How Do You Respect Authority In A Constitutional Republic?

January 5th, 2012 § 0 comments

1 Samuel 12:14 is an interesting verse:

“If you fear the Lord and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the Lord your God.”

There are some realities about the context. They had a king, the verse had a story that surrounds it, etc. But let’s consider it in light of these other verses:
“Woe to you, O land, when your kingis a child, And your princes feast in the morning!17 Blessed areyou, O land, when your king is the son of nobles, And your princes feast at the proper time For strength and not for drunkenness!” – Eccl 10:16-17
“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.” – Romans 13:1
“…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” – 2 Chron. 7:14

There seems to be an obvious theme throughout the Scriptures that God allows men to exercise authority. Consider David’s fear of harming God’s anointed (Saul) even after he himself had been anointed by God to replace him. Consider Jesus’ own command to “give to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s.” Jesus was not denying Ceasar his title but was making a firm distinction between civil government and His own.

One thing that always intrigues me about Biblical discussion on citizenship and government is the simple fact that all Scripture specifically on the subject relates to authoritarian governments. Nowhere at the time of Biblical writings and few times in history has a large or powerful nation have a government “Of the People, by the People, and for the People.” A Constitutional Republic with our Bill of Rights has never been seen before. I believe we must keep in mind that 1 Samuel 12:14 is a great reminder that God is Sovereign over civil authority and looks at the collective actions of societies but it is also important to note that, in the United States, we are the government. We are responsible to keep our elected public servants in check. Our government demands that accountability to us to the point of revolution. How does this fit with Scriptural discussions of submitting to the king? I think our Founding Fathers flattened the leadership structure and put us all in the role of king. If we don’t honor the King by engaging a government that demands our participation and if we don’t defend a Constitution and Bill of Rights that respects God’s Natural Law from all enemies, foreign or domestic, I’m not sure we are doing our “kings” or our King any service… Your thoughts?

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