Scripture is full of kings. Sometimes Scripture names kings directly and other times it does so through symbols. And for the most part, kings are not viewed favorably – even the ones that were supposedly men after God’s own heart.
Often that is because the power kings hold corrupts them and causes them to sin.
Scripture itself has a description of what to expect from a king:
“[Samuel] said, ‘These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plough his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’”
(Source: 1 Samuel 8:11-18, NRSV)
And how did people respond to this warning? About as well as should be expected:
“But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, ‘No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.’ When Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to their voice and set a king over them.’”
(Source: 1 Samuel 8:19-22a, NRSV)
What is it about humanity that it desires to have other humans rule over it? Kings rarely ever work out well. They often turn out exactly how God says in 1 Samuel. Yet for some reason, humanity goes right back.
Maybe you’re sitting there and saying – “But we live in a democracy, we don’t have a king!” Are you sure about that? Are there people, institutions, or things that have some kind of rule over your life in a kingly manner? Especially ones that are self imposed?
What are the kings in our life, in our community, in our churches, in our nation, and in our world?
In the coming days, I plan on writing blog posts about some of the kings listed in Scripture and what Scripture tells us about them.
In the midst of all of this, I challenge you to do some self-reflection. Ask yourself – in what ways am I like this king? How am I different? What is the king’s relationship with God? What is this king really king over? What’s God up to in relation to the king highlighted?