In the Old Testament when Saul was king of Israel, there arose a great
rift between him and David.
Saul became hostile towards David and David had opportunity to be
hostile back but didnít because he would not lift up his hands against
"Godís anointed". (1 Sam. 24:10) Even though Saul was not
living the life he should, David did not want to bring any harm to Saul,
because he was still Godís anointed king.
This is an historical event that took place many centuries ago. Like
many Old Testament historical events some spiritualize, or allegorize
these events and make New Testament principles out of them. I suggest that
this is not always good Biblical exegesis. We should not take a historical
event, make it mean something more than what it was meant to mean, then
tell someone to live by this secondary meaning we have invented.
I recently heard of a prominent member of a church be criticized for
confronting church leaders when they were in error. Someone told him that
he should not criticize "Godís anointed". (a reference to the
story of Saul and David) The implication is that we need to follow
Christian leaders, whether they are right or wrong, whether they live a
godly life or not. We need to submit to their authority because they are
still Godís anointed leaders because of Davidís example
Is this New Testament thinking? I donít think so. Everyone needs to
be accountable to the truth of the gospel, whether they are leaders or
not. If a leader is doing something that is "clearly" Biblically
incorrect, then we have the right to challenge that leader. Paul openly
rebuked Peter for his hypocrisy .
Heb. 13:17 says, "obey your leaders and submit to their
authority..." (NIV) The word "leader" in the Greek is a
participle, meaning that it is part noun and part verb. The English word
"leader" is a noun.
Therefore you can translate this verse this way, "obey the one's
leading...", that is to say, "obey the ones who are actually
doing the job of leading in N.T. terms, and not simply holding the office
of a leader". Because this word is a participle, it emphasizes the
"action of leading", We are only to submit to leaders who are
actually leading in New Testament fashion. If the leaders are not leading
as they should, then we
don't submit, and we speak to the issues at hand. This is New Testament
thinking. There was no such thing as "blind following" of
leadership in the first century church. Everyone is accountable to God's
standards. Besides, in one sense of the word, we are all "Godís
anointed" if indeed the Holy Spirit lives within us.
One problem with the modern church is that it places too much emphases on
the "office of a leader", and not the "duties of a
leader". Just because one holds an office, does not mean he is
actually doing the proper job of leading.
If there are discrepancies in the person leading, then people have the
right not to obey. They also have the right, and maybe even the obligation
to point the problem issues out, just as Paul did with Peter.
We cannot take the situation between Saul and David and make more out
of it than was intended. This event is a piece of history. We can learn
from it, but we canít make a New Testament doctrine out of it. Besides,
when David spoke of not touching Godís anointed, he was speaking of
killing him Ė a drastic measure.
We do have the right and the obligation to hold everyone accountable to
the truth of the gospel, no matter who they are.