We ended our previous discussion on this topic by discussing the way that our imitation of God when it comes to glorying in concealment shows a lack of awareness of our limitations and a respect for the distance between God and mankind. Let us discuss this matter in more detail. An example of the glorying that human leaders take in concealment is the way that the public of the United States was largely in the dark about the way that FDR had manipulated matters so as to put Americans in harm’s way both with regards to Germany and Japan. Lend lease and other efforts to help Great Britain to survive against the Nazi onslaught put American merchant marine in the path of deadly submarine wolfpacks, and FDR’s policy of embargoing Japan from necessary materials forced Japan to invade areas in order for their war effort to continue. In both of these cases it was known that Japan would strike, if not exactly when and where, and so the concealment of these matters from the public was meant to create the shock of betrayal that would cause a public that was deeply isolationist to switch to angry enough to fight a two-front war and then to keep up the militaristic mood for decades afterwards as the Second World War elided into the Cold War, all thanks to various concealed betrayals and diplomatic deals and frustrated ambitions.
In this we can see that the goal of human authorities who glory in concealment is precisely the same as the goal of God in desiring to put into place plans whose achievement requires that other people be unaware of the truth of what is going on. Were knowledge widespread, outrage would come upon those governments practicing secrecy and deception of their own people and not necessarily the enemies those governments wish to point the outrage and anger of their citizens towards. Yet that which God can do justly cannot be done justly by human governments for the simple reason that God is God and we are not. God is on a plane (or several planes) above our existence, while our human authorities, whom we are obligated to respect, are nevertheless our equals as fellow human beings under God’s authority and judgment. We do not owe to human authorities the same level of obedience and worship that we owe to God, and those authorities that demand to be treated as God are themselves precisely those authorities whose claims we should be most hostile and resistant towards because they have blasphemously and idolatrously usurped a role and a position that does not belong to them and have denied the distinction that exists between the creator and that which is a mere creature.
Let us examine this danger biblically by looking at what perhaps may seem to be an unusual example, that of David. On multiple occasions, David managed to conceal the truth from the people he was interacting with, and at times that had very serious and negative consequences. In 1 Samuel 21:1-3, David and some of his young men came to Nob to the high priest while seeking to escape the wrath of Saul: “Now David came to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech was afraid when he met David, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one is with you?” So David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has ordered me on some business, and said to me, ‘Do not let anyone know anything about the business on which I send you, or what I have commanded you.’ And I have directed my young men to such and such a place. Now therefore, what have you on hand? Give me five loaves of bread in my hand, or whatever can be found.”” As readers, we know that David’s reason was simply a dodge. David had appeared before the high priest alone because he was on the run from the king and did not want to scare the high priest, who would not have fed him had he been aware that he was aiding and abetting someone that Saul considered to be a traitor and a rebel against him. (Traditionally, rulers have not viewed rebels and traitors very highly.) Yet David’s concealment had serious consequences, for the high priest and most of his family ended up being killed thanks to Saul’s wrath once Doeg the Edomite snitched on him, as is written in 1 Samuel 22:9-19: “Then answered Doeg the Edomite, who was set over the servants of Saul, and said, “I saw the son of Jesse going to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub. And he inquired of the Lord for him, gave him provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.” So the king sent to call Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s house, the priests who were in Nob. And they all came to the king. And Saul said, “Hear now, son of Ahitub!” He answered, “Here I am, my lord.” Then Saul said to him, “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, in that you have given him bread and a sword, and have inquired of God for him, that he should rise against me, to lie in wait, as it is this day?” So Ahimelech answered the king and said, “And who among all your servants is as faithful as David, who is the king’s son-in-law, who goes at your bidding, and is honorable in your house? Did I then begin to inquire of God for him? Far be it from me! Let not the king impute anything to his servant, or to any in the house of my father. For your servant knew nothing of all this, little or much.” And the king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s house!” Then the king said to the guards who stood about him, “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled and did not tell it to me.” But the servants of the king would not lift their hands to strike the priests of the Lord. And the king said to Doeg, “You turn and kill the priests!” So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck the priests, and killed on that day eighty-five men who wore a linen ephod. Also Nob, the city of the priests, he struck with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and nursing infants, oxen and donkeys and sheep—with the edge of the sword.” And David’s reply to this horror that he was responsible for thanks to his concealment is particularly lame, in verses 20-23: “Now one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the Lord’s priests. So David said to Abiathar, “I knew that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have caused the death of all the persons of your father’s house. Stay with me; do not fear. For he who seeks my life seeks your life, but with me you shall be safe.”” After all, if David had known that Doeg would tell Saul and known that it would result in the death of dozens of innocent priests, why then did David act as he did, with all of that blood on his own hands because he put people in harm’s way while concealing it from them.
If we might justify David’s conduct in this circumstance, let us not forget that this pattern of concealment is precisely what we find in David’s most notable sin, namely his adultery with Bathsheba the wife of Uriah and his cold-blooded murder of that loyal soldier of his elite guard. Here again we see the precise identical patterns of concealment and harm and the same deadly consequences that occurred here. David wanted what he should not have, namely Bathsheba, and sought to conceal that he was the father of her child by bringing Uriah to Jerusalem and plying him with liquor and heavy hints to go and sleep with his wife, which the loyal and somewhat austere soldier refused to do out of loyalty to his fellow soldiers. Instead of being convicted to repentance, David made his sin more heinous by having Uriah carry his death sentence to Joab, who was being ordered to put Uriah directly into harm’s way so that Bathsheba would become a widow and thereby free for David to marry her and add her to his already considerable harem. These multiple efforts of concealment are precisely the sort of wicked abuse of power that human leaders have, and it nearly destroyed David’s life as well as his kingdom. It was only God’s mercy that both were allowed to continue, no thanks to David’s attempts to conceal matters from God and from Uriah and others.
Nor do these exhaust the human behaviors of concealment that we see condemned in scripture or those aspects of concealment that we find in human history and that rightly draws our blame. It should be noted, for example, that it has been the desire of our nation’s corrupt political elites to conceal their own attempts to control government that has brought our governmental institutions, including our nation’s spies and federal police forces, into intense disrepute. Those who engage for too long in concealment of their own evils, and those whose concealment brings repercussions and consequences on innocent people who are not deserving of the harm that befalls them thanks to what they could have protected themselves better against had they been made aware of it are justly condemned for it. And unlike the case with God, they do not have the defense that they have the authority to conceal matters to accomplish plans, because their only proper authority is to serve God and their fellow citizens, not to make other people pieces on their chessboards as is frequently the case.