Summary: It’s easy to submit to someone in authority when we agree with them. But what if those in authority over us aren’t "good" men? What if they make immoral decisions? What if they are mean, spiteful, and dangerous?
OPEN: The first words that a child says always seem so cute. Brad’s baby daughter’s first word was “Wow!” Other children learn to say “mommy” or “daddy.” But there is a word that children learn to say that’s not quite so cute. Do you know what it is? That’s right: “No!”
As they grow older we might overhear them say to an older brother or sister “You’re not my boss.”
In the teen years they’ll say things like “I can’t wait until I get grown, so I can do what I want to do.”
There are those who believe that we never quite grow out of that attitude. It seems that there is something deep down inside all of us that wants to say: “You can’t tell me what to do! It’s my life and I want to do what I want!”
ILLUS: A department head aboard a Navy vessel became concerned about one of his senior enlisted men (a true story). The enlisted man was a superb technician, but he had a problem showing respect to his superiors and made it obvious he didn’t like taking orders.
The department head took the seaman aside and suggested the man try something that had worked for him. ‘Whenever an officer gives you a directive that you think is stupid, just say ’Yes, Sir.’ But in your mind, think ’You’re an idiot!’ Will this work for you?"
The seaman looked at him, smiled broadly… and then replied: "Yes, sir!"
APPLY: Now that enlisted man had a problem.
In the military, there’s not much room for a rebellious attitude.
In the military, you follow orders… or you suffer the consequences.
Rebelliousness is not acceptable to the military
And rebelliousness is not acceptable to God either
God tells us that there are consequences for a rebellious attitude
Psalms 68:6 “God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.”
Repeatedly, throughout Scripture we read of HOW we’re to respond to people in authority over us. Paul wrote:
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” Romans 13:1-2
I. Submit yourself to the “governing authorities?”
That’s easy (pause…) if you agree with them. If they make decisions that are right and moral and fair.
BUT (pause…) what if these governing authorities aren’t “good” men.
What if they make decisions I can’t agree with?
What if they what if they’re NOT righteous and moral and fair?
What if they’re mean and spiteful and dangerous …
What if they’re like… like King Saul???
King Saul has not been a “good” man. He’d been disobedient to God - and because of his disobedience, he has been plagued by an evil spirit.
Later, when Saul realized the people loved David and were singing his praises, several times he sought to kill David.
When David finally fled Saul’s presence, he stopped by the tabernacle and Ahimelech the Priest fed David and his men and offered them a place to rest. Once Saul found out about what Ahimelech and the other priests had done for David, I Samuel 22 tells us that Saul had 85 of priests slaughtered, and ordered the priestly city of Nob destroyed.
How, do you “honor” a “governing authority” like that?
How do you “submit” to something that wicked and terrible?
II. Well, that’s the question David faced.
Because of the repeated attempts on his life, David fled from the presence of King Saul and spent the next few months living in caves and fields. Eventually, when others found out about his situation, they joined him so that David ended up being surrounded by a force of 600 warriors.
At one point, he and his men fled to the south - along the Eastern shores of the Dead Sea - and found shelter in rocky hills of a place En Gedi. In the meantime, King Saul rec’d information of David’s whereabouts and gathered an army of 3000 men to pursue him.
As he was searching through this desert, Saul went into the very cave where David and his men hiding. We’re not sure whether Saul went into the cave to escape the harsh sunshine and rest, or if (as the NIV puts it) he went there to “relieve” himself (the Hebrew phrase here has a couple of possible understandings). Whichever was the case, Saul was distracted. Perhaps he took off his cloak and set it to one side.
Nonetheless, David’s men see this as an opportunity and they urge him to kill the King. This would remove the threat to David’s life and perhaps it would clear the way for David to take the throne for himself. So, David slipped up quietly and cut off a corner of the royal robe… but he didn’t kill King Saul.