Tag: Israel

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
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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
wikipedia.org

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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Extending Positive Impact—Jonathan Initiates Victory for Israel

Strength through Distributed Authority

If you hold a position of authority in government, no matter how small the domain, consider the responsibility a demonstration project, to shine your Godliness and radiate positive impact in every direction. The impact will grow more widespread than you could ever imagine. We discuss an example from the bible based on Israel’s victory over Philistines that started with a small battle initiated by Commander Jonathan. His success was small initially but expanded quickly to become an overarching victory.

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Positive effort by a single individual with limited authority over a small domain could produce an impact that grows to affect the entire nation. We discuss an example from the bible based on interactions between Israel and Philistines during the time of King Saul. The Israelites and Philistines had setup for battle, but Israel was over-matched in people and equipment; so much that their men were afraid and “hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits” [1 Samuel 13:6]. Israel’s army was organized under two commanders: Saul and Jonathan. The army was in despair and afraid of the formidable enemy [1 Samuel 13:7]: “Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear.”

Land army in hot pursuit
Sweet Publishing FreeBibleImages.org

Commander Jonathan, accompanied by his armor bearer, launched an isolated attack against an enemy outpost and killed twenty Philistines in the battle. News of the attack caused panic among the Philistines. They ran and fought against themselves in confusion [1 Samuel 14:15]: “And there was trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and the raiders also trembled; and the earth quaked, so that it was a very great trembling.” The Israelites became aware of the Philistines flight, re-assembled, and pursued them: “When all the Israelites who had hidden in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were on the run, they joined the battle in hot pursuit” [1 Samuel 14:22]. Israel won a great victory over the Philistines.

We discuss three lessons based on the account. First, a military structure that delegated authority to commanders allowed Jonathan sufficient freedom to apply his initiative. His action set the stage for God’s favor to Israel through him and illustrates a benefit of governing through a system of distributed authority and responsibilities. Second, Jonathan’s focused effort yielded positive results that were limited in scope initially but grew into a widespread impact that benefited the entire nation. His accomplishments illustrate the effort of one individual with limited authority in a small domain could become the catalyst for positive change through the entire nation. Third, Jonathan sought and relied on God’s guidance as he contemplated attacking the Philistines outpost. His success illustrates faith of God and commitment to Godliness will direct a person’s effort toward making positive impact in his/her domain of authority.

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Authority of Government—Israel Asks for King

Samuel Responds to Israel Demand for King

Based on Samuel’s interactions with Israel regarding demand for a king, we understand the authority of government comes from God and is exercised on behalf of the people to fulfill government responsibilities. The authority includes collecting taxes, raising military and security services, redefining use for landed property, and representing the people in international affairs. The interactions define general principles for relationships between a people and their government.

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We begin a bible study series on The King and the People focused on understanding God’s purpose for relationships between people and their government. The study will be based on information described in the bible, particularly several messages that God sent to Israel regarding interactions with their rulers. We pray for understanding the messages to potentially contribute toward reducing the apparent gap in expectation between people and governments in several parts of the world. What should governments expect of the people and what should the people expect of their government? We believe the bible provides answers to these questions in enough details to guide our everyday interactions as government leaders or recipients of government leadership.

Spiritual leader and judge
Spiritual leader and judge
Sweet Publishing FreeBibleImages.org

The study begins with Prophet Samuel’s interactions with the people of Israel in responding to the people’s demand for a king. At the time, Samuel was spiritual leader and judge over Israel: he guided them through interactions with God and in all matters requiring a leader. However, the people of Israel became increasingly dissatisfied with their form of leadership as time approached for a leadership transition. They asked Samuel to appoint a king for them, with the expectation that their dissatisfaction with the current form of leadership will be resolved through the appointment of a king: “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have” [1 Samuel 8:5].

Samuel prayed about their demand and received God’s direction to accept the demand: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you …” [1 Samuel 8:7]. Furthermore, God directed him to explain to the people that the leadership they demanded will come with certain authority and expectations: “Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights” [1 Samuel 8:9]. He directed Samuel to accept the people’s demand for a king and their expectations of the king that they conveyed through the demand. Additionally, Samuel would explain to the people that the form of government they demanded will come with expectations and authority to compel them to fulfill the expectations.

Therefore, we discuss Samuel’s interactions with Israel in these events to understand how the interactions define government responsibilities to the people and people’s responsibilities to government. Furthermore, we discuss the source of government authority as defined through the events. Information from the events indicate God delegating authority to government to provide a range of services for and on behalf of the people, obtain resources from the people to support the services, and interact with the people according to rules determined by them through the government.

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David Anointed King Over Judah and Reaches Out to Rest of Israel

Responsibilities of Stewardship

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Has God called you to provide a service? Your responsibilities under the mission include making yourself acceptable to the potential beneficiaries so they can accept what you provide in line with God’s desire for their lives. We learn about this in a study of David’s interactions with the people of Israel after he was confirmed king over the tribe of Judah.

King in Hebron

After the death of Saul, David returned to Israel from Philistine city of Ziklag where he lived as refugee. He settled in Hebron, a city in Judah. The people of Judah confirmed him king over them. Recall that God had anointed David to succeed Saul as king of Israel. David therefore could not have been satisfied with being king of only Judah, one of twelve tribes of Israel because this was not what his assignment was.

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David Mourns Saul and Jonathan

Why David Mourned for Saul, Jonathan, Israel

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When Philistines defeated Israel in the battle at Mt. Gilboa and killed the Israeli king Saul and his son Jonathan, David mourned Saul, Jonathan, the Israeli army, and the house of Israel. In this study, we examine why he mourned. While his mourning for Saul was intended to honor and show respect, his mourning for Jonathan was an expression of sadness and regret for an unexpected loss of life. In contrast, we find that his mourning for the Israeli army and house of Israel goes beyond grieving or lamenting for the dead and invokes spiritual mourning such as mentioned in “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted [Matthew 5:4].”

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