In the margin of my Bible, right next to Psalm 45, I have written the following words: take the lead, at the front, for causes bigger than you—don’t be shy. To the right of these words I have placed a star, scrawled in pencil, and to the left of these words an arrow pointing toward Psalm 45:4, which, with the same pencil, I have underlined. It reads: In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!
The psalm itself was penned by one of the sons of Korah, a family of singers and songwriters and priests who had learned to have the deepest regard for those in positions of authority. After all, it was their great ancestor Korah, for whom they were named, who challenged Moses in the wilderness, ultimately losing his life for his disrespect of God’s chosen leader (see Numbers 16). His sons survived the ordeal (see Numbers 26:11), and they and those who came after them never forgot. No small wonder Psalm 45:1 begins the whole psalm with these poetic words: My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.
But for now it is verse four that captures my attention, prompting the notation in my Bible’s margin as well as the sobering of my heart. The psalmist is thinking with great reverence of his leader, and it is his desire that his leader—in his case, the king of Israel; probably King David—would move forward with a victorious spirit, leading with integrity (“truth”), humility (“meekness”), and righteousness (“holy justice”). I am so drawn to those words. As a man with the responsibility of leading many, many people, I want those words to utterly define me and my ministry. And I do indeed want to lead with a victorious or bold spirit and not with fear.
Moreover, I want to learn from the experience of leading. The psalmist’s hope that his ruler would allow his “right hand” to teach him suggests to me that putting forward the right hand of leadership ought to not only forge a responsible way forward but bring a rich return of wisdom for the leader’s mind and heart. I want to be teachable, learning, understanding the great errors of my ways and worshipping the Lord because of whatever successes may come. I wish to look behind me, being regretful if need be, but not devasted (see Paul Tripp’s excellent article in this regard), always—always—buiding on what I am learning. After all, the stakes are high. People matter, as does the great cause of my Great King Jesus.
The word “majesty” seems an awkward word: In your majesty ride out. How is it that such a word might apply to me, a simple shepherd leading a very special church family in Upper Midwest of America? The word speaks to dignity and self-respect and goodness; thus, perhaps it is fitting. These too are things I aspire to own in my life; not in my own power but as treasures from Jehovah. The reality is that as an introverted man loathing the spotlight, yet having to live in it with nearly every breath, I find the words of this simple verse compelling me forward, provoking me to embrace my calling with joy and dependency, whereby I might indeed, take the lead, at the front, for causes bigger than you—don’t be shy.