Updated: Mar 9, 2019
In a fascinating memoir, Unorthodox, about leaving Orthodox Judaism, Deborah Feldman wrote about the time she discovered that King David wasn’t the holy man who she always been told he had been. “David had no sins. David was a saint. It is forbidden to cast aspersions on God’s beloved son and anointed leader,” she had been taught all her life. Only as a teenager did she realize what David had done in the affair with Bathsheba, the murder of her husband, Uriah, and David then taking her, now a widow, as a wife. She also learned that King David, a man of war, had not only many wives but even concubines.
It was that this point, she wrote, “that I stopped believing in authority just for its own sake and started coming to my own conclusions about the world I lived in.”
Sure, authority for authority’s sake isn’t, necessarily, good. How many Nazis justified their atrocities by claiming, “I was only following orders”? However, as Christians, we believe in authority, specifically the authority of the Word of God. Jesus again and again referred to Scripture as authoritative, and so we should do the same.
In the end, we all have some sort of final authority to whom we answer. Among our options are ourselves, however dangerous that can be. The Lord warned ancient Israel millennia ago—“You shall not at all do as we are doing here today—every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes” (Deuteronomy 12:8). And if that warning were relevant thousands of years ago, it certainly is today in our post-modern society.
Other sources are family, culture, society, government—whatever. Each have their role, but none are the Word of God. Indeed, if Deborah Feldman had known that, she would have known the truth about King David early on and, even more importantly, she would have known the grace and forgiveness given him and, in fact, offered to her as well.