This book, A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards is a classic in the evangelical movement, and its perspective and terms have entered into the mainstream of evangelical thought. Edwards claims that this book was written to ‘comfort’ those who have been abused by authority. Unfortunately, this book is sometimes used as a tool of abuse.

The story examines the relationship between the “three kings” of Israel — Saul, David and Absalom. These three kings are compared based on their view of authority and how their behaviors reflects Christian responses to authority and submission.

  • King Saul abused his authority but David refused to challenge him because he was “the Lord’s anointed.”
  • David was a good king and refused to stop Absalom’s rebellion against his authority.

The moral of the story is that you should either respect abusive authorities, or you are Absalom. Clearly, this book provides a dangerous perspective on spiritual authority and harmful to anyone who is under the authority of an abusive pastor. Moreover, this book leads people to stay in abusive churches and to refrain from speaking out when they really should.

Other Reviews:

This book, in my opinion, is very misleading and could be harmful to anyone under the authority of a pastor who is abusive or misusing his authority. It makes an interesting point that we cannot know if someone has been placed in leadership by God or by their own doing. But it goes on to teach that you should always submit to such a leader and just hope that God will change the situation (as David did not get involved in Saul’s removal as king). However, the New Testament is full of instruction on confronting and correcting sin, in love, even of our pastors. They are representing God and should only hold their positions if they are emulating Jesus, the Good Shepard. To do nothing in response to an abusive leader, is not love or godly submission at all. — Melanie R. Sunderman (Amazon)

Gene Edwards’ A Tale of Three Kings, which he claims to have written to “comfort” (p. xii) those who have been abused by authority, uses a combination of highly selective Scriptural accounts of the life of David, fictionalization and fabrication to lead readers into practicing denial of truth, isolation and passivity in the name of “healing” (p. xii). Edwards’ approach goes way beyond a call to love and do right by those who hate and wound us, and potentially deceives wounded believers into enabling the victimization of themselves and others, while at the same time it seeks to deny them the ability to recognize their victimization for what it is. — Verity3, Amazon

Several folks mentioned this book as a good resource for those who have been spiritually abused. But as I read it-and took extensive notes-I found it to be just the opposite. It harms those who have been–or who are being-spiritually abused… Gene Edwards is known for his biblical fiction. I am afraid that this book is also biblical fiction. Edwards is simplistic-not wise-and selects portions of scripture to illustrate his preconceived notions rather than to take the whole counsel of God’s Word. He also misunderstands the use of the Old Testament. Not every Old Testament story may be applied in a one-to-one relationship to believers today. Pastors and elders in churches today are not God’s “anointed.” That is an Old Testament, theocratic term which implies absolute submission by divine right. In the New Testament, it applies only to Jesus… While I enjoyed some of Edward’s writing, and while I honor his sincerity and his emphasis that every believer pursue humility rather than pride or vengeance, I cannot recommend this book to anyone. It is biblical fiction, nothing more. –Stephen A. Smith (Amazon)