did Saul’s sword return empty.
23 Saul and Jonathan! So well loved, so dearly cherished!
In their lives and in their deaths they were never separated.
They were faster than eagles,
stronger than lions!
24 Daughters of Israel, weep over Saul!
He dressed you in crimson with jewels;
he decorated your clothes with gold jewelry.
25 Look how the mighty warriors have fallen in the midst of battle!
Jonathan lies dead on your heights.
26 I grieve for you, my brother Jonathan!
You were so dear to me!
Your love was more amazing to me[h] than the love of women.
27 Look how the mighty warriors have fallen!
Look how the weapons of war have been destroyed!
What are the key elements of this famous dirge? In what ways does it show us David’s maturation as a leader?
VII. Read 6:1-5, 12-15, 17-19.
1 Once again David assembled the select warriors of Israel, thirty thousand strong. 2 David and all the troops who were with him set out for Baalah, which is Kiriath-jearim of Judah, to bring God’s chest up from there—the chest that is called by the name of the Lord of heavenly forces, who sits enthroned on the winged creatures. 3 They loaded God’s chest on a new cart and carried it from Abinadab’s house, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, Abinadab’s sons, were driving the new cart. 4 Uzzah was beside God’s chest while Ahio was walking in front of it. 5 Meanwhile, David and the entire house of Israel celebrated in the Lord’s presence with all their strength, with songs,[d] zithers, harps, tambourines, rattles, and cymbals.
12 King David was told, “The Lord has blessed Obed-edom’s family and everything he has because of God’s chest being there.” So David went and brought God’s chest up from Obed-edom’s house to David’s City with celebration. 13 Whenever those bearing the chest advanced six steps, David sacrificed an ox and a fatling calf. 14 David, dressed in a linen priestly vest, danced with all his strength before the Lord. 15 This is how David and the entire house of Israel brought up the Lord’s chest with shouts and trumpet blasts.
17 The Lord’s chest was brought in and put in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it. Then David offered entirely burned offerings in the Lord’s presence in addition to well-being sacrifices. 18 When David finished offering the entirely burned offerings and the well-being sacrifices, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of heavenly forces. 19 He distributed food among all the people of Israel—to the whole crowd, male and female—each receiving a loaf of bread, a date cake, and a raisin cake. Then all the people went back to their homes.
Q6. Why does David place such importance on recovering the ark and bringing it back to Jerusalem?
Q7. What do you make of his unusual and passionate form of celebrating?
Q8. What do you make of his sharing food with the people after the offerings are made to God?
VIII. I will re-count a few stories of David’s early military victories and focus in Chapter 7 on his desire to build the Temple. Take a look at David’s prayer in 7:18-29.
18 Then King David went and sat in the Lord’s presence. He asked:
Who am I, Lord God, and of what significance is my family that you have brought me this far? 19 But even this was too small in your eyes, Lord God! Now you have also spoken about your servant’s dynasty in the future and the generation to come, Lord God! 20 What more can David say to you? You know your servant, Lord God. 21 For the sake of your word and according to your own will, you have done this great thing so that your servant would know it. 22 That is why you are so great, Lord God! No one can compare to you, no god except you, just as we have always heard with our own ears. 23 And who can compare to your people Israel? They are the one nation on earth that God redeemed as his own people, establishing his name by doing great and awesome things for them, by driving out nations and their gods before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt. 24 You established your people Israel as your own people forever, and you, Lord, became their God. 25 Now, Lord God, confirm forever the promise you have made about your servant and his dynasty. Do just as you have promised 26 so that your name will be great forever when people say, “The Lord of heavenly forces is Israel’s God!” May your servant David’s household be established before you, 27 because you, Lord of heavenly forces, Israel’s God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a dynasty for him. That is why your servant has found the courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 Lord God, you are truly God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. 29 So now willingly bless your servant’s dynasty so that it might continue forever before you, because you, Lord God, have promised. Let your servant’s dynasty be blessed forever by your blessing.
How did David respond to the “lower sights” that God imposed as to his ambitions? What does this teach us about leadership?
Conclusion - We’ll examine the healthy state of the community at this stage of David’s leadership. Then we’ll look ahead to our next session and begin to ponder the story of David and Bathsheba - its causes and consequences.
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