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Assuming Leadership

Qualities of Leadership


1 Chronicles 11:1-2

1Then all Israel gathered themselves to David unto Hebron, saying Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh. And moreover in time past, even when Saul was king thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the LORD thy God said unto thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be ruler over my people Israel.

1 Chronicles 13:1, 3, 7, 8

1And David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. 3And let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we enquired not at it in the days of Saul.  7And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart.  8And David and all Israel played before God with all their might and with singing, and with harps and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets.

David was the spiritual leader as well as the political leader of Israel.  Israel was no ordinary nation.  The Israelites were God’s covenant people.  For this reason it was important that their king be a spiritual man as well as one skilled in administration and military operations.

Israel’s first King, Saul, failed on the spiritual side. God chose David because he was a man after His own heart.  David had been a shepherd by occupation and he carried this spirit into his rulership.  Many times we see him as the shepherd of his people as well as their king.

Leaders need many qualifications but few are as important as having a shepherd’s heart.  David’s example of leadership should encourage all of us to be our best for the Lord.

Our Presidents and Congressmen and leaders of our countries are elected by the votes that we cast, but spiritual leaders are not made by election or appointment by men or any combination of nor by conferences.  Only God can make them.

Personality traits such as intellectual capacity, strong will, enthusiasm and energy are viewed as extremely important in leadership.  These do greatly enhance one’s ability to lead, but they are not the most important aspects of a spiritual leader.

The real qualities of leadership are to be found in those who are willing to suffer for the sake of goals great enough to demand their wholehearted obedience.

Each human life is made up of several successive stages. Each stage should equip us for the next one in our Christian life.  This can clearly be seen in the life of David.

David came to the throne at a time when the nation was in disarray following Saul’s reign.  God never intended Israel to have an earthly king; however, He accommodated their religious cry for a king and selected Saul as the nation’s first ruler.

At first Saul showed great promise but as time went on, weaknesses in his character became apparent, but God saw the quality of David’s character and chose the young shepherd boy as Saul’s successor.  It has been said, “Ability may get you to the top, but only character can keep you there.”

The contrast between Saul and David is an example of this.  When David was less than 20 years of age Samuel anointed him to be king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1, 11-13) but he did not become king yet, for Saul was still living and reigning.

1 Samuel 16:1

And the LORD said to Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.

1 Samuel 16:11-13

11And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children?  And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep.  And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither. 12And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to.  And the LORD said, Arise anoint him: for this is he. 13Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the mist of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

When Daniel was about 30 years of age Saul died in battle.  David went to Hebron, and the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.

Samuel 2:4

And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David saying That the men of Jabeshgilead were they that buried Saul.

Still David was not king of all Israel; seven and a half years passed while there was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David.

Samuel 3:1

Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.

Finally when David was 38 years of age he was recognized by all the tribes of Israel as the king of the whole nation.  The people had watched David throughout the years; he was recognized as a military leader.  This was a necessary quality in those days of much insecurity.

He had proven himself as capable of leading in battle. After he slew Goliath, he had brought his men back victorious. David had been tested by these experiences and had earned the people’s confidence and trust. 

A young Christian must be proven through trials and testing before a position of leadership in a church. Godly character does not occur overnight; rather, it grows over time.

The deepest longing of the Israelites soon becomes clear whether he really has a concern for those he leads or if he wants to use his position only to advance his own cause.

In Psalm 78 the psalmist refers to David’s kingship as the result of God’s choice: “He chose David.”  Some people might think a shepherd’s occupation was a poor qualification for becoming king but in David’s case it was the qualification the nation needed most.

Psalm 78:70-72

70He chose David also His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: 71From following the ewes great with young He brought him to feed Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. 72So He fed them according to the integrity of His heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of His hands.

Verse 71 pictures David first as a shepherd caring tenderly for the ewes about to give birth. We then see the same shepherd leading with the same loving concern.  Unlike other nations, they were God’s people, His inheritance.  They must have a king fit for such an awesome responsibility.

In Verse 72 we see two characteristics of David that made him God’s choice:  integrity and skillfulness.  Integrity describes David’s inner quality; skillfulness focused on his abilities in the administration of the nation’s affairs. There can be no question that his skillfulness was enhanced by inner integrity; without it, the outward ability would have eventually failed.

