Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Loyal Servant

Our sages teach that there was a time when Dovid HaMelech sought to worship idolatry. The Malbim, zt”l, explains this astonishing statement with a parable.
There was once a very cruel king who was a slave to his nasty temper. He would sentence his subjects to death for the slightest insult or offense to him. The royal butler, a very loyal servant, once spilled a little bit from the king’s cup on the table in front of his royal highness. When he saw the king’s face twist into an expression of wrath he immediately poured the remaining contents of the glass on the table.
Everyone was astounded at this outrageous chutzpah, but when asked to explain his conduct the butler explained that he had done it for the sake of the king. “I knew from the look on your majesty’s face that I would not be forgiven. But what will those who hear that I received capital punishment for such a minor error say? They will surely claim that the king is absolutely ruthless. Because of my great love for the king I have purposely poured the drink onto the table. In this way, I have saved him from scorn from potential criticism, since any king would kill a royal butler who has the nerve to purposely pour the contents of the king’s glass onto the table in front of him.”
When the king heard this he was overcome with the extent of his butler’s love. With no thought of self he had zealously guarding the king’s reputation. Not only was the butler’s life spared, he was also elevated above all other officer’s because of his great love for the king.
The same is true regarding Dovid HaMelech. When Hashem decreed that he be executed by his own son, he feared that people would complain about the seeming injustice of this punishment. After all, since he had done a complete teshuvah, how could they possibly reconcile the punishment with the sin? Dovid was even willing to pretend to worship idols to avoid the greater chilul Hashem.

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