Why Lead Worship? – Part 2 – Looking at David

Written by Jonno Warmington

It’s nearly seven months later and here finally is the long overdue second part of my “Why Lead Worship?” series of posts (read part one here).

As a brief aside, my previous post was followed by some good discussion around the use of the phrase “leading worship”. I’ll continue to use the phrase for now but with this caveat: For various reasons, it’s actually not my favourite common use phrase for what musicians do while serving the church in the area of the musical expression of worship. I would actually like to cover this point properly at some point – but that will be in a different post.

Getting back on-topic, I think it’s fairly obvious that I was referring to David at the end of my previous post. David is a good character to look at with this topic for a couple of reasons, one of which is simply because there’s just so much to see in scripture about this guy. We can learn a lot about and from him in 1 and 2 Samuel, Chronicles and in other parts of the Bible.

Not only can we see his heart as displayed through the story of his life, we can also see it in great detail in the things that he wrote. The Psalms are a big collection of songs and poems that essentially made up Israel’s “worship song file” and David wrote many of them.

What’s also interesting is how scripture doesn’t rose-tint the story of David’s life and yet speaks very highly of him. The Biblical narrative shows a man who was a polygamist, adulterer and ultimately a scheming murderer who ruled over a nation and yet left his own family in a complete mess. Yet despite all this, David is used by the Apostles and New Testament writers Peter, in Acts 2, and Paul, in Acts 13, as a prophetic picture or type of Jesus Christ Himself. The Messiah is often referred to in the Old Testament prophetic books and in the gospels as “the Son of David”.

And then there’s this big one, especially within the scope of this series of posts: In his Acts 13 sermon, Paul talks about David as a person whom God calls “a man after my heart” (v22).

Until fairly recently I had always interpreted this phrase to mean a person who is in pursuit of God’s heart – a worshiper. While this kind of statement may be true of David, it isn’t what this text is actually saying. The word translated “after” is the Greek word kata which means “according to” and not “in pursuit of”. So, it uses “after” as in, “a son takes after his father” and not, “grown men chasing after a ball.” I had always understood the phrase incorrectly as “David… a man who pursues God’s heart” whereas the correct understanding would actually be, “David… a man who has the same characteristics or qualities as God’s heart.”

Coming to understand this, I have to say that this must be one of scripture’s highest commendations of any man – God saying that this man, David, had some of the same characteristics as Himself. As far as I know, David is the only person in the Bible that God directly describes this way. Surely this is something we would love be true about us and so it is this statement that we must investigate further.

Why does scripture make such high commendations of a person who’s life story would make a serious R-rated movie? You could argue that there must be better characters in the Bible to choose for this honour.

This contrast beautifully illustrates the triumph of God’s grace over sinful human messiness in the achievement of His sovereign will. But even with this in mind, we still have to ask what it was that David had or did that caused God to call him a man after His heart in both the Old (through Samuel in 1 Sam 13:14) and New Testaments (through Paul in Acts 13)?

To answer this we have to examine what it was about David that was after or “according to” God’s heart. More on that in part 3 which hopefully won’t take another seven months to post.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts? What kind of similarities between David and the heart of God can you see?

Click here for part 3 of this article.

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