Oh, the soap opera that is the kingship of David. Seriously, some of ths goings ons in David’s household depicted in 2 Samuel would do well for a daytime Emmy. Incest, rape, brothers and half-brothers plotting against each other about sisters and fathers with mothers and friends joining in. It just twists and turns and convolutes.
We eventually get to a point where David has to flee Jerusalem because of the rebellion of Absalom. What a mess. On the way out, Zadok and the priests follow David with the Ark. Now, if you were the legit King, annointed by God, you’d rather like having the Ark follow along and have the priests give you legitimacy. But David does something rather weird…he sends them back.
Seriously? You’ve got down right rebellion and you have the endorsement of the official “church”…and you turn it down? Are you nuts?
I think, though, Solomon wasn’t the only wise king. Check out David’s words.
Then the king said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the Lord ‘s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again. But if he says, ‘I am not pleased with you,’ then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him.” The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Do you understand? Go back to the city with my blessing. Take your son Ahimaaz with you, and also Abiathar’s son Jonathan. You and Abiathar return with your two sons. I will wait at the fords in the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem and stayed there. 2 Samuel 15:25-29 NIV
This harkens back to what Samuel told the Israelites about Kings and reminds the reader of Deuteronomy 17:18-20 where Moses gives instrutions about what makes a good king. Essentially, a good king is a king who recognizes his place before God and humbly submits to God, even if it threatens his position and power. David sends the priests back to Jerusalem essentially to say that God is God in Jerusalem no matter whether or not David is King.
Wow. I wish all leaders were like David here, whether political, corporate, or ecclesial. Even we in positions of leadership in our families need to know that we are subject to God. David does not accept the endorsement of the priests, not because he doesn’t want it, but because he recognizes that God is the real power behind the throne. Humble submission…I wish we all did this, all the time.