God’s two-party system

Most folks who found their faith in the Good Book don’t realize that David, the second king of ancient Israel, lived and fought with the Philistines for a year and four months.

Saul, the first king, had started his reign pretty well, but had become quite obstinate and paranoid as time passed. Samuel the prophet,who had anointed him as Israelite leader, ultimately regretted that he had ever done so. Saul had failed to understand what was his true role as king.

Furthermore, the defeat of superbad dude Goliath by the young buck David ensured, in the people’s eyes, the shepherd’s destiny as future king. David’s bold public beheading of the giant and subsequent enabling of Israelite victory had been accomplished through God’s appointment. Samuel had already anointed him. Of course, David’s own skill with a sling–that he had perfected while herding sheep and minding his own business–had something to do with that victorious event too.

So that’s a chicken-or-egg conundrum that no one can fathom, although you can try to if you want to read about it in the book of 1Samuel. Israel had two anointed kings at the same time. Go figure that one out. We believers in the Bible know that “God knows what he’s doing.” And so he does. Could this situation have been a foreshadowing of the two-party system?, the advantages from which we now benefit?. Not like the current Chinese model with only one party calling all the shots.

Our lesson from biblical history is that God does not approve absolute authority among men. Saul’s problems began, appropriately, when he had failed to acknowledge the limits of his own power; he had usurped the priestly (Samuel’s) function when he should have stuck to politics and military affairs. So God raised up another leader–one who was more responsive to the people’s needs. For years, Saul and David were contending with each other, even as they spoke in politically correct platitudes toward one another.  Ultimately, David’s unselfish humility won out.

Even after the whole Saul/David/Soloman era had passed, the Israelites ending up with feuding factions led by Jeroboam and Rehoboam.

Many folks of our religious persuasion these days support the Israeli regime unquestionably–“Israel, right or wrong.” It’s not unlike supporting the US in all its worldly ventures with claims of “my country, right or wrong.” They should read their Bible a little more closely. If Saul’s obstinate jealousy had driven David out of the Israelite camp, forcing him to side with the Philistines (Palestinians), then what does it mean that Israel’s greatest king had to spend almost a year and a half in hiding? And hanging out with the other side, for God’s sake!

In today’s scenario, could those pacifist elements of Israeli society be forming, during their season as minority party, a future effective reconciliation with Palestinians while the old Likud warhorses grind their axes of apartheid, checkpoint-monitored, wall-building westbank/Gaza oppression?

We shall see. There’s a lot to be said for this minority party/majority party setup that we adopted a couple centuries ago. We’ve been doing it here in the USA for about 230 years now, and it works. Or, it has until now anyway. I hope our system of built-in political cleansing is not degenerating into partisan bickery that ultimately lands us in a pile of fiscal shit.

And I hope the Israelis can work out their differences with the Palestinians whose ancestors had provided their real estate.

Shalom, y’all.

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