This term at both 10am and NightChurch, we’ve been enjoying hearing from God through the Old Testament; in Joshua at 10am, and journeying with King David at NightChurch. One understandable question is; why do we read about King David, whereas Joshua is just, well, Joshua?
In Joshua’s day, God ruled his people, with Joshua as his spokesperson, leader and servant. Following Joshua’s death, other Joshua-like figures, the “judges”, represented God’s rule to his people. While these warrior-prophet-leaders were a mixed bag, the final leader, Samuel was faithful to God. The turning point comes during Samuel’s time, when the people of Israel, frustrated at the (mostly) bad judges they’ve had to put up with demand a king, “such as all the other nations have” (1 Sam 8). Despite Samuel’s and God’s best efforts to warn them how much worse this will be, eventually God grants their request and Samuel is instructed to get them a king. Saul, the first king, starts well, but soon becomes unfaithful. David is the second king, and is described by God as a “man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22). However, even David’s reign is not without disappointment, and following David, a succession of mostly unfaithful kings shows the worst in human nature. Clearly God kept his promise and gave his people kings “such as the other nations have”.
Given this rough history of human kings, an easy assumption would be that God would seek to return the people to the Joshua-model of leadership; a warrior-prophet hearing from God, with God the Father as the ultimate ruler. The surprise is that God is committed to a human king ruling his people; a human king that will get it right this time, as David almost did. A human king who will guide his people unlike the kings of the nations, but justly, faithfully and mercifully. For example, in Daniel, we read of this promised future human king: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. … His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14)
Less surprising is that this promised king is Jesus, the final king of God’s kingdom. Jesus is the one who finally gets it right. And because of that, Jesus is the one that we ultimately should follow.
In Joshua and David, we are given two great portraits of leaders of God’s people; one in the warrior-prophet era, and one a coronated king. Both are wise, faithful, courageous, and even humble in confessing their short-fallings (Joshua 7:6-9, 2 Samuel 12:13-17). We can look to both as models for faithful living. But ultimately, our model is Jesus, the only completely obedient king.