How to Behave in a Cave
What to Do When You’re Under Ungodly Authorities
King David was a mighty warrior, a man who exercised Kingdom Authority. The Bible tells us young David as a shepherd boy killed a bear, a lion—and then Goliath. Later, as king, he went from victory to victory.
But the greatest victory David ever won was not over someone else; it was victory over himself. One day in a cave, he learned the lesson I want you to learn:
To have Kingdom Authority, you must remain under authority.
It’s not God’s plan for you to be defeated by the world, the flesh, or the devil; Jesus died and rose again to give you authority over these. But never forget this: we will never be over what God plans to put under us until we are willing to get under and stay under those things God has put over us. This is the theme of this month’s Kingdom Authority broadcast series.
In 1 Samuel 24, David is hiding from Saul, current king of Israel. Though he was an unworthy king, nevertheless, Saul was God’s appointed and anointed. Saul learned God was going to replace him with David. He sees David, the rising star—and his own sun setting. Stewing in a jealous rage, Saul wants to kill him. David becomes public enemy number one. All the kingdom’s energies are now focused on Saul’s burning, malevolent ambition to kill David. Saul takes 3,000 hand-picked men to pursue him.
One day, as David hides in a cave, Saul enters. It’s dark in the cave. David’s and his companions’ eyes are accustomed to the darkness, but Saul can’t see them. David’s men whisper, “This is your opportunity. Just one stroke of the sword, and goodbye to hiding in caves. Welcome riches! Honor! Power! Authority! You’ll be the next king!” Sword in hand, David goes over in the darkness and cuts the hem off Saul’s robe. That’s how close he is, but he won’t kill Saul.
After Saul is a safe distance away, David cries out, “Saul, see what I have? Do you see what I could have done to you?”
Refusing to execute vengeance, David won a victory on this day—not over Saul but himself.
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city (Proverbs 16:32).
He practiced what the New Testament says in Romans12:21, “Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good,” and gained a great victory.
Most Christians today are into the cult of self-realization, where all the answers are in you. Ours is a generation of self-aholics; we are pickled in ourselves, centered in “me,” preoccupied with “me,” dedicated to self. But the Bible teaches self-surrender, where all the answers are in Jesus.
In the last days, Jesus said, “Because iniquity [lawlessness, rebellion] shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold,” and we see it in our streets, our homes, and our churches. Children are rebelling against their parents like never before. In churches there’s a spirit of rebellion—arrogant theologs are actually revising the Bible to make it politically correct. All this is Satan at work.
What should we do when facing ungodly authority?
Even though Saul was unworthy, he was still Israel’s anointed king. When David later had another opportunity to kill Saul, he said, “Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?” (1 Samuel 26:9).
How do we recognize Kingdom Authority? Romans 13:1-5 tells us.
1 Let every soul [including you] be subject unto the higher powers [governmental authorities]. For there is no power but of God: and the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power [authority] resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. [When you rebel against those authorities God has put over you, you’re not rebelling against those authorities as much as rebelling against Almighty God.] 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power [authority]? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same. 4 For he [the governmental magistrate], is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath [that is, to keep him from doing something to you], but for conscience sake, [to keep your heart right before God].
We may feel like David’s friends who said, “You got a chance to get him. Get him!” But David wisely, humbly said, “No, God sets up kings and He brings them down. I will be subject to those authorities God put over me.
You may say, “Wait. You don’t know the kind of government we have.” Maybe you don’t know the government in power when Paul wrote Romans. Nero was on the throne.
“But what if I have an unworthy authority? What if my parents are unworthy? My husband? My President? My mayor? What do I do?”
Here’s what you don’t do: do not have a spirit of rebellion. We must recognize the authority God put over us.
There was a time when Samuel, speaking for God, told Saul to do something. Saul refused, and Samuel rebuked him with these words, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being king.” 1 Samuel 15:23
David was a man after God’s own heart. Saul was a man after the devil’s own heart. Saul had the spirit of rebellion; David had the spirit of submission. You’re never more like the devil than when you’re a rebel; you’re never more like the Lord Jesus than when you submit.
That doesn’t mean we approve what some authorities do any more than David approved what Saul did. Saul was very wrong, but David understood the principle of being under authority. Therefore David learned to rule with great power and authority.
2. We Must Respect Kingdom Authority.
Even though Saul was unworthy, David recognized and respected his authority. He spoke to Saul with respect. He didn’t give in to Saul’s wicked ways, but he said, “I’m trusting God to get me out of this.”
This is the hard part. It’s one thing to grudgingly obey that authority; it’s another to respect that authority.
Sometimes children have parents who don’t deserve respect. If your parents are like that, be respectful to them anyway. If you have teachers who don’t deserve respect, respect them anyway. If your church pastor doesn’t deserve respect, be respectful anyway. If your government doesn’t deserve respect, respect that government anyway.
That doesn’t mean we give in to wickedness or approve error, any more than David approved what Saul did. But it was David’s submission that brought Saul’s kingdom crashing down and made David the king he was.
I hope you’ll understand, live and practice Kingdom Authority. If not, you’ll never understand spiritual authority. Teach your children to behave respectfully to authority. Around the dinner table, if you begin criticizing policemen, pastors, and presidents, you’re building in your children a spirit of rebellion. It’s going to come back on you, and you’re going to have a little rebel on your hands.
Remember, it’s not respecting the individual but getting yourself in a place under authority. When you do, God is going work in your life in an incredible way. When God sees you don’t have the spirit of rebellion, God will infuse you with power and give you Kingdom Authority.
God wants His people to live with Kingdom Authority. We will never be over those things God has put under us until we are willing to get under those things God has put over us, whoever it is, whether we like them or not.
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward [evil]. 19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 1 Peter 2:18-20
Do it for conscience’s sake. When you do well but suffer for it and take it patiently, this is praiseworthy to God.
We don’t rest in governments or the Sauls who lead them; we rest in the Lord. David was ahead of his time. He understood what the Spirit later wrote: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink. For in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:19-21).
This is contrary to human nature isn’t it? Be honest! It is for me.
That doesn’t mean we blindly obey ungodly government. We exercise submission to authority but not acquiescence. God’s prophets preached against wickedness. Nathan confronted David. Elijah warned Ahab, Daniel spoke to Nebuchadnezzar, Moses to Pharaoh, and God forbid our pulpits be silent today when wickedness prevails in so many places.
We do not acquiesce, but like David we must be governed by a spirit of humility and surrender to God.
David killed a bear, a lion, and Goliath, but His greatest victory was that day in the cave when he said, “I’m going to get under those God has put over me so I can be over those things God has put under me.”
When we do the same, God can trust us to bring wicked kingdoms crashing down.
The church, beloved, is not the master of the state nor the servant of the state. We’re the conscience of the state to preach God’s truth.
The Battle for the Soul of America contains timeless, foundational principles about human government, all rooted in biblical truth. Real truth never changes, and the truth about government is that it is God who ordains it, leaders who are responsible for it, and citizens who are accountable to it. In this book, pastor, teacher, and author Adrian Rogers reminds us that the privilege of being called Americans comes with significant responsibilities—to God, to each other, and to the world.