1 Samuel 22:6-23: Are you more loyal to earthly leaders or God?
Much of scripture deals with humans struggling with loyalty to God versus human power structures. Does it frustrate you to see Old Testament stories compared to today’s politics? Does your frustration signal any need to examine where your loyalties are? Comment below.
Saul is not content to see David escape. He questions the loyalty of those closest to him—his family and advisors. He whines, “None of you is concerned about me,” and accuses those around him of conspiracy.
Enter a foreign opportunist, an Edomite named Doeg. One wonders what he is doing in the court of Saul. Doeg had witnessed what transpired between Ahimelech the priest and David, particularly Ahimelech “inquiring from the Lord” for David. He reports this to Saul who questions Ahimelech and his whole family. Ahimelech honestly proclaims his belief that David was loyally acting for Saul. In helping him, Ahimelech thought he was assisting Saul and the kingdom.
Saul does not believe Ahimelech or he does not care about his explanation. He orders him and his family executed. But out of fear of God and appalled at Saul’s injustice, Saul’s guards will not kill the priests of the Lord. Saul turns and commands Doeg to kill them. He obeys with fervor, killing eighty-five priests, their families, and livestock. Saul who would not obey God’s order to wipe out the Amalekites now gives his own order to wipe out God’s priests. Saul has no heart of compassion but an evil spirit of unjust anger.
One priest escapes to tell all this to David.
While Saul thinks this massacre justified, David knows it is a tragedy and takes responsibility for it. He had known that Doeg would tell Saul, but did nothing to stop him.
Where is your loyalty? What emotions in your body might signal your loyalty to earthly rulers more than to God?
God our king, teach us when to be disloyal to earthly rulers in order to be loyal to you.
DR. GARY HOLLOWAY
Gary Holloway is Executive Director of the World Convention. Holding degrees from Freed-Hardeman, Harding, The University of Texas, and Emory University, he has written or edited thirty books, including (with Douglas Foster) Renewing God’s World: A Concise Global History of the Stone-Campbell Movement from ACU Press. He is married to Deb Rogers Holloway.