God’s steps

Andy Oram
22 August 2000

When David became King of Israel, God spoke to him and said,

Now that you have united the children of Israel and secured their lands from invasion, I will proceed to my loftiest goal. In the next few years I will give you a son. He will bring the Israelites to understand all the teachings that I have given them over the centuries, and will instill in them an understanding of justice and of faith. Each person will refer to me as “my spouse” and no longer as “my master.” Then will be fulfilled that great wish of Moses, that every Israelite could be a prophet.

But then David went on to fight the Moabites and the Arameans, and forced them into servitude. While he treated the Israelites with justice, he oppressed the foreigners. And after he abused his power, corrupting his commander Joab, to have Uriah and a number of other soldiers killed so that he could marry the woman Bathsheba whom he had impregnated, Nathan the prophet came to him and said, “For your sins your child shall die.” David afflicted himself, and when the child died of illness seven days after its birth, he went in to talk to God, for he could not understand why God would speak through Nathan instead of informing David directly of his will. He said to God, “What of your plan, O Lord? Who will finish the redemption of the Israelites?”

And God answered him,

The world is not ready to fully know my teachings; that must come at a later time. I will give you another son, of great wisdom and a large heart, but he shall have a different commandment. He will build me a great House, like the structures used by other religions to perform their rituals in other lands. The Ark will be moved into this temple, and the entire country will be told to bring their sacrifices to it, where they will be guarded by the Levites and performed by the priests among that tribe.

At this David felt great grief. “Not them, Lord! Those priests who are so painstaking about every stupid little detail? Who think that slicing open a goat is the right response to every occasion, whether festival or sin? These you make the guardians of the faith?” God answered,

Given your current stage of social and mental development, yes. The priests know at least how to hold together a community and keep it focused on me. In a thousand years I will rid you of their control and pass it to a group that is more adaptable.

“When will we be ready for your ultimate vision?” asked David, and God said,

Not for thousands of years. And then I will bring it about, not through a miracle performed by some descendent of yours, as many people expect, but gradually through the enlightenment of many generations of men and women.

So with this consolation David left to rejoin his servants, and ate, and comforted Bathsheba.

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