A few quick thoughts, if I might.
This morning I was checking one of my sources of news (Instapundit), and noticed a link that said “NRO [National Review Online] disses Franklin Graham.” Glenn Reynolds followed the link with a brief observation. “But maybe he has a better idea of what the battle is about than they do.”
The author of the piece, David French, did not have to work very hard to highlight the inconsistencies, and I can imagine the article almost writing itself. The moral character of our leaders was really important to us evangelicals when Bill Clinton was disgracing the presidency, it faded into the background with the evangelical support of Trump, and now moral character is coming up again as an issue with the presidential candidacy of Pete Buttegieg, an open homosexual. Franklin Graham denounced Bill Clinton back in the day, supported Trump, saying that the deal with Stormy Daniels was none of our business, changed his mind about what he had said about Clinton, and just the other day called upon Buttegieg to repent. Ta da, which rhymes with voila.
French asks, appropriately, “What would Nathan, who dramatically confronted David over his infidelity and murder, say?”
But also to the point, we might ask what would Nathan—who risked his life to confront David’s sin—do? We know that Nathan risked his life because he certainly knew that David had already killed one man to cover up his adultery, and he was obviously in a position to make it two.
So David repented and God graciously allowed his administration to continue. David had forfeited the throne, as he well knew. When he prayed “take not your Spirit from me” (Ps. 51:11), I believe he is talking about the Spirit that rested upon him for governance, enabling him to rule. Saul had forfeited that Spirit by his disobedience (1 Sam. 16:14), and David knew that he had sinned just as grievously as Saul had. There was no reason why the same thing shouldn’t happen to him.
But it didn’t. David remained a political force, albeit with significantly increased troubles. Please notice: the subsequent troubles that David went through—which he richly deserved—did not include the loss of Nathan’s political support. He would be a foolish man who said that Nathan “didn’t care” about David’s sin and evil—he had risked everything to confront him over it. And yet late night comedians were making merry over the shenanigans and highjinks of the “man after God’s own heart.” It would have been the work of five minutes for their writers to work Nathan into the monologue.
If David was the song of drunkards “without cause,” what do you think it was like when he provided them with such a rich target?
“They that sit in the gate speak against me; And I was the song of the drunkards” (Ps. 69:12).
David wound up married to a woman named Bathsheba, and he had obtained her through a grotesque murder. After their first child died, the child of their illicit union, David returned to her and comforted her.
“And David comforted Bath-sheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the Lord loved him. And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, because of the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:24–25).
And at the end of David’s life, there were various palace intrigues—meaning there were different political factions—and Nathan and Bathsheba, representing the interests of Solomon, were in the same faction. They were in the same party. How hard would it be for some op-ed writer at NRO to lament the prophet’s fatal inconsistency?
“Wherefore Nathan spake unto Bath-sheba the mother of Solomon, saying, Hast thou not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith doth reign, and David our lord knoweth it not?” (1 Kings 1:11).
It should go without saying that we cannot, for the sake of a political agenda, invert the truth and tell shameless lies. Adultery is adultery, whether it is Clinton or Trump. We as evangelicals must not collapse into an inarticulate mumbling when asked if sin is still sin or not. Sin is what it is, regardless of what administration we are under. So far I agree with French.
Where French fails to grasp the narrative is when he charges everyone who stayed loyal to David in the revolt of Absalom with hypocrisy. People aren’t that simple, the issues aren’t that simple, the variables are many, and at some point the practical options become binary.