Going through archives and came around this piece I had shared in October 2008. Hope you enjoy it.
Sharing on ‘My favorite character of the Bible – David’
Joyful Way Incorporated, Godlive House, Accra, Ghana
18 October, 2006
Dannie Adapoe (Prayer and Counselling Director), who I called Efo Erasmus, has done two things to me since I returned to Ghana from school. My first JWI meeting at Godlive since my return from the UK was last week 11 October. I had gotten to Godlive house early, since I didn’t want to go through a lot of traffic coming here. As I was preparing to settle in the office and relax before the meeting started, and was chatting deliciously (!) with those around, Laura Nmai-Dsane came to give me her phone to talk to Erasmus. “Damoah,” he said “welcome back. Ministry still goes on! Come right now to Busy Internet and pick me. We are going to pick Rev. Awotwe (our preacher for the night) from his house!” Who am I to refuse my Director?! And the rains decided to pour that evening too! After the wonderful period of testimonies and Rev. Awotwe’s sharing, and just as we were about to go into the announcement time, Dannie flexed his directorial biceps again. “You koraa, who is your favourite character of the Bible?” “I don’t have one!” I replied. No luck for me. I was asked to share about my non-existing favourite character anyway!
It is such a good feeling to be back. To be back to fellowship, to friendship, to laughter in Godlive, to the cracking of toffees and the sharing of fanta! To teasing in the house of the Lord, to solid Christian doctrine and teaching and practice. To ministry, to evangelism, to sharing our lives. I missed Joyful so much, which means you all.
Allow me to start with a story I received from my friend Dr. Moses Ademola, who is within a cycle of friends who share about African renaissance and how Africans living abroad can either return home to Africa or give back what the continent has helped us with.
Twelve hundred years ago, in the city of Baghdad, lived a genius named Al-Khwarizmi, who was one of the fathers of algebra. In fact, the word algebra comes from the title of his book Al-jabr, which for centuries was the standard mathematics textbook. Al-Khwarizmi taught in an institution of learning called the House of Wisdom, which was the center of new ideas during Islam’s golden age of science. To this day we computer scientists honor Al-Khwarizmi when we use the word algorithm, which is our attempt to pronounce his name.
One day, Al-Khwarizmi was riding a camel laden down with algebraic manuscripts to the holy city of Mecca. He saw three young men crying at an oasis.
“My children, why are you crying?” he enquired.
“Our father, upon his death, instructed us to divide his 17 camels as follows: ‘To my oldest son I leave half of my camels, my second son shall have one-third of my camels, and my youngest son is to have one-ninth of my camels.'”
“What, then, is your problem?” Al-Khwarizmi asked.
“We have been to school and learned that 17 is a prime number that is, divisible only by one and itself and cannot be divided by two or three or nine. Since we love our camels, we cannot divide them exactly,” they answered.
Al-Khwarizmi thought for a while and asked, “Will it help if I offer my camel and make the total 18?” “No, no, no,” they cried. “You are on your way to Mecca, and you need your camel.”
“Go ahead, have my camel, and divide the 18 camels amongst yourselves,” he said, smiling.
So the eldest took one-half of 18 – or nine camels. The second took one-third of 18 – or six camels. The youngest took one-ninth of 18 – or two camels. After the division, one camel was left: Al-Khwarizmi’s camel, as the total number of camels divided among the sons (nine plus six plus two) equalled 17.
Then Al-Khwarizmi asked, “Now, can I have my camel back?”
These young men had information about prime numbers, but they lacked the wisdom to use the information effectively. It is the manipulation of information to accomplish seemingly impossible purposes that defines true wisdom.
The Bible is replete with tonnes of wisdom for our consumption and usage/application. In our application, we need to think out of the box and extend the domain of our application beyond just what we will call our Christian lives. And we will see the massive impact that will bring to our lives.
David the King has fascinated me a lot through my study of the Bible. The lessons from David for me cover day-to-day activities, leadership, emotional expressions and human relations, among others.
