King David and the Ambiguities of Power

Here is the eleventh in a series of Bible studies that present the Bible as being in the side of pacifism. In this essay, “King David and the Ambiguities of Power,” looks at the story of King David’s rise and fall. Even though Samuel had spoken sharply in opposition to the elders of Israel asking God for a human king (to be “like the other nations”), with David’s emergence, we get the sense that the institution of kingship might indeed follow the pattern of Deuteronomy 17. However, over time David succumbs to the allures of excessive power and ends up fulfilling Samuel’s warnings by taking–most overtly, Bathsheba, the beautiful wife of his loyal soldier Uriah. David’s fall marks the long descent of kingship to a pretty complete fulfillment of the worst of Samuel’s warnings. As we will see, in the end to linking of God’s promise with the nation state ends in the rubble of Judah’s king’s palace and the temple.  But the promise does not end….

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