Reading through 1 Samuel today, I noticed something in a familiar story that made me think about attitudes that people have toward President Trump. Let me begin by quoting the passage, which narrates part of David’s flight from Saul.
When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” 2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks. 3 And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. 4 And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 5 And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord‘s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord‘s anointed.” 7 So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way. ~~1 Samuel 24:1-7 (ESV)
From there the narrative goes on by saying that David was conscience stricken, and confessed to Saul (from a safe distance, mind you) that he’d cut a piece from Saul’s robe. His confession, however, wasn’t 100% humble, as he used it pretty much to say, “You owe me.” In response, Saul acknowledged that God would indeed give David the kingdom.
This story has several components, and in emphasizing one aspect I certainly don’t mean to neglect the greater context of God’s sovereignty in humbling Saul. But as I read it this morning, David’s insistence on regarding Saul as the Lord’s anointed fascinated me.
Saul had rebelled against the Lord on several occasions, causing God to take the kingdom from him and transfer the kingly anointing to David. David had yet to ascend the throne, and Saul had tried relentlessly to keep that from happening. In short, Saul was determined to kill David in order to remain Israel’s king. He had absolutely no regard for God’s decision to give David the kingdom.
David knew that Saul was a corrupt man. Completely aware that God had judged Saul by rejecting him as king, David still remembered that Saul remained on the throne at that moment. For that reason, David respected Saul’s office as being given by the Lord. He refused to assassinate the king, even though he had first hand experience of Saul’s wickedness.
As I read 1 Samuel 24:1-7 today, I couldn’t help thinking about attitudes that even Christians have been exhibiting toward President Trump. I understand the frustration of having a president who, in your estimation, will severely harm the country. I felt the same frustration eight years ago, and dreaded a Hillary Clinton presidency. I nevertheless prepared myself to trust that, if Clinton won, the Lord would have sovereignly given her that position (Romans 13:1).
I don’t pretend to approve wholeheartedly of Trump either, so please don’t misconstrue this blog post as a ringing endorsement of him. Some of his policies have pleasantly surprised me; others have disappointed me. Certainly, I believe he has low moral character, and therefore don’t see him as a champion of Christian values.
Furthermore, I honestly don’t know whether God placed Trump in the White House to restrain evil or as an instrument of judgment. Neither do you, incidentally. But I know from the Word of God that, precisely because God did put him there, I must respect him as David respected Saul.