Jesus isn’t just the greater Moses. He is also the greater David. In Psalm 78, the psalmist is reflecting on Israel’s rebellion against God after they were saved from slavery in Egypt. God was so gracious to his people despite their unfaithfulness. “Yet,” the psalmist wrote, “they sinned still more against him” (vv. 17, 40, 56).
Later in the Psalm, the writer tells us that he chose a shepherd from the tribe of Judah to lead his people back to God. This shepherd is David. The psalmist tells us:
He chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the nursing ewes he brought him to shepherd Jacob his people, Israel his inheritance. With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand (vv. 70-72).
You might be thinking, “David had an upright heart?! What about that whole Bathsheba and Uriah thing? That wasn’t so upright!” And you would be right. Of course David had his moral failures. He was human. And that’s the point: as great as David was as shepherd-king of Israel, he still fell short of the perfection that God’s people needed.
That’s where Jesus comes in. In John 10, he said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (v. 11). In saying this, Jesus claims to be the long awaited heir of David who would lead God’s people perfectly. He would be the ultimate shepherd-king who would never have a moral failure or a bad thought toward his flock.
When we read the Old Testament, we cannot look for examples in men like David and Moses. We need to see them as imperfect men who could never fully be what God’s people needed. They should not inspire us to be better people. They should leave us longing to be saved by the greater Man who did and said all that God wanted with complete perfection.