Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Spiritual Leadership in Psalm 118

Strap yourself in, because we are about to discover some spiritual leadership insights from a great leader of the past: King David.

King David was in spiritual leadership. He was the anointed and appointed King of Israel. He makes some remarks in Psalm 118, that help us glean some insight into spiritual leadership. Let's have a look:

Give thanks to God

King David was a leader and he gave thanks to God. He challenged Israel, 'Let Israel say, "His love endures forever"' (Psalm 118:2). We know full well that David was not without his challenges. We know full well that David had at times slipped up, disobeyed, and lost his focus. The start of Psalm 118 is bringing the focus back. Give thanks to the Lord!

A Leader Overcomes Fear

Psalm 118:6 says, 'The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?' You can sense David's determination to NOT be afraid. It's almost like it is a decisive choice David is making and maybe it's one you need to make. 'I will not be afraid'. Or I choose not to be crippled with fear with the current situation I am in. God is not a God of fear, nor does he particularly want his people to be living in fear. 

Take Refuge in the Lord

Refuge is a place of 'shelter, protection or safety'. In God there is refuge. In Psalm 118:8, King David writes, 'It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans.' Humans can only provide so much protection and safety. The Lord can ultimately provide spiritual refuge for spiritual leaders, and finding refuge in God can help us feel safe, secure, empowered and confident.

Recognise the Battle is the Lord's

Some may say today, 'Don't forget, the mission is God's and we merely partner with God to help fulfil what God has already began'. King David as a spiritual leader of his generation, understood to give thanks where its due, and to recognise the reasons for his success in battles. Psalm 118:15-16 says, 'Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: "The LORD's right hand has done mighty things! The LORD's right hand is lifted high; the LORD's right hand has done mighty things!" While David and his warrior friends were no doubt the ones in battle, David ensured God got the praise. 

Now, we of course understand the context of 'battles' today is very different, and enacted in a different way to the days of David. But the spiritual principle remains. Spiritual leaders understand that the mission is God's, and God deserves the recognition!

The Lord Disciplines Leaders at Times

Well, let's skip this one shall we? No, wait a minute. David says, 'The LORD has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death' (Psalm 118:18). David committing adultery comes to mind. God disciplined David, but not to the point of being chastised too severely! We must understand today, that spiritual leadership may involve discipline, accountability and a slight change of direction. Can I say today, that quite often God uses others in leadership to provide us with accountability and direction.

A good spiritual leader, will be ready for and will embrace spiritual discipline.

Spiritual Success only comes from God

We may debate, 'What is spiritual success?' and we see here that David prays, 'LORD, save us! LORD, grant us success!' (Psalm 118:25). Whatever the 'success' might be, that success, especially if spiritual in nature, can only come from God. Hence the prayer of granting us success. 

Spiritual leadership involves acknowledging God as the author of life, the giver of success, the one who disciplines and the one who goes before us into our situation. Leadership without acknowledging those things is a failure to embrace the generous nature of a God who loves us. 

To wrap up Psalm 118, David finishes with how he started, that wraps up the psalm in thankfulness to God.  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever (Psalm 118:29). 

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