Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Matthew 7:15
False prophets and false Christs who appeal on the surface as counterfeit bearers of light but who inwardly follow self-interested, dark purposes and lead others to darkness and destruction are among those who disobey the third commandment:
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Exodus 20:7
Again, in Hebrew the word used in this commandment for vain can mean vanity, emptiness, and deceit, and it can also mean destruction, which is always the end result of vanity, emptiness, and deceit.
King David is one who keeps the third commandment with great faith most of his life in contrast with his predecessor King Saul for whom failure to keep the third commandment is a great weakness. As recorded in 1 Samuel 13 King Saul fears the people as they scatter from him due to their own fear in the face of a great host of Philistines. Rather than waiting upon Samuel the prophet to offer sacrifice before they go out to battle, Saul offers sacrifice in his place in order to create an appearance for the people. He lacks faith regarding the Lord’s timing and ways, and he acts as a reflection of the peoples’ desires, creating an unspoken compact with them of reciprocating self-interest, drawing them back to him based on vanity, emptiness, and deceit. Samuel arrives, sees what Saul has done and says,
Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.
But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee. 1 Samuel 13:13-14
The phrase after his own heart is significant in its indication of what is important to God, what He expects, but what unfortunately is so rare. God is completely loyal to His children, to the extent of sacrificing His Only Begotten Son. He is never failing in His constant care and attention to His creations, and key to faith in God and exercising His power is reciprocating complete loyalty or fidelity on the part of His children to God.
David is a man after his own heart as he shows from an early age in his battle with Goliath. David’s reaction to Goliath’s challenge is indignation that Goliath is affronting the God of Israel, and he is full of faith that God will deliver Goliath into his hands as David acts with complete loyalty to God. He upholds and witnesses God rather than himself in a way that will lead his people to faith in the one true God as the only source of salvation and let all the world know of the God of Israel:
Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.
This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 1 Samuel 17:45-46
David’s complete loyalty to and great faith in God extends to loyalty to the Lord’s anointed. Saul becomes increasingly jealous of David and seeks his life to the point where David flees from him and for many years is a hunted man in the wilderness with his growing band of loyal men. Despite Saul’s persecution, David honors and is loyal to Saul and his seed, not because Saul is a king in a worldly sense or for any other reason than that he is the Lord’s anointed. David demonstrates through this loyalty to the Lord’s anointed his underlying loyalty to God.
David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, My lord the king. And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed himself.
And David said to Saul, Wherefore hearest thou men’s words, saying, Behold, David seeketh thy hurt?
Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the Lord had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the Lord’s anointed. 1 Samuel 24:8-10
David is always loyal to the Lord’s anointed, whether that man be king or prophet, and through his loyalty to the Lord’s anointed David exemplifies a foundational principle for all times and circumstances that can be universalized through the following questions: Does the Lord have an anointed representative on the earth? And, if so, will I be loyal to the Lord’s anointed at all times and in all circumstances? Again, David is even hunted by the Lord’s anointed and yet is faithful to him, and in this way David parallels Job when speaking of the Lord Himself who exclaims:
Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: Job 13:15
God requires faith in His children to prove and refine their integrity and loyalty to Him and to His anointed; it has always been this way and always will be; even when in man’s limited perspective circumstances appear differently in his own time than in previous times it is always right to be loyal to God’s anointed. In our own time my firm conviction is that the Lord’s anointed is Thomas S. Monson, and loyalty to him rather than to whatever trending alternative principles and leaders may exist is key to true faith. Turning away from this loyalty necessarily leads to vanity, emptiness, deceit, and destruction.
Finally, David is loyal to those mighty men who themselves are loyal to the Lord and to the Lord’s anointed. Throughout his life David takes action based on this principle of loyalty, despite what others say or how they act. His life is a study in living by loyalty as an overriding principle as it is manifest in terms of how he acts when others keep or violate covenant and how he acts in response to the actions of others towards the Lord or the Lord’s anointed. His actions are courageous, faithful, and counter culture. The great exception to David’s loyalty is his betrayal of Uriah the Hittite who himself exhibits the utmost of loyalty. David is tormented by this lapse in loyalty the remainder of his life with poignant, haunting reminders of this found in the record, as for instance when David lists his mighty men in 2 Samuel 23, ending in the final verse with Uriah the Hittite.
There is nothing more important to God in His children than that they are firmly and enduringly loyal to Him. A synonym for loyalty is faithfulness, which means to be full of faith, and loyalty to the one in whom faith is exercised is at the core of possessing and exercising faith in that being. As His children are fully loyal to God, to His anointed, and to His other faithful they will not at the same time disobey the third commandment. Possessing and living by this firm and enduring loyalty is also a great key to keeping the first and second commandments and any other of God’s commandments.