1. The first mention of David in the Bible is in 1 Samuel 16 when the Lord decided to cut off the Kingship of Saul and choose another King for His people. When Eliab the first son of Jesse had passed and hadn’t been chosen, the Lord gave Samuel an incline into what His (the Lord’s) criteria was: Not appearance, not height, not the things man looks at, the outward appearance. Hail the heart. God looks at the heart. Remember that Jesse himself hadn’t tipped David for anything that day. “There is still the youngest, but he is tending the sheep.” In the fields, the Lord was preparing him for great things. A few lessons from this passage. Don’t let anyone look down upon you because you are young (1 Timothy 4:12). That has been one of my driving Scriptures in my Christian life. But set an example. David used his field experience to learn a lot of things about God and about life in general. In his testimony to King Saul before fighting Goliath, David asserted that he learnt to trust in God and to fight in the fields (1 Samuel 17:34 – 36). No calling in the Lord’s house is a low calling. Whilst you wait for the so-called higher post, or calling, what are you learning now? In your job, at that entry level job, are you learning? Are you working with all your heart, and setting a good example? Because when the time for promotion comes, it will not be based only on your future potential (it will be assessed) but mostly on your demonstrated potential, on what you have been able to do so far.
2. David’s ability to serve was displayed again in the house of King Saul. David entered Saul’s service as a harp player, but in a short time, “Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armour-bearers.” Do you know the amount of trust you need to became an armour-bearer of the King? In battle you have to be closest to him, and you could betray him easily. Remember, Saul asked his armour-bearer to kill him. David was a servant. And in time, when he became King, he had faithful servants too. Most of us want to be bosses without being subordinates. We want to jump from A – Z, without even stopping at Y! I also believe that faithfulness begets faithfulness. If you are not faithful to serve and to your leaders, I won’t promise you faithfulness when you get into a position of leadership.
3. With service came humility. The humility of David even shone when he sinned and was rebuked by Nathan the prophet. With humility came the ability to listen to reason. David listened to the pleading of Abigail. I wanted to write an article titled “The Arrogance and shallowness of the modern day charismatic Christian”. We have become very proud Christians today. May the Lord heal us of our pride!
4. One of the fascinating characters of David for me was his ability to wait for his due time, and not to rush the hand of God. David was anointed to be future King at a young age. In the period between that and when he actually ascended the throne, David killed Goliath, became army commander, ate at the King’s table, befriended the King’s son (and became his friend rather than a rival), escaped assassination by the King, became the ladies’ favourite character in their songs, obtained the support of key priests (men of God), forged alliances and friendships with Kings of surrounding tribes (like Moab), was pursued relentlessly by an increasingly unpopular King, who had fallen out of favour with both Samuel and the Lord. In short, David had all the ingredients for a popular coup d’etat! (1 Chronicles 11: 2 – read this). But David waited for his due time. Do we not sometimes rush the prophecies and promises of God for our lives? God needs no help! However, when you wait, use the time to build on what God has given you. God prepares us with our daily experiences. We learn by tuition, experience and observation.
5. Intricately linked with the fourth point was an unflinching policy of David not to touch the Lord’s anointed and to honour the leadership of Saul. I talked about faithfulness begetting faithfulness. David exhibited it and by this gave an example to his men that you don’t kill the person God has appointed over you. As my friend Geoff Anno likes to say, “Don’t election people and turn around to punish them [with your lack of support]”. I am crazy about this policy. When God elects a leader over me, I give 150% support and respect to that person. I don’t care whether that person is young, old, male or female. At one of our Quality assurance team meetings when I was in Unilever, we did a pick and act session and our oldest employee then, Ataa Sowah, picked a question: “Does it matter if your boss is younger that you are?!” His answer has stayed with me and it will forever. Ataa said: “It doesn’t matter. Just respect the chair.” In other words, whoever sat on that chair becomes sacred. Two examples. Following the threat issued by two Asante groups lately, one of the leaders of those groups was interviewed on Joy FM, and he reiterated that the Asantehene is not to be discussed at all. When the interviewer pressed that this was untenable under the constitution, and in this era of freedom of speech, the man retorted that as far as the Asantehene was concerned, there was no freedom of speech. He ended by saying: “Let me put it this way: He is our God! As soon as he ascended the throne, he ceased to be an ordinary person.” In the film Johnny English, Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) was the top agent in the British spy agency. When he managed to foil the attempt of a French impostor to become King of England (after getting the Queen to abdicate), Mr. Bean by mistake found himself sitting on the throne of England, with the crown on his head! At that very moment, when he issued an instruction to arrest the impostor, it was obeyed with dispatch. Let’s follow David’s example in this regard.
