King David’s Last Words
King David is a Biblical character I would love to meet. David was a leader’s leader—courageous, mighty warrior, poet, musician, and beloved king—but most importantly, God said of Him, “He is a man after [My] own heart.”
At the end of his life the Bible records these last words of King David, “The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me: ‘When one rules over people in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth.’”
After an illustrious life of faithful and bold leadership, it is not surprising that David’s last words described a leader. In studying the work of Biblical scholars, I find that this passage is regarded as David’s description of an earthly leader, but also a prophesy about the perfect leader, Jesus. [Related: 312 Leadership: How Jesus Led]
As I read this passage in my devotional time, I reflected on David’s beautiful description of a leader. Allow me to share with you what I learned about the two qualities of this great leader that King David describes.
He Rules Over People in Righteousness
Righteousness means that one does what is right. A leader must do what is right. While this seems intuitive, we witness so many leaders who do not lead with this code of ethics. They may do what is right for them. They may do what is right sometimes. They may do what is right for the benefit of their friends. When we lead, however, we must commit to do what is right. Period. To do that, we must seek wisdom, and we must approach decisions with a calmness of spirit.
He Rules in the Fear of God
The pinnacle of the second quality David describes is that God is his Guide. The fear of God means revering God, honoring God, and placing Him at the center of our lives. Leaders who fear God, who are led by God’s Spirit, have qualities that people are drawn to. These leaders are humble, loving, caring, gentle, courageous, and patient. They make their decisions with eternity in mind, thus laying selfish ambitions aside.
When leaders lead with these two qualities, they will be like this leader:
He is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning.
What a poetic description of a healthy leader. One sunrise I remember well was on a trip to India a few years ago, in the southern state Kerala, where my brother and I spent three days on a house boat being led through the famous water channels of that state. We woke up one morning on the boat and observed the sunrise. We saw the rays of the sun shining onto the quiet rice fields around us. It was just as David paints the picture of the sunrise: serene, calm, and beautiful. Such is a leader who does what is right and who fears God. He or she will lead with serenity of spirit, calmness, steadiness, and even beauty. It is like a work of art to see a leader and their people work together in harmony to accomplish big goals.
He is like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth.
Next, David poetically describes a leader who is like the brightness after rain—not just any rain. It is a rain that brings grass from the earth. What kind of rain is that? It is heavy and consistent. After it rains a lot, one often sees light refracted in the little drops that are still hanging onto the grasses and tree leaves. There seems to be a brightness and crispness in the atmosphere. It evokes excitement and fresh life. As a child in Lebanon, I recall my mom and grandmother often went out after a strong rain to gather snails. It was a special time. Similarly, the leader who is righteous and fears God adds freshness and brightness to the atmosphere. People feel empowered and ready to conquer the world because their leader breathes new life.
My hope and my prayer is that everyone who reads this article would make a renewed commitment in their life of leadership to energize the atmosphere with light and love. [Related: Transform Your Leadership with Love]