A great article on how King David began to fail as a just king almost immediately after assuming the throne is provided by McDurmon’s Fallen Kings article.
Without Due Process
The most outstanding aspect of this story, in my opinion, often goes with very little comment, and that is David’s pronouncement of the death penalty for this lying Amalekite. It is clear to me that David did not try this man, scoundrel that he was, according to due process. The law of God clearly says that no one should be put to death without the testimony of two or three witnesses (Deut. 17:6; 19:15). It specifically says that no one should be put to death only on the testimony of one witness (Num. 35:30; Deut. 19:15). There were not only not two witnesses in this case, but the one witness David did adduce—the man himself—does not count. Self-incrimination is not possible under biblical law.
Moreover, it seems to me that this particular failure of David’s represents a classic besetting-sin of civil governments; overreaching power in the service of punishing crime. I suspect everyone on the scene was suspicious of this lying Amalekite and that David was especially enraged by his pitiful story and transparent scheme. But David was also surely aware he did not have enough witnesses to convict the man of anything, let alone to death. He knew a truly lawful trial would see the man walk free. Yet he, as we all do, certainly yearned to see vengeance visited upon what he just knew to be a great crime—especially one committed by a despised immigrant Amalekite. It was probably a great passion welling up in his breast. So he allowed himself to employ an arbitrary measure of guilt and an arbitrary process—the man’s own confession, uncorroborated or tried—and called forward one of his soldiers to execute the man on the spot; “Go, execute him” (v. 15). What we see here is how the state, if allowed, will allow itself to break its own laws in order to convict and punish those it targets for prosecution.
Learn this lesson well: if this can happen to David, the man after God’s own heart, it can happen to anyone, anywhere, even to the most upstanding policeman, prosecutor, sheriff, or government at any level.
Second, despite all of his successes in various battles, David had yet to be trusted with the peculiar temptations of power. The orator Robert Ingersoll once stated in an oration on Abraham Lincoln, “Nothing discloses real character like the use of power. It is easy for the weak to be gentle. Most people can bear adversity; but if you wish to know what a man really is, give him power.” While I have severe disagreements with both Ingersoll (an agnostic) and Lincoln, I appreciate the wisdom in that statement. What we see here is David entrusted with a power he had never handled before; judicial power. He did what so many men, untrained and undisciplined in the law, would do. He defaulted to the much more efficient and macho, and much less subtle and self-restrained, aspect of government—the executive function. David pronounced immediate death and had it carried out on the spot. Boom! Problem solved.
The current Establishment is a shambling corpse – bankrupt, fruitless, and delusional. It will fall.
Most Christians are closely wedded to the current Pharaoh, and will do down with the ship. True, some may escape by the grace of God, but at a far higher cost than they think. As North wrote long ago:
The story of Joseph is significant. The famine which hit the world drew people of many nations to Egypt. They came to buy food. Joseph’s brothers were compelled to make the journey into Egypt — arrogant men who had sold their brother into slavery and then lied to their father about him, bringing great grief to the old man, Now they were forced to come to their brother for their lives, though they did not know who he was in the beginning. The whole family finally came to Egypt, and it led directly to their eventual enslavement, when a Pharaoh arose who did not remember Joseph. “God will take care of us,” they may have thought as they were sending Joseph into slavery. “God always takes care of His people.” They may have thought when they neglected to store up grain in the good years preceding the famine. And God took care of them. too, but at a cost far higher than they thought their descendants would have to pay.
God took care of the remnant in the days of captivity for Judah. Jeremiah was taken care of as he wrote Lamentations. As the Babylonians smashed the dreams of Judah’s inhabitants, those who survived the war were taken care of. They lived. However, they went into slavery, and most of those who did never returned. Some of those who did return shed great tears when they saw the post-exilic temple’s foundation, for it was pathetic in comparison with the one Solomon had built (Ezra 3: 12). God had taken care of them, but not in the life style to which they had become accustomed and believed they deserved.
But this post is not written for those who love the world and the system.
It is written to those Christians who are preparing now, and training their children now, for leadership in the hard times to come.
If you do your job well… if you retain both your integrity and your hope, your willingness to work and serve, and your willingness to save and sacrifice for the future… it’s quite likely that you (or your descendants) will gain a local leadership position in the future.
And you can be sure, there will be tests waiting for all obedient (and thus, in general and in a few years, successful) Christians.
Be aware, and prepare now. Know your God, know your Bible, hew close to the Holy Spirit. Choose wise brothers in the faith for counsel.
Keep the crown God is preparing for you.