We discuss an example from the bible to illustrate human responsibility in opposing usurpation of government. David’s fourth son Adonijah circumvented the law and due process to proclaim himself king based on seniority. In his capacity as a citizen, Prophet Nathan sought audience to sensitize King David to Adonijah’s rebellion. David responded quickly. He organized a people’s parade to lead Solomon to be anointed, introduced, and accepted as king. After the coronation, Solomon occupied the throne to begin his kingship. Thus, Prophet Nathan activated his citizen’s voice of authority to initiate effective opposition against usurper Adonijah. His success illustrates every person’s responsibility and prerogative to contribute their citizen’s voice of authority to bring down a usurper: by voting in elections; participating in protests; or adding a voice in speech, writing, music, or other forms of expression. Usurpers can be recognized based on their characteristic disregard for the law and due process.
We discuss Adonijah’s attempted usurpation of the throne of Israel with focus on Prophet Nathan’s successful opposition against the rebellion. The bible indicates Prophet Nathan acted in his capacity as a citizen (see discussion under Activating Citizen’s Voice of Authority). Therefore, his role and accomplishments in the events model God’s expectation of every citizen. Opposition initiated by Prophet Nathan resulted in the king mobilizing the people to make Solomon king according to due process. Further, Adonijah’s rebellion ended without as much as a whimper. We discuss Prophet Nathan’s successful opposition as a model of human responsibility against usurpation.
We discuss a biblical example of usurpation by puppetry, whereby an extraneous power colludes with a witless accomplice as puppet to capture state powers. The puppeteer was Abner, commander of Israel’s army under Saul. His puppet was Saul’s son Ishbosheth. After Saul died, Abner appointed Ishbosheth king, circumventing the people’s process for making a king. Subsequent events showed Abner enabled usurpation by Ishbosheth in order to launch war against David to win power for himself. When the arrangement began to collapse, he dropped Ishbosheth like hot potato and initiated negotiation to transfer rulership to David. However, Abner and Ishbosheth met sudden and violent death through acts of other citizens. Although their sudden demise may indicate divine judgment over a usurper, a future study in this series will illustrate human responsibility in lawful opposition against a usurper.
This study continues our miniseries on usurpation of government under The King and the People series. We discuss an example from the bible, in which the usurper acted under control by a powerful enabler that sought power for himself but chose to use a puppet king as his channel. Unlike the previous example under Recognizing Usurper 1of2, in which usurpation was planned and executed essentially alone by the usurper; this example focuses on usurpation by puppetry, whereby an extraneous power colludes with a witless accomplice as puppet to capture state powers. The frontal usurper cherished power but was clearly aware and fearful of the puppeteer. Subsequently, his feeble attempt to regain a measure of authority from the master ignited a rift that led to collapse of the arrangement.
The puppeteer was Abner, commander of Israel’s army under Saul. His puppet was Saul’s son Ishbosheth. After Saul died, Abner appointed Ishbosheth king, circumventing a well-established process of the people for making a king. He did not consult with the people or seek their authority. He wanted to control the affairs of Israel but recognized his only option to claim legitimacy was to go through Ishbosheth as a puppet. He usurped power for Ishbosheth to begin establishing control over Israel. Then, he launched war against David but was defeated in the first battle. Thereafter, having realized his puppetry arrangement was unlikely to hold, he bolted from Ishbosheth to initiate negotiations for transferring rulership to David.
Both Abner and his puppet Ishbosheth met sudden death from violent acts of other citizens, much like Absalom from the previous study. Their sudden demise could be interpreted to indicate divine judgment of a usurper, especially in the absence of a people-established due process for human adjudication. Additionally, our next study under this series will illustrate human responsibility in lawfully opposing a usurper. The current study focuses on usurpation of the throne of Israel by Ishbosheth with Abner as enabler.
Human interactions from David illustrate there is a time to drive events (i.e., make things happen) and a time to wait and respond to events driven by others. God often drives events through people. At times, he may want a person to initiate an event and provide leadership; whereas at other times he wants the person to wait and respond to events initiated by others. David provides examples based on interactions during a period of approximately seven years from the death of Saul through confirmation of David as king of Israel. He initiated a few events and provided leadership to accomplish the objectives. However, he mostly waited patiently to respond to events initiated by others. In every case, his response demonstrates leadership based on unwavering commitment to what is right and just. The events culminated in his confirmation as king of all Israel.
