When a leader serves another leader with integrity and respect there are profound lessons to be learned and we are living in a day when leaders serving leaders are scarce commodities indeed.
Do you know much about Barzillai? Have you studied his life and the service he provided? What we read about him will only take a few minutes but the lessons can last a lifetime.
Barzillai the Gileadite comes to meet the King David, after there had been an attempted coup and the leader of the coup, King David's son Absalom, was now dead. The consequences of sin are many and manifold.
Those who had sided with Absalom are returning to side with the reigning King who had to flee away up to the north of Israel.
This is where Barzillai comes to the fore. We read all about him in the second book of Samuel in the Old Testament part of the Bible at Chapter 19 and some nine verses cover his story.
He is described as a very old man. He is 80 years old. He was wealthy and had provided for David during this trying period in the life of David. Barzillai had been very kind and gracious and generous to David when he was in hiding up in the north of Israel, when David was in great distress.
He had worked for the king and David wants Barzillai to stay in Jerusalem and be provided for. He knew what he faced and he had a sense of peace about it.
Barzillai is granted his desire to remain in his own home, and he returns to his home with the blessing of King David.
There is a question which arises here. "How will we meet the king?" How will we meet Jesus Christ the King, because one day we will? Each of us will meet the risen and ascended Christ, whether we believe it or not!
A man was asked, "Do you think Jesus is going to return soon?" His reply was "I think not", to which the comment was "Jesus said he would return at a time when you think not!"
Barzillai respected the king and David so wants to show him a degree of kindness in return. King David always appreciated what people did for him.
David is virtually inviting Barzillai to join his court in Jerusalem but Barzillai is beginning to lose his physical faculties in as much as he can no longer discern good from evil, or taste good food and drink, or hear the voices of those who sing and praise and worship.
However, he was wise as well as rich, and perhaps this is why David requested his presence in Jerusalem.
True greatness comes from what a man is and not just what he has.
Barzillai declines the invitation and does so with such dignity. He knows he is on his way out and he does not want to become a burden to King David, but he does suggest that his son Kimham accompanies David and that is agreed.
Barzillai and David are men who want to do good. David is so magnanimous, and in the midst of a rather harrowing section in the Bible, there shines this jewel of light.
Good leadership always shines through and it does so here in the lives of both Barzillai and King David, where we see such generous kindness and grace and respect and dignity and integrity.
If you are in a position of leadership or if you know you have to set an example to others, let your light shine clearly and brightly.
Sandy Shaw is Pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship, Chaplain at Inverness Prison, and Nairn Academy, and serves on The Children's Panel in Scotland, and has travelled extensively over these past years teaching, speaking, in America, Canada, South Africa, Australia, making 12 visits to Israel conducting Tours and Pilgrimages, and most recently in Uganda and Kenya, ministering at Pastors and Leaders Seminars, in the poor areas surrounding Kampala, Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.
He broadcasts regularly on WSHO radio out of New Orleans, and writes a weekly commentary at http://www.studylight.org/ entitled "Word from Scotland" on various biblical themes, as well as a weekly newspaper column.
His M.A. and B.D. degrees are from The University of Edinburgh, and he continues to run and exercise regularly to maintain a level of physical fitness.