Monday, July 25, 2011

King David vs. Nietzsche: Thoughts on True Sonship and Exaltation

Consider David's rise to power on the throne of Israel. It is essentially an exaltation by the hand of the Lord because David was humble and lowly before Him. In 2 Samuel it is the Lord's hand that grants David his military victories. David inquires of the Lord whether he should go out to attack the Philistines (2 Sam. 6). The Lord grants the victory. In 2 Samuel 8, the Lord gives David victory from all the enemies that surround Israel. The geography of 2 Samuel 8 draws attention to the West, North, East and South. David subdues the enemies. He is God's warrior being granted God's victory. The Lord establishes.

We are then told:
2 Samuel 8:15 So David reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people. 
Then we are taken to chapter 9 where we see David showing this justice and righteousness. David shows 'hesed' to Mephibosheth. This was not only the grandson of his greatest enemy, but a cripple. The strong king does not crush the weak but in showing justice and righteousness he keeps his covenant with Jonathan and raises up the lowly Mephibosheth who considers himself a dog.

Interestingly Goliath had lauded his glory "am I a dog." Why should such military might kneel before a shepherd boy. The Lord's hand is with David and he crushes God's enemies as the servant of the Lord. The Lord raises up his annointed. But when Mephibosheth says before the king in lowliness: "who I am a dead dog?!" he is raised up. 

David shows pity and mercy on the meek and lowly. It is actions of justice and righteousness. It is covenant faithfulness of the part of David. It is image bearing--as David exercises the attributes of God himself.  David show mercy of a lowly cripple man and make him a son, much like God showed mercy of a lowly shepherd and made him son/king in an adoption and installment.

This is what the Davidic King does:
Psalm 72:12 For he delivers the needy when he calls,the poor and him who has no helper.
13 He has pity on the weak and the needy,and saves the lives of the needy.

But now contrast this with the ethic of Nietzsche. Nietzsche believed the strong seize power in a grand movement of self-exaltation. They are not to have pity of the weak because it undermines there power and the establishment of their power. It is the road of self-exaltation. Weakness is evil and showing kindness and pity (even hesed) on the weak is a great moral evil.

“What is good?--Whatever augments the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself, in man. What is evil?--Whatever springs from weakness. What is happiness?--The feeling that power increases--that resistance is overcome. Not contentment, but more power; not peace at any price, but war; not virtue, but efficiency (virtue in the Renaissance sense, virtu, virtue free of moral acid). The weak and the botched shall perish: first principle of our charity. And one should help them to it. What is more harmful than any vice?--Practical sympathy for the botched and the weak-- Christianity...” -- ‘The Anti-Christ’ #2
“Christianity is called the religion of pity.-- Pity stands in opposition to all the tonic passions that augment the energy of the feeling of aliveness: it is a depressant. A man loses power when he pities. Through pity that drain upon strength which suffering works is multiplied a thousandfold. Suffering is made contagious by pity; under certain circumstances it may lead to a total sacrifice of life and living energy--a loss out of all proportion to the magnitude of the cause (--the case of the death of the Nazarene).” “This is the first view of it; there is, however, a still more important one. If one measures the effects of pity by the gravity of the reactions it sets up, its character as a menace to life appears in a much clearer light. Pity thwarts the whole law of evolution, which is the law of natural selection. It preserves whatever is ripe for destruction; it fights on the side of those disinherited and condemned by life; by maintaining life in so many of the botched of all kinds, it gives life itself a gloomy and dubious aspect.”” --The Anti-Christ#7

And yet where did Nietzsche end up? N.D. Wilson writes:
"One year later [after the Anti-Christ was published in 1888] Nietzsche entered into madness. True or false, the story is that he was overcome by the sight of a horse being whipped. Unhinged by pity. He wouldn't die until 1900. For a decade he was kept alive and maintained through his insanity, strokes, and incapacitating illness... "The weak and the botched shall perish: the first principle of our charity. And one should help them to it." Spake the paralytic. The man fed with a spoon by those who loved him." Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl, pp.124-25.
Nietzsche became dependent upon the very pity and compassion that he loathed. The very humanity of the Christianity ethic which Nietzsche ridiculed the maker for, is the very thing that brought him low and became the source of his survival. Brought low in arrogance, he was now dependent upon pity. There is a sense that Nietzsche was like a Nebuchadnezzar brought to madness by his rejection of God.

David vs. Nietzsche. It is a good reminder of Hannah's prayer in 1 Samuel 2:

2 “There is none holy like the Lord;
there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
3 Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
4 The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.
5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
6 The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
8 He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's,
and on them he has set the world.

9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.
10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king
and exalt the power of his anointed.”

The ultimate King the Lord exalts is not David but Jesus. Jesus is the true second Adam and image bearer of God.

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"The Voyages..." Forays into Biblical studies, Biblical exegesis, theology, exposition, life, and occasionally some Star Trek...