Influence—there is nothing better. Not for ourselves, but the divine enablement to make God famous in our world is the best blessing that we could ever hope for. Better than earthly fame or personal power or luxurious living—all of which are short-lived at best—is the influence that will be ours long after we are gone from this world and will follow us into the next. That kind of eternal influence only comes through a life dedicated to the glory of God alone.
Going Deep // Focus: 2 Samuel 8:15
So David reigned over all Israel and did what was just and right for all his people.
If you are a David fan, as I am, this is a great chapter. Things are golden for David in this season. Literally, the unified kingdom under David begins what historians call the Golden Age of Israel—a time of economic prosperity, cultural advancement and military dominance that would last throughout David’s reign and clear to the end of Solomon’s. Times were good in Israel because in their king, they had a leader with the right stuff.
It wasn’t always that way for David; he has had more than his fair share of tough chapters. Most of the chapters in 1 Samuel that include David in the narrative paint a picture of a very difficult road from his anointing as Israel’s next king to his ascension to the throne of a nation solidly united behind his leadership. Life was not easy for David, and his path to the throne was a grind beyond anything we can imagine.
In 2 Samuel 8, however, David has arrived; he is in the sweet spot of God’s favor. Battle after battle is won, enemies are subjugated and the way to peace and prosperity for the nation has been paved. Though not perfect, which we will soon see in subsequent chapters, and while he maintained more that a few detractors (just read some of his complaints about them in the Psalms), David now has a clear path to become Israel’s greatest and most influential king ever.
What was the secret sauce to David’s great run as a leader? Well, obviously we cannot discount God’s sovereignty in the matter. Uncommon favor was upon him because the Lord had found in him a man after his own heart. The Almighty uniquely loved and took delight in David, and as a result, blessings that are not explainable for any other reason are lavished upon the new king. In fact, twice in this chapter we are told that God was the reason for David’s gains:
So the Lord made David victorious wherever he went.” (2 Samuel 8:6)
So David became even more famous when he returned from destroying 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. He placed army garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became David’s subjects. In fact, the LORD made David victorious wherever he went. (2 Samuel 8:13-14)
When the Lord is shouldering the load, success is sure to follow. Yet it wasn’t just God; it rarely is “just” the Lord. David’s had a part to play, too. And what David did to enhance what the Lord had already done for him and through him is critical to the success equation. In this chapter, we are given two specific attributes that contributed to the phenomenal reign of David:
First, David focused all of his victories back onto the Lord. David wasn’t pursing power, fame and fortune for himself, he was heaven-bent on making God look good. 2 Samuel 8:10-12 says,
Joram, the prince of Hamath, presented King David with many gifts of silver, gold, and bronze. David dedicated all these gifts to the Lord, as he did with the silver and gold from the other nations he had defeated—from Edom, Moab, Ammon, Philistia, and Amalek—and from Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah.
David didn’t personally profit from these gifts, although he could have. Rather, he made sure the Lord’s house was the beneficiary. David was concerned that people recognize that his many victories were all about God. And the more he did that, the more the Lord turned fame, power and fortune back to David.
Second, David leveraged all of his victories to benefit the people he served. The David narrative is very clear that he very wisely, skillfully and organically put his people ahead of his own interests. He was the consummate shepherd over God’s people. David knew Israel belonged to the Lord, not to himself, and for that reason, he was indefatigable in serving them.
David ruled over all of Israel and made sure that his people were always treated fairly and justly. (2 Samuel 8:15)
The Lord chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” (Psalm 78:70-72)
With his head, his heart and his hands, David was both an authentic servant of the Lord and a true public servant. What wouldn’t you give to be led by a man or woman like that? Unfortunately, that kind of leader is rare. So I would suggest that when you find one—whether in your home, at work, in your church, or a political leader, celebrate them, encourage them, follow them and pray that God will increase their tribe.