“I remember the days of old.
I ponder all Your great works
and think about what You have done.” Psalm 143:5
When I read about King Saul he frustrates and annoys me, but I also feel sorry for him. He lived a life dominated by fear, plus he had a strategic problem in being Isra’el’s first king: he didn’t have many righteous role models.
While Samuel and the other judges had led Isra’el since they had settled in the Promised Land, I don’t know if Saul would have related to those men. They were seers, prophets, and wouldn’t have been considered in the same class as the kings of surrounding nations. Isra’el wanted a king. They wanted to be like the pagans, not like the priests. So when Saul was given power, the standards of how he acted as a king were heavily affected by the lifestyles of the surrounding, secular kings.
Sadly, Saul did not choose to rule the nation in a godly manner. Instead of leaning on the Lord, he leaned on the sword, and allowed pride, jealousy and fear to dominate him. Thus, in line with typical Old Testament justice, he was killed and David eventually took his place.
So if Saul’s only relatable role model was pagan kings, who did David model his behaviour after? He had seen Saul’s example up close, and knew it was not the way forward. So what shaped him to become the king he became?
After pondering what parts of the Torah David would have liked to meditate on, I realised that Moses would have been the best, and most likely godly role model for David. In some ways, David did follow the example of Moses. So how close in leadership style were they?
Numbers 12:3 tells us: “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” Twice, God offered to wipe out Isra’el’s rebellious tribes, and give the covenant promise to Moses and his descendants. Twice Moses refused, to honour God’s reputation before the whole earth, and to save the nation he loved.
Then the LORD said, “I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these people are. Now leave Me alone so My fierce anger can blaze against them, and I will destroy them. Then I will make you, Moses, into a great nation.” Exodus 32:9-10
Numbers 14:11-12 “And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat Me with contempt? Will they never believe Me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them? I will disown them and destroy them with a plague. Then I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they are!” [Please also read Exodus 32:9-10 and all of Numbers 14]
For anyone else, that would have been a stiff test of character but Moses took it in his stride. He is remarkable and in the area of humility, David appears to have taken on Moses’ example. (e.g. 2 Samuel 22 and The Anti-King: David and Humility http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33025)
David always acted in the best interests of the nation of Isra’el and as needed, like Moses, he took the initiative in organising systems, such as the way that the army and temple worked. (Read 1 Chronicles 22-27) When Absalom tried to overthrow him, David quickly left Jerusalem, to ensure the city wasn’t decimated. [2 Samuel 15:13-15] The people’s best interests came before his. David also followed Moses’ lead in making the nation of Isra’el safe from the surrounding nations. He completed the work begun by Moses, knowing from Torah, that this is what God wanted for His people. [Ref. Numbers 33:50-56]
David did not do as Solomon did, spending his time building palaces and accumulating excessive wealth and honour. Like Moses, he endured persecution for righteous leadership, and stayed solidly grounded in God’s Will, rather than his own ambitions. [Ref. Moses persecuted: Exodus 17:1-7, Numbers chapters 11-12, 14, 16 and 20.]
“After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.’ “From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Isra’el a Saviour, Jesus, after John had proclaimed before His coming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Isra’el.” [Acts 13:22-24]
Like Moses, David admitted when he was stressed, overwhelmed and felt hopeless.
“O LORD, don’t rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your rage.
Have compassion on me, LORD, for I am weak.
Heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony.
I am sick at heart.
How long, O LORD, until you restore me?
Return, O LORD, and rescue me.
Save me because of your unfailing love.
For the dead do not remember you.
Who can praise you from the grave?b
I am worn out from sobbing.
All night I flood my bed with weeping,
drenching it with my tears.
My vision is blurred by grief;
my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies.” Psalm 6:1-7
“Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the LORD became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated. And Moses said to the LORD, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people? Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did you tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land you swore to give their ancestors? Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favour and spare me this misery!” Numbers 11:10-15
The honesty seen in how Moses approached God, may have given David the courage to do the same. Though here, there are notable differences. Moses talked to God face to face, as a friend, and while Moses was also referred to by God as “His servant,” he was also called “Moses, the man of God.”
“Inside the Tent of Meeting, the LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” Exodus 33:11
And the LORD said to them (Aaron and Miriam), “Now listen to what I say:
“If there were prophets among you,
I, the LORD, would reveal Myself in visions.
I would speak to them in dreams.
But not with My servant Moses.
Of all My house, he is the one I trust.
I speak to him face to face,
clearly, and not in riddles!
He sees the LORD as he is.
