On our last evening in Bangkok, Thailand, our family was entertained by an elaborate musical stage show chronicling the history of Thailand. Replete with elaborate costumes, native musical instruments, and live elephants, it was quite the spectacle! Yet, the most memorable moment was an event that occurred before the actual production. As the lights dimmed, a large movie screen descended and a video honoring the late King Rama IX began. The King had passed away in 2016, after ruling Thailand for 70 years. It was a beautiful recounting of the King’s life and the changes he brought to lead Thailand and its people.
The documentary ended with a moving interview with a young woman in tears as she mourned his passing. The interviewer asked her if she thought he was a god. Her answer was firm and without hesitation. “No, he is not a god. He is our father!”
The producers of the film were undoubtedly attempting to dispel any misconceptions that the Thai people worshipped and revered their king as a god. While that point was clearly evident, I felt the more refreshing message was witnessing a nation honoring and respecting their former king.
And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed.”
1 Samuel 24:4-6 (ESV)
Thousands of years earlier, David was fleeing from King Saul who was seeking to kill him because of his jealous rage. David recognized that even though Saul was attempting to kill him, he was still the king of Israel, anointed by God to be his leader. By cutting off a corner of Saul’s robe, he would be humiliating Saul in front of his own men. Filled with remorse over this shameful act, he confessed his sin to his own men acknowledging the sanctity of Saul’s position as King.
In democracies, the people and the press are generally free to criticize their leaders. While it is certainly within the right of the citizens to do so, recently it seems to have taken a darker turn. Regardless of one’s political, religious, or cultural backgrounds, no leader is spared. Perhaps it is a wistful thought, but if those who disagree with their leaders could respect the office and tone down the harsh rhetoric directed against the person occupying the office, societies may be less inclined to foment strife and division.
David later became king and never dishonored Saul, God’s original choice for the position. David even honored every living member of Saul’s family, an unprecedented act of kindness, especially for that period in history when members of the preceding royal family were often exiled or executed.
I pray that we would emulate the example of King David and respect and pray for our leaders. They need our prayers because they need humility to listen to God and obey Him. They are not gods or enlightened beings. They are men and women whom God is using and, like King Saul, God can quickly remove them.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.