People need to be ruled. When we choose to rule ourselves we inevitably lead ourselves astray because of our heart’s bias towards sin. We need a leader. The question then is who is that leader to be? There are two key figures in the Old Testament who God raised up to forward His purpose to have a people for Himself. The first is Abraham in who the people are formed and given a place to live (see Gen. 12:1-7). The second is David in whom the people find a ruler to lead them.
Interestingly we read in 1 Kings 8:16 ‘Since the day that I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house, that my name might be there. But I chose David to be over my people Israel.’ The leader whom God has set Himself to bring forward to lead His people was David. The Davidic Covenant which is adumbrated in 2 Samuel 7:1-17 is the cohering of God’s determination to give a ruler to His people.
David, although being the king Israel needed, is not the ultimate King. The ultimate King is our Lord Jesus who comes of Davids line and brings together in Himself everything which the Davidic covenant promised.
In essence in our Lord Jesus we find true and perfect leadership. It is shepherd king leadership. This is essentially what David was; he is the shepherd who becomes king. Interestingly, he was a shepherd before he became king. In our Lord Jesus we see the messianic One who is ruler of his people as “The Shepherd King”. This King is everything we need in a ruler; a leader who cares perfectly. Shepherds in Eastern lands lead from the front of course, and they lead their people into green pastures. Our leader, Jesus, is the true brave leader who provides us with the greenest of pastures for our souls.
This all leads us into what true leadership is meant to be. In all realms and particularly among God’s people, it is always shepherd-king leadership. As with David rulers are called to be shepherds before they are kings. There needs to be that caring tendency in their character which prevents them from abusive dominance. Diotrophes was a leader, but not a shepherd leader and He created a mess. John says: I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. (3 John 9-10)
In our homes and churches we need leaders formed after the likeness of David, but most particularly after the likeness of our Lord Jesus.