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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

Saul and David - 2 (Holy Warriors Part 62)

Today’s readings:

1 Samuel 24:3-21

Psalm 57:2-11

Mark 3:13-19

As we saw yesterday, Saul was trying to kill David. He continued trying to do so, even as both of them went about battling with the Philistines. This time Saul took a force of 3,000 of Israel’s best warriors to go after David. David had an opportunity to kill Saul when he was alone inside a cave but refrained from doing so. David said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to lay a hand on him, for he is the Lord’s anointed.” (1 Sm 24:7).

Now Saul was resentful and envious of David, feared him, and wanted to kill him, even as David continued to serve Israel well. We saw how an evil spirit from God had already gone into Saul. He had already lost God’s anointing. Saul himself knew that his time was up and it was now David’s time. He said to David, “I know that you will certainly become king and that the kingship over Israel shall come into your possession” (1 Sm 24:21).

So Saul had lost God’s anointing, but David, who had just cause to go against him, insisted that Saul was still the Lord’s anointed. Was Saul anointed or not? To God he no longer was, but to David he still was. And until God would actually remove Saul as king, it was not David’s call to say he was no longer anointed.

What does this teach us as holy warriors? In the army of God, there are leaders and their subordinates. There are leaders who do wrong. But as long as they remain as leaders, it is incumbent upon their subordinates to continue to respect their position and be in submission to them. That is how an army remains strong, united, cohesive, and ultimately effective in war.

What does this say about holy warriors in regard to their relationship with their leaders who are less than ideal, or with whom they might have legitimate gripes?

* They should not speak out against their leaders in the presence of others, in effect slandering them. “Thus I will not lay a hand on you.” (1 Sm 24:14b).

* They should not rebel against their leaders or plot against them. “Now see and be convinced that I plan no harm and no rebellion.” (1 Sm 24:12b).

* They should not begin to form factions with which to oppose their leaders. They should actually be the ones to stamp down dissent and keep negative sentiments against leaders from growing and spreading. “With these words David restrained his men and would not permit them to attack Saul.” (1 Sm 24:8a).

But can we just let leaders who act wrongly or treat us unjustly go without being corrected or challenged? No. All leaders, no matter how high in position, are accountable to God. But among ourselves, we have ways to address such issues.

The first move of one who is aggrieved is to take up the matter directly with the person concerned, even if that person is his leader. This is what David did. He asked Saul, “Why do you listen to those who say, ‘David is trying to harm you’?” (1 Sm 24:10). Now the subordinate should continue to show respect to his leader. David referred to Saul as “My lord the king!” (1 Sm 24:9a), and when Saul looked at him, “David bowed, his face to the ground in homage” (1 Sm 24:9b). At the same time, even with due respect, the subordinate should speak plainly and boldly. David told Saul, “May the Lord judge between me and you. May the Lord exact justice from you in my case. …. What is the king of Israel attacking? What are you pursuing? …. May the Lord see this, defend my cause, and give me justice against you!” (1 Sm 24:13a,15a,16b).

By the grace and mercy of God, perhaps the matter will then be resolved. When we take a posture of humility, respect and submission, rather than confrontation or hostility, hopefully the other person will be touched. Even Saul admitted to David, “You are more in the right than I am. You have treated me graciously, while I have treated you badly.” (1 Sm 24:18).

But if the matter remains unsettled, other leaders can be asked to intervene. And if the matter still remains unsettled, one can just forbear and leave the matter in the hands of God, whom we all serve under. This is a way to prevent dissent and strife from spreading, thus weakening the army. David, when he fled from Saul, prayed, “Have mercy on me, God, have mercy on me. In you I seek refuge. In the shadow of your wings I seek refuge till harm pass by.” (Ps 57:2). In this we fully trust in the love of God and His power to make changes He deems fit. “I call to God Most High, to God who provides for me.” (Ps 57:3). At the same time, we pray for the other person and ask for God’s justice. “May God send help from heaven to save me, shame those who trample upon me. May God send fidelity and mercy.” (Ps 57:4).

So, in the face of affliction from leaders, maintain respect for their position, respond not in kind, talk things through, and at the end of the day, trust in God and His justice. Such a posture is that of a true Christian, and is especially crucial for an army. We as holy warriors engage in spiritual war, and we have only one enemy, which is the evil one. We are all on the same side, the side of God.

We all have been summoned and appointed by Jesus. Just as with the twelve apostles, “that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons” (Mk 3:14-15). This is our task as holy warriors. We are an evangelistic and missionary army, and we are sent to break the dominion of the enemy over peoples and the world.

Now there will always be bad soldiers in the army, and even bad leaders. Even in Jesus’ core group, the members of which he personally selected, there was one who did grave wrong. He was “Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.” (Mk 3:19). There too will be the enemy within in our ranks. In dealing with them, we must always maintain the moral high ground.

And in dealing with leaders, subordinates should look to the example of David, who said, “I will not raise a hand against my master, for he is the Lord’s anointed.” (1 Sm 24:11c).

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