David, “…a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the LORD is with him.”  (1 Samuel 16:18)

But, you know, David wasn’t such a great guy.  I won’t bother talking about Bathsheba, since everyone knows that story.  But even before that, you start to see glimmers of David’s weaknesses.

First, there are disturbing passages, in my opinion, talking about David’s relationship with Jonathan, Saul’s son.  After Jonathan’s death, David even says, “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women.” (2 Samuel 1:26)  I know this has been commented on before, and I’m sure it has something to do with ancient Hebrew culture that I know nothing about, but nonetheless…

Second, David seemed very deceitful.  One example: he lied to the Philistine king Achish (1 Samuel 27) about killing Geshurites, Girzites, Amalekites, saying instead that he had killed men of Judah.  This is when he sought refuge from Achish.

Third, he’s a creep.   Already in 2 Samuel 2, we find that David has six wives, not counting Michal, his first wife, whom he paid for with Philistine foreskins (100 were required, and he gave 200), but apparently left behind when he fled Saul, her father.   And if those six aren’t enough, he decided after Saul’s death that he wanted Michal back, even though she had married someone else in his long absence.  If I am reading the text correctly, years had passed.  But no, she was his property, and would likely help him politically, as he made a bid for the throne of Israel.  (Ever wonder if this had anything to do with her scorn of him later on in the Biblical account?  Early on, we are told that she loved him, but there is no evidence that he ever loved her or treated her as anything but chattel.)

I might be being unfair to David.  After all, he was just human, like we are.  But I’ve always struggled with the God of the Old Testament, trying to reconcile Him with the God we see in Jesus.  And I know He is one and the same.  But things like this always give me pause, make me question, make me wonder.  I understand there was punishment for some of David’s sins, but at the same time…  How can God so whole-heartedly endorse such a terrible man as David was?  (And so many others.)  And how can God whole-heartedly endorse the killing?  The violence?  The deception?  Then to send Jesus and turn it all on its ear.  Peace, nonviolence, truth, love.  Yes, God has wrath, but it is God’s to dispense, not human’s.

[I should love to make a Harry Potter reference here, to where Dumbledore asked Snape to kill him when the time came, because Snape could handle blood on his hands, while Malfoy could not and should not have to.  So, is that what God did in the OT?  Choose who could handle blood on their hands?]

The God of the Old Testament seems so distant from Jesus of Nazareth.  One in the same.  But how?