Jerry Falwell, Jr. compared Donald Trump to King David in March of this year. Explaining his endorsement Falwell said,
“God called King David a man after God’s own heart even though he was an adulterer and a murderer.” (1)
Given the nature of political leadership, the argument that God uses flawed human beings for good, for God’s purposes is a legitimate topic. Did God use the extremely imperfect David for good? In our own time is God using another imperfect man, Donald Trump, for good?
Despite his reputation over the millennia as a great king, David was a human being. He was a sinner who did terrible things. From our twenty-first century vantage point he was despicable.
David lusted after Bathsheba who was bathing on a nearby roof, as was ancient custom. And, though, lust in and of itself can be a normal human response, like other men (and women) he did not have to act upon that physical urge.
One evening, David got up from his couch and was pacing back and forth on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful.
So David sent messengers to get her. When she came to him, he had sex with her. (2 Samuel 11:2, 4a CEB)
You might remember, this was no innocent hook up between consenting adults. This was a king who at best abused his wealth and power to have sex with a married woman or at worst raped her. Both interpretations can be legitimately argued.
David wasn’t done, however, with his despicable abuse of power and wealth. He covered up his actions by having Bathsheba’s husband killed! David used his power to satisfy his sexual urges at the expense of a woman and then abused his power as commander of the army to assure the husband died in battle.
God was certainly angry with David. God took his wives and gave them to others. God allowed the child born to Bathsheba to die. David was publicly humiliated as God took his patriarchal privilege away in a way that left him open for ridicule. God said,
“You did what you did secretly, but I will do what I am doing before all Israel in the light of day.” (2 Samuel 12:12 CEB)
What was David’s response when he was called out?
“I’ve sinned against the LORD!” David said to Nathan. (2 Samuel 12:13a CEB)
A contrite David humbled himself before God. And God forgave and offered grace to David, to one who admitted his sin, humbled himself, and showed contrition. But God did not take away the consequences of David’s sin.
Because David admitted his sins and was contrite and received God’s grace, he became a great king. Though God would still love David whether he was contrite or not, it was his humble response and admission of his sin that allowed the God-David relationship to move forward.
Ultimately David will restore Jerusalem to the Israelites. Yes, God does use flawed human beings for good, for God’s purposes.
In our time we have Donald Trump, a financial king who would like to become the leader of his people.
Like David, Donald has a history of allowing his appetite for power and sexuality lead him astray. He was caught on tape belittling women, discussing sexual assault because, he bragged,
“…when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” (2)
What was Donald’s response when he was called out?
As accusations (and corroboration) from numerous women have surfaced about his abuse of power to sexually assault them, he has not confessed in anything near contrition. Instead, he has doubled down calling them liars. He has pointed his finger at others who have misbehaved as a five-year-old might: “Todd did it first!”
So, no. Donald Trump is not like King David.
Yes, David was an extremely flawed human being who went on to become a great leader. The difference, however, was that David admitted and confessed his sins when called out. David showed immediate contrition! He didn’t call Bathsheba names or point his finger at other leaders.
No, Donald is not at all like King David.