Discussion of Christ teaching regarding the temple tax continues with interactions among Saul, Jonathan, and people of Israel; to understand that an objection against lawful authority must conform to due process. The interactions provide two examples of an objection against an order of the king. One did not conform to due process and led to prosecution of the objector. The other, an objection by collective decision of the people, resulted in overruling the king and illustrates due process by collective decision. In modern-day societies, a collective decision could be channeled through the legislature, judiciary, specially authorized persons, referendum or ballot initiative, or public protest.
This study is the second of a three-part series on submission to lawful authority: based on Christ teaching regarding the temple tax. As we discuss in the first part, he chose to pay the tax despite recognizing possible grounds for objection. Our discussion in this study focuses on understanding that an objection must conform to due process in obedience to lawful authority. We discuss examples from interactions among King Saul, his son and second-in-command Jonathan, and the people of Israel. The interactions occurred during a military campaign.
The interactions provide two examples of an objection against an order of the king. One example did not conform to due process and led to prosecution of the objector. In contrast, the other example shows that an objection by a collective decision of the people resulted in overruling the king and, thus, illustrates that a collective decision of the people conforms to due process.
Also, we identify several forms of collective decision of the people in a modern-day society: such as a decision of the legislature, judiciary (or court system), specially authorized persons such as tax collectors, referendum or ballot initiative, or public protest.
Every person is individually accountable for their responsibility in any human relationship or event, independent and irrespective of others’ behavior. God’s expectation and judgment of every person in a relationship or event depend on his specific assignment for the person and are independent of his expectation and judgment of the other party. He holds each person accountable to fulfill their role. He rewards those that do and is displeased with those that don’t, irrespective of what others do or fail to do. We discuss Christ teaching in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard and an example from David: based on his reverence for Saul in life and honor at death, not minding that Saul considered him an enemy and sought relentlessly to take his life.
Every person is accountable for his/her responsibility in any human relationship, independent of the behavior of the other party. God’s expectations and judgment of an individual regarding conduct of a human relationship are independent of his expectations and judgment of the other party.
Apostle Paul describes the message in his letter to Romans [12:17–18], where he admonishes every person to perform their individual responsibility in any relationship irrespective of the other party performing or failing to perform theirs: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Paul used the phrase “…If it is possible, as far as it depends on you…” to emphasize you should explore all options to determine how it is possible, focus on the aspects that depend on you—the things you control, and leave the other party to handle the things they control. Therefore, Paul’s message emphasizes that God holds every person accountable to fulfill their individual responsibility in human relationship, independent and irrespective of the performance of the other party in the relationship.
We discuss Christ teaching in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard [Matthew 20:1–15], regarding a hypothetical landowner that hired different groups of workers at different times based on a separate wage and service agreement for each group. At the end of the day, he honored the wage and service agreement for each group independent of the agreement for the others. He expected those he hired in the morning to work for the entire day whereas those he hired late in the day he expected to work for the remaining time. He judged that each fulfilled his expectation and had them paid according to each individual agreement. The landowner’s expectation and judgment of each worker were independent of his expectation and judgment of other workers. Similar to God’s expectation and judgment of an individual regarding behavior in a human relationship.
Also, we discuss David’s response to the death of Saul as an example of a person focusing on his individual responsibility in a relationship without minding the behavior of the other party. For several years, Saul considered David an enemy and pursued him relentlessly to take his life but was unsuccessful. In contrast, David was respectful of Saul as the sitting God-anointed king of Israel, would not “lay a hand” on Saul even when he encountered enticing opportunities to kill him, and mourned Saul at death to honor him as a fallen God-anointed king of Israel. His reverence for Saul in life and honor at death illustrate individual responsibility in human relationship is unidirectional and independent.
Through his reverence for Saul in life and response to the death of Saul, David illustrates individual responsibility in human relationship is unidirectional and independent. Every person is accountable for his/her responsibility in any relationship, independent of the other party’s behavior. David revered Saul in life and honored him in death to fulfill his responsibility to the God-anointed king, irrespective of whether Saul was good or bad to him. He was accountable to God for the way he related to Saul. Also, independently, Saul was accountable to God for the way he related to David. Their accountability to God was personal and independent, as was their individual responsibility to the relationship.
Individual responsibility in human relationship is well described by Apostle Paul in his letter to Romans [12:17–18]: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” As we discuss in a previous study under Sin Repentance and Forgiveness in Human Interaction, the phrase “as far as it depends on you” means focus on the aspects that depend on you—the things you control, and leave the other party to handle the things they control. Therefore, Paul’s message reminds every person to perform their individual responsibility in any relationship irrespective of the other party performing or failing to perform theirs.
We discuss David’s response to the death of Saul as an example of a person focusing on his individual responsibility in a relationship without minding the attitude of the other party. For several years prior to Saul’s death, he considered David an enemy and pursued him relentlessly to take his life but was unsuccessful. In contrast, as we discuss in a previous study under Guided by Right and Just—David Spares Saul, David remained respectful of Saul as the sitting God’s anointed king of Israel and would not “lay a hand” on him even when he encountered enticing opportunities to kill Saul. When he was informed of the defeat of Israel and death of Saul and Jonathan at the hand of Philistines, David mourned for Saul, Jonathan, and the nation and army of Israel. He mourned for Saul in fulfillment of his responsibility to respect and honor the God-anointed king of Israel. His mourning for Jonathan was an expression of sadness for losing a friend and warrior that represented a great promise for Israel. He mourned for the nation and army of Israel out of spiritual recognition of a need to lead Israel through repentance to regain God’s favor to restore her superiority against Philistines.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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].”
Interactions between David and Jonathan illustrate a “Perfect Heart for Strategic Alliance.” As the son of 1st king of Israel and 2nd in command to his father, Jonathan had what would appear a legitimate shot at succeeding his father as king. However, a young man David that was recruited as harp player for Saul impressed Jonathan as a brave man with special leadership skills and faith of God. Jonathan did not see David as a hostile competitor for the throne of Israel as his father, Saul, advised him several times. Instead, he saw in David qualities of a chosen leader and believed that his role is to support David to be the best leader he could.