Shared responsibility

“These also are the chief of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom” (1 Chronicles 11:10). Initially when the Israelites entered the Promised Land, their victories over their enemies were miraculous. Beginning with the conquest of Jericho, God did mighty acts on their behalf to ensure they would survive in the land of Canaan.

After David became king, he established a military structure that would enable him to not only defend and protect the areas of the Promised Land that the Israelites controlled, but to root out the remaining foreigners and secure the borders of the Promised Land so that it could operate as a unified nation. David’s mighty men were seasoned warriors that had excelled on the battlefield. They had reputations that struck fear into the hearts of their enemies and made it clear that Israel intended to permanently dwell in the land they had inherited from God.

Synergy was probably not a concept David was familiar with and yet he used it to manage his army. David had thirty captains and of those he chose the three mightiest as chiefs or heads of his military. A single chief would have made the chain of command clear as to who was in charge, but David elected to distribute his authority among three men that would have shared responsibility and accountability for the military’s success.

David’s decision to have three leaders rather than one is similar to what Jesus did with his disciples. James, John, and Peter were often singled out collectively rather than individually. After Jesus died, there was no single leader of the church. Although Peter had a prominent role in transitioning the disciples, he was not considered their leader and did not try to take Jesus’ place as the director of their activities.

A key advantage of shared responsibility is the assurance that if a leader is killed, there will be continuity after he is gone. When responsibility rests on the shoulders of one man, power and control can be taken away or lost if anything happens to him. David wanted to make sure his kingdom would survive for many generations. The fact that the nation of Israel still exists today is confirmation that David laid a good foundation for military leadership and paved the way for Israel to exist in the midst of hostile enemies.

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