The Ninth Commandment: Thou Art the Man

   Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbor-Exodus 20:16

   "There is a group of human beings who consider it a grievous thing that causes should be given for any law; what would please them most is that the intellect would not find a meaning for the commandments or prohibitions. What compels them to feel thus is a sickness that they find in their souls…"—Moses Maimonides, Guide to the Perplexed 3:31

   Power is its own protection. The man who sits in the seat of authority has power for to remove him would require change. Change is one thing against which nature mitigates. As progressive as natural deterioration might be, all of man and all of creation fight for stability.

   Power historically devolves down to the man able to seize it. He may not be a great man. He may be ruthless or crude or ambitious or just lucky. He certainly is that fellow able to play to the difference, to show some distinction between himself and his rivals. Once in the power seat it is hard to remove him. Power protects itself.

   King David was a man of power. He was not the most remarkable man of his time but he was the most powerful. He enjoyed an early patron, good press, fortuitous historical machinations, good advisers and plain dumb luck. For all that, David is more a figure of tragic un-fulfillment than a hero to be celebrated.

   (Do you ever wonder, as I do, what David might have been if Jonathan had not died with Saul? Jonathan is the most remarkable man of that time, full of good traits, but not chosen for long life or advancement. He is just the most noble man of his day, near power but kept from it by his noble conscience. Jonathan was too good to be King. He spent his life caught between a madman and a fiend.)

   I wonder, if Jonathan had lived, do you think David might never have had to meet Nathan as he met him, that day with the parable? You know the story. David killed another man surreptitiously in order to hide an adulterous affair. Nathan would have to confront David with his sin because this sin threatened to topple the nation. It is not good for a King's generals to find out he might send them to their death to cover his own error. The moral factor effects the morale factor.

   Imagine; a prophet next to a man of power, Nathan. Nathan, a prophet with the imagination to try and find a conscience in David.

   (A Kingship starts to crumble when it is more comfortable to be an enemy of the state than the friend of the state. Bathsheba's husband was nothing but a friend/ally to David. Many of David's enemies outlived Uriah and died less ignobly. Power thrashes about when in conflict. If it cannot reach its enemies, power can certainly reach its friends, with predictable results.)

   Nathan peregrinates grandiloquently to, post and riposte, thence to arrive at that moment when David sees the point. David demands to know the identity of the rapacious herdsman of the Nathanic narrative.

   "It's you, Boss," Nathan told him.

   Was this the first time in history someone actually got to say, "You da' man.?"

   Power protects itself by the very fact it is in power. The process protects power. Nature gathers around the powerful. Men do not demand honor or nobility so much as stability. One can plan from stability or at least not have to put out the effort to think or exercise courage to question.

   So, power naturally distorts truth. Power protects itself by its own nature and so must lie regularly, unless we are to believe power is always right and the reformer always wrong.

   When I came to my current place of service I discovered the local associational nabob had called my candidacy into question. I confronted him about his lies and watched him follow the usual procedure; deny, run, hide, get some age on it, hope it goes away, look for allies, deprecate the accuser. It is so predictable you could set your watch by it.

   In a classic farce set up to placate me, one dear person assured me my legal rights had not been violated because no one had listened to the scandal-monger. Imagine; no harm, no foul, even if it changes the shot.

   Left untouched was any discussion of rights other than legal, the sanctity of reputation and the sagacity of employing a fellow who plays fast and loose with the truth.Left unresolved were the issues of common decency and Christian action.These matters were not only left unresolved. It apparently never occurred to anyone at the table to bring them to the fore.

   What the powers were telling me was simple. his is a business and must be run like a business, albeit with uncommonly poor efficiency and the lowest example of business ethics.

   Power protects itself, if by no other means than the human insistence for quiet. England slept and the Hunnish hordes overran the Continent. There is never a good time for power to sleep soundly. If power will not maintain its own alertness, a Nathan must come forward to sound an alarm.





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