Originally published Friday, August 05, 2011
David vs. Henry
At the Reformation, the Western Church became divided between those who continued to accept Papal authority and the various Protestant churches that repudiated it. The Church of England was among the churches that broke with Rome. The catalyst for this decision was the refusal of the Pope to annul the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon.
Henry VIII became king of England in 1509. In 1502, his older brother, Arthur, had died. Their father Henry VII decided that Henry should marry Arthur's widow, Catherine of Aragon. Henry and others thought this was prohibited by Leviticus 18 and 20. But the Pope gave permission, and after Henry VIII's coronation, he married Catherine. By 1514, they had born no child, so Henry asked the Pope for an annulment. However, the Pope refused to annul the marriage. A daughter, Mary, was born in 1516. But, by the middle 1520s, Henry still had no son. He began to think God was judging him.
Henry started to look for a way to end his marriage to Catherine. (He was already in love with Anne Boleyn.) He employed teams of scholars to find good biblical reasons why his marriage to Catherine should end. One of the ideas the scholars had was that the King should be the supreme head of the Church in England and not the Pope.
In 1533 Thomas Cranmer – one the scholars instrumental in developing the idea of the King being the head of the church - was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. That same year Parliament passed an Act that prevented English people from appealing to the Pope for a legal or church decision. This Act was passed partly to stop Catherine of Aragon appealing against her divorce. In May, the marriage was annulled by Archbishop Cranmer. The King had already married Anne Boleyn, who was pregnant at the time. She was crowned Queen at the end of May. In 1534, Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy, which declared that the King was the supreme head of the Church of England. Thus, the Church of England – the Anglican Church – was born out of adultery.
Imagine if David would have done as Henry V111. To make legal his involvement with Bathsheba he would fire or kill the prophet and priest unless they went his way. King David would establish that he would be the head of the established religious order. Therefore, his relationship with Bathsheba and subsequent killing of Uriah would be justified under the new religious regime.
Thankfully, David admitted his wrongdoing and repented. In Psalms 32 David described how it felt to come clean with the Lord,
Psalms 32:1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Psalms 32:2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
Psalms 32:3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
Psalms 32:4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.
Psalms 32:5 I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
And, the fact that it was a Psalm made David's repentance public. Ellen White says,
"Thus in a sacred song to be sung in the public assemblies of his people, in the presence of the court—priests and judges, princes and men of war—and which would preserve to the latest generation the knowledge of his fall, the king of Israel recounted his sin, his repentance, and his hope of pardon through the mercy of God."—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 725.
Though David had initially tried to cover up his sin to the point of murder, once he was convicted, he sought to prevent others from falling into the same pit. He loathed the defilement caused by sin and longed for purity that only God could provide. David recognized how far-reaching the loss of respect would be and how devastating now his influence for evil was among his people, especially among his sons. This acknowledgment broke his heart, and as his songs portray, he realized that his only hope was to cling to God and humbly accept the judgments that followed from God's loving but thoroughly just hand. David should be an example to us