I Samuel 24:2-20
In this powerful story from First Samuel, we see a ruler who is in trouble. His erratic behavior, his dark and brooding temperament, and his unstable mental state have caused his approval ratings to drop to an all-time low. He feels increasingly threatened by a promising young leader who is widely respected and loved, and clings desperately to his place of power. Although he was called by God to be king and anointed by God’s prophet, he now tries to take matters into his own hands: instead of entrusting himself to God, he tries to destroy the one who challenges his authority by putting him to death.
The story is powerful because it presents such a dramatic contrast between these two leaders. Though all signs point to David as Israel’s future king, David does not try to force God’s hand by taking advantage of Saul’s vulnerability. He refuses to do harm to “the Lord’s anointed,” and feels guilt at even taking a bit of his cloak to prove his innocence. He refuses to follow the advice of his companions to seize this extraordinary opportunity, not because he respects Saul, but because he fears the Lord. He relies completely on God to choose when and if he will become king, and satisfies himself by waiting patiently and by serving the king as he is able.
“You are more righteous than I,” Saul admits when he sees how loyal David has been to him. “You have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil… For who has ever found an enemy, and sent the enemy safely away?”
Oh, that God would give us rulers like David, men and women who respect and fear God above all else, and who are willing to set aside their own ambitions and desire for advancement to await and to discern God’s purposes… Leaders who understand that how you conduct yourself on the way to positions of power and authority is just as important as how you conduct yourself once you get there… Leaders who receive their authority as a gift from God and hold it in open palms rather than tight fists, seeking to do only God’s will… Women and men of godly character, who can be trusted to act with integrity and to seek the common good.
This story illustrates for us how a leader can act with integrity, making the glory of God his or her chief purpose and aim. The example of David in this story can inspire us all, no matter our station in life, to live for God alone.
“We cannot really say we have never seen anything like this before,” writes veteran pollster and political pundit John Zogby. “The United States has had its populist presidents – Andrew Jackson in the 1830s and Theodore Roosevelt in the early 20th century. Both were volatile, bullies, self-styled “tribunes” or “stewards” of the people, and truly racist.
“We have had our dark and brooding figures who battled endlessly with the press. Certainly, Richard Nixon comes to mind. And there were the prevaricators who falsified information to lead the US into wars – James Polk in the 1840s, Lyndon Johnson in 1960s, and George W Bush a little over a decade ago.
“But with Donald Trump, history goes out the window. All the rules, conventions, and protocols of presidential behavior have been violated.
“His polling numbers reveal this. Elected with only 46% of the popular vote in November 2016, his job approval rating average today is a paltry 39% – low by any standard, but especially so since he has actually lost ground with the public in only his first year.”[i]
[i] Zogby, Jack; writing for www.forbes.com.
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