1 Samuel 24:8-22

Sermon preached on September 13, 2009 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

During President Obama's speech before Congress on Wednesday night Representative Joe Wilson, Republican from South Carolina, shouted,

"You lie!"

when the President said that Democratic health proposals would not cover illegal immigrants. Many people were shocked that Wilson would do that. Democrats said that it showed a lack of respect for the office of the President. Many Republicans agreed. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader said,

"I think we ought to treat the president with respect and anything other than that is not appropriate."

Wilson later issued an apology. He seems to have regretted his lack of civility and said that he let his emotions get the better of him.

He was quite right to apologize. One of the things that the Bible shows us is that

we are to show respect to those who are in authority.

We see this in David's attitude toward Saul. David showed great respect to King Saul.

There are
seven things in our chapter that show us this. We saw the first two last week. First, when David had the opportunity to kill King Saul he refused to do it or even to touch him. Second, he was conscience stricken for having cut off the corner of Saul's robe because he was, as David said, 'the Lord's anointed'. David greatly regretted it, probably because he afterwards realized the symbolism of it. You'll recall the time when Samuel turned to leave King Saul that Saul caught hold of Samuel's robe and it tore. At that point Samuel said to Saul, (1 Samuel 15:28)

"The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel
from you today and has given it
to one of your neighbors—
to one better than you."

Some have also suggested that the piece of the skirt of Saul's robe was a kind of 'identity card'. (Malamat, quoted from David Tsumura, 1 The First Book of Samuel, p. 566) In Mesopotamia a piece from the hem of clothing was used as a type of authorization. (Tsumura, p. 566) In light of all of that it is possible that David realized that cutting off the corner of Saul's robe might have been interpreted as a symbolic declaration of revolt. Thus he was conscience stricken. He did not want any such association. He was not rebelling against Saul.

The third thing that shows that David had great respect for Saul was the way he addressed him in verse 8. When David called to Saul he said,

"My lord the king!".

David acknowledged that Saul was his master and that he was under him. The fourth thing that David did to show great respect for King Saul was the fact that he bowed down and positioned himself with his face to the ground. Fifthly, David called Saul the 'Lord's anointed', a term of great respect and honor. Sixthly, in verse 11 he refers to Saul as, 'my father'. David's use of 'father' here is an 'honorific' title. It was sometimes used by servants to their masters, as a sign of endearment to show their love. We have an example of this in 2 Kings 5:13 where Naaman the Syrian was angry and refused to wash seven times in the Jordan to be cured of his leprosy as Elijah the prophet had told him to. At that point,

"Naaman's servants went to him and said,
My father, if the prophet had told you
to do some great thing,
would you not have done it?
How much more, then, when he tells you,
'Wash and be cleansed'!"

The last thing in our chapter that shows David's honor and respect for Saul is how David refers to himself. In verse 14 David said,

"Against whom has the king of Israel come out?
Whom are you pursuing?
A dead dog? A flea?"

These are expressions of self-abasement. David does not put himself above Saul, but abases himself before him. He is nothing, no threat to Saul at all.

All things that show us that David showed great respect to King Saul. He held him in high esteem and regarded his life as precious.

Now there are two things we should note about this respect that David had for King Saul.

First, this respect for Saul was shown to him when Saul was being very evil.

At this point in his reign Saul was being a rogue king. At that time Saul's overriding policy was to try to kill David. It seems that most of the time he was putting that above all else. It was only when there was some emergency, like the Philistines raiding the land, that he would leave off pursuing David.

To try to kill David was a great sin, not only against David, but against God. Saul knew that David had been anointed to be king after him by Samuel. Remember Jonathan's words to David in the previous chapter (23:17) when he helped David find strength in God. He said to David,

"Don't be afraid.
My father Saul will not lay a hand on you.
You will be king over Israel,
and I will be second to you.
Even my father Saul knows this."

In trying to kill David King Saul was fighting against God, against His will, against His plan.