6. I believe this next lesson from the life of David follows from the respect David had for authority. He elicited massive loyalty from his men. 1 Chronicles 11:10 – 47 describes some of these men. Read the account of Three who broke through Philistine lines to draw water for David, because he had said that he longed for water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem. And you know, David didn’t drink that water at all, offering it to God. He even had defectors joining his ranks. I believe apart from reaping the fruits of the respect and honour he had sowed into Saul, this loyalty also came to David because of his human relations and management, and his ability to identify with his men. He was able to weep with his men when the Amalekites raided Negev and Ziklag (1 Samuel 30). He wasn’t afraid to let his people see him broken and weak. Why is it that as leaders and managers, we are so afraid to do this? For me, not drinking that water from Bethlehem, obtained as such great cost, was a great symbol to his men. David honoured his men, as depicted when Abner was murdered, when the King himself walked behind the bier and wept for Abner. As King, David enjoyed massive loyalty as well. 2 Samuel 3:36 summed it well: “…indeed, everything the king did pleased them (the people of Israel).”
7. I like David’s ability to love and to forge friendships. His friendship with Jonathan is deep, and I have a complete article on this that I will make available on the notice board. 1 Samuel 18 recounts this friendship. In the article, I noted the following attributes of this friendship: love, trust, sharing, identity, togetherness, affirmation (bringing out the best in your friend).
8. I admire David’s ability to laugh, to dance, to weep, to mourn. As men, we have a lot to learn from David about that. As a leader, I found weeping before the Lord to be great therapy. David did it and he found strength in the Lord his God. He wept for Abner, he wept when his first child with Bathsheba died, he knew when to weep. But he also knew how to take comfort in his God and to move on in life. He knew when to leave things in the hands of God and to acknowledge that God knew best.
9. David was a family man. He loved his children, even when they rebelled. Enter Absalom. Even in the heat of his son’s conspiracy, he was able to say that the army should be gentle with his son. For his sake. And he cried that he would have died instead of Absalom. What love from a father. This lesson comes stronger to me now, for my son Nana Kwame. David ended on a good note. Check how others ended (I Chronicles 29: 26-28, II Timothy 4:7).
10. I will end with this final attibute: David kept his promises. He kept his promise to Jonathan to look after his descendants, bringing Mephibosheth to the palace to live with him. He kept his promise to Abner and was distressed when Joab murdered him. Actually, in his handing over notes to Solomon, David asked that Solomon dealt with Joab. He was a man of his word.
I could go on and on, but I have to end somewhere! I haven’t touched on the lessons from David’s fight with Goliath; I haven’t touched on the fact that he was human, like us, sinning and yet having the heart to confess and to come stronger to his God; I haven’t touched on his desire to have his bed kept warm, and so marrying Abishag at a tender age. The Bible is careful to note that David didn’t have intimate relations with her, just heat exchange! Ei, David!
David was a man, just like us, but he walked with God so well, that God declared him a man after his own heart. He became a mighty man, a great King, and a wise ruler. His humble roots remained with him and he always remembered where God had brought him from. May the lessons from the life of this great man teach us also to trust in our God and to serve Him with all our heart.