The Sins of Leaders

Today’s first reading comes from 2 Sam 24 in which the popular understanding is that God punishes the people because of David’s action of taking a census. There is no specific restriction on taking a census in the Old Testaments (although some might argue Exodus 30:12 restricts is to God’s initiative). But then again, does God punish because of David’s action? Note that the Lord’s anger is directed to the people…again. The opening of 2 Sam 24 reads: “The LORD’s anger against Israel flared again, and he* incited David against them: ‘Go, take a census of Israel and Judah.‘” (2 Sam 24:1) In the Hebrew there actually no subject that does the inciting.

So, whoever or whatever is the cause, the phrase “incited David” is interesting. A parallel verse (1 Chronicles 21:1) reads “A satan rose up against Israel, and he incited David to take a census of Israel.” Satan, in Hebrew, means “adversary,” or, especially in a court of law, “accuser.” In later Judaism (cf. Wis 2:24) and in the New Testament, satan, or the “devil” (from diablos, the Greek translation of the Hebrew word), designates an evil spirit who tempts people to do wrong. Continue reading

Living the Dream

King David – living the dream! I mean who could have imagined?  The Lord God had sent his prophet Samuel out to anoint the one who would be king – and the young shepherd David was selected among all of Jesse’s sons – the one to be king of Israel and all of God’s chosen people.  And the Lord had been with David on the battlefield as he stood before the giant warrior Goliath.  The Lord had stayed with David when he was a wanted man on the run from the murderous hand of King Saul. The Lord had guided David as be took on the mantle of leadership and had united the 12 tribes of Jacob into one nation. And now David was king. Continue reading