Every month, on a certain day, the king's court in Israel was held for people who had exhausted all possibilities of adjudication in civil and criminal matters. On that day anyone could appeal directly to King David. His decisions, just or otherwise, were final. Of course, the backlog of appeals soon became tremendous.
David's son Absalom exploited this frustration for his own advantage. Standing tall in his fine chariot, the strikingly handsome Absalom created quite a stir. As the resplendent chariot rumbled through Jerusalem, Absalom's youthful good looks and flowing hair were admired by men and desired by women. It became his habit to wait at one of the city gates for those coming on the day of the king's court. Flattered at being summoned into Absalom's chariot, the aggrieved shared openly. He wooed them like a true politician, kissing their babies and consoling their hurts, yet offering no hope that David would prove helpful.
"It's not altogether David's fault," Absalom would explain sarcastically. "He's overworked, to be sure. We all understand that. The problem is that he stubbornly refuses to appoint a deputy. Now if I were deputy, or even king, I'd make sure you got justice. The appeal ought to go your way, but with David on the throne, well, who knows?"
No one loves a demagogue like the disgruntled. Grateful malcontents bowed down before Absalom and longed for him to be their champion. Absalom's personal embrace in traditional Middle Eastern style was an act weighted heavily with symbolism. Absalom's familiarity was calculated to seal their loyalty to him personally. Of course, he had no right to such dedication. Only David had a right to that.
So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.—2 SAMUEL 15:6
The throne was Absalom's by birth. It should have and would have gone to him. His untimely and tragic death, which cost him his destiny, was the inevitable end of his disloyalty and rebellion. His disloyalty caused his rebellion, and his rebellion cost him his life. When outward rebellion occurs, it is always because loyalty was not added to faith.
Loyalty refuses to accept inappropriate credit, receive improper admiration or usurp the respect due others. Such loyalty is usually carved into character at no small cost.
LOYALTY IN ACTION
The pastor of a small Midwestern church announced to his five adult Sunday school teachers, "God has laid on my heart that for the next three months all of you should teach on evangelism. I've prepared these lesson outlines for you. You can adjust them to suit your classes." The next Sunday, all five began the series.
Teacher 1 said to his class, "The pastor said we have to teach this stuff for the next three months. I want you to know that if I were the pastor, we wouldn't teach this, but I'm not the pastor, and this lesson isn't mine."
Teacher 2 obediently taught the material. Her class, responding enthusiastically, actually became soulwinners and caused the class and the church to grow. At the end of the series, they sang her praises.
"What a great idea you had to teach this series! What great lessons and marvelous outlines you had!"
"Thank you so very much," she said humbly. "I really prayed over it. I knew God was guiding me as I prepared and taught." Obedient in action, she stole the hearts of the people. It was the pastor's vision, and she should have deflected the praise onto him.
Teacher 3 taught the series of lessons, but it went badly. Everyone in the class ferociously objected, "We don't want to be soulwinners. We like the easy, comfortable Sunday school class we've had for forty years, and you're pushing us out into the streets. We don't want this."
To this the teacher replied, "It wasn't my idea. I never wanted to teach this stuff in the first place! You know how the pastor is. Complain to him." This teacher's unwillingness to shield the pastor is characterless and disloyal.
Teacher 4's Sunday school class also complained to her, but she said, "I felt it was what God was telling me to do. I tried to do my best. If the pastor could only have taught it himself, I know he would have done better. So if you're angry, be angry with me." She loyally accepted the brunt of the criticism, allowing all respect and admiration to pass on to higher authority. Furthermore, she probably told the truth; the pastor would have done better.
Teacher 5's class proclaimed, "This is the most wonderful thing that's ever happened to our Sunday school class!" To which the teacher replied, "I can agree with you because I had nothing to do with it. God and the pastor worked this out. Pastor wrote it and handed it to me. Frankly, I had my misgivings, but I now see that the pastor was right. I thank God that he gave us this series, don't you?" That is loyalty in action.
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