I’m back at the story of David, caught in the tornado of his crazy life and his incredible walk of faith. He was shepherd boy, giant-slayer, fugitive, king of Israel, a sinner, a worshipper, a man after God’s own heart. David’s life championed certain values and one of these is that we should always honour the Lord’s anointed. The Bible mentions a number of occasions where David, though promised the kingdom of Israel, demonstrates this:
[1 Samuel 24] – Saul is pursuing David and comes into the cave where David and his men are hiding. Though urged by his men to kill Saul, David refuses to do so, explaining that he “will not stretch out [his] hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.”
[1 Samuel 26] – David goes down to the camp of Saul’s army, who has come out after him. When Abishai, who had come with him, offers to kill Saul, David stops him saying, “…who can stretch our his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless.”
[2 Samuel 1] – An Amalekite claims to have killed Saul as he lay dying and stripped him of his crown to bring to David. David orders the execution of the man, saying his blood is on his own head as he testified that he had killed the Lord’s anointed.
. . .
Who can we say is the Lord’s anointed, and how do we honour them while also believing the promises God has for us?
In David’s story, the “Lord’s Anointed” that he spoke of was Saul, then king of Israel. In the Psalms, written by David, we see him refer to himself as king, but as the anointed of the Lord. David had been anointed as king over Israel by the prophet Samuel when he was yet a shepherd boy. He understood that the king of the nation was appointed by God for a time as dictated by God. As he explained to Abishai in [1 Samuel 26:10-11],
“… As the Lord lives, the Lord shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed…”
David had a promise from God, but he also understood that all things happen in God’s time, in accordance to his will. Earlier in his reign, Saul took his word from God into his own hands by offering a burnt sacrifice to the Lord without waiting for the prophet Samuel to meet him. When Samuel arrived, he had this to say to Saul,
[1 Samuel 13:14] – “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be a commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
Saul, faced with an impending battle, did not wait for God to deliver him as promised, but attempted to do things his own way and it cost him his kingdom. David, however, remembered the importance of obeying to God such that, even when faced with an opportunity to seize the kingdom by his own hand, he submitted to God and did not harm Saul. He trusted that God, in His way and in His time, would fulfil His word to deliver the kingdom of Israel to David.
[Romans 13:1-2] says this about the authorities of today:
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority of God resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgement on themselves.”
God will fulfil His promise and there will be a day when all people see the glory and majesty of God. His kingdom will be established over all the earth and the nations will bow to Him. For now, we live with the promise of God in our hearts, His Holy Spirit directing us to love as He has loved. He will return and establish His kingdom in His time.
. . .
The authorities and leaders of our world are appointed by God for a certain time. If this is so, how do we go about living godly lives in the midst of a secular society when these leaders may not necessarily fear God?
Looking again at the story of David and Saul, I see how David made himself known to Saul even while still honouring him. On two occasions, David spared Saul’s life and protested his innocence before the king; once he cut off a corner of Saul’s robe; another time he took the spear and jug of water by Saul’s head as he slept (David later returned these in peace to Saul). On both these occasions, Saul withdrew from pursuing David for a time. On a number of other occasions, God provided David respite though Saul intended to harm him.
There are a couple of things we need to understand as we live in a way that both honours God and obeys His word to submit to the authorities He has set on earth.
1) GOD HAS THE ULTIMATE AUTHORITY.
David spent a good portion of his life as a fugitive, running away from Saul. It could have been easy to give up during this time, but David remained patient and steadfast in keeping the law of the Lord even during this period of difficulty. No matter what happens in our world, we can know that God has the ultimate authority. He knows all things and He has a promise that will come to pass; His kingdom will come and be established forever. So, we can look towards this hope in the midst of disappointment, tribulation and persecution, knowing that the hope we have in God can never be extinguished, and that He has the ultimate victory. As God protected David, so He protects us even in the persecution that may come before His promise is fulfilled.
[2 Chronicles 20:6] – “…O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?”
2) WE GIVE TO CAESAR WHAT IS CAESAR’S AND TO GOD, WHAT IS GOD’S.
Just because we know we belong to God, does not mean we despise those in positions of leadership on earth. We still need to abide by the laws of our country as long as they do not contradict God’s commands. We pay taxes to the government and give our tithes to the Lord. We give our worship only to God, and we proclaim His goodness and grace through the testimony of our lives on earth.
In each encounter with Saul, David asked Saul to examine for himself whether there was any reason for his persecution of David. Each time, Saul acknowledged that David was righteous and that God indeed was with him. [1 Peter 2:11-12] also describes how we may live in the world, but not of the world.
“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honourable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works, which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
As we live in obedience to God, also honouring the authorities He has ordained on earth, we will be a light that cannot be extinguished. Though the world may try to find fault, it will not be able to and God’s glory will shine through.
3) WE NEED TO PRAY.
[1 Timothy 2:1-2] says,
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.”
If we care for our world and for our nation; if we want our earth to be in line with the will of God, why not pray for the authorities? We can campaign and write letters, but in the end, only God can really change a person’s heart.
Some of David’s psalms are thought to have been written during the times Saul was pursuing him. These also acknowledge that people can be wicked, and that injustice can be dealt to us. David does not specifically name Saul and pray against him, but he does entrust God with the task to judge and avenge. In Psalm 54, David prays and declares that God is his help. He declares that God will judge and “repay (his) enemies for their evil” (v. 5).
We pray for our leaders, we declare God’s deliverance and justice, we pray in times of persecution and as for us, we can like David, determine to praise the name of God, who is always good.
. . .
One last thought about the anointed of God; what if we all saw one another as anointed of God?
When Saul and Jonathan died, David did not immediately rejoice since the kingdom of Israel could not be given to him. Instead he and his household mourned the two men, and David sang a lament in their honour. David did not speak badly of Saul despite how Saul had treated him. Instead, David saw Saul as God’s anointed and treated him as such. David, as we see in the Psalms, also knew his own identity as God’s anointed and spoke to God, asking for favour, forgiveness, and faithfulness from His Lord Most High.
We may not all be “kings”, and we may not all be “leaders”, but we are all sons and daughters of God. He has anointed us and appointed us to be co-heirs with Jesus for eternity. He calls us to love Him, and also to love and honour one another.
[Romans 12:10-12] – “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honour giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer…”
Let’s draw from David’s example; he honoured the Lord’s anointed and in doing so, demonstrated obedience to God, and trust in Him. Let us also honour our leaders, honour each other and in doing so, honour our Lord and our God.