Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’ Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?”
“But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.”
But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” – 1 Samuel 15:17-23 (NIV)
Samuel is pretty clear with Saul that his kingship comes from God, not his stature or character. Samuel is also clear that Saul has forgotten that God is the king above all kings. As his mentor, Samuel is trying to teach Saul that obedience is the true mark of godly authority. This authority is given to all the subjects of God’s kingdom, but success only comes to those who reciprocate with obedience.
Children go through the same struggles that Saul faced. They are given responsibility and the authority to carry it out, but they make the mistake of thinking they can reinterpret that responsibility. They decide to make adjustments and alterations that cater to their own wants and desires. They make themselves kings and queens and reject the authority placed over them. This is the common struggle of children.
In the midst of this struggle parents need to step in with the authority God grants them, in obedience to God and with love toward their children. Unfortunately authority has gotten a bad rap over the past few decades. Authority corrupts. Authority holds us down. Authority makes us slaves. These all make great sound bites in cheesy rebellion scenes on TV and in the movies, but usually it is the opposite that is true. We corrupt authority. We hold authority down from doing what it was given to us to do. We try to enslave authority to serve our own purposes. If we can’t learn to exercise authority in obedience to God, how will our children?
Obedience is the engine that drives godly authority. It is up to us to give the engine fuel by focusing our will on obeying God. It is up to us to give our children the tools they need to fuel their own engine. Pray with them. Read the Word with them. Worship with them. Serve with them. Live out your obedience to God in front of your children and they will not be far behind.
Lord, help us to understand the beauty and necessity of authority. Help me develop disciplines of obedience in my life so I can lead my children into that same obedience. Give me the integrity and strength I need to express the authority You grant to the subjects of Your kingdom. Amen.