So why were you not afraid
to criticise My servant Moses?” Numbers 12:6-8
David wasn’t referred to as a friend of God. David was called “My servant, David.” The boundaries of the relationship, and thus the manner in which David related to and approached the Lord, was different. For David, God was the Lord of Heaven’s armies. He was the almighty, the loving supreme God. While David did have a close, personal relationship with the Lord, he’d learnt about the character of God from the way the Lord revealed Himself to Moses, and from Moses’ example of God’s love and mercy. It wasn’t a new revelation for him, in the same manner it was for Moses.
Then the LORD came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and He called out His own Name, Yahweh. The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out,
“Yahweh! The LORD!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
even children in the third and fourth generations.” Exodus 34:5-7
[See this reflected in Psalm 103]
Signs and Wonders
“The LORD replied, “Listen, I am making a covenant with you in the presence of all your people. I will perform miracles that have never been performed anywhere in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people around you will see the power of the LORD—the awesome power I will display for you.” Exodus 34:10
Moses also differed from David, in that the Lord performed so many amazing signs, miracles and healings through him. David is never credited with the miraculous, except that the Lord won many battles in partnership with him, against incredible odds. [Refs: Goliath, 1 Samuel 17 and 2 Samuel 23 on David fighting with Eleazar and Shammah.]
As a leader, Moses is far superior to David, in conduct, attitude and service. Moses was never corrupted, and he only had one problem with pride, which he paid a high price for. [Ref. Numbers 20:1-13] He never again overstepped his boundaries.
“There has never been another prophet in Isra’el like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face. The LORD sent him to perform all the miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, and all his servants, and his entire land. With mighty power, Moses performed terrifying acts in the sight of all Isra’el.” Deuteronomy 34:10-12
By far the greatest influence that Moses had on David, was through the instructions set down in the Torah. In the same way that Moses diligently kept all the commands of the Lord, so did David. He knew the covenant terms and kept them. [Refs: Exodus 34, Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 4:40, and 28] This is what made David successful: his obedience to God, down to details. In that manner, he is like Moses. “For David had done what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and had obeyed the Lord’s commands throughout his life, except in the affair concerning Uriah the Hittite.” [1 Kings 15:5]
The last way that Moses and David are similar, yet differ, is in spiritual leadership. They both led the nation of Isra’el to safety and cared for it’s needs; but both also laboured to put the focus of the people centrally onto God. Like Moses, David reminded Isra’el of God’s laws, often making himself unpopular for doing so.
Like Moses, David wrote songs but that would be a cultural, historical tradition. For example, Deuteronomy 31-32, the song of Moses, written to remind and to correct Isra’el who God knew, would break the Covenant, and Psalm 90, a prayer of Moses. David obeyed God’s command to Moses, by **reminding the people of what the Lord had done for them (Refs: Moses: Deuteronomy chapters 1-4; David: Psalms 145, ), so they did not forget their God, or their promise to serve Him.
I can’t help but think that Moses had to be David’s hero; though Joshua may also have been one too. However much, or whatever David thought of Moses, his example of righteous, God-fearing leadership, did leave a positive mark on Isra’el’s favourite King.
Additional Helpful Texts
Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favourably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”
The LORD replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favourably on you, and I know you by name.” Exodus 33:15-16
Moses: “When you go out to fight your enemies and you face horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid. The LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you! When you prepare for battle, the priest must come forward to speak to the troops. He will say to them, ‘Listen to me, all you men of Israel! Do not be afraid as you go out to fight your enemies today! Do not lose heart or panic or tremble before them. For the LORD your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!’ Deuteronomy 20:1-4
David: Psalm 3:
“O LORD, I have so many enemies;
so many are against me.
So many are saying,
“God will never rescue him!”
But you, O LORD, are a shield around me;
You are my glory, the One who holds my head high.
I cried out to the LORD,
and He answered me from His holy mountain.
I lay down and slept,
yet I woke up in safety,
for the LORD was watching over me.
I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies
who surround me on every side.
Arise, O LORD!
Rescue me, my God!
Slap all my enemies in the face!
Shatter the teeth of the wicked!
Victory comes from You, O LORD.
May You bless Your people.”
**Places where David has referenced the history of Isra’el include: Psalms 105, 68, 66 and 22:4-5 “In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.”
Moses: “Look, I now teach you these decrees and regulations just as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy. Obey them completely, and you will display your wisdom and intelligence among the surrounding nations. When they hear all these decrees, they will exclaim, ‘How wise and prudent are the people of this great nation!’ For what great nation has a god as near to them as the LORD our God is near to us whenever we call on him? And what great nation has decrees and regulations as righteous and fair as this body of instructions that I am giving you today?
But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.” Deuteronomy 4:5-9
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