The Price of Loyalty

King David by artist Rae Chichilnitsky

King David’s complex story fascinates me. Samuel, the prophet, anointed him as king at a young age and “the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him from that day forward” (I Samuel 16:13). Saul was still on the throne and would use David in his battles against the hated Philistines (David and Goliath), but then Saul turned against David out of jealousy and rage. Yet David remained loyal to Saul, keeping a secret friendship with Saul’s son Jonathan and sparing Saul’s life at least twice (I Samuel 24, 26). When Saul was killed in battle, David executed the messenger who claimed to kill Saul in hope of reaping a reward from David (2 Samuel 1:14-16). David then sang a song of Lament for Saul and Jonathan,

Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!
In life and in death they were not divided;
they were swifter than eagles;
they were stronger than lions (2 Samuel 1:23).

Though chosen by God to be king, David remained faithful and loyal to the first king of Israel, Saul. David must have known that if he was not faithful as a follower of a king, how could his future followers be faithful to him when he did become king? Throughout his struggles with Saul, David turned to God for strength, wisdom and guidance. He had both a strong sense of God’s sovereignty guiding him, while at the same time knowing he had the freedom to choose his path. First and Second Samuel are great books to reflect upon the interplay between our human freedom and God’s ruling, guiding power.

Loyalty remains tricky today. How does one remain loyal to an organization, a congregation, a friend, a family or to God? As a pastor I sometimes stuggle with being loyal to the people of a old congregation while embracing God’s call to be pastor of a new congregation.  I recognize that God has called new pastors to serve in my former congregation who are faithful and compassionate, yet the deep relationship still pull at my heart string.  I also recognize that it takes time and energy to build new pastoral relationships in my current setting and that God will be faithful here as well.

Have you ever struggle to be loyal to God or to others?

Lord Jesus, your kingdom come, your will be done, through me and through your people.

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