The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), April 20
David learns much about leadership by the negative example of his predecessor, King Saul. David was a blessing to King Saul and his army, but because of paranoia and pride, Saul sought to assassinate his greatest asset. Saul reigned by fear and drove away those who might challenge his leadership. David, on the other hand, surrounds himself with mighty men, "who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom, with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the LORD concerning Israel" (1 Chronicles 11:10).
David's great men were unusual in their courage and in strength:
- Josheb-Basshebeth kills 800 men in one encounter using only a spear (2 Samuel 23:8).
- Eleazar fought so tenaciously that his hand froze around his sword (23:9-10).
- Shammah, out-numbered, stood his ground and fought against the Philistines while the rest of Israel's army fled (23:11-12).
- Jashobeam killed 300 men in one encounter (1 Chron. 11:11).
- Elhanan killed Goliath's brother (2 Sam. 21:19).
- Jonathan, David's nephew, killed a huge man with 12 fingers and 12 toes who taunted Israel (2 Sam. 21:20-21).
David's selection of mighty men exemplifies the qualities of great leaders:
- Great leaders understand that they are only as strong as the team that they build. They recognize and celebrate the strengths of others on their team.
- Great leaders understand that, though only one man may ultimately lead, the greatness of their team (company, ministry, church, school, etc.) depends on a team of great people.
- Great leaders trust God; therefore, they aren't threatened by the "greatness" of other men. They recognize that great team members aren't the competition.
- Great leaders recognize, in spite of the greatness of their team, that they all need God. Ultimately, God is the true Deliverer (Ps. 33:16-19).
- Great leaders learn from the negative examples of other leaders and proactively avoid the same pitfalls.
- Finally, great leaders protect their team. When the Ammonites humiliate David's men and then align themselves with the Arameans to fight against Israel, David gathers his entire army and defeats them (2 Sam. 10; 1 Chron. 19). David so identifies with his men that their shame falls upon him, so he fights to restore their honor. That's why David's leadership attracts such men of courage and strength. He is a man they can respect and follow.
What a great leader!
Questions from today's reading (2 Samuel 2:1-3:5; 23:8-39; 1 Chronicles 3:1-4; 11:10-47):
- What does the fighting between Joab, Abishai, Asahel, and Abner reveal about the nation of Israel?
- How does David respond to the delivery of water from Bethlehem by his three mighty men? What does this reveal about David's regard for others during this period of his life?