Summary: This sermon uses David’s experience with King Saul to teach biblical attitudes toward authority that God places over our lives. The limitations of scope in such authority and the basis of our respect for authority are discussed.
Don’t Tell Me What to Do!
Submission to Human Authority I
This incident occurred during a very difficult time in David’s life. King Saul had listed him as #1 in the “Ten Most Wanted” fugitives in Israel. David had been running for his life.
The problem began after David had valiantly fought for Israel and killed Goliath. That victory made David a national hero. But it also stirred hatred and jealousy in the heart of Saul. Saul saw the anointing of God on David’s life. He saw the favor God had given David with the people. And Saul saw David as a threat to his position as king. Therefore he set out to kill David.
When David was at the palace Saul threw a spear at him and almost killed him. David got out of there by the skin of his teeth. (1) Saul was obsessed with killing David and had unjustly chased him all over the country.
In this chapter God providentially places King Saul at the mercy of David. Saul and his 3000 soldiers arrived at a cave in En Gedi. Not knowing that David and his men were hiding in the back of the cave, King Saul went into the cave to use the bathroom. He laid his coat aside and at that moment David could have easily killed Saul and seized the kingdom.
Why didn’t he do it? David didn’t kill Saul because David had a revelation of authority.
He understood some things about authority that protected him from making a terrible mistake. Under the prodding of his soldiers David cut off the corner of Saul’s coat.
Even that small violation of Saul brought a great conviction in David’s heart. He knew that even that act represented disrespect toward the king’s throne. And we see in this passage David repenting of that expression of rebellion.
If ever there was a person who had a right to oppose the authority over him it was David.
David had been totally loyal to Saul. He had sang for him, ministered to him, fought for him, even risked his life for him. What a horrible injustice/mistreatment it had been for Saul to try to kill David. Saul had used his position of authority to make David’s life miserable. God had already rejected Saul as king of Israel. But the wheels of God’s justice grind slowly and Saul still held that office.
Have you ever been under an authority like King Saul—perhaps a boss who used his authority for personal advantage and abused those under him. That kind of situation can severely test our hearts.
David was going through some hard testings—some serious training on the subject of authority. And because David passed the test and learned the lessons of submission to authority-God could later trust him with great authority.
I want to share with you this morning and perhaps next week: Seven Truths about Human Authority. I use the term “Human Authority” to refer to authority God has delegated to individuals over our lives. It is very easy for people to say, “I’m submitted to God; I obey God.” It’s easy to claim a nebulous, abstract, mystical submission to God. But the reality of our submission to God is tested and expressed in our attitude toward human authority.