Question: Some argue that imperfect Old Testament leaders, like David, are proof that we should not have high standards for our political leaders. Is that right? What does David’s story tell us about the role of sinful men in government leadership?
David would not wear Saul’s armor to fight the offending enemy of God’s people. Everyone thought he was throwing his life away, and throwing away the chance of winning the contest. The story of David and Goliath is a story of integrity and faith.
David would not betray the rule of law even against a demonic opponent. Saul was demonized in his pride. He not only attacked David, but he was ruining the nation. Never the less, David honored the King and continually sought to challenge wrong without threatening Saul.
David wanted Israel to be great in power and integrity through worship. Because David had won battles and achieved political power, David offered to build a house for God. God told David the Story does not work that way. God was going to build a Temple, but not through political dominance. God’s Temple would ultimately be revealed as the people of God formed around the politically powerless but overcoming Messiah.*
David’s sin with Bathsheba and betrayal of Uriah were his downfall. Nathan was good enough to challenge him rather than defend him. David confessed, without excuse, and lamented his sin heavily. God forgave David, but the consequences of such dark lust and aggression brought his family and the nation of Israel to devastating ruin.
Conclusion: David’s story is a reminder that integrity with God is more powerful than Kingly armor and politics. David’s story is also a reminder that unbridled lust and betrayal have devastating consequences. David is not an example to justify unethical leaders.
Let us use King David’s story well.
* The apostolic Acts of that ‘Messiah-formed Temple’ continue this theme. The old guard tried to control things at their Temple, but God’s Temple is his people. They obey God rather than man, in spite of their lack of religious or political power. Ananias and Saphira are cautionary tales about using ungodly means to advance God’s Kingdom. The same is true of the humiliating downfall of King Herod in front of his badly mistaken supporters. Political expediency is only used to tell about the power of integrity. Integrity is never compromised for the sake of gaining political power for the sake of God’s Story.