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Killing Goliath Was the Easy Part: David's Moral Development from Servant to Leader to Servant-Leader

GVER, Vol. 3 No. 1, (2001)

The life of King David is an interesting study in moral
development. King David is considered one of the greatest kings, if not
the greatest king, of Israel. Yet, King David was not without his faults
– the most notable being an adulterer and a murderer. The story of
David portrays an excellent study in the moral development of a great
leader and how in different stages of his life, he learned and grew as a
leader. Starting as a young shepherd boy, he fought the giant Goliath
and won – standing on his principles. As King, he wrongly calculated
the consequences of his actions and committed adultery with
Bathsheba, starting a series of second and third order effects of his
actions. In his last days as King, he paved the way for his son Solomon
to effectively lead the nation of Israel as a virtuous leader.

These three vignettes in King David’s life provide insight into
how David transitioned between using different bases for moral
decision-making in his life. The first story of David and Goliath
highlights the deontological approach to ethics. The second of David
and Bathsheba highlights the teleological approach to ethics, with
devastating consequences to his actions. Finally, in his naming of
Solomon to the throne, David displays an integrative approach of a
virtuous man – tempered by his earlier lessons in life.

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