Unity and Leadership

Some Christians speak of community as if it were the company of the believers in rose-tinted hues with the sound of violins swelling in the background. But often our experience in the church reflects a different reality. When Ephesians 4:3 commands the church to guard the unity of the Spirit, we should be warned that conflict is a common experience in the church.

Support for David’s leadership grew over time and came from a variety of sources. Some followed him immediately after he was banished from Saul’s presence. These capable warriors could fight with both bow and sling and were from Saul’s own tribe. They joined him at Ziklag, a town located in the Negev region of Judah.

Another group from the land of Gad joined David prior to his sojourn at Ziklag. When David was hiding from Saul in the wilderness, this group of fierce warriors went to great lengths to join him there, fording the Jordan when it was at its highest. Others from Benjamin (Saul’s tribe) and Judah (David’s tribe) also joined him there. David accepted them with a word of warning that prompted one of his mighty men to speak prophetically (v. 18). Amasai not only pledged full loyalty to David but also predicted that he would be successful because of God’s help. There were also latecomers who defected to David late in Saul’s reign. These men from the tribe of Manasseh probably came because they saw the handwriting on the wall. Saul’s time was running out. They threw in their lot with David once they realized his kingship was inevitable.

This chapter closes by describing David’s coronation in Hebron in idyllic terms. People came from far and wide to celebrate. Food and joy were in full supply. God’s people were united behind their new king.

Apply the Word

Even with God’s help, the path to unity was not easy for David. The same is true for us. Is there a conflict in your life today that threatens the unity of the church? What steps do you need to take to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3)? It may be as simple as a note or phone call.

BY John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

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