Loyalty is a basic attribute of God's character. Without it, no person is qualified to rule. Read how David was always loyal — and how you can increase in this aspect of your character.
GOD WILL never allow anyone to be born into His kingdom who doesn't have loyalty! God needs beings He can put confidence in — beings HE KNOWS will obey instantaneously.
The Key to David's Attitude
Mr. Herbert Armstrong has often said loyalty is one of the MOST IMPORTANT qualities a true Christian must have. King David had that character quality of unflinching, immediate, devoted LOYALTY! Yes, David sinned — he committed adultery! He murdered Uriah (II Sam. 11:1-27). He was a bloody man! (Although, he bitterly repented of these sins.) Yet, in spite of these failings we find David is called "a man after mine own heart which shall fulfill all my will" (Acts 13:22). Why? Why did God pick out David? He didn't say this of Noah, Job or Daniel. Yet, they were very righteous (Ezek. 14:14). When we understand WHY God looked upon David in this way, we can discern how God measures growth. We will know what standard God uses as a thermometer of spiritual zeal. We will know what it means to submit, to look to Headquarters, to have the childlike attitude Christ said we must have to enter His kingdom. Let's delve into the lives of David and Saul as they lived and fought. Let's come to see what it means to be loyal — and how we can INCREASE in our trustworthiness towards our Creator. Perhaps no contrast between individuals of the Bible is as diametrically opposite as that between David and Saul. David was loyal and devoted to God. He was subject to his superiors. He honored those over whom he ruled. Saul was disloyal and devoted to HIMSELF. As the story of their lives unfolds, this character antithesis becomes more apparent. And through this difference, we can see OURSELVES as we really are. As you read their story ask yourself, "Am I loyal? Am I constant, staunch, trustworthy, true — with Almighty God and my fellow man?"
Saul — Mighty in Appearance
In I Samuel 9:2, we read this description of Saul, "A choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people." Saul had plenty of ability. He made a good physical appearance. In short, Saul had everything going for him. The people wanted him as their king. He could have won any election hands down. Saul could have been a POWERFUL INSTRUMENT in God's hands. But Saul failed miserably! Have you ever wondered WHY?
Saul Disloyal to God
The simple answer is: he lacked loyalty! Notice how Saul failed in this one most important quality. You can read the Biblical account of the story in I Samuel 15. Through the person of Samuel, God is telling Saul to perform a task: "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass" (verse 3). This was the commission. Notice especially the italicized words. Now, see how Saul FAILED to comply with these orders. "And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt. "And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites ALIVE, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. "But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and WOULD NOT UTTERLY DESTROY them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly. "Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is TURNED BACK from following me, and hath not performed my commandments" (Verses 7-11). Saul failed to follow simple instructions. He was disloyal to God and Samuel. He couldn't be trusted to perform according to what he was told. But this was only part of the problem. Saul tried to excuse and justify his actions. "And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I HAVE PERFORMED the commandment of the Lord. "And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? "And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed" (verses 13-15). Saul was not steadfast in an emergency situation. He allowed people to get by with actions which were not in accordance with instructions. Saul couldn't carry out instructions himself either. He refused to admit his failings. He clung to his excuses and championed his own cause. That made him loyal to himself — and no one else. Saul looked out for "Number One" in a tight situation. Then, he attempted to cover up and palm off the fraud that everything was being done according to instructions. It was ONE HUNDRED PERCENT DISHONESTY AND DISLOYALTY! Saul never repented of this problem. He had a kind of worldly sorrow. He finally admitted that he had sinned (I Sam. 15:24). But then he made the same mistake all over again. He was a double-minded man. Saul was unstable. He couldn't see the need of carrying a job through according to orders — no matter what the obstacles As a result, Saul lost out! Read his life history carefully. You'll see this one dominant failing time after time.
What About You?
What can WE learn from this? This one great principle! Human nature is ungrateful and self-centered. It's natural to be disloyal. There is an automatic pull that keeps us from arriving at the integrity that God demands! No human being is automatically loyal. He must be TAUGHT to have this quality. He must constantly guard AGAINST seeking what is good only for himself. Sometimes it's a whole lot easier not to keep an appointment. It's easier to steal from second tithe. To excuse yourself from attending a Spokesman Club meeting — when you know you have no reason not to be there. Perhaps to work just a few minutes on the Sabbath. To excuse yourself for sinning in a crisis by claiming, "I'm just weak, I guess!" Every one of these are examples of a DISLOYAL ATTITUDE! Certainly God realizes we are weak. But if we are constantly disobeying, constantly excusing ourselves, constantly saying we will obey only to sin again — we are being DISLOYAL TO GOD! So ask yourself a candid question. Look yourself in the eye spiritually. Face yourself with this probing question: "Am I as wholeheartedly loyal to God as He is to me?"
Importance of Loyalty
Loyalty is a basic attribute of God's character. Suppose for a moment that God was disloyal. Imagine if God were only kidding us along concerning the resurrection. Think about it! If God were to say, "Well, I know I promised to resurrect those who overcame, but I don't think I will." Take another example. Suppose one or two prophecies, say Tyre and Daniel 11, were left to chance. Or maybe God would not intervene for His Work in a crisis when his intervention was necessary! How could you put your trust in a God such as that? But God is not disloyal! He is the most impartial, fair, square-shooting, PROMISE-KEEPING Servant we have! Loyalty is important — and demanded! Remember, we are bought with a price. Our life is not our own. We are obligated to give God the same loyalty He showers upon us undeserving humans. Let's see how David loyally served God — and how we can improve. It's an attribute of God and we can pray for a firmer attitude of more complete allegiance to Him.
