Saturday after the Fifth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Romans 13:1-7 (NKJV)
1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
“Whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God.”
What, then, if the authority resists the authority? What if an official exchanges his proper office for the improper? What if he abdicates his position as “God’s minister to you for good,|” and becomes one who seeks to do evil?
The Bible gives the example of King Saul, who wished to destroy the one God anointed to succeed him—David—and of Jonathan, David’s best friend, the son of King Saul. When Saul sought to kill the anointed one, his son had the information that would have let his father accomplish this sinful mission, but Jonathan wisely withheld this information.
In so doing, Jonathan was not breaking the commandment to honor father and mother, but keeping it: as Adam should have honored his wife by keeping her from sinning in Eden, so Jonathan seeks his father’s honor by keeping him from this sin, in the hope that he would repent over time. Neither as king nor as father did Saul have the right to demand David’s death, so Jonathan did not recognize his authority in this matter. In every other matter, though, he did recognize his father and king.
David himself honored Saul: when he had opportunity to kill Saul, he did not take it (because Saul was still God’s king), but let him know that he easily could have killed him, so that Saul might repent and serve under God.
So must we obey God rather than men when they would command what God has not given them authority to command. Indeed, there the godly must oppose such a tyrant—as is specially clear in a constitutional republic like ours. Yet, in all else, “let every soul be subject.”