Summary: David, Pt. 10

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When the 50-year-old former Haiti president Jean-Bertrand Aristide fled in 2004 after 13 years in power, he left 8.5 million Haitians more miserable and disillusioned than ever. Aristede was the nation’s first democratically elected president but he followed in the dictatorship of the Duvalier dynasty before him. But it wasn’t always like that.

When he was a young priest, Aristide spoke eloquently and passionately to the poor people of Haiti, long considered the Americas’ poorest country, where 50% of the population is illiterate, unemployment reaches 70% and malnutrition, HIV and AIDS are epidemic. He inspired them through radio to believe that they could overcome misery and oppression, but he was expelled from his order in 1988 from the order for excessive activism.

Power, wealth and success proved that he was no different from the dictatorships he had condemned. The Duvaliers’ secret police tortured and killed many of the family’s political opponents, but Aristide’s gangsters attacked protesting State University of Haiti students, smashed the university’s windows and computers and bludgeoned several professors, including the university rector, whose kneecaps were broken. Human rights groups accused him of pocketing a share of billions in drug money.

Former allies and admirers were still unable to identify when or understand why he abandoned the path to greatness. Father Joseph Simon, a former seminary teacher who taught the teenage Aristide at the Salesian Fathers Seminary said, “It’s part of the psychology of people from the lower echelons of society. Once they go up in the world, they forget where they came from.” (Los Angeles Times 3/1/04 “The Hope of the Nation’s Poor Became One More Autocrat.”)

David’s fall from grace began when he had nothing better to do with his time. At the time when kings were off to war, David was loafing around. After leading Israel to defeat the Edomites, the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Philistines and the Amalekites (2 Sam 8:1-12), David left the rest of the job to his general and his men (1 Chron 20:1). By 2 Samuel 11, the king and his men’s struggles were so different. His men’s struggle was whether they could get out alive; David’s struggle was whether he should get out of bed (v 2). The soldiers wondered how long they could go on fighting; the king wondered how long he could go on sleeping. The men fought against fierce defenders, but the king flirted with beautiful women.

Why do powerful men like David go downhill when they are in their prime and at their peak? What do people stand to lose when they have nothing to gain?

Losing Your Self-Control Leads to Distorted Perception

11:1 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. 2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.” (2 Sam 11:1-5)

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