David's Remarkable Loyalty
David was almost murdered by Saul a number of times. Saul was out to "get" David at all costs. Not only this, David knew that when Saul was dead he would take over the kingdom. In other words, David had every excuse to think he had a "right" to kill Saul. if he had a chance. And God knew this. So He tested David on his loyalty — first of all, to Himself and also to Saul. God wanted to see if David would obey even a "froward" master (I Peter 2:18). This is a bitter lesson to learn. Too many of God's people haven't yet learned it. Wives aren't as submissive to their husbands as they should be. Members get hurt feelings even at other members. Yet, this lesson is part of this most important character attribute of loyalty. David never took matters into his own hands. He had faith in God. He knew GOD would take care of the situation. Here's an example found in I Samuel 24. "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 En-gedi. "Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats. "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. "And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the Lord said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul's robe privily" (verses 1-4). Here was an attitude of Satan (whispering in his ear — even quoting "scripture" to make David be disloyal). For a moment he weakened. But suddenly he realized what he had done. "And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt" (verse 5). Now, notice his devoted attitude. "And he said unto his men, The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord's anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing HE IS THE ANOINTED OF THE LORD." David realized what a lot of people never comprehend. God takes care of His Work! And He may TEST His people to see if they are looking to Him. What about it? How do you stack up? David didn't take things into his own hands. He didn't listen to a lot of wrong attitudes around him. He knew God was alive in heaven. As a result, he remained LOYAL to his Creator.
Loyalty Characteristic of David
Everyone should read and study the life of David. It's chock full of examples which mirror this attitude of complete yieldedness. David had another opportunity to kill Saul in the wilderness of Ziph. You can read the story in I Samuel 26. God caused a deep sleep to fall on the army of Saul. David walked right up to Saul. He took his spear and cruse of water. Abishai, one of his leading men, wanted to kill Saul. But David wouldn't hear of it. Another example: An Amalekite came to David smugly claiming to have killed Saul. This man told David, "As I happed by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him. "He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me. "So I stood upon him, and slew him. "And David said unto him, How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the Lord's anointed? "And David called one of the young men, and said, Go never and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died" (II Samuel 1:6-15). David was loyal to his king, even in death! Not that Saul deserved it. Saul was a carnal-minded, disobedient and hardheaded man. But David respected his position. He knew God had placed Saul in the kingship. David even wrote a sort of song or ode to Saul and Jonathan, his son. In it he said, "Saul and Johathan were LOVELY AND PLEASANT IN THEIR LIVES and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. "Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel" (II Samuel 1:23-24). Was David ignorant of Saul's sins? Of course not! But he was thankful for what Saul may have accomplished. For giving his life on the battlefield. That's a pretty devoted attitude. What about you? How do you measure up? Saul was David's CONSTANT enemy. Yet, he praised Saul. In this day of the "every-man-for-himself" attitude, we need to saturate our minds with these chapters.
David measured up to God's standards on this vital characteristic. God expects the same of YOU! David never swerved from total dedication. It explains in II Samuel 4 how some men slew Ish-bosheth, Saul's son. Abner, Saul's commander-in-chief, had proclaimed him king. So these men thought they had done David a favor. "And they brought the head of Ish-bosheth unto David to Hebron, and said to the king, Behold the head of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul thine enemy, which sought thy life; and the Lord hath avenged my lord the king this day of Saul, and of his seed" (verse 8). Here's what David did "When one told me, saying, Behold, Saul is dead, thinking to have brought good tidings, I took hold of him, and slew him in Ziklag...how much more, when wicked men have slain a righteous person in his own house... and David commanded his young men, and THEY SLEW THEM" (verses 10-12). David just didn't stand for disloyalty! He believed in the government of Almighty God. David was a law-abiding citizen in attitude. He was a kind man. A generous man. A big-hearted man. It all stemmed from this attitude of loyalty toward God and his fellow human beings. He elevated Saul's lame son to an important position (II Samuel 9). David also said, "I will shew kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father shewed kindness unto me" (II Samuel 10:2). David's attitude is summed up in this statement: "He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God" (II Sam. 23:3). That's one reason why David will have such a tremendously important position in God's Kingdom!
How to Test Yourself
But before YOU can learn to rule, you have to learn how to BE ruled. And that's our place in God's Church today. Each of us must learn what it is to be loyal — and to put loyalty into practice in our lives. There's a very simple test to determine your loyalty to God. First, are you always obedient in attitude and deed to the government of God? Suppose you DON'T AGREE with the way finances are handled in God's Work, or which buildings are built, or which radio stations we go on. Do you complain, spread evil talk, or have a wrong attitude about it? Or do you look to Christ in full faith — knowing that He is IN CHARGE of His Work. If you do, that's true loyalty. That's what David did. He knew God would take care of Saul. Or, how do you react when the "showdown" comes? Do you strive to do what God commands? If so, that's loyalty. Because then you're following Christ, looking to him, obeying him. God is loyal to each of us! He wants us to be sure we know it. Every blessing, every miracle, every intervention on our part is a token of God's faithfulness to us. He's looking out for our good. He wants us to RELY ON that attribute of His. "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a REWARDER OF THEM that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6).
But God expects us to have that same loyalty towards Him. We must put God above everything in undivided "true-to-the-core" sincerity. Then we must also be loyal to those around us. Not until we have developed a deep-seated attitude of devotion can we be given responsibilities to rule. Our goal is beyond human understanding. We're going to have eternal life, with power over the nations, sitting in the temple of God, reigning with Christ over the world as kings and priests. Read and study David's life. Come to know him as a personal, armchair friend. Saturate your mind with his attitude — because it's God's attitude. Be loyal to God, to His Work, to your superiors, to your husband or wife, to your children, to God's people, to those in the world. Then and only then will you be qualified to rule over OTHER HUMAN BEINGS in the very soon-coming Kingdom of God!