1 Samuel 24:5
“And it came to pass afterward, that David’s heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt.”
If anyone had a good excuse to disrespect his leader, David had one. Saul made it his purpose to not only destroy David but to kill him. David had put his life on the line several times for Saul and his country, and it seemed that the only thing he got out of it was a jealous leader seeking his life. Saul had literally run David out of the country because he had given orders to kill him.
However, God protected David because of the pureness of his heart. The verse above is the result of David having an opportunity to kill Saul when he and his men discovered him asleep in the cave of Engedi. To prove that he was not seeking Saul’s life, David cut off his skirt, but that act bothered him. The fact that what he had done had disrespected the man who was his leader bothered his heart. The reason it bothered him was because he had a tender heart towards the LORD, and he understood that Saul was still the LORD’s anointed.
Your attitude towards leadership is a true revealer of your heart towards the LORD. I have watched many people who were not afraid to hurt or disrespect God’s men, only to discover later these people were spiritually struggling. One of the greatest revealers of a Christian’s heart is how they treat the authorities in their life. It is not that the authority is special in and of themselves, but the position they hold is what God expects you to respect. A couple of things can be learned from this story to show how you should treat the authorities in your life.
First, authorities deserve respect for the office they hold. I believe one of the mistakes we make concerning authorities is that we don’t address them as we should. My parents taught me to address authorities by their last name. I was never allowed to call an authority by their first name. Though this mentality is looked down upon in our present day casual culture, I still believe it is right to address authorities by their last name. It doesn’t matter if you are older, they deserve to be addressed properly because they hold a position ordained by God.
Second, never be party to destroy a leader. A leader may not be everything they should be, but it is not your position to destroy them. I am not condoning sin because the Scriptures give us clear guidance on how to deal with an authority living in sin. I am talking about being party to a movement to hurt the leader. When people come to you and want you to join them in removing a leader because they don’t like them, you need to get as far away from this crowd as you can. Just like Korah placed a curse on his life and family because of his disrespect towards a leader, you will likewise incur God’s wrath when you try to destroy the one whom God has placed as an authority in your life.
Third, treat leaders the same way you would want to be treated if you were in their position; one day you may be a leader as well. David treated Saul with respect, and I believe that is why he is still respected to this day. Always remember that you are teaching others how to treat you one day when God places you as an authority.
Your treatment of authorities truly reveals what is in your heart. Remember that the treatment of authorities reveals your attitude towards the LORD. If you love the LORD, you will treat authorities with respect.