WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the nation’s capital, “personnel is policy,” and the success of Trump’s presidency is being determined right now with his selections for Cabinet appointments. Once the president takes the oath of office on Jan. 20 and the political hostilities begin, that old proverb, “When you’re up to your neck in alligators, it’s easy to forget that the goal was to drain the swamp,” might explain why so many idealists who come to The Swamp abandon political principle for self-preservation.
In the dog-eat-dog construction world, Trump knows you’re only as good as your sub-contractors, and if he’s to conquer the take-no-prisoner political world in Trump-like manner, he’ll only be as successful as the moral character and political steel of those Cabinet members he appoints.
With his appointments this past week of Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary, Gov. Nikki Haley as UN Ambassador and Rep. Tom Price for HHS, six out of President-elect Trump’s first ten appointments have been to evangelicals, besides his Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and campaign advisor Kellyanne Conway, both vocal about their faith. With a litany of the devoted still to choose from – like Dr. Ben Carson, Governors Mike Huckabee, Sam Brownback, Sarah Palin, and Rick Perry – the Trump White House administration could be the most evangelical in recent times.
If President Trump is to blast through bureaucratic barriers and part the regulatory skies as he’s done with his new Trump International Hotel – his five-star revitalization of the old Post Office, the most iconic symbol of the oldest of government institutions analogous of bureaucratic red tape
– he must hire the most qualified and savvy of subs.
One can only hope for such a Renaissance repeat of his “ahead-of-schedule and under-budget” miracle at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Maybe his D.C. hotel billboard heralding “Coming 2016 – TRUMP” was a prophetic handwriting on the wall or a sign of the times. “Even so, come, Donald Trump, come.”
David, the greatest king of Israel, experienced precisely what wrong cabinet appointments can produce at the beginning of an administration. He campaigned on the slogan “Make Israel Great Again” – and for David, and all of Israel, that meant restoring the Ark of the Covenant, the repository of the Ten Commandments, back to its rightful place in government and the town square. You know, the Ark of the Covenant – the one Indiana Jones rescued from those evil Nazi socialists.
King David had the task of restoring the Ten Commandments, Israel’s Constitution, from 40 years of obscurity from the public arena, the result of the socialist redistribution policies of King Saul – the people’s king. (By the way, while researching the Hebrew text for this column, I discovered King Saul’s last name – “Alinsky.”)
But David’s first attempt to restore their Constitution to the center of public life and governmental policy ended in a
deadly and disastrous debacle at the threshing floor of Chidon as his oxen stumbled and his cart tumbled (1 Chronicles 13:9).
If King David, a man after God’s own heart, the ultimate political outsider, failed at his first attempt to restore all that had made Israel the most exceptional nation on earth – the first nation to allow its free citizens to own private property and practice free trade in a capitalistic economy – can we expect any more from Trump than Israel did of David? After all, David was not the “lesser-of-two-evils.” Spiritually, he was “head-and-shoulders” above Saul.
David’s inaugural attempt to make the nation great again failed because of the advice he received from his cabinet appointees – which in this case were primarily the priests and elders (1 Chronicles 13:1-6). That’s right: The preachers gave the king bad advice – advice they would not have given had they been “well versed” in the Scriptures, advice that publicly embarrassed the king and cost one man, Uzzah, his life. And in the end, it was the politician, King David, that put the preachers in their place, enabling the nation to find its restored glory.
The answer to Israel’s restoration wasn’t, after all, politically correct policy but sanctified priestly prayer. This is always the lesson God is teaching the nation – prayer, not politics, is the answer. It will, in the end, be fervent prayer and not prevailing policy that drains The Swamp!
At the beginning of his campaign, candidate Trump surrounded himself with a spiritual cadre of evangelical advisers. Was that simply window dressing or a genuine attempt by a political outsider acknowledging, in the midst all the nay-sayings and Pharisaical outcries by the puritanical clerics, that he was acknowledging his need for help from a higher power? Great leaders always know their limitations in the face of overwhelming circumstances and unsurmountable odds.
And now, if President-elect Trump has genuinely surrounded himself with godly advisers for the right and righteous reason, my trepidations are that this priestly council will repeat the same mistake David’s preachers made.
King David’s evangelical advisory board instructed him to build a cart to transport the Ark. It seemed like a good idea. After all, the last, and probably only, Providential and interventional “move of God” any of these preachers had witnessed was when the Ark returned unassisted out of Philistine captivity on an ox cart to Joshua’s wheat field 40 years earlier (1 Samuel 6).
There was nothing innovative or evangelical in their advice to David. It wasn’t even biblical. It was worldly, patterned after pagan theology! America doesn’t need another Philistine ox cart! We need something fresh, we need something new, we need something from God! We certainly don’t need another Republican cart from the past. We need a move of God. Only godly advice from godly council will make America great again. We need preachers who are well versed in the Bible advising our political leaders!
