Trump hoisted up a bible in front of St John's Episcopal Church, as part of a desperately orchestrated, farcical political maneuver, to play to his base, in order to resuscitate his lackluster 2020 re-election campaign. Trump breached his oath of office to uphold the laws of the land, which he swore to, on another bible, when peaceful protesters engaging in constitutionally protected actions were forcibly and violently removed to rid the vicinity of their presence. Following which, Trump and his entourage meandered haughtily to the sacrosanct grounds of the House of God.
The bible represents the foundational corner stone of the sum totality of an earthly sojourn, for billions of people; it is also the linchpin of their daily existence. Nevertheless, Trump determinedly plowed ahead with the mockery, brandishing the bible, bereft of any discernible personal conviction, understanding or reverence of its contents or gravitas. He displayed no iota of affection for the good book, but cavalierly held the sacred text aloft and upside-down, as though it were a relic from an unknown dimension. The bible was consigned to the profane status of an unhallowed talisman; eliciting widespread outrage and condemnation among clergy and laity alike.
By retweeting a tweet posted by a supporter called Wayne Allen Root, Trump endorsed his declaration stating that Jewish people in Israel loved Trump like he was the King of Israel. In these perilous times of turbulence and uncertainty, we are ubiquitously assailed with rhetoric from the political class and news-media behemoths, much of which is slanted or malice-laden, to serve subjective, jaundiced or hidden agendas. Therefore, it behooves us to obtain some measure of certainty and clarity, into God's mind, concerning political leadership. Lest we are tossed about by every gale, wind or gentle breeze of errant doctrine or slick misinformation and end up shipwrecked. Let us, therefore, be bold enough to hold the bible at eye-level, right-side-up and actually open its pages, with the respect and sincerity it deserves.
In the days of ancient Israel, God's chosen people were ruled by kings. The kings were expected to serve as God's regents, observing His covenant and laws and governing the people with justice and righteousness. Recorded accounts of God's dealings with His people exist for our instruction today: 'For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.' Romans15:4
To this end, it would be edifying to examine the lives of two rulers; namely King David and King Uzziah, and God's dealings with them. Both were flawed human beings as we all are; however they were polar opposites in character traits, core human values, leadership styles and their devotion to God. David rose from humble beginnings, and as a young shepherd boy was anointed to be king of Israel, by the prophet Samuel. At the time, King Saul occupied the throne of Israel, but had sinned and fallen out of grace with God. David, an accomplished musician, was summoned to minister to Saul, who was under the influence of an evil spirit.
Saul was at war with the Philistines, who were staunch enemies of Israel and outnumbered Saul's army. In the midst of a standoff, a Philistine giant, Goliath, issued a challenge to Saul's men, decreeing that he would fight one-on-one with someone from their side, and the outcome of the encounter would be decisive for both armies. The seasoned fighters in Saul's army took fright at the mere sight of the giant. During the impasse, David the shepherd boy stepped up to battle Goliath and won the fight, claiming victory for Israel. He did not cower and cloister himself away from a national crisis; he was a profile in courage.
David was a true patriot, as he was zealous to safeguard the honour, respect and reputation of his beloved nation. The fact that his older brothers were actively serving in the military would have also influenced him to take on Goliath, as he would have been aware of the importance of maintaining high morale within the entire military corps, by defeating their adversaries. Moreover, his daring exploits were instrumental in fostering national cohesion and hope from a situation of helplessness and despair.
David was undergoing clandestine, transformative training. To rule God's people successfully, he would have to epitomize indispensable qualities of leadership, such as altruism, humility and courage. An integral part of David's leadership training was caring for his father's sheep, a task he carried out with an abundance of compassion and bravery. David learned how to be a nurturer, provider, protector and guide. He once rescued his father's sheep from the predatory jaws of a lion and bear.
