Biblical Celebrity: the Hazard of Fame Based Thinking

celebrityA year ago, if you had asked me what I will say to King David when I meet him face to face, I would have had trouble finding an answer. I expected to be really nervous! It’s because he’s so famous. He’s a King and he’s… well, he’s David. I also have no idea what I am going to say to Jonathan, or Moses, or Esther, or Paul… and I kind of want to hide from the prophets, because I feel so inadequate beside them. Can you relate to that?

My instinctive reaction prods me into assessing about how much the worldly values of celebrity culture have crept into how I perceive Biblical heroes. The sad answer is, the secular image of fame has influenced my thinking far too much. Celebrity fills a spiritual void in the secular world. It gives lost people aspirational role models, regardless of whether they are saints or sinners. Who doesn’t want to be comfortably wealthy, good looking, healthy, happily married and successful? In moderation, I could take it.

For that matter, as Christians, who doesn’t want to be like David? Don’t we want to slay giants, rule nations and live a spiritually successful life? Of course we do! I own kosher salt with David’s name on it, and many secular and Christian movies and books have been written, using David as a symbol of success. God did promise David fame, but it has gotten way out of hand. [Ref. 2 Samuel 7:9] As with secular celebrities, we get caught up in all the glamour, excitement and intrigue of David’s life, and we can easily, unconsciously make the fleshly mistake of treating him like a famous person, not like the servant of the Lord that he is.

Fame has nasty connotations. We all know who Oprah Winfrey is, but as much as we may relate to her and want to be like her, we know that we cannot be her. That is the unconscious lesson we apply when we look at any celebrity. “If only we could… but we can’t.” David is of such a calibre that we look at him in awe. We see him as an impossible person to equal, let alone beat. This can stop us from trying to follow his lead in spiritual areas and that should never happen. David should motivate us to imitate him through prayer, praise, studying the Word, submission to God, obedience, fasting and adoring the Lord. That is the pivotal core of every area of David’s success; he didn’t win because he was brave and strong, it was because he daily practiced those things, thus the Lord was able to use him.

Please stop there and read those last seven words again: “the Lord was able to use him.” There is the real problem that Biblical celebrity causes: when we look at David and all he achieved, we stop looking at the simplest of facts: that GOD did it THROUGH David. As David submitted to God he became God’s channel and all the success he had, really was God’s… and David readily, publicly, often admitted that. (See The Anti-King: David and Humility link below.) But our culture teaches us to look at the man and not the boring, routine factors that shaped him, so we lose this humble perspective.

Ephesians 1:19-21 proves we can be like David: “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead…” God’s power worked through David as it worked through Jesus and Paul and now, all of us. Think of how much more we could grow if we caught hold of that truth and stopped looking at the people in our Bible as elite celebrities that we cannot be like. We must focus on how they allowed God to work through them, as we CAN copy that successfully. If we imitate David’s spiritual habits, God can carry out His perfect Will through us, which is our ultimate goal. We need a God fixation, not a hero-seeking one. (Please also read The Habits That Built King David’s Faith, the link is below.)

David was a humble man. He would never want to be seen as a celebrity, as he delighted in placing his focus on the Lord. For our thinking to be swept away by the glory and glamour of kingship and success, is to to negate every precept that the Psalms teach us. David’s words through the Psalms always push us in the direction of the Lord as the answer, we need to go in that direction and stop being distracted by wanting to be a giant slayer, or a king ourselves. It makes me sad when I hear Christians say how much they want to rule and reign with Christ, over and above them telling me how much they love to pray or hear God’s voice. We’re aching for fame and big, visible success: the things that are most likely destroy us; and in wanting them, we ignore building our character and making ourselves usable by the Lord.

We need a reality check that pulls these worldly standards out of our heads! You have heard it before, Romans 12:2 “Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (New Living Translation)

Anything the Lord does in your life won’t look like it did in David’s and it shouldn’t. God’s love for you is so great, He will give you what is going to fit, bless and build you and the people around you. You don’t need to battle Philistines, when you can conquer your own fears and hurts. You don’t need to liberate a nation, when you can bless people around you and move them towards Jesus. We’re not judged on not being like David, we’re judged on whether or not we did what the Lord asked US to do. So let’s get our heads out of the bright lights and go about our work with our eyes fixed on Jesus. It’s exactly what David would also advise you to do.

“Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in Him and He will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for Him…” Psalm 37:3-7a

– The Habits That Built King David’s Faith
– The Anti-King: David and Humility
– How to Kill Giants: Searching for the Deep Secrets Behind King David’s Success

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Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.