David was confirmed king of Israel approximately seven years after the death of Saul. His interactions during the period illustrate an important choice: should a person drive events (i.e., make things happen) or wait and respond to events as they occur (i.e., wait for others to initiate the events)? Every person will likely face such a choice while waiting for God’s intervention: do you drive events or wait and respond to events driven by others? The choice depends on communication with God. He may want a person to initiate certain events and lead others through. Alternatively, he may want the person to wait and respond to events initiated by others. A person guided by right and just will recognize God’s command to initiate events and provide leadership, in contrast with attempts by the Devil to mislead; because God will not command an action that violates right-and-just mandate. Also, such a person will recognize when and how to respond to events initiated by others.
David provides several examples through his interactions during the seven-year period after the death of Saul as he waited to be confirmed king of Israel. He initiated a few events and provided leadership to accomplish the objectives. However, majority of the events he encountered during the period were initiated by others. David waited patiently as the events occurred and responded in a way that demonstrates his leadership based on unwavering commitment to doing what is right and just.
Although some of the events were tragic and potentially could have increased disunity among the people, David used the events to unify Israel under him because his response in each case demonstrated commitment to what is right and just. We discuss the events to identify those he initiated and led and those he joined and provided leadership after others initiated the events. Also, we highlight how his response demonstrates commitment to right and just.
In coercive redirection, God intervenes by placing an insurmountable obstacle to compel a person to abandon planned wrongdoing or a course of actions inimical to self-interest. That is, people planning to do something that would cause them to depart from God’s path encounter circumstances beyond their control that force them to withdraw from the plan. We discuss an example from David, when Philistine commanders rejected him from joining their battle lineup against Israel.
We discuss an example of divine intervention whereby circumstances beyond a person’s control compel him/her to abandon a planned course of actions that would harm his/her interest or the interest of others. As a result of the intervention, people planning to do something that would cause them to depart from God’s path encounter an insurmountable obstacle that compels them to abandon the plan.
The bible provides an excellent example based on the rejection of David from a Philistine battle lineup. The Philistines setup camp to attack Israel from the North in the area around Mt. Gilboa. David lived in Philistine on exile at the time, hosted by Achish, the king Gath. The king co-opted him to join the Philistine lineup for the battle.
However, Philistine commanders did not accept David joining them in battle against Israel. They prevailed on Achish to order David to return to his base: “Now get up early, along with your master’s servants who have come with you, and leave in the morning as soon as it is light” [1 Samuel 29:10]. Therefore, David and his men departed the Philistine battle lineup and returned to their base of Ziklag inside Philistine territory. Thus, the rejection became an “insurmountable obstacle” that God used to compel David to abandon his plan of joining Philistines in battle against Israel. The Philistines later defeated Israel in the battle and killed Saul and his three sons, including Jonathan, at Mount Gilboa.
PLAN INIMICAL TO SELF-INTERESTDavid’s interest would have been harmed by joining Philistines in the battle, irrespective of the battle outcome. If he fought faithfully alongside the Philistines, then his reputation with the people of Israel would be harmed, irrespective of whether the Philistines won or lost. If the Philistines won (as they did), then the people of Israel would have blamed David for their defeat and the death of Saul and subsequently would likely not accept him as their king. On the contrary, if the Philistines lost with David fighting on their side, Israel would also have rejected him as their king because of fighting alongside their enemy. Alternatively, if he flipped to join Israel during the battle but they still lost to the Philistines, the people of Israel would have considered him too weak to lead them as king. Still the worst outcome would have been if he flipped and helped Israel and Saul to victory against the Philistines. Such an outcome would have violated God’s plan to terminate Saul with the battle and would have harmed David’s projected kingship. God would not permit his plan to be thwarted. He stepped in to redirect David away from joining the Philistines in the battle. Thus, God placed the Philistine commanders as an insurmountable obstacle to compel David to abandon a plan that would have harmed his interest.
PRAYER FOR COERCIVE REDIRECTION David’s experience illustrates coercive redirection as a form of divine intervention that God may cause to occur for any person using another as channel. May we join in prayer to ask God for coercive redirection whenever we find ourselves on a path inconsistent with his purpose. May we pray the same prayer for our children, especially for our children. If ever any of our children should allow themselves to approach a path to wrongdoing or a course of actions inimical to their interest, may God place an insurmountable obstacle to compel them to abandon the path and return to his ways. God did this for David and will do the same for any person that will worship and serve him.
In this study, we discuss the rejection of David from Philistine battle lineup as an example of coercive redirection. Voluntary redirection, whereby God provides a person opportunity to re-evaluate and abandon planned wrongdoing voluntarily, is discussed in a previous study under Opportunity for Voluntary Redirection—In Waiting for God.
Interactions with human realities are important in working with God while waiting for his intervention. He often prepares a person for divine breakthrough as the person responds to real-life needs. We discuss an example from the life of David as king in waiting. Following termination of his army career under Saul, David sought to re-position himself on a path to kingship. He identified his immediate and long-term needs of protection from Saul, restoring economic viability, and continuing to build leadership reputation among the people. He cobbled together a force of four hundred to protect and provide for himself and followers and defend Israeli territories against foreign attack. He demonstrated leadership by molding the team into a formidable private army that produced the famous “mighty men” and eventually will propel him to kingship.
