A “paradigm” is an example, a model, or a framework. There are two paradigm leaders when you read through the Old Testament. One is David and the other is Jeroboam. After the death of Solomon, Israel becomes divided into two kingdoms, north and south. Jeroboam becomes the 1st king of the northern tribes, which is known as Israel. And Rehoboam becomes the king of the southern tribes, which is known as Judah. As the biblical storyline plays out there are no righteous kings in the north and every king is compared to Jeroboam. There is a mix of good and bad kings in the south, and every king is compared to David. But notice the tag lines. For those compared to Jeroboam it reads, “he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the ways of Jeroboam.” That is not the moniker you want. For those who were compared to David it reads, “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as David his father had done.” That would obviously be the preferable title.
What makes the difference between these two paradigms? We know from reading all the biblical evidence that David was not a perfect king. He committed adultery, lied, and had his general murder one of his might men. He certainly sinned in big ways. Yet the New Testament calls him “a man after God’s own heart.” Jeroboam is not even mentioned in the New Testament. Therefore, we can assume that while David is memorialized as a paradigm king for good, Jeroboam is conversely memorialized as paradigm king for bad. But again, why the distinction? I think it boils down to two things. God reserves the harshest judgment for kings that succumb to idolatry and never repent. God forgives the king who recognizes, confesses, and repents of his sin. The primary sin of the northern kings is that they chased after other gods and abandoned the God of Israel. While David did sin greatly, once he was confronted by the Nathan the prophet, he confessed his sin and changed his heart attitude concerning his sin. We see this clearly in 2 Samuel 12 and Psalm 51. This action of repentance did not erase all of the consequences of David’s sin. But his heart had turned back to the Lord. His humble attitude of repentance over his sin allowed him to be called a man after God’s own heart.
What example do you want to set? What model do you want others to follow? What pattern do you want to establish for emerging leaders behind you? There is mercy and grace for the leader who can humble himself and repent of his sin. An impact can still be had. A good legacy can still be maintained. But only if we follow the the paradigm of King David.
What are your thoughts?