Editor’s Note: The AMI Quiet Times for March 19-27 are provided by Cami King of Journey Community Church.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
1 Samuel 24:1-7:
1 When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” 2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks. 3 And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. 4 And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 5 And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed.” 7 So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.
Most of us are products of a culture that has very little concept of respect of authority. “Respect is not given, it’s earned” is a phrase many of us have heard or even said ourselves. And while there is some truth to this idiom and some legitimacy to the postmodernist loss of respect for authority, I am still able to perceive something noble and true about David’s posture toward King Saul in response to his God-given leadership role.
We are all placed in positions of authority and in positions under authority in various spheres. And while our passage for today begs us to examine our interactions with the latter space, I want to challenge us instead to reflect on the former space. Saul was David’s leader and what we read in the above passage is the kind of commitment and submission to which God called David as a result. As leaders (be it as parents, spouses, bosses, small group leaders, older brothers/sisters in Christ, etc.) we are given a great responsibility to care for and honor the people God has called to submit to us. There is great vulnerability in submission, yes, but there is even greater responsibility in leadership.
Obviously, Saul is not the model of responsible leadership. Instead of caring for and building up David, whom Saul wrongly views as his rival, he persecutes him, forcing David to the unfortunate place of choosing between honoring God (by respecting the leadership of Saul) and protecting his own life (by killing Saul before he kills David). In Romans 13, Paul encourages us to submit to the authority figures in our lives, knowing that all authority and leadership is given by God. In the same way, leaders are called to care for those under their watch, being fully aware of their vulnerable position.
What kind of leader are you? Who are the people subject to your leadership? Ask God to help you lead in such a way that their God-honoring respect of and submission to you is life-giving to them and not burdensome or even harmful.
Lord, thank you for the ways in which you’ve entrusted me with positions of leadership. Thank you for the trust and submission of those under my care. Please help me to lead in such a way that I build others up and encourage them toward Christ-likeness and not in a way that is self-seeking and harmful to others.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 20
Lunch Break Study
Read Romans 13:1-7:
1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
Questions to Consider
- What does verse 4 tell us about the purpose and role of authority figures?
- As one subject to authority, we see obvious ways this passage may call us to action. But as one in positions of authority, how is this passage challenging or convicting?
- What would people under your leadership say about you as a leader? In light of that, what changes are needed in order to improve your leadership?
- Positions of authority are for the purpose of serving God and for the good of others. Leaders are positioned by God and empowered to work on His behalf (not for their selfish ambitions or personal gain).
- Again, we should be aware of the God-given nature of our positions of authority. Here, Paul seems to be focusing on governmental authority, but I’d think his sentiments are true for all positions of authority. If the position is given by God, then we should, with awe and reverence, use it for His glory. Furthermore we should be considerate of those subjected to us remembering that they are called by God to submission.
- Personal application question.
Think of the good and bad leadership to which you’ve been subject throughout your life. How has good leadership been life-giving for you? Reflect on the ways Jesus chose to interact with and exercise his authority. How can you be more like Him as you exercise your God-given authority in various spheres where others are subject to you?