Tuesday, January 29, 2008

History of Human Government (8) - Permanent King

The people of Israel became dissatisfied with just having temporary military leaders. They were supposed to be a temporary solution, as when the people went back to serving God, the military leader would no longer be needed. The problem was that the people did not want to serve God.

But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways (Jud 2:19).
The natural inclination of Israel was towards corruption and following other gods. They refused to give up evil and their stubborn ways, so temporary military leaders did not work for them.

Israel had lost God’s protection so frequently, that they wanted permanent military protection. So they asked for a king like the nations around them.
We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles (1 Sam 8:19,20).
The king was not a totally new role, but a permanent form of the judge/military commander. Israel wanted a king, so they could live in permanent disobedience to God without threat of invasion. A military nation is not a godly nation.

The other problem with kingship was that it was not God’s idea. It was copied from the heathen nations around Israel. That was never going to be a good place to find good government.

Samuel warned the people that a king was not part of God’s plan for them in 1 Sam 8:10-17. These are shocking words. The nation that chooses a human king will end up in slavery. The young men will be forced to serve in the king’s army. The young women will forced to serve in the king’s palace. The king will take the best of the land for himself. He will tax all their income and make them poor.

Samuel was certain that the king would not be “God's servant to do you good” (Rom 13:4). The people hoped that the king would deliver them from the surrounding nations. Instead of setting them free, the king would make them his slaves.

The worst thing was that Israel’s kings constantly provoked the nations, