How to be David in the Court of a Mad King

saul-and-david

If you are reading this I’m going to assume that the following applies to you more than a little bit: If you voted for President-elect Trump you did so while holding your nose as Franklin Graham implored. You weren’t so much voting for Trump as against Hillary. You had severe reservations about Trump but none held a candle to what you thought Clinton would do in office. If that does not describe you because you went to the polls taking deep, satisfying breathes of the Trump phenomenon, then this post is not for you. I’ll only make you mad. I have no love for Michael Moore’s politics but he got it right when he said that Donald Trump was the molokov cocktail thrown at the establishment. I get it. There’s a certain satisfaction in sticking it to liberal elites . . . and all of it is of the flesh. It might surprise you to know that this isn’t the first time, a large group of people rose up and chose an unknown quantity over what they saw as the prospect of more corruption and injustice:

When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” (1 Samuel 8:1-5)

Yes, I know I’m wrenching a Biblical text out of context, but bare with me. I promise I’ll reel it back in. Of course we know that in a choice between the perverted justice of Samuel’s sons and making Israel great like all the other nations, it’s perfectly rational to choose a king. It was also never supposed to be that way. Israel was never supposed to have a king. When the Israelites doubled-down, they revealed some of their motives:

But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” (1 Samuel 8:19-20)

They wanted a champion. They were tired of getting pushed around. They wanted someone to fight the battles they thought they couldn’t. Sound familiar? Here’s one evangelical testifying in the Washington Post

Hopefully, now we can see some progress for some evangelical causes in our country,” Gary Hamrick said. “I feel like we actually have an advocate now in the White House.”

There is one major difference between the Israelites and the more than 70% of Evangelicals who voted for Trump (either holding their nose or not): The Israelites didn’t know anything about the king they had chosen. Evangelicals cannot say the same thing. The President-elect never made any bones about the kind of person he was. Now, I know there are some people who will say that we should not assume that the Donald is the same now as he was years ago, but character just doesn’t work that way. You can say we should forgive but I don’t think he’s been very contrite. No, we knew he was mad but the majority of Evangelicals chose madness over what they thought was worse.

I get it. I do. However, now that we have made our choice, for better or worse, what should we do?

Then Abishai said to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now please let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice.” But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?” And David said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should put out my hand against the Lord’s anointed.

The first rule of living with a mad king is don’t become mad yourself. I already mentioned this but we can’t gloat about the fact that the left has been dealt a serious blow. Not because it isn’t true but because gloating can change us. Like David, we could find ourselves with a spear in our hand and a deep sense of satisfaction, and it would be all too easy to be like Abishai and go in for the kill. Just because Saul was a mad king, doesn’t mean he wasn’t the Lord’s anointed. God sometimes gives us the rulers we deserve not the ones we need.  It’s hard to hear but Peter reminds us of Jesus’ example:

“He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” ( 1 Peter 2:23-24)

The second rule of living  with a mad king is seek out the alienated and the broken.

David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. (1 Samuel 22:1-2)

There is no other way to say this, there are many people who are completely flabbergasted at how the Evangelical community can decry sexual immorality, hubris, and hatred in someone like Bill Clinton and then excuse it the first time someone is anyone other than Hillary Clinton. The only explanation they can honestly come up with is that Evangelicals are pragmatists and just like everyone else when it comes to “the end justifies the means.” I know, I know, the Supreme Court. But again, that just sounds like “end justifies the means” to those people who are looking into our stained glass world. The speed with which Evangelicals began to “pivot” in defense of Trump after he got the Republican nomination was breathtaking.

So now that we live in this world, we must speak up against racism. Evangelicals must be just as bold in saying white supremacy is wrong as they are in denouncing gay marriage. Yes, I know there is a lot of people who use the term “racism” like a bludgeon against actual dialogue. Being falsely accused of racism is almost as bad as being the target of actual racism (I’m leaving aside the fact that most white Evangelicals have never had to worry about their church being burned or desecrated by spray paint-wielding thugs which is, I’m sure, far worse than any prejudice I’ve experienced.) I get annoyed at being told to check my privilege but only because it prevents actual dialogue and debate. It simply isn’t the same thing as being racially targeted.

Third rule of living in a mad kingdom, keep doing good.

And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines and brought away their livestock and struck them with a great blow. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah. (1 Samuel 23:5)

David could have easily let Saul’s enemies ravage Israel and pick up the pieces. He could have camped out and waited for Saul to destroy himself. But he didn’t. And neither should we. The mandate of the Gospel hasn’t changed one tiny bit. The hungry still need feeding. The sick still need medicine, The orphan still needs a family and the feet of those who bring good news are still beautiful. The petty machinations of power-brokers do not change what we are here to do, just because there appears to be a measure of peace between Church and Caesar. Sin is sin whether it comes cloaked in the rainbow colors of the Alt-Left or the white pride of the Alt-Right.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24)

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Comments

How to be David in the Court of a Mad King — 3 Comments

  1. “No, we knew he was mad … a mad king” Miles’ claim is that Trump is “mad”. Now, that is a huge call which, IMHO, cannot at all be sustained with any impirical evidence. The use of such a perjoative label in this article is then used to justify beating down the straw man. That is a a rather ordinary way to argue the remainder of the article which focuses on living with that “mad king”, I would think. Furthermore, he claims unapologetically that ‘[Evangelical Christians] knew he was mad but the majority of Evangelicals chose madness….’.

    Is Trump mad? No! That’s an emphatic, No! He is an extremely talented, intelligent and gifted individual — who happens to be a sinner. He, like us all, suffers from brokenness that only the Lord can fix. Clinton is the same yet, unlike Trump, carried with her huge polical baggage including the prospect of being signicantly corrupt, it seems for good reason too.

    Between these two people, “Evangelical Christians” had the opportunity to chose. There is no questions that EvCh’s decided to set up a new kingship where none existed before. No, not at all. That process was a part of the fabric of society and it is reasonable for every Christian to function within the systems of administration that the Lord has allowed to be established for the governing of society.

    Last matter is this: “There is no other way to say this, there are many people who are completely flabbergasted at how the Evangelical community can decry sexual immorality, hubris, and hatred in someone like Bill Clinton and then excuse it the first time someone is anyone other than Hillary Clinton.” That is a putrid claim, indeed a serious and unsustainable smear over all of EvCh and every person in it. Who says, but the writer who doe not refute the claim, that the EvCommunity mindlessly excuses Trump’s behavior?

    Personally, I ‘excuse’ the sins of my neighbor as being a matter between them and the Lord. That doesn’t mean I like what they do, think their ungodly behaviour is within the bounds of acceptability a and encourage them to nto worry about it. Nor does it mean I won’t have a meal with them, or help them on their way, or pick them up from the ground if they are fallen, or vote for and appoint them to some earthly role. I look past their sins and foibles and bring the good news of Jesus to bear upon their lives.Trump is answerable to the Lord for his behaviour just like the rest of us. Ditto Clinton. The Lord judges the righteous and the unrighteous alike. And he can use the eathly courts and legal systems to do just that. At this point in time, the prospect of facing an earthly judiciary is before Clinton, but not Trump.

    The 82% of EvChristians (Which Miles should know at the date of his writing and not the 70% he reports) made the most sensible choice before them and they can do so without for a moment condoning the unsavoury behaviour of the president-elect. I have no concern about the 82%, rather the 18% wondering what it was about Clinton that would cause them to endorse her as Queen given her rather poor handling of the truth over many, many years, to say the least. If we take the general flavour (and, dare I say, methodology) of the Miles’ article, would it be fair and reasonable to claim that the 18% would approve of Joel and Abijah’s acceptance o fbribes and perversion of justice?

    It is sad to see this writer present Trump as the mad-enemy already, even before his inauguration. Where is the fairness in that? There isn’t any. Pray for him. Pray for Mike Pence. Love them. Support them, and quit the totally unjustified and sensational critical nonsense.

    I will add, too, that the use, more properly abuse of the Biblical narrative–specificatly, the dragooning of select passages–and history of the Lord’s people in this article and plaster it over current events is, in my view, a very good example of how not to interpret Scripture and subsequently misapply it. Is it worthy of “Apologetic Report”, I think not.

    • Royal Priest said it all. I was thinking the same thing while reading this article. It was an attempt to appease the discourse, and a poor one at that, it just fed into it.

  2. I appreciate your thoughts and criticisms. This has been one of the most divisive and polarizing campaigns which I have witnessed. Perhaps not the worst in our nation’s history but it seems right up there. In some cases it has divided life-long friendships and families. Jonathan and I have had a number of discussions and find that although we are both conservative did not agree on voting for Trump vs. voting third party or not at all. Our private discussions only served to demonstrate that there are believers, some with strong voices within Evangelicalism who did not agree. As Jonathan points out, Franklin Graham did indeed suggest that Evangelicals, ‘Hold Your Nose’ and Vote for Candidate ‘Christians Will at Least Have a Voice With’. Christianity Today ran both a pro-Clinton piece by former National Association of Evangelicals board member Deborah Fikes, ” Why I Resigned My Evangelical Leadership Roles to Support Hillary Clinton”, (which everyone at MCOI disagrees) and a pro-rump endorsement by Dr. Norman Geisler, ”Ethics and Theology Professor on Why Trump is the Best Candidate for President” with which I tend to find echoes my views.

    In a sense the use of Saul was not such a stretch. It isn’t that Saul was “mad” as in insane. He had the ability to exhibit kindness and caring, even generosity but when he perceived someone was usurping his greatness, like the songs of Saul killing his thousands and David killing his ten thousands, he became enraged and at times had an evil spirit overcome him. Trump doesn’t really hide his flaws, what you see is pretty much what you get. If he perceives that he has been treated unfairly he will come out name calling and fighting and that makes some Evangelicals very uncomfortable while others are looking for someone that will fight for their right to believe what they choose without fear of reprisal. Trump also can be very kind, caring and generous. He is demonstrating his ability to be thoughtful in his decision making and in the process is winning over former anti-Trumpers like Conservative columnist George Wills. That is monumental.

    Jonathan’s post was actually less about Trump and more about how we, as believers, need to live in an era of national power now being in the hands of conservatives with 3 points:

    1: Don’t gloat
    2: Seek out the alienated and the broken
    3: Keep doing good

    It strikes me that even though you and I may not be fully in agreement with Jonathan these three challenges are important to consider and act on.

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