A Corner of the Robe

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A Corner of the Robe

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Who do you respect? Perhaps it’s a parent, mentor or teacher. Our response to God’s love for us is to be a person of respect and obedience. Although we can certainly improve how we show respect, it’s easy to say we respect God or the godly people in our lives. But what about those leaders who continually ignore God’s way of life with their policies, actions and even their speech?

No matter when or where you’re reading this, chances are you can think of a national or local authority whose decisions seem to cause more harm than good. Social media is flooded with demeaning cartoons, cutting statements and endless debates about this person. Do you participate?

The apostle James warned the Church to guard their words. He said: “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:8-10 James 3:8-10 [8] But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. [9] Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. [10] Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not so to be.
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). Using nasty words against others undermines our praise of God—how can we truly be praising God if we treat His creation with distaste? Just because we don’t agree with a policy doesn’t give us permission to tear the leader down as a person.

Before David became king, he was presented with a difficult test. Would he treat the current king, a wicked leader who had rejected God, with respect? King Saul was in pursuit of David, seeking the opportunity to kill him (1 Samuel 24:1-2 1 Samuel 24:1-2 [1] And it came to pass, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, 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 on the rocks of the wild goats.
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). When his army got close to the place where David was hiding, an unexpected opportunity arose—for David to kill Saul first (1 Samuel 24:3-4 1 Samuel 24:3-4 [3] And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave. [4] And the men of David said to him, Behold the day of which the LORD said to you, Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it shall seem good to you. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul's robe privately.
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). “David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe” (verses 4-5). Why did it bother him? Why hadn’t he gone all the way and killed Saul? He told his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the LORD's anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing that he is the anointed of the LORD” (verse 6).

David realized that his actions were disrespectful, even though he stopped short of taking the king’s life. He afterward called out to King Saul, addressing him respectfully, and used this as an opportunity to remind the king of his love and respect for him and ask that he lay off the pursuit (1 Samuel 24:7-15 1 Samuel 24:7-15 [7] So David stayed his servants with these words, and suffered them not to rise against Saul. But Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way. [8] David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, My lord the king. And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed himself. [9] And David said to Saul, Why hear you men's words, saying, Behold, David seeks your hurt? [10] Behold, this day your eyes have seen how that the LORD had delivered you to day into my hand in the cave: and some bade me kill you: but my eye spared you; and I said, I will not put forth my hand against my lord; for he is the LORD's anointed. [11] Moreover, my father, see, yes, see the skirt of your robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of your robe, and killed you not, know you and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in my hand, and I have not sinned against you; yet you hunt my soul to take it. [12] The LORD judge between me and you, and the LORD avenge me of you: but my hand shall not be on you. [13] As said the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceeds from the wicked: but my hand shall not be on you. [14] After whom is the king of Israel come out? after whom do you pursue? after a dead dog, after a flea. [15] The LORD therefore be judge, and judge between me and you, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of your hand.
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). Thankfully, Saul received this well (verses 16-22).

Perhaps you have cut off “a corner of the robe,” so to speak. Will you stop before it’s carried too far? You don’t have to suddenly start posting all the things you love about the leader on social media—there may not be a lot to commend. But there is something specific Scripture recommends, an action we can take for all leaders, good or evil.

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:1-2 1 Timothy 2:1-2 [1] I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; [2] For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
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). When you’re tempted to spout out criticisms, consider what you can pray about for the person in question. If a leader has made a bad decision, pray for a change of heart! If they have just put themselves and the whole nation in danger, pray for protection! And while you’re praying, remember to thank God for any good things you see, because it may not all be shortcomings.

We need to respect our leaders, regardless of whether or not they stand for godly policies. Eventually, this world’s way of government will come to an end and be replaced by God’s righteous, loving way of life. But in the meantime, let’s use our tongue not to tear others down, but to pray.