A spiritual biography of David, Walter J. Chantry’s David: Man of Prayer, Man of War1 is an exemplar of biblical depth, pastoral insight, and contemporary relevance. 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, 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.