David sought to re-position himself on a path to kingship after he departed unexpectedly from his service in the Israeli army under Saul. He identified his immediate and long-term needs as protection from Saul, restoring his economic viability, and continuing to build his leadership reputation among the people of Israel. He relocated frequently to elude Saul while working to attend to the needs he identified.
First, he picked up short-term food supply and weapon from Priest of Nob Ahimelek. Second, he tried to escape into Philistine territory but realized on arrival that the Philistines could consider him a price catch instead of refugee. Therefore, he feigned insanity to win expulsion from the city. Third, he escaped to the cave of Adullam in Judah within close proximity of the Valley of Elah, site of his famous confrontation with Goliath. There he felt safe long enough to receive members of his family and gather a force of four hundred followers. Fourth, he moved to Moab, where he negotiated refuge for his parents with the king of Moab. He intended to take refuge in a stronghold in Moab, but Prophet Gad advised him to return to Judah. Therefore, he moved to his fifth stop in the forest of Hereth in Judah.
Every person likely has experienced unexpected termination of events that appear initially to be progressing toward a glorious accomplishment but end without reaching the expected breakthrough. A similar situation occurred for David, when he had to depart abruptly from Saul’s army to escape a threat to his life. David evaluated his judgment by assessing how Saul felt about him. If Saul was determined to kill him, then his only option would be to depart. However, if Saul really didn’t want to kill him, then he should stay and continue his army service. He consulted with Samuel and then with Jonathan and concluded he was no longer safe within proximity of Saul. Therefore, he departed and ended a career that hitherto appeared to be his path to kingship.
Every person likely has experienced unexpected termination of events that appear initially to be progressing toward a glorious accomplishment but end without reaching the expected breakthrough. The termination could result in disappointment and confusion, making the person wonder if God was with him/her after all. Many people probably have personal examples to share. However, we forget personal examples for now and instead discuss an example from the life of David to understand how he responded in the situation and consider how the principles of his response could apply today.
Recall from our previous study under Growing Reputation and Pains for David that David’s position as a high-ranking officer and commander in Saul’s army provided him opportunities to demonstrate leadership and grow reputation as potential future king of Israel. He cherished the opportunities as his positive reputation grew rapidly among the people. His service in Saul’s army appeared to define a clear path to becoming king of Israel. However, the service ended abruptly without leading directly to David becoming king. The service ended because Saul sought to kill David. Realizing his life was in danger within any proximity of Saul, David left the service to keep away from Saul.
But he didn’t leave the service as soon as he suspected that Saul wanted to kill him. He verified his judgment to determine the risk better before he departed. His actions indicate he would have wanted to stay if he could but departed because he determined he had to leave. He had to leave to avoid being killed by Saul. We discuss David’s experience to understand better how a person should respond when a promising path terminates without the expected breakthrough.
David’s victory over Goliath illustrates the importance of details in every mission. A detail of his father’s errand required he interact with his brothers physically to assess their conditions. Therefore, he followed them to the battlefront to complete the errand, observed Goliath’s defiance was unanswered because the Israeli men were terrified, was motivated to defeat the Philistines to advance the name and image of God, and won a victory that became the foundation for his reputation as a potential future leader of Israel.
David’s victory over Goliath laid foundation for his reputation as a potential future leader of Israel. He encountered Goliath while visiting with his brothers in an Israeli army setup for battle against Philistines. A detail of his father’s errand took him to the battlefront to meet with his brothers. While talking with them, he observed Goliath’s defiance of Israel was unanswered because the Israeli men were terrified. Therefore, David became motivated to kill Goliath and defeat the Philistines to remove “this disgrace from Israel” and establish supremacy of “the armies of the living God” [1 Samuel 17:26]. His determination to fight Goliath was reported to king Saul, who tried to discourage him but was convinced by David’s exhortation that God will lead him to victory over the Philistine. David killed Goliath, led Israel to victory over Philistines, and, thus, established his name as a potential future leader of Israel. His reputation would grow later as his involvement in the army increased.
Therefore, David’s victory over Goliath launched his preparation to become king of Israel. The victory illustrates the importance of details in any mission. David understood his father’s errand in enough detail to recognize he needed to interact with his brothers physically to assess their conditions and report back to his father. He went to the battlefront because of his understanding of the detail and commitment to completing the errand accordingly. As we discuss in a previous study under David Called to Mission, the errand took David to the battlefield but his understanding of the details took him to the battlefront where he encountered Goliath. His success in transitioning from the errand to the encounter with Goliath underscores the importance of detail in every mission. David listened to his father, understood his father’s errand, intended to complete the errand according to details specified by his father, but instead was ushered into the mission for which God had called him to the battlefront.