There were two major mistakes committed by David’s “Make Israel Great Again” evangelical advisory board we must recognize or else be in jeopardy of repeating them.
First they built a cart. David and his preachers had the right motive, but the wrong methods. God is a “Methodist,” albeit, I assure you, not a United Methodist! Until David aligned his methods with God’s methods, all the right motives could not restore the past glory to Israel.
After King David employed the UAW and put the Jerusalem cart makers back on the assembly line, after he had the futures commodities on “Wailing Wall Street” send over their two best oxen, and after he called the Teamsters Union to hire their best drivers, after he put the whole country back to work again, King David could not bring back the glory. He could not make Israel great again.
The second mistake the king made with his new cart: He and his new “cabinet ministers” (that’s probably where they belonged – on a shelf in a cabinet somewhere) apparently were heading in the opposite direction that God intended to take the nation. With a little geographical research, David was in all likelihood taking the Ark back to Moses’ Tabernacle in Shiloh, where it last resided before It and His Glory departed the nation (1 Samuel 4:22).
Apparently, Shiloh wasn’t where the Occupant of the Ark wanted to live. When King David’s inaugural parade came down Pennsylvania Avenue to Chidon’s threshing floor, the oxen stumbled, the new cart took a tumble, and Uzzah (whose name means “strength”) tried to steady the “Man Upstairs.” Uzzah fell over dead. When God restores a nation it’s never by man’s strength. And Uzzah will never receive the credit or the glory.
It seems, upon reading ahead (1 Chronicles 15) that God did not want to take Israel back to the same old thing in Shiloh, but He had something new for the nation in Zion. God was going forward with the nation, not back to something in the past. “So that he forsook Shiloh, the tent he placed among men … but chose mount Zion which he loved,” (Psalms 78:60,68). I believe God has something new for America, something better than we’ve ever seen.
Upon realizing his error, David said, “None ought to carry the ark but the Levites,” because “we sought him not after due order” (1 Chronicles 15:2,13). The king had become well-versed in what the Scriptures said about restoring and governing the nation. The king told the priests, in effect, “We’re in this situation in the first place because you gave me the wrong biblical advice!” (1 Chronicles 15:13). Wouldn’t it be something if revival would begin in Congress and the White House and spread to the preachers and the nation? Here’s a biblical precedence for it!
This past election not only revealed who the mainstream media and establishment Republicans are, it also revealed who the mainstream establishment clergy are, who, like those in David’s reign, are the greatest obstacles to revival and restoration of the nation. It seems we’ve always had Establishment Clergy – the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Wouldn’tsees and Couldn’tsees.
David told the preachers that the Ark of God’s government was never to be carried except upon the shoulders of holy priests. Through the wilderness, crossing Jordan, circling Jericho, whenever God sovereignly moved in the nation it was when the Ark of the Covenant was upon the shoulders of the priests, not on an ox cart. “And the government shall be upon his shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6).
What makes Trump’s situation so similar with King David’s is that both Israel and America are facing identical political, economic and cultural situations at the same period in their national histories.
David learned his lesson, corrected the problem and brought economic prosperity to the nation and, eventually, a spiritual revival to which Jesus would later refer to as “a city set upon a hill cannot be hid” (Matthew 5:14). If history’s repeating itself, let’s hope that President Trump is half the wise as King David.
Just 400 years out of Egyptian slavery, Israel demanded a king and experienced a fundamental transformation in its government with King Saul from a priestly theocracy to a kingly monarchy – man ruling in the place of God. Israel wanted to be like all the other nations even at the expense of instituting taxes and the redistribution of its wealth (1 Samuel 1-11). All because of the moral failure of a politically correct priesthood. When the preachers abdicate their biblical responsibilities to government the nation always suffers.
It was just 400 years ago, in 1620, that America’s forefathers were delivered upon the shores of Plymouth Rock, crossing their Red Sea, escaping their European slavery, their monarchial taskmasters and freed from their chains of religious persecution. And just like Israel, America is facing the same political and societal issues 3,000 years later – a war on terror, the moral failure of a politically correct clergy, judicial “legislation” eroding the nation’s foundational documents. Is this really what the Constitution means? “Hath God said?” It’s nothing new.
Millions prayed for a Republican victory. God heard and answered those prayers. Now more than ever, America must pray for godly wisdom and counsel to govern. If America is to be made great again, it will only come as the people, the preachers and politicians embrace right godly motives together with biblical principles leading to godly methods in righteous governing. Pray for our preachers and leaders (1 Timothy 2:1). I believe we are on the brink of a new day and something great in America. “God is not finished with America yet!”
Dan and JoAnn Cummins
101B 2nd Street NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
Dan Cummins, is an Associate Pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego, CA., and presiding pastor of The Jefferson Gathering, weekly worship services in America’s Capitol for members of Congress, staff and Capitol Police. He and his wife JoAnn originated the historic prayer event, Washington – A Man of Prayer, held annually in Statuary Hall of the Capitol of the United States of America.