An odd thought hit me yesterday regarding the story of David’s ‘interaction’ with Saul after their falling out. Previously, I’ve viewed David’s actions as an almost unattainable example of Christian humility and submission to God’s lawful authority. And I still think that viewpoint has much to offer. Though I haven’t read the story in some time, for some reason a pattern sort of leapt to mind yesterday that paints a somewhat different view. Before I briefly spell it out, let’s first look at the straightforward Christian Submission viewpoint and see how it plays out.
Stuart: So John, I hear your pastor is requiring you to tie little bells in your hair and dance on stage for the Christmas pageant.
John: Yeah, and I really don’t like the idea. But what am I to do? He’s my pastor.
Stuart: Right. And after all, look how submissive David was when Saul was actually trying to kill him.
Stuart: You’re right. Here, can you help me tie tiny braids in my hair for the bells?
Sounds nice. But here’s the issue. It isn’t like David painted a target on his chest so Saul would stop missing with the spears. He fled. And before long, he was roaming around the countryside with an armed company stealing food. And those times he could have killed Saul but didn’t, it isn’t like he just sneaked off. He flaunted his mercy to Saul, forcing Saul to say all kinds of nice things about David in front of his army. David owned Saul by not killing him. And he helped Saul play the madman in front of his troops.
That does not smack of the particular flavor of submission that I have typically seen David’s example used to require from Christians in challenging situations that involve God-ordained authority figures misusing their power. Have I forgotten some critical portion of the story, or am I on to something here?