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March 30, 2009 – The New NBC Drama, Kings

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A few weeks ago, NBC launched a new drama called “Kings” which is being billed as a modern version of the classic David and Goliath story. The problem is, it isn’t. Don’t get me wrong: The show is incredibly enjoyable and I enjoy the modern twist on the classic Biblical themes. The viewer is presented with King Silas Benjamin (Silas being a Greek derivative, through Aramaic, of the Hebrew name, Saul, who was the first king of Israel and happened to be from the tribe of Benjamin). King Silas reigns in the city of Shiloh over the nation of Gilboa (both are places mentioned in the Saul-David saga in I Samuel). Silas has two children, Michelle (Michal) and Jack (Jonathan) and was crowned by Reverend Samuels. David Shepherd (the son of Jesse who, in the modern remake, is David’s mother) bravely rescues the prince from the enemy nation of Gath, in spite of the terrifying Goliath tanks that defend Gath’s border. The references go on and on. The producers of “Kings” make no attempt to hide their inspiration; in the most recent episode, the queen states, “I see Silas commands his thousands while David brings his hundred thousands” (cf. I Samuel 18:7).

The drama is not un-enjoyable and there is a certain pleasure that comes in identifying the often veiled references to the Biblical account. Nevertheless, this attempt to retell the David saga falls predictably short when it comes to getting to the heart of the character of David. In the quintessential moment of the television premiere, Captain David Shepherd is seen running onto the battlefield in spite of the monstrous presence of the giant Goliath tanks. One hopes that he is about to do some great deed of bravery, worthy of his namesake, but instead, he sues for peace. He carries a white sheet to the battle line and demands to speak with his enemies face to face. He proceeds to expostulate about the need for peace for both the kingdom of Gilboa and the nation of Gath. He says that enough men have died. The soldiers of Gath appear to be convinced and David is hailed as the hero who stood up to Goliath.

The importance of this argument is not lost on me. Rather, I affirm with David’s character that peace is desirable and we ought to do what is possible to secure it. But that’s not what the real David did. That’s not who he was. The real David – the Biblical David – went to war. He didn’t go to war because he loved violence. He went to war because he loved God. David fought Goliath because Goliath was so blaspheming the God of Israel that he had the entire Israelite army convinced that their God was not capable of defeating their enemy. David wouldn’t stand for that. He loved the glory of his God so much that he chose to put his life on the line to prove God’s strength. And he trusted in God’s pleasure in him so much that he was assured of victory.

That’s what it comes down to for David. He loved the glory of God and he knew that God took pleasure in him because of that. That’s what made David a man after God’s own heart. And that’s exactly what the producers of this television drama have missed. They have traded an example of timeless righteousness to make a cheap political statement. It’s a shame. Indeed, I consider this failing to be the drama’s worst; it is worse even than the producers’ choice to make the crown prince, Jack, a closet homosexual, though that will undoubtedly be widely considered the worse offence. But the depiction of Jack as sinful human being (and the implicit acceptance of that sinfulness that accompanies it), though troubling, is not as painful as the watering down of God’s champion to little more than a talking head. It is the same mindset that converts David from a warrior against sin to a sobbing peacenik that also converts the death-conquering Christ to nothing more than a teacher of morals.

All of that said, I don’t mean to necessarily discourage anyone from watching this show. I make no endorsement of it and can’t speak for what might happen in future episodes, but truth be told, I have enjoyed watching it. In fact, the argument could be made that it is a good idea for us to be conversant with this drama so that we can interact with our unsaved friends and family members who might have questions about the real story. And when they do, we must be prepared to tell them about the real David and David’s greater Son: Jesus Christ.

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