We are commanded to obey authority. It is God's order given to us that we might have peace. There are instances however, in scripture, where earthly leaders may command something contrary to God's direction. We then must give priority to God's authority. Saul puts out three hits on David because of his insecurity. David had done nothing to draw the ire of Saul, but yet there was incredible animosity on Saul's part.
In the first hit on David's life, Jonathan, (David's friend and Saul's son) was ordered to kill David. Jonathan could have diverted his activity and avoided the order, or he could have not warned David, but murdering an innocent man was against God's law. He does warn David and attempts to sway his father the king to choose right. Saul swears by the Lord that he will not kill David. David is invited back into the king's home and resumes his duties. Jonathan loved David and he loved his father. He feared the Lord and worked to restore peace.
In the second instance, we learn that after war had broken out and David successfully fought off the Philistines, that an evil spirit came upon Saul and twisted his thinking about David. David was playing the harp for Saul when Saul attempted to kill him. The spear missed and David knew he had to flee. Michal, David's wife, Saul's daughter let David down through a window to escape at night since the guards had orders to kill him in the morning. Michal used idols in the house to make it appear that David was in bed, claiming he was ill. The guards report to Saul (I guess it isn't in good taste to kill a sick man). Saul ordered the guards to bring David that he could kill him, but the guards discovered the deception. Saul was furious. To save face, Michal claims that David threatened her live if she didn't help which seems to turn his ire back to David.
Word got back to Saul that David had fled to Samuel at Ramah, so Saul send men to capture him. on their way to Ramah, they saw prophets prophesying with Samuel and the Spirit of God came on them and they prophesied as well. Saul sent men three times with the same result. Finally, Saul went to Samuel's place and the Spirit of God came on him as well and he prophesied day and night.
Lessons we can take from this passage are:
1. An earthly leader deserves respect, but is not of higher importance than God
2. God's command supersedes any king's order
3. No king can thwart the plan of God
4. God's people may not avoid conflict, but their security is assured
God could have intervened to confront Saul and protect David at any time, but He chose to allow Saul to act on his choices. When our leaders choose evil, we must remain on the side of right (we can know right by applying God's word to our hearts). God's direction is always right.
We are all commanded to give our authorities the respect their office deserves, but if our authorities act contrary to God, then we must rightly obey God and where possible encourage our leaders to do the same. It is hard to speak out for God when the world runs counter to his commands, but we belong to Him and He will never let us out of His care, even if we must go into hiding. We can trust God to stand between us and hostile forces after we have done what we can and committed our way to Him.
May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him.