Voltaire on King David
“David, who sometimes possessed a conscience tender and enlightened, at others hardened and dark.
When he has it in his power to assassinate his king in a cavern, he scruples going beyond cutting off a corner of his robe—here is the tender conscience. He passes an entire year without feeling the slightest compunction for his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah—here is the same conscience in a state of obduracy and darkness.”
Did Voltaire miss the point? Or was he just being too kind to David?
If he had missed the point, how could he have explained the murder of his father in law to Michal – his princess wife?
What explanation could David have given to Jonathan – David’s brother in law and soul mate?
Most of all, how could David have had the whole of Israel – especially the tribe of Benjamin, after a murder of their anointed King?
Abner would have still been there after the murder of King Saul, would Abner have left Ishboseth, like Abner did later, on the flimsy grounds of Rizpah?
David was a consummate politician, whose sharp political acumen has been camouflaged by the devotion and humility expressed In the Psalms, ascribed to him. Was Voltaire also a victim of such positioning?
At best one could arrive at a conundrum as to how a man, so selfishly sharp been so devoted to God, not merely to a personalised God, but a God who had unequivocally proclaimed through Moses & other prophets that Righteousness in human conduct was prime?
In King David one arrives at a conclusion that the apparently incompatible traits could be harmonised with wisdom and relentless energy, but can hardly be a prescription to a common man.
Was David keeping Mephiboseth close by, to ensure that the fissiparous elements don’t rally behind him; or was David merely keeping his word given to Jonathan?
If the latter, when Mephibosheth’s servant Ziba accused Mephibosheth of treachery, why didn’t David not forgive Mephibosheth fully? In fact towards the end, after seeking clarification from Mephibosheth, David tells Zeba and Mephiboseth to divide Mephibosheth’s holdings equally!
Worse still is the specious reasoning in killing the children of Rizpah, I can’t imagine a God who would justify the reasoning forwarded in the context of the Gibeonites!
David left nothing to chance, wherever he could, he did something, and sometimes deploying even the name of God very efficiently.
Is that the reason why Jesus doesn’t prefer Himself to be called Son of David? I am inclined to think so – his life was hardly edifying and definitely not emulatable!
A greater scrutiny of what David did, would not have withstood the standards prescribed under the New Testament.