Tag: Due process

Authority of the People Over Government

King’s Ruling Overturned to Rescue Jonathan

Interactions among Saul, Jonathan, and the people of Israel during pursuit of Philistines illustrate relationships between the authority of the people and government. Disobedience against government displeases God but he honors collective decision of the people against specific government ruling. Thus, he held Jonathan accountable for disobeying and criticizing the king but upheld a decision of the people to overturn an unjust ruling against Jonathan. We draw from a modern-day system of government to understand a collective decision requires due process based on rules and regulations that a society establishes for the purpose.


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We the People – USA Constitution Page 1

We discuss an example from the bible to illustrate the authority of a people over their government. In the example, a government ruling that threatened injustice to a citizen was overturned by a collective decision of the people. Based on interactions among Saul, Jonathan, and the people of Israel as they pursued the Philistines in battle; the example illustrates the effectiveness of a collective decision of the people against the authority of government but does not explain the process for reaching such decision. We discuss briefly a modern-day example to understand that every society establishes a system of due process for reaching collective decisions.

As we discuss in a previous study under Extending Positive Impact—Jonathan Initiates Victory for Israel, the Israeli army launched a hot pursuit after Jonathan’s initial success caused widespread panic among the Philistines. As they launched the pursuit, king Saul gave an order that nobody should eat anything during the pursuit: “… Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies’” [1 Samuel 14:24]. The people obeyed, but Jonathan was not aware of the king’s order and disobeyed by eating honey. Furthermore, he criticized the king publicly when he was made aware of the order.

Jonathan’s act of disobedience became evident and was adjudicated as the Israelites inquired why God appeared to have turned away from them. Saul had convened a conference of army leaders to conduct the inquiry. Jonathan was identified as the culprit, confessed he ate honey in violation of the king’s order, and submitted himself for punishment. Saul decreed that Jonathan will be put to death: “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if you do not die, Jonathan” [1 Samuel 14:44]. However, the army leaders overruled Saul and declared that no harm will come to Jonathan [1 Samuel 14:45]: “But the people said to Saul, ‘Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great deliverance in Israel? Certainly not! As the Lord lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.’” Thus, the army leaders conference overturned Saul’s decree and rescued Jonathan. Saul accepted the overrule and called off the battle.

North portico-white-house wikipedia.org
North portico of the white house

We learn two lessons based on the interactions. First, God held Jonathan accountable for disobeying the king’s order and criticizing the king publicly. He turned away from Israel (suspended communication with them) until Jonathan’s disobedience was identified and adjudicated. We learn from this that disobedience against constituted authority displeases God, even regarding an order or ruling that appears inappropriate. Second, the interactions illustrate the authority of the people over government in the event of an inappropriate ruling or order by the government. In this example, the king’s decree against Jonathan was overturned by collective decision of a committee representing the people. The bible is very clear about the decision being collective: “But the people said to Saul…” However, the bible information does not explain explicitly how the collective decision of the people was reached. We draw an example from a modern-day system of government to understand that a collective decision of the people requires due process based on rules and regulations that every society establishes for the purpose.

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Submitting to Due Process in Adversity—Example from Paul

Benefits of Submitting to Due Process
Based on Paul’s Trials in Caesarea

Submitting to established authority and due process follows from our commitment to worship and serve God in every situation. Paul submitted to due process during his persecution and relied on it to defend himself through hearings and court trials in Jerusalem and Caesarea. One trial opened opportunity for him to appeal to Caesar and thus take a step toward fulfilment of God’s promise that he will go to Rome on a gospel mission.


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Supreme Court of Canada
Inside the Supreme Court of Canada

Due process refers to a body of rules and regulations that defines the limits of human behavior in terms of lawful interactions among people and between people and authorities. Respect for established authority implies submitting to due process. As we discuss in previous bible studies such as Living to Receive God’s Intervention, respect for established authority is an aspect of God’s mandate that we worship and serve him in all situations: e.g., from Paul’s letter to the Romans, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established…” [Romans 13:1]; and from Peter, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right” [1 Peter 2:13-14].

We discuss Paul’s trials in Caesarea to understand what he did prior to and during the trials that illustrate his submitting to due process and relying on it for protection and defense. We learn based on Paul’s experience that respect for authority and due process is important in Responding to Adversity, because by doing so we uphold and live according to our commitment to worship and serve God in every situation, thus positioning ourselves to receive God’s intervention at his time. Submitting to due process implies a commitment to the applicable rules and regulations and requires a person with appropriate competence and authority. Although Paul was able to represent himself in the trials, submitting to due process in a modern day society often may imply seeking external professional representation such as by a lawyer, accountant, or other professional. Recognizing the need and securing needed assistance could be important to managing adversity.

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David Makes Solomon King: God’s Plan Prevails

Seeking to Overturn the Will of God?


Most people likely will not seek to overturn a will of God that is identified specifically and clear to the human eye. But he often works differently, identifying his will to us through basic principles of human interaction that are discussed in various ways in the bible. For example, if you want something so much that you are willing to disregard parental or other established authority or procedure in order to satisfy your desire, you need to stop and think again because you could be seeking to overturn the will of God. He defined our relationship with parental authority through the 5th commandment [Exodus 20:12] and other established authority through Paul’s letter to the Romans [Romans 13:1–7]. Established procedures, at times referred to as due process, define how we should interact with the authority, such that circumventing an established procedure invariably implies disrespecting the authority.

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