Following his much-celebrated victory over Goliath, Saul enlisted David in his army. Albeit, he was imbued with envy and feared David, believing he posed a threat to his throne. David fled into the wilderness and thereafter, Saul was in hot pursuit of him, wanting to end his life. David had the advantage over Saul twice, sparing his life on both occasions; neither would he allow members of his rag-tag militia to slay Saul. These momentous events were pivotal periods in David's life. He passed yet another supreme-leadership test with flying colours. He refused to give into base human instincts of anger, hatred and revenge. Furthermore, he resisted the overwhelming temptation to stage a bloody power grab, refusing to use foul means to ascend to the throne, which had been promised him. Even though in extremis, he proved he was an honourable proponent of law, order and justice.
At God's appointed time, David was anointed king over all Israel. The occasion was cause for a great national celebration that lasted for three days. He subdued Israel's enemies with a succession of victories and was regarded as one of the mightiest rulers in the East. However, David was not immune to the foibles, frailties or fickleness common to all mankind. Whilst he was relaxing on his rooftop, he spotted a bathing beauty and was completely besotted with her. Having engaged in an adulterous liaison with the damsel, Bathsheba, he engineered her military husband's death. He had committed adultery and murder.
This angered God who sent a prophet, Nathan, to rebuke David. David repented, realizing that by engaging in criminal conduct, he had not only offended God, he had failed his subjects in setting a dastardly example for the nation by his egregious lawlessness. Due to his prior life as a shepherd, he was aware of how easy it is to endanger flocks of sheep, as they are infamously directionless, and follow each other willy-nilly. As a ruling monarch, he was cognizant of the fact that humans have a herd mentality. He had led his people astray, causing him to be grief-stricken and racked with guilt. His remorse and personal accountability earned him the moniker 'David the penitent', and today he is universally known as the man after God's own heart.
Unlike David, who pleased God, King Uzziah earned the ire and merited the opprobrium of God. Uzziah reigned in the ancient kingdom of Judah, which had splintered from the kingdom of Israel. His contempt for the settled norms and traditions of governance led him to usurp and sabotage the established authority and functions of the priestly class. His brazen actions upended official structures and institutions, thereby destroying the divinely ordained balance of power dynamic within the kingdom.
A nationally crucial role of the priesthood was to actually anoint the king to rule. By disrespecting their office, Uzziah mocked God, and both kingly and priestly institutions, in one fell swoop. To boil his actions down, he was upstaging and countermanding the Most High, and establishing a new order, in which he, Uzziah, was front and center, not God, the nation or the people. In contemporary jargon; this is how he was going to roll, and God and the priestly class should just get over it! There was to be no longer any separation of powers in governance. Equally wicked, he was putting God on notice that he and his kingly successors were a cut above, needing God's anointing and mandate to rule from thenceforth.
Uzziah's rogue, prideful and unprecedented actions posed a challenge to the priesthood, and must have been the cause of great widespread consternation, because their pivotal functions determined existential issues, pertaining to national and personal life. Uzziah corrupted and derailed the process by which the juggernaut of political governance worked. In essence, anarchy was being promoted by the highest office in the land. This could have precipitated a descent into widespread societal chaos and mayhem. Furthermore, Uzziah could have provoked a general revolt of the populace, who were fully aware of his villainy. Indeed, the citizenry would have felt disrespected and hard done by, as he was not authorized or qualified to serve as a mediator on their behalf in matters pertaining to the divine.
Left unchecked, the nation could have plunged into a burning conflagration, which might have resulted in self-annihilation. Uzziah was prepared to sacrifice the nation and its people on his altar of hubris, narcissism and megalomania. God struck Uzziah with leprosy; consigning him to life as a permanent outcast and pariah. The once popular and successful ruler became an object of shame, scorn and ridicule. Nevertheless, God had delivered Israel from a profane and odious king.
To the matter at hand; humanity is facing unparalleled grave and trying times, and we are left in the lurch, to ponder and/or lament our present predicaments and precarious future. At a time when nations of the earth look to Donald Trump, US president and de facto leader of the free world, to provide hope, direction and stability, Trump and his cohorts labour tirelessly to lob increasingly appalling onslaughts against the ramparts of democracy. They careen recklessly, crashing through and obliterating constitutionally enshrined lines of checks and balances in government. Trump, Pretender to the throne of the illusory 'Kingdom of America', is mounting a nefarious push to self-coronate in real time, while his enablers pay him obeisance by stepping aside to clear his path.
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