One of the most relevant Scripture passages dealing with political leaders for today is found in a letter written by Paul two thousand years ago.
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God and the authorities that exist are appointed (ordained) by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God…” Romans 13:1-2a
This principle is certainly not something new. Its basis goes back fifteen hundred years before Paul. It was one of the ordinances given to the Israelites immediately after the Exodus and prevailed throughout the history of Israel.
“You shall not revile God, or curse a ruler of your people.” Exodus 22:28
There is a great example in the Bible involving Israel’s first king Saul and his successor.
During the forty year wilderness journey God told Israel in advance what they would think and do when they entered the Promised Land.
God said that the day would come when the people would want a king to rule over them instead of Judges.
“…you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses…” Deuteronomy 17:15
God had chosen Saul to be Israel’s first king. The people should have known that Saul was chosen to teach the people a lesson because he was of the tribe of Benjamin instead of Judah.
Early in Saul’s rule he disobeyed the instructions that God’s man Samuel had revealed to him. Saul was instructed to attack Amalek for his treatment of Israel in former days. Saul was told to completely destroy Amalek and his host and kill everyone and every animal of their people.
Saul, however, did not kill the king of the Amalekites as instructed and furthermore didn’t kill the best of their animals. When Samuel heard of Saul’s disobedience, he told him that he would be replaced by a man who sought after God’s own heart. That would be David from the tribe of Judah.
Saul acknowledged his sin of disobedience, and he told Samuel:
“I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” 1 Samuel 15:24
‘Feared’ in this context means ‘anticipation of harm.’ Not much has changed.
In the meantime Samuel sought out young David and anointed him.
“Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward.” 1 Samuel 16:16
Well, young David became very popular after his encounter with Goliath and the people respected him more than Saul.
Saul knew that the LORD was with David and that made Saul very jealous and he subsequently plotted to kill David.
David fled for his life.
Shortly thereafter Saul took three thousand men to find and kill David. Saul had found a cave and rested therein. David and his men were in the same cave further behind Saul. David had the opportunity to kill Saul, but he refused. Instead he cut off a small piece of Saul’s robe and departed.
Then David exited the cave and shouted to Saul from a safe distance. He told Saul that it was him who had cut his robe and that he had the chance to kill him but didn’t.
“I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed.” 1 Samuel 24:11
Shortly thereafter, David had another chance to kill Saul but didn’t for the same reason.
Years later David’s son Solomon wrote about God establishing all rulers and warned about trying to overthrow them.
“My son, fear the LORD and the king; do not associate with those given to change; for their calamity will rise suddenly, and who knows the ruin those two can bring?” Proverbs 24:21-22
‘Given to change’ in the present context means to ‘unseat or overthrow.’ ‘Those two’ mean the LORD and His anointed king.
“Do not curse the king, even in your thought…” Ecclesiastes 11:20a
And keep in mind:
“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition…” 1 Corinthians 10:11