But Saul had also sinned in other ways. He repeatedly failed to obey the Lord's commands. In chapter 13 that he offered a sacrifice even though there was no priest present. (1 Samuel 13) After he did that Samuel told him that his kingdom would not endure. In chapter 14 Saul had become arrogant and self-centered. Even though Jonathan had been responsible for a great slaughter of the Philistines and started a great victory over them—Saul ordered him to be put to death because he unknowingly ate a little food. In chapter 15 God told Saul to totally destroy the Amalekites and everything that belonged to them. But Saul didn't obey the Lord fully. He spared Agag, their king, and the best of their animals. In chapter 22 Saul had the priests of the Lord at Nob killed and had their town put to the sword. All in all Saul was an exceedingly wicked king. He had abandoned the Lord and his commands and was pursuing his own evil path.

In spite of all that, David showed him great respect. He honored him by calling him his lord, by bowing down to him, by calling him the Lord's anointed, by calling him his father, by referring to himself as a dead dog, a flea.

This teaches us that we are to respect those who are authority whether or not they deserve it.

This respect is to be shown whether or not we agree with their policies, whether or not they are doing what is right, whether or not you trust them. It's clear from our passage that David did not agree with Saul's policies. He rebuked him for his evil policies. Not only that, but it's clear from our text that David did not trust King Saul. He kept his distance. Even when Saul wished him well and asked the Lord to reward David for not taking his life, David did not approach Saul. Verse 22 tells us Saul returned home and David and his men went up to the stronghold.

This is a very important point. Many Christians today think that you should respect those in authority if they are worthy of respect, if their policies are correct, if they are honest and trustworthy men.

But God doesn't want us to make that distinction. We don't have to agree with their policies. We don't have to make sure that they are worthy of respect. We don't have to trust them—God wants us to show a certain amount of respect to them whatever they are like.


Because God has put them in their positions.

God had given Saul his place. God chose Saul to be king. (1 Samuel 9:16-17) No one had the right to take this away from Saul. David knew this. As he said to Abishai in chapter 26 (verses 9-11) when Abishai wanted to kill Saul.

"Don't destroy him!
Who can lay a hand
on the LORD'S anointed and be guiltless?
As surely as the LORD livesÖ
the LORD himself will strike him;
either his time will come and he will die,
or he will go into battle and perish.
But the LORD forbid that I should
lay a hand on the LORD'S anointed."

David teaches us that Saul, even though he had sinned greatly, was still the Lord's anointed and that no one was entitled to harm him.

David was quite correct. We see the same teaching in the apostle Paul in Romans 13:1-3 we read,

"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 themselvesÖ"

There is a relationship between those in authority and God's authority. God has placed them in their positions and if we disrespect them we are, to a certain extent, disrespecting God and His order. We are to respect, honor and pray for all who are in authority. This is true irregardless of who is in authority. As the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:1-22

"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers,
intercession and thanksgiving
be made for everyone—
for kings and all those in authorityÖ"

In 1 Peter 2:17 Peter wrote,

"Show proper respect to everyone:
Love the brotherhood of believers,
fear God, honor the king."

So respect is to be given to all rulers, even if they are evil.

The second thing we should note about David's respect for Saul is that,

it was not a superficial or feigned respect.

David was not play acting when he honored Saul that day. David had deep and abiding respect for Saul because of the office that he held.

We see this in 2 Samuel 1 when David learned of Saul's death on Mount Gilboa at the hand of the Philistines. A man came to David with Saul's crown and the band from his arm. He told David that he came upon Saul as he was dying. Saul was leaning on his spear but was not dead. Saul begged the man to stand over him and kill him, because he was in the throes of death, but was still alive. So the man killed Saul. When David heard that, (2 Samuel 1:11-12)

"Then David and all the men with him
took hold of their clothes and tore them.
They mourned and wept and fasted
till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan,
and for the army of the LORD and the house of Israel,
because they had fallen by the sword."

David was truly grieved for Saul. He was grieved that the King of Israel had fallen.

Do you remember David's lament for Saul and Jonathan? He said, (2 Samuel 1:19f)

"Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights.
How the mighty have fallen!
Tell it not in Gath,
proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon,
lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad,
lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.
O mountains of Gilboa,
may you have neither dew nor rain,
nor fields that yield offerings[of grain].
For there the shield
of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul—
no longer rubbed with oil.
From the blood of the slain,
from the flesh of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
the sword of Saul did not return unsatisfied.
Saul and Jonathan— in life they were loved and gracious,
and in death they were not parted.
They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.
O daughters of Israel, weep for Saul,
who clothed you in scarlet and finery,
who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.
How the mighty have fallen in battle!Ö
How the mighty have fallen!
The weapons of war have perished!"

David not only sang that lament, but he ordered that the men of Judah be taught this lament of the bow. (2 Samuel 1:17)

The second thing that shows that David's respect for Saul was real and not feigned is the fact that

David had the man who killed Saul put to death.

The Amalekite who killed Saul and brought his crown to David probably thought he would get a reward from David. If David's respect for Saul was superficial, he would have rewarded the Amalekite. But he did no such thing. We read, (2 Samuel 1:14-16)

"David asked him,
'Why were you not afraid to lift your hand
to destroy the LORD'S anointed?'
Then David called one of his men and said,
'Go, strike him down!'
So he struck him down, and he died.
For David had said to him,
'Your blood be on your own head.
Your own mouth testified against you when you said,
'I killed the LORD'S anointed.'"

Now this means that

you should show great respect to those who are over you.

I know Christians who never speak of their boss without speaking ill of him. You can tell that they have no respect for him.

I experienced this myself. On one of my summer jobs one of my bosses wasn't very nice. I was working for the CN Police in Canada. On my first day on the job he called me into his office and told me to take a revolver over to a certain office in another building. I took the revolver to the office and gave it to the police officer who was there. He thanked me and sent me on my way. When I got back to where I worked my boss called me into his office again and asked me where the revolver was. I told him that I had delivered it. He said,

"You were supposed to exchange it for another one and bring the other one here!"

I never knew a thing about exchanging revolvers. He hadn't told me that. He just told me to drop one off. But I didn't argue with him. He then proceeded to give me a dressing down and belittled me. It really wasn't very nice. So I went back to the other office and picked up the revolver. The guy in the office other office was so nice. He had found out what had happened and told me that he didn't know that he was supposed to give me the other revolver. I could tell he felt really bad for me. He took me aside and told me not to feel bad, that that boss had a reputation for not being very nice. He told me that the other policeman had a nickname for him, "The Village Idiot". At the time I smiled and thought that it was pretty funny.

But upon reflection I should not have found it funny. It was disrespectful. It was a mistake.

Our society is one where disrespect for authority is rampant.

Students disrespect teachers. Children disrespect parents. Constituents disrespect those who are in government. Some of the entertainment media promotes and encourages this disrespect.

We who are Christians must not fall into the pattern of the world in disrespecting those in authority. Consider how God has treated us. In John 15:15 Jesus said to His disciples,

"I no longer call you servants,
because a servant does not know his master's business.
Instead, I have called you friends,
for everything that I learned from my Father
I have made known to you."

Christians, how Jesus has honored you. He has made you His 'friend'. The King of Glory, the King of Kings, has lifted us, undeserving sinners, up to His side and honored us with His friendship. How high He is going to lift you. As He said in Revelation 3:21,

"To him who overcomes,
I will give the right to sit with me on my throne,"

In light of that, is it too much for Him to ask that we respect those who are currently over us?

Lastly, for those of you who aren't Christians, what you should realize is that

you aren't respecting Jesus Christ and the Father of Glory.

God made you. He has given you every good thing you have. Yet you've turned your back on Him and have refused to honor Him. That's the worst thing you can do. You need to stop it.

Go to Jesus. Honor Him. Confess your sin. Repent of your sin. Turn from your disobedience and ask Him to save you. Your only hope for future glory, honor and respect is through Him.