The deepest longing in our hearts, the “Abba!” cry of our spirits and our constant prayer, should be to be transformed – or, to be more precise, to be conformed into God’s likeness. That’s why Zechariah’s prophetic prescription in Zechariah 12:8 is so stirring: ‘(The weakest among us) in that day shall be like David…’ (my paraphrase).
He speaks of a day when we’ll display the dignified qualities of royal heirs of the King of Heaven. It’s the culmination of the promise that Jesus our Captain is leading us, His sons and daughters, to greater and greater degrees of glory (Hebrews 2:10).
So what should we expect? What does it mean for us to look ‘like David’?
Several things come to mind. Being courageous, for instance, is certainly high on the list of attributes David exemplified. But there’s another trait about to be unlocked that was especially prodigious in David’s story – Loyalty.
Loyalty is not a trendy subject these days. It strikes us as being out of touch, passé, boring! In our choice-filled world, if you don’t like something or someone, just walk away.
Heaven forbid we should’ve to put up with being challenged or uncomfortable! Our generation lacks the backbone, the nose-to-the-grindstone, face-like-a-flint kind of attitude that keeps commitments, and presses matters through to the end.
Not David. He was loyal to the core. He considered loyalty to man a direct reflection of his faithfulness to God. He boasted in it as a badge of honour, declaring in Psalm 15:4 that he who truly fears the Lord ‘keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change (his) mind.’
Consider his loyalty to King Saul, the very man who tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, and obsessively chased him around the Judean countryside with his army for years.
Even when Saul relieved himself in the cave where David was hiding, David refused to retaliate but instead famously said, “The Lord is my witness, I would never do such a thing… I will never lift my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.” 1 Samuel 24:6 (CSB).
David’s loyalty was not limited to those who were ‘over him’. The covenant of friendship he had with Jonathan is an unparalleled example of the power of brotherhood in history.
To our microwave culture that gave birth to Snapchat and Instagram, such a depth of commitment seems naive. Who dares to form the kind of bond that says, “Whatever you yourself desire, I will do it for you?” (1 Samuel 20:4)
These were not just words. Jonathan’s resolve was weighty, threatening his relationship with his own father, the King of Israel, and even his very own life when Saul cast his spear at Jonathan to kill him.
Their bond of friendship was tested to the extreme but, through it all, their allegiance to each another never wavered.
David’s relationship to King Achish, ruler of the antagonistic Philistines, is yet another example that he had adopted loyalty as a life principle.
It’s shocking that David had earned the trust of this rival sovereign to the point of being invited to fight at his side against David’s own people.
In the end, he did not need to go to battle but, who could fail to be inspired by the effect his standard of loyalty had on the people around him – even his natural enemies!
One final instance of David’s loyal heart is found in 2 Samuel 9. David’s fealty to Jonathan extended even beyond the grave when he feels compelled to search high and low for “anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake” (2 Samuel 9:1).
This highlights a depth and quality of loyalty in two astounding ways. First, that David was motivated to fulfill promises made to Jonathan long after he had died, i.e. when no one was watching, when no one cared. In this sense, he was also loyal to himself!
Second, David was not only loyal to his leaders or his peers; he was even loyal to those under his command, e.g. his motley band in the cave, as well as those far beneath him in society.
Mephibosheth was crippled, a castaway, yet David made sure that Jonathan’s heir had a seat of honour at the king’s table for the rest of his life.
When we read Zechariah’s prophecy, an image of David the warrior, the giant slayer, is the first thing that comes to mind. I get it. There’s something invigorating about the picture of young David standing before Saul with the head of Goliath in his hand.
We love our heroes. Courage naturally inspires us. And while this is something God is undoubtedly stirring up in us, there’s another characteristic in David’s life that the Father is about to make available to His Church, as we approach the Day of His return.
Join me in crying out to become a truly loyal people, like David.