His interactions during the events illustrate working with God while waiting for God’s time, which manifested as listening to parents to understand and implement details of parental guidance, motivation against Goliath’s defiance of God, and unwavering commitment based on his motivation and faith. His interactions during the events resulted in victory over Goliath, leading Israel to victory over Philistines, and laying foundation for his recognition as a potential future leader of Israel.
At times, God does not reveal the schedule for fulfillment of his promise but expects the recipient to follow the schedule. David was anointed king of Israel but did not know how or when he will become king. He accepted the anointing as God’s promise and became king later following God’s schedule, though the schedule was not revealed to him or any other person. We begin a study series to follow the life of David as king in waiting, focused on understanding God’s purpose for human interactions and relationships while waiting for fulfillment of his promise.
We continue the study series on The King and the People whereby we seek to understand God’s purpose for relationships between people and their government. The current study begins a sub series on the life of David as king in waiting. David became the king of Israel at the age of 30, approximately ten years after he was anointed. He accepted the anointing as God’s promise, though the anointing did not provide any information on how or when he would become king. Also, he understood that he would have to follow God’s schedule, though God did not reveal the schedule to him or any person, not even Prophet Samuel that anointed David. Therefore, David would wait for God to fulfill his promise in his way and at his time.
We follow David’s life during the period to understand the events he encountered, how he responded in the events, and the outcome of each event. Our study will identify events that contributed positively toward his becoming king and those that appeared to contribute negatively. David’s life during the period teaches us that waiting for God’s time means working with God. His response in several events made positive impact among the people and built his reputation as a potential future leader.
Furthermore, we see David’s experience during the period as a manifestation of Human Relationship with God Regarding Work, where we discuss the understanding that God defines a mission for every person, divides the mission into task increments, and provides the person guidance to proceed with and complete the task on time. Each task, if completed, leads to a miracle and ushers in the next task. To receive and complete the tasks, one needs to stay connected to God by praying continually and living in the image of God. The study series will show that when David interacted with people in accordance with the principles of living in the image of God (e.g., see Keeping Watch by Living in the Image of God), the outcome of the event contributed positively toward his preparation to become king.
In this bible study, we discuss the anointing of David to understand that God provided the anointing as promise to David but withheld the timetable for fulfillment of the promise. Also, we discuss a need of king Saul that opened opportunity for David to begin service in Saul’s army, thereby ushering him onto a step to begin training for leadership of Israel.
Saul was terminated as king of Israel for discriminatory execution of God’s judgment against the Amalekites. He was commanded to destroy all. Instead, he spared the “good” for special treatment while selecting the “despised and worthless” for total destruction. Thus, he applied personal criteria to modify the judgment. Based on the termination of his kingship for the violation, we understand that equality under the law is important to God as a fundamental principle of people versus government relationships.
We discuss interactions between Prophet Samuel and King Saul regarding God’s judgment of the Amalekites for total destruction. Saul was commanded to execute the judgment. However, instead of applying the judgment equally to all as commanded, he introduced personal criteria to distinguish between the “good” and the “despised and worthless.” He spared the first but utterly destroyed the other [1 Samuel 15:9]: “But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.”
Equal execution of the judgment, i.e., equality under the law, required destruction of all Amalekites and their livestock irrespective of any differences or similarities among them. Saul violated the principle by discriminating between the “good” and “despised and worthless.” God terminated his kingship over Israel for the violation: “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments” [1 Samuel 15:11].
Recall that Saul’s kingdom was terminated earlier for violating the principle of separation of state and worship. But he was allowed to remain king. Termination of his kingdom meant his offspring will not succeed him as king. But he would have continued to be king and served out his tenure if not for his violation of the principle of equality under the law. God intended his kingdom to last forever, as we discuss in Punishment of Saul Conveys God’s Promise. However, both the kingdom and his tenure as king ended much sooner because he violated fundamental principles of people versus government relationships.
For the execution of the judgment against Amalekites, equality under the law implied equal application of punishment. However, the principle has broader implications: such as equal protection under the law, which Apostle Paul used in his defense during trials in Jerusalem and Caesarea (Civil Rights and Responsibilities); and equal access to facilities of society, which David enunciated to settle a developing dispute among his followers regarding sharing of battle proceeds (David Proclaims Civil Rights Principle). In this study, we discuss interactions between Samuel and Saul regarding Saul’s execution of judgment against the Amalekites and his termination as king of Israel.
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.
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.
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.