It is a matter of the heart, my brothers. There are many offices a man might fulfill as a king—father of a household, manager of a department, pastor of a church, coach of a team, prime minister of a nation—but the heart required is the same. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases” (Prov. 21:1 NIV). The passage is often used to explain the sovereignty of God, in that he can do with a man whatever he well pleases. Certainly, God is that sovereign. But I don’t think that’s the spirit of this passage. God rarely forces a man to do something against his will, because God would far and above prefer that he didn’t have to, that the man wills to do the will of God. “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Josh. 24:15 NIV). What God is after is a man so yielded to him, so completely surrendered, that his heart is easily moved by the Spirit of God to the purposes of God.
That kind of heart makes for a good king.
Most of the men I know in some position of power and influence are not holy enough to handle even what they do have, and they are doing damage as we speak. They operate out of their business training and “principles of leadership,” they operate out of a great deal of their own brokenness, but they do not, on any sort of regular basis, check in with God, submit to him, live as a man yielding his plans to him.
Watch how Moses leads Israel out of bondage, and guides them to the Promised Land. Notice how every chapter telling the story of the Exodus begins, from chapter 6 to chapter 14: “Then the Lord said to Moses...” (NIV), and the rest of the chapter is Moses doing what God told him to do. Is this how the men you know run their corporations, their churches, their families? I’m stunned by how little daily guidance Christian men seek from God. They have a good idea, and they just go do it. Not the great kings. Look at David. “In the course of time, David inquired of the Lord. ‘Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?’ he asked. The Lord said, ‘Go up.’ David asked, ‘Where shall I go?’ ‘To Hebron,’ the Lord answered. So David went up there...” (2 Sam. 2:1–2 NIV). In his heart, and in his daily practice, David is a man yielded to God. He is called, may I remind you, a man after God’s own heart. (Learning to walk in this sort of intimacy is a good part of our initiation, but it begins with a yielded heart.)