Scripture and religious history emphasize the fact that when God discovers a man who conforms to His spiritual requirements, who is willing to pay the price of discipleship, He uses him to the limit, despite shortcomings. Examples of such people were Moses, Gideon, David, Martin Luther, John Wesley and many others.

1 Chronicles 12 looks back to a time prior to Saul’s death.  David had been a fugitive constantly on the move because Saul was intent on killing him.  During that period many defected. This was a difficult time in David’s life.

He knew he was God’s choice as king, yet he also recognized the difficulties facing him.  He must have felt utterly friendless and forsaken, but God has a way of encouraging His servants just when things may seem discouraging.

David needed some men to help him with the work needed to be done.  He knew that peacemaking and nurturing the brethren in fellowship could be risky and difficult but godly leaders will recognize that any good work needing to be done is also God’s work.  Christians are laborers together with God.

After David was anointed king of all Israel he settled in Jerusalem and made it the new capital of Israel.  He then resolved to bring the ark of the covenant there.  The ark had been in the house of Abinadab approximately seventy years.

The ark of God was the most sacred object belonging to Israel.  It had been a tragic day for Israel when the ark fell into the hands of the Philistines. This happened because the people’s spiritual life had sunk so low that their reverence for the ark had waned.

They were using it as people today might employ a good luck charm, feeling it would affect their fortunes in war. They took the ark out on the battlefield only to have the Philistines capture it.

1 Samuel 4:1-11

1And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Ebenezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek. 2And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men. 3And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines?  Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies. 4So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 5And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout so that the earth rang again. 6And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews?  And they understood that the ark of the LORD was come into the camp. 7And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp.  And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. 8Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. 9Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight. 10And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen. 11And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

For the next seven months the Philistines felt the judgment of God because of the ark.  They finally became so fearful of the ark’s presence that they sent it back to Israel and there it remained in the house of a man named Abinadab.

David recognized what it meant to the covenant people not to have the ark of the covenant in their midst.  During the dark days of Saul’s reign there had been no attempt to bring it back, but now the people, along with David and the leaders, recognized the recovery of the ark as a necessity.

This chest, about 45 inches long and 26 inches high and wide, made of acacia wood and plated with pure gold, with images of two golden cherubim with their wings outstretched over its lid, was the symbol of God’s presence with Israel. At the time David moved the ark to Jerusalem, there was nothing in it but the two stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed.

2 Chronicles 5:10

There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt.

Of course, God did not live in the ark nor between the cherubim, but that is the place He designated as His meeting place with the people of Israel.

Exodus 25:10-15; 21-22 (The LORD speaking)

10And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.  11And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about.21And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. 22And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

Today we do not need objects like the ark to help us to worship; however, spiritual lessons abound in this passage.  We have an enemy far more dangerous than the Philistines. The Christian is engaged in spiritual warfare. The devil never stops trying to steal the truths that are the foundation of our faith. He tries to take away our prayer life, our love for the Scriptures and our walk in the Spirit.

We must be on constant guard so the enemy, Satan, will not gain a foothold in our lives.

Then David and his army made a big mistake!  God’s Word states that only the Levites were to carry the ark on their shoulders, (Exodus 25:10-15, above), but David put the ark on an ox-drawn cart, copying the way the Philistines had removed the ark.

1 Chronicles 15:2

Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the LORD chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto Him for ever.

All the music, singing and dancing by David and his people did not impress the LORD and could not cover up their disobedience. David was filled with fear when Uzza was struck dead because he had touched the ark. They were ordered not to touch any holy thing.  God says, “Touch not mine anointed.”

The ark was never to be carried on a wagon.  It was to be borne on the shoulders of anointed men. Why?  The ark speaks of Christ and He is to be carried even today, by individuals…in our hearts, minds and souls.

It requires work to get the Gospel out. We can’t put it on a wagon.  We must carry it.  In other words, all of us have to put our shoulders to the wheel to get the Word of God out to a world that desperately needs it.  God doesn’t write the Gospel in the sky; it has to be passed along by His children. 

Author: Nannie Mae Jordan
(Transcribed by Joyce Carter   Transcribed and Formatted by Jerry Knight)

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