“But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king. I shouldn’t attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.” So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul. After Saul had left the cave and gone on his way,”
1 Samuel 24:5-7 NLT
We live in a time where people feel empowered to put leaders in their place. I think there should be some accountability for those who are trusted with leadership in the secular and sacred world. There is a great responsibility when it comes to having responsibility over someone’s lives. Those of us who teach and preach the Gospel have even more weight because we are responsible for people’s souls!
Because of that weight of responsibility those who lead need our support.
Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.
People have opinions about their leaders. That’s human nature. But it’s what you do with those thoughts that ultimately matter. Do you pray for them or participate in the assassination of their character?
David had a chance to take his leader out! It was a page right out of Scandal with David being in a Huck-like scenario. King Saul had lost his anointing and his mind. He had been trying to hunt David down to kill him. He had 3,000 men looking for David and his 400 men. During the pursuit Saul went in to a cave to defecate, and he had no idea David was hiding in the dark recesses of that very cave.
All of David’s men said, “Here’s your chance to take out your enemy!” David snuck up on him and cut off a piece of his robe, but he let Saul walk out untouched. He restrained his men. Then he let Saul know, “I had a chance to kill you but I restrained myself from touching God’s anointed.”
David felt bad just for cutting off a piece of his robe. We live in a society that has no problem cutting up pastors, bosses, leaders, and politicians. Some criticism is deserved. Some is not. But the question is, “Do you have enough God in you to shut your mouth and put your sword away?”
You might be thinking, “Why should I? Don’t they deserve it?”
- David didn’t because he knew that God had anointed his leader and it was for God to judge him. “This very day you can see with your own eyes it isn’t true. For the Lord placed you at my mercy back there in the cave. Some of my men told me to kill you, but I spared you. For I said, ‘I will never harm the king—he is the Lord’s anointed one.’” (1 Samuel 24:10) Do we still have enough respect for those God has selected to watch over us or do we know more than God?
- David left room for God to decide who was wrong even if it was himself. “May the Lord therefore judge which of us is right and punish the guilty one. He is my advocate, and he will rescue me from your power!” (1 Samuel 24:15 NLT) If your leader is wrong he will deal with him or her. If you are wrong he will deal with you.
- Your restraint leaves room for your leader to reconsider their ways. “Who else would let his enemy get away when he had him in his power? May the Lord reward you well for the kindness you have shown me today.” (1 Samuel 24:19) When you back off and pray, the Holy Spirit will show your leader the errors of his or her way.
It’s so much easier to kill our leaders than it is to restrain ourselves out of respect. It’s amazing that after Saul died and David became king he too would make a crucial mistake as a leader. He slept with another man’s wife and had him murdered to cover up for it. Scandalous! But he had the wherewithal to repent. It was only God’s grace and restraint that kept him from killing David, or maybe he gave David grace because he extended to his leader when he was a follower. What about you? Will you pray for your leader or kill them with gossip and criticism?
We have the ability to give or take life with our tongue. Our tongue is like a sword. It can cut away pieces of our covering bit by bit or take away life all at once just by how we speak. You have called us to pray for one another, to speak kindly to one another, and instead we’ve decided to hide in dark corners and cut each other up. Teach us how to pray for our leaders and one another. Convict our consciences for the little things we’ve allowed to come out of our mouths. Create a culture of honor and mutual respect so when it’s time for us to lead and we fall we will receive the grace we’ve shown.
In Jesus’ Name,