Authority and Submission, by Watchman Nee


David waited in Hebron for seven and a half years because Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, continued to be king in Mahanaim after Saul’s death (2 Sam. 2:8-9). Later Ishbosheth was assassinated by Baanah and Rechab. They took his head to David in Hebron, thinking that they were bringing good tidings to David. But David killed them (4:5-12). He judged the rebellious ones. This shows that the more a person is an authority, the more he upholds authority. We cannot build up our own authority at the expense of others’ authority. The less a man seeks for authority, the more God gives him authority. The minute a person rebels against authority he should be judged, whether or not he is rebelling against your authority. When David did this, he gained the favor of God’s people. Consequently, 2 Samuel 5 says that the eleven tribes sent men to seek after David. A man who knows God’s authority is submissive to authority. Such a one is qualified to be an authority. You should not deal with anyone just because he has offended your authority. You have to wait for God’s children to anoint you as the authority. Before the children of God anoint you, it is wrong to harbor any complaints or murmurings.


Second Samuel 6 says that when David brought God’s ark back to the city of David, he danced before the ark with all his might. David was already king of the whole nation of Israel. When Michal the daughter of Saul saw this, she despised David (vv. 14-16). Michal thought that since David was the king, he should have sanctified himself in the eyes of the Israelites. Of course, it is right that a king should not be wild. But David was not wrong in what he saw. He saw that he had no authority before God, that he was lowly and worthless. Michal’s mistake was her father’s mistake. Saul kept the best of the cattle and the sheep; he disobeyed God’s commandment and was rejected by God. Yet he tried to save his face by asking Samuel to recommend him before the people of Israel (see 1 Sam. 15:1-30). The way Michal took was different from the way David took. God was pleased with David, and He judged Michal. Michal had no descendant until the day of her death (2 Sam. 6:23). This means that God cut off any continuation of such a person. He would not allow such a person to go on.

When David went before the Lord, he felt that he was as lowly as anyone else; he did not consider himself higher than others. A deputy authority should take a place before God that is as equally low and humble as all the people of God. He should not exalt himself or try to uphold his authority among men. On his throne David was the king, but before the ark he was the same as all the children of Israel. They were all God’s people and were all the same. Michal wanted to hold on to her way; she wanted David to be a king even before God. She could not stand David’s action, and said to him, “How the king of Israel has made himself honorable today!” (v. 20). But God accepted David’s way and judged Michal’s way. When Moses went before the Lord, he was the same as the people of Israel. When David went before the Lord, he was also the same as the people of Israel. We may be an authority in the church, but when we go before the Lord, we are the same as everyone else. This is the basis and secret of an authority—being the same as all the brothers when he goes before the Lord.


I am particularly fond of one sentence in 2 Samuel 7:18: “Then King David went and sat before Jehovah.” By then the temple was not yet built. The ark was in the tabernacle and David sat on the floor. God made a covenant with David, and David offered a wonderful prayer. Here we touch a pliable spirit, a sensitive spirit. Before David was king, he was a warrior, and no one was able to stand before him. Now that he had become king and his nation had become strong, he was meek enough to sit on the floor beside the ark. Here was a person who maintained his humility. He could pray in a very simple way. This is a picture of a deputy authority.

Michal, who was born in the palace, was concerned with pomp and majesty, like her father. She did not realize the difference between being sent by the Lord and entering into the presence of the Lord. When a man is sent by the Lord, he may have a certain degree of authority in speaking and acting on God’s behalf. But once he enters the presence of the Lord, he has to fall down before His feet; he has to know who he is. David was indeed a king appointed by the Lord; he was endowed with the God-given authority. If we count Saul out, David was the first king appointed by God. Christ is not only the descendant of Abraham but also the descendant of David. The last name recorded in the whole Bible is the name of David (Rev. 22:16). However, the amazing thing is that though David was king, he did not have the consciousness that he was king. He knew that he was nothing in the eyes of the Lord. If a man is always conscious of his authority, he is not qualified to be an authority. An authority must learn to know himself. The more a person is an authority, the less consciousness he should have about his authority. God’s deputy authority should have such a blessed ignorance—being an authority without having the consciousness of it.

(Authority and Submission, Chapter 17, by Watchman Nee)