A quote by a former Likud activist reported in The National Interest: “Bibi is a messianist. He believes with all his soul and every last molecule of his being that he is King David.”
This explains Netanyahu’s single-minded apocalyptic drive to “mow the grass” around the Middle East so the Zionist neighborhood is tidy. It explains a certain entitlement mentality justifying territorial expansion, oppression of “enemies” and disregard for the laws of man. After all, King David was anointed by God to set up a Jewish kingdom and wipe out or enslave all lesser peoples. He obeys a higher law than the laws of man.
David was the chosen replacement for Israel’s first king, Saul. King Saul was ultimately replaced because he was not thorough enough, according to the writers of the first book of Samuel (chapter 15)-when he wiped out the Amalekites, he failed to kill the livestock as well.
David first appears in the Biblical narrative as an adolescent, zealous for the reputation of God. David stands against the Philistine giant, Goliath-“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” David killed Goliath with a stone from his slingshot, earning fame and adulation. At this point, Saul was still king and he was jealous of David, in fact he was seized with fits of madness and sometimes tried to kill David, who escaped to the wilderness and ran a sort of protection racket assisted by a group of men who followed him. He married several local women and raided, protected and fled from Saul’s occasional pursuits. For several years, David lead the life of a minor warlord.
When Saul died, David returned to Jerusalem and was proclaimed king. He now lead the life of a more major warlord, going out in the spring to fight and exacting tribute from those under his reign. Conflicts and political intrigues were commonplace and the kingdom was rather short-lived. David’s grandson pushed his subjects too cruelly and the ten northern Jewish tribes rebeled against the house of David.
But the messianic promise is that a new king from the house of David would come and set up an everlasting kingdom, ruling in justice.* For Jews, this was taken quite literally-new king, new kingdom and God’s chosen on top. When Jesus came along and said the kingdom is not physical, but spiritual, love one another, forgive your enemies and help the poor-this didn’t go over very well. Even Jesus’ own disciples were constantly asking if he was about to set up the kingdom, and they meant on earth.
The stories in the Bible are powerful and woven into the fabric of our brains. The king is coming to fix everything; a major theme of Lord of the Rings as well as most presidential elections. I have a theory that we live by stories in which we are the main character. But if we are the Prime Minster of nuclear-armed nation starring as King David the story needs some editing-quickly- before it turns into a tragedy.
*Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute righteousness in the earth. . . . Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE Lord OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (Jeremiah 23:5-6)
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. . . Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it . . . from that time forward, even forever. (Isaiah 9:6-7)