2 Samuel 21: No more fighting on the frontlines for you!
As the story of David’s leadership begins to wind down we come to a time when things aren’t all that inspirational. Uprisings are put down; there’s an ugly story of the Gibeonites revenge against Saul’s descendants, and a series of one-paragraph accounts of significant battles with the enemies of Israel. Of course, for those involved these are all very big deals (especially for those executed by the Gibeonites!). For us, though, they’re just historical events. David’s army is still fiercely loyal to him but his power as a warrior diminishes with age. When he’s nearly killed in battle his men forbid him from leading the fight as he’s done for decades. He’s simply not up to hand to hand combat anymore and is more valuable as God’s chosen leader than he is as a soldier. In other words, this is a transitional time for David. His advancing age doesn’t hinder his ability to lead, but it does compromise his ability to fight. For each of us, as it is for David, life has times of transition. Generally, we don’t like that very well, but circumstances have a way of dragging us forward, even if we’re kicking and screaming all the way. God isn’t finished with us, but the role we play changes. Let’s be aware of what’s happening and cooperative with God as we move through the various chapters of our lives.
Take Away: As one period of life ends another begins with a new set of challenges and opportunities
Transition of leadership
Numbers 27: Set a man over this community to lead them.
The twenty-seventh chapter of Numbers feels a bit out of place. After it we get back to the details of the law and descriptions of battles fought by the Israelites on their wilderness journey. This chapter, though, is about dividing up the land once they arrive in Canaan and here in this passage we read of the mantle of leadership being passed from Moses to Joshua. This doesn’t diminish the story any, but it’s interesting that it feels as though we’re peeking ahead a bit. The Lord tells Aaron and Moses that the sun is setting on their lives. Because of their behavior at Meribeth they won’t enter into the Promised Land. The primary concern of Moses at this point is not that he’ll not set foot in Canaan but is rather that a new leader will have to be chosen. The natural selection for this job is the one the Lord makes. Joshua, an assistant of Moses will take up the responsibility of, and be granted the gifts for, leadership. A new generation will possess Canaan and their leader will be from that generation. This transition of power is one of the things that work right for the people of Israel. There’s no stubborn holding on by Moses (something I’m impressed with, considering he’s been in charge for forty years) and there’s no coop from Joshua. The people accept the change without dividing up into the “Moses did it better” and the “Joshua’s our guy” camps. I’m convinced that this is how things are supposed to work in the Kingdom of God. I also understand that it’s harder than it looks. It takes careful, intentional, grace-filled effort for one leader to step down and another to step up. When it works, as it does in this passage, it’s a beautiful thing.
Take Away: During times of transition we need a double portion of God’s grace.