David’s eulogy of Saul, the king of Israel who preceded him, is rather different than Samuel’s description of a king. It was just last Friday that we heard Samuel warn the people of Israel how bad it would be to have a king, that a king would enslave the people and take what is rightfully theirs through oppressive taxes. Today, David tells the women of Israel to weep over Saul, “who clothed you in scarlet and put golden ornaments on you.” As if before the days of Saul, women had never owned nice clothing or jewelry!
We see here the transformation that Samuel warned about. It is not that the people of Israel are better off, but they are told to pretend that what portion they have, what is left to them after the king has taken what he wants, is a gift from the king. We should not be fooled by David’s sentimental attitude. King Saul did not provide anything for the people. At best, he gave them back a portion of what he had taken from them.
It is like the government in our country. People want the government to provide things for them, but the government cannot provide anything which it did not first take away. Our president would like us to be grateful that he is going to give us all health care for free. Really, he is going to take our money and then spend it on the health care he thinks we should have. We should be grateful for this? Saying that the government is providing something is just a convoluted way of saying that the government is controlling another aspect of our lives. It is as if someone offers to take you out to dinner, orders your dinner for you, then takes the check and pays with your credit card.
The government plays an important role in make sure that the wealthy provide for the poor. This is the responsibility of the wealthy, and we cannot deny that many wealthy people fail in their responsibility. But when the government offers free education, so long as it is their education, and free healthcare, so long as it is on their terms, with abortion and birth control, and free food, so long as we eat what they tell us to eat, this is not an act of charity.
If we want to be free, we must fight against two kinds of people: politicians who offer to pay for things and rich people who think that since they earned their money they can spend it however they want.