David, Mighty Hero of Israel
(c) Jordan White Enterprises
September 23, 2000
The Bible recounts to us the story of David, the renowned shepherd-king, the “sweet psalmist of Israel” who, indeed, penned most of the book of Psalms and ruled Israel for forty years. His epic conquests against such enemies as the Philistines and the Canaanites expanded Israel to its greatest size and power ever. He united the Northern and Southern Kingdoms into one nation. He is venerated by Christians and Jews as an effective soldier and king who carried out God’s will in creating a kingdom in which the world could see the miracles wrought when a people followed God and were rewarded for their faithfulness to Him.
An exciting event in David’s life involved a battle he fought at the request of the King of Israel at the time, Saul, who was David’s future father-in-law. You see, David was so anxious to marry Saul’s lovely daughter, Michal, that he would have done anything in the world to win her hand.
Crafty Saul knew this, but, the problem was, he didn’t like David. He thought that David was trying to seize his kingdom from him, and he knew that if anyone could do it, David could. David was a remarkable soldier and the public adored him.
This worried Saul. So he decided to get rid of David. He gave him the assignment of destroying one hundred Philistine men, as a sort of dowry for the hand of Michal. He could not imagine that David would be capable of doing this, so of course, the assignment was simply a way of arranging for the Philistines to kill David, and thus remove the threat against his kingdom.
It didn’t work. As it turned out, David killed two hundred Philistines, one hundred more than Saul had demanded. Saul had no choice but to deliver his delectable daughter to David, who he was to consider his enemy for the rest of his life.
You would think that David would have looked at the assignment that Saul gave him and thought to himself, “Dave, this is really a bad scene. This guy is trying to kill you. Why should I kill all of these guys just because Saul is having some kind of problem with me? This is really crummy behavior and I’m just not going to go along with it! Let him keep his daughter. She probably will do me much more harm than good, over the long haul, given the way things are starting out.”
Guess what. He would have been right. If David had confronted Saul about his bloodthirsty attitude, perhaps Israel would have had more years of peace and less international strife. The temple might have been built sooner, since David would have been able to get it done instead of his son, Solomon. And Michal? She and David had a disastrous, childless marriage that included such “delightful” episodes as Michal making fun of David for worshipping God with exuberance.
But I won’t second-guess God. I’ll assume He knew what He was doing when He allowed these events to take place. But, please, humor me one more time. Let me describe for you another event in the life of David, and then ask yourself if there is any way that what happened benefited anyone, David, or his nation, or his family. Or his God.
Since David saw fit not to question the bloodthirsty attitudes of his predecessor, Saul, he had not, evidently, come to any conclusions about the ethics (or lack thereof) of putting another human being in the line of fire in order to have them conveniently eliminated. You see, many years after the death of Saul and after David had become king of Israel, he had an affair with a beautiful woman, Bathsheba, whom he saw when she just happened to be taking a bath on her rooftop. Things got very complicated when Bathsheba (who was married) became pregnant with David’s child. To make a long story short, what eventually happened was that David decided to cover his tracks by having Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, eliminated in battle, set up in much the same way as David was set up by Saul. David survived Saul’s attempt at having the enemy be the murder weapon. The outcome was quite different in David’s plot against Bathsheba’s husband. Uriah was killed.
What happened here? How could David be so callous toward Uriah, especially since he had survived a similar plot and surely understood what Saul had planned was evil in the eyes of God? Surely he knew that this was not behavior suitable for a king of Israel? The Bible never explains this, and any thoughts that crossed David’s mind concerning his repeat of Saul’s actions have been lost to history. All we know is that David was exceedingly sorry for what he had done, and thorougly repented before God.
So everything was okay, right? Repent and everything goes back the way it was. No, that’s not what happened. David’s life was ruined. Oh, he went on being king of Israel. His health and wealth did not suffer. But his family life was over. The baby he and Bathsheba had conceived died. His son Absalom tried to kill him. Another son committed incest with a daughter. His life was one tragedy after another.
What is the lesson here? For one thing, it is well known that human beings have a tendency to do exactly what David did, that is, perpetrate evils done to them onto others. Abused children become abusers in adulthood. Child molesters were often, themselves, abused as children. Cruelty begets cruelty. How does one eliminate this cycle?
One must start by taking responsibility for his or her own actions, and then get whatever help is necessary to stop it. One must recognize that the pain of one’s past experiences is not assuaged by taking it out on others.
Israel is following much this same manner when it dispossesses the Palestinian people and seeks to eliminate them through ethnic cleansing. Israel will not heal from the pain and grief of the Holocaust until it faces the fact that it is creating another “Holocaust”with one of the few ethnic groups on the planet that have never persecuted them! They are putting the Palestinians through much the same hell they went through, herding them into filthy camps where many die due to disease and neglect, and appropriating their lands and property, even though they had nothing to do with the Holocaust and were not even allied with those who perpetrated it.
Until Israel can face up to the fact that, although they were indeed violated as a people, that it is time to forgive Germany for past horrors and move on, this misery will continue to be visited on an innocent people.
It is like the story about the man who escapes a burning building by jumping out of a window. He lands on another fellow and proceeds to beat him, breaking his arm and his leg. When the fellow protests that he had nothing to do with the fire, the man replies, “What you are saying is true, but I am angry, and you are handy.”
Israel, do not be the man with the burning house. Forgive the past, and put it away. Make a new and just future for yourselves, for surely that is the road to peace. The new and just future you make must include a free, independent, autonomous state on the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. A free Palestinian state.
Do it now.