Christian Leaders are Often No More Than a “Flash in the Pan”

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 1-4

As we open our Bibles to 2 Samuel, we find David and the nation of Israel entering into a new era.  King Saul and his son Jonathan are slain in battle against the Philistines (1 Samuel 31) and news of their deaths reach David in Ziklag a Philisitine town where he and his men had found refuge from Saul’s threats.   An Amalekite soldier came to David fabricating a claim that he had slain Saul in an act of mercy to spare him the indignity of falling into the hands of the Philistines (2 Samuel 1:1-10).  The truth was that Saul had fallen upon his own sword (1 Samuel 31:4).

Three times David lamented the deaths of King Saul and his sons (2 Samuel 1:19, 25, 27).   Rather than rejoicing in the death of Saul, David mourned the death of the king and ordered the man who claimed to have slain him put to death (2 Samuel 1:11-16).

The closing verses of 2 Samuel 1 express in poetic tones the grievous loss of Jonathan, David’s confidant and friend (2:25-27).  There are some who try to paint David’s lament for the loss of his friend as a twisted validation of sodomy…it is not!   The Old and New Testament scriptures condemned homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:17; Romans 1:26-27) and it was surely not a practice to put to music for people to sing.  David’s love for Jonathan was one of mutual trust; such a friend is rare indeed!

Israel has been a divided nation and David has waited more than a decade to be king. With Saul dead, David turned to the LORD for wisdom, asking, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” (2 Samuel 2:1). With the LORD’s blessing, David went up to Hebron and the men of Judah crowned him king (2:2-4).

David faced opposition immediately from Abner, Saul’s nephew who moved to make Ishbosheth, a surviving son of Saul, king (2:9-10).   Abner’s opposition to David coupled with Ishbosheth’s weak character plunged the nation into a civil war (2:10-11) that would last over 7 years.  In spite of the opposition, God blessed David and he “waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker” (2 Samuel 3:1).

Three principles are evident in David’s patience in the midst of conflict. The first, time is always on the side of the righteous. The prophet Isaiah assured God’s people:

Isaiah 54:17 – “No weapon that is formed [fashioned; made] against thee shall prosper [succeed]; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn [show to be in the wrong]. This [triumph of righteousness] is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness [vindication; victory; success] is of me, saith the LORD.”

The second principle, truth will triumph!  Men like Abner and Ishbosheth play the fool and when they oppose the will of the LORD are doomed .

A third principle is an admonition: Lust for power, position, and influence is self-destructive…whether it is in politics, business, or religion.

Three manner of men rise to power and position in our world: the weak who, like Ishosheth, have connections; the strong who, like Abner, are driven by greed and manipulate others to promote themselves; the third, God’s anointed who, like David, are called, equipped, and dependent on God for promotion.

It is my experience that churches and Christian institutions fall prey to a fallacy in leadership that bloodlines (a man’s sons) or relationships (a man’s friendship) somehow assure success.  Too often churches and boards of Christian institutions look for flashy, well-spoken, charismatic leaders and learn too late they chose the proverbial “flash in the pan” and failed to choose God’s anointed.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith