We are rapidly approaching what could be called the most contentious election of the last century. The effects of the pandemic, civil unrest, the vitriol, and now – an open seat on SCOTUS – have turned this election into a political knife fight. Some have even floated the horrible possibility of a civil war after the election.
With all this in the mix, we need to keep a level head as well as a watchful eye. We know in our hearts, and have heard everywhere, the results of this election will have profound consequences. Who should we choose when we walk into the voting booth on November third (if you haven’t already voted)? What should we look for in a candidate? We are constantly besieged with advice, slogans, and appeals from both sides. Is there an objective standard, one far removed from the drama of the present day, we should use when making our decision?
I have found one. It is about 3,000 years old – given by one of the most famous kings in history, King David, on his deathbed. It is found in 2 Samuel 22:3,4:
The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me,
He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.
And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth,
even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth
by clear shining after rain. (KJV)
With these words David was sharing God’s own direction to him years before, when David was given the task of leading His people. Let’s look at this standard a little closer.
He rules over men. The word for “rule” (Hebrew – masal) means to have dominion over. The President of the United States does not exercise total dominion over the country but, as the Chief Executive, he is the most powerful and influential single person in our government. From the man or woman that holds that position emanates all of the power of the Executive Branch. We have been one of the few countries in the history of the world to have the great privilege of actually choosing the person who holds this power and influence. We make our choice by voting. It is imperative that we exercise that right to choose and choose well. You may not be enthusiastic about either of the candidates but vote anyway, after weighing your choice by these standards.
He must be just. Although the president does not make the laws in our country they cannot be enacted without his signature (unless there are enough legislators to override his veto.) That is a lot of power. How will he use his power of the veto? What type of legislation will he promote?
Is it possible for legislation to be unjust? Of course it is – our nation’s history bears witness to this. The “Jim Crow” laws and some Supreme Court decisions, such as Dred Scott, all supported the “legal” injustice of racial inequality and slavery even though these are evil. How do we know if a law is just or unjust today? There is an objective standard – the Law, God’s law, the principles that come out of the Ten Commandments – by which a president can evaluate proposed legislation.
In choosing a president we need to consider whether or not he will execute his duties justly. Will that man weigh the matters before him – whether signing (or vetoing) legislation, developing foreign policy, or choosing a Supreme Court justice – by the transcendent principles of the principles of God’s Law or by the fickle trends of political convenience and the whims of his donors? Even more importantly, does the candidate really believe there is an objective standard for right and wrong, or does he or she think that post-modern “narratives” that proceed from the press, Hollywood, and academia should decide our course? Consider his record – what has governed his decisions in the past?
He must rule in the fear of God. Not only should a president be guided by the Law but he also should conduct his administration believing he will be held accountable to the Law-Giver. He should have a sense of responsibility, not only to history but to the God of history. This will include considering the impact his decisions will have on the people they affect. God is the Father to the fatherless and the Judge of the widows – the most vulnerable in out society (Psalm 68:5). Today we could also include those with disabilities and the unborn. A good candidate will understand that God is the Defender of those least able to defend themselves. Even more than that, a president should see himself as God’s instrument in executing that defense and work hard to fulfill his duties for those who he leads.
I don’t know any leader of any nation who has ever completely lived up to these high standards. We are all flawed people living in a fallen world. David himself did not live up to them, but we do have the promise that someday his descendant, the Messiah, will when He returns to earth. Until then, in the United States, it is our privilege and solemn responsibility to choose the candidate who we believe comes the closest to these two standards.
What will be the effect of such leadership? According to David, it would be much different from the gloom that today’s pundits predict. According to him it will be the promise that comes with a bright and clear morning – a new growth everywhere and a clarity that is like the fresh air after a rain shower.
Could this be a new morning in America? Possibly.