Serving Through Suffering… With the Joy of King David

serving through suffering“O Lord, You alone are my hope.
I’ve trusted You, O LORD, from childhood.
Yes, You have been with me from birth;
from my mother’s womb You have cared for me.
No wonder I am always praising You!
My life is an example to many,
because you have been my strength and protection.
That is why I can never stop praising You;
I declare Your glory all day long.
And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside.
Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing.”  Psalm 71:5-9

I would love to be able to say this now, let alone in my later years, when my health is failing. This is part of Psalm 71, written when David was elderly and very ill. It still shows his strength of purpose and character, as if he was still the young David, ready to take on the world. If you read the full Psalm, as his health fails, his competition is keen on killing him to take hold of power. Despite the challenges of pain and an aged body, he is determined to remain the victor, sitting securely within God’s will.

“Now that I am old and grey,
do not abandon me, O God.
Let me proclaim Your power to this new generation,
Your mighty miracles to all who come after me.
Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.
You have done such wonderful things.
Who can compare with You, O God?
You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
but You will restore me to life again
and lift me up from the depths of the earth.
You will restore me to even greater honour
and comfort me once again.” Verses 18-21

One of the most inspiring talks I have heard on David, was by an elderly Rabbi, who was encouraging his congregation to “serve with the joy of King David!” He spoke about moving through our spiritual lives with love and a smile on our face; as well as the gratitude which manifested in David’s Psalms. The point to his message, was that those in the world with no faith would see that joy, and it would become a witness.

Every so often I think about what he said, and I can see the promise in it. Being able to praise God through hardship, blesses God, helps empower us to move forward and also, shows others the goodness of God in our lives. If we had nothing at all to be happy about, we would not praise. Onlookers can see that.

David had a great deal to be grateful for, and he let nothing stop him from sharing it.
“As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise You more and more.
My mouth will tell of Your righteous deeds,
of Your saving acts all day long—
though I know not, how to relate them all.” Psalm 71:14-15 (NIV)

joyYou know how it feels to be ill. Your energy is drained, you don’t want to move. How David survived so many foes, battles and long-term health problems, is an incredible testimony of the provision of the Lord. He did not **die until the nation of Israel was secure. From the symptoms described in the books of Samuel and the Psalms, it appears that David suffered from diabetes from mid-life; then he most probably passed away from diabetic heart disease. Both explain the extreme cold he suffered in his last few years, [Ref. 1 Kings 1] and the ups and downs in his health, that the Bible records.

David had the help of a local plant named sharp varthemia (chiliadenus iphionoides) to control his diabetes, but I cannot begin to image living through those conditions with not so much as a paracetamol tablet, let alone insulin and cardiac medication. In addition, as someone who had been a warrior for many years, he would have suffered chronic pain and possibly, some debilitation, from orthopaedic problems caused by the extreme wear and tear of warfare on his body.

The aged David must have been very uncomfortable, yet, he didn’t slow down much. Even when King Solomon had taken the throne, David invested his time in his great passion: preparations for building the temple. Reading through 1 Chronicles, they were extensive and David gave his personal wealth to help fund the building, inspiring others to give as well. [Ref. 1 Chronicles chapters 27 to 29]

Then David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly:
“O LORD, the God of our ancestor Israel, may You be praised forever and ever! Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is Yours, O LORD, and this is Your kingdom. We adore You as the One who is over all things. Wealth and honour come from You alone, for You rule over everything. Power and might are in Your Hand, and at Your discretion people are made great and given strength.” 1 Chronicles 29:10-12

The suffering that David went through, only served to build his gratitude and enhance his relationship with the Lord, which is something that I find amazing. At times, people who have had hard lives become bitter, both with others and with God, but not David. He was able to look back and see the wonder of how the Lord had bought him through.

Psalm 119:71-71, is believed to be David’s work. In it he says:
My suffering was good for me,
for it taught me to pay attention to Your decrees.
Your instructions are more valuable to me
than millions in gold and silver.”

Bless the Lord for the work and legacy of his faithful servant, David, the sweet singer of Isra’el. He is a great example of how to meet hardship head on, and still come out rich and fulfilled, no matter what age you are, or what conditions you suffer from. As I know David would say if he were to be writing this, put your trust and hope in the Lord. He will never abandon those who are faithful to Him. Look to Him for help, you’ll never be unloved, unprovided for or forsaken.



**“He (David) reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. He died at a ripe old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth, and honour. Then his son Solomon ruled in his place.” 1 Chronicles 29:27-28 Long life, or being full of years, is a sign of the favour of the Lord. Other Biblical heroes who enjoyed the same favour, in those terms, are Abraham, Isaac and Job.

Read more about King David and diabetes:

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

Except where marked, all verses are from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Was Moses King David’s Role Model?

canstockphoto13019966“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


National Leadership

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]


Emotional Honesty

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

Open_Torah_and_pointerDavid 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]


Spiritual Leadership

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

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.