David: Man of Prayer, Man of War – Reviewed by Randall J Pederson
By far the best spiritual biography of David that I have read, Walter J. Chantry’s David: Man of Prayer, Man of War1 is an exemplar of biblical depth, pastoral insight, and contemporary relevance. It will no doubt find a welcome home in the hands of busy pastors looking for fresh material on the life of David (and how properly to draw parallels for modern living), with teachers weary of hollowed encyclopaedic treatments too prevalent today (Chantry makes David’s life come to life, as it were), and with lay readers who want to be challenged and instructed, who want to move from prayer to praise and back again.
In thirty-five short chapters, which first appeared in The Banner of Truth magazine, Chantry unveils David’s life – from God’s description of ‘a man after his own heart’, to his anointing by Samuel to rule over Israel, to his tragic affair with Bathsheba and the subsequent crimes of passion, to his fleeting moments with Solomon on the edge of eternity – and instructs us in their significance for our own time. It is more than just a life of David – it is an instructive use of David’s life, one worthy of the great Puritan tradition in which Chantry firmly stands.
Chantry shows us David’s zeal for the house of the Lord; he shows us David’s frailty and sinfulness. He unravels what it means to be ‘a man after God’s own heart’ and shows how David strived to live with God’s favour. With keen pastoral insight, Chantry finds in David’s life an example of what it means to live coram Deo (‘in the presence of God’) at every juncture in life – in times of crises, in times of prayer and praise, in times of need and plenitude. He does not hide David’s faults, nor does he exalt him beyond portion; rather, he shows us the heart of a man who lived in two worlds: a man of the earth, a man of the kingdom of heaven.
David’s life illustrates the immense importance of prayer and utter reliance on God in every circumstance; it also shows the clinging fear of mortality and all its woes, the brokenness that sin brings into the world, into relationships, into our very communion with God himself. Those who know the ups and downs of Christian living will find a kindred heart in David. Those who think that Christians can do no wrong will find no place for this book on their shelves as it is a lasting testimony to the greatness of God’s work in the life of the humble, the broken, the repentant, the restored.
Few biblical characters exceed David in artistic depictions throughout the centuries. The best known and perhaps most astounding is Michelangelo’s David, unveiled outside the Palazzo della Signoria in Florence on September 8, 1504. Majestic in stature, Michelangelo’s David is a tribute to David’s greatness and lasting influence. Chantry’s remarkable book is a tribute of a different sort: it is a tribute to David’s God and to the profundity of divine grace.
Man of Prayer, Man of War
By far the best spiritual biography of David that I have read, Walter J. Chantry’s David: Man of Prayer, Man of War1 is an exemplar of biblical depth, pastoral insight, and contemporary relevance. It will no doubt find a welcome home in the hands of busy pastors looking for fresh material on the life of […]
Four Meditations from John Owen September 26, 2023
This is a reprint of an article that was first published in the Banner of Truth magazine, July – August 1968. His words remain searching and pertinent today. * * * The Value of the Gospel No men in the world want help like them that want the Gospel. A man may want liberty, and […]
Peacocks and Rutterkins: Calvin the Colloquial Communicator August 31, 2023
John Calvin is thought of, principally, as a theologian. Of course, he was that. But, as Andrew W. Blackwood once told me, in his day he was first of all considered a preacher. Too few of his sermons have been preserved.1 English translations are mainly in 16th century English!2 Nevertheless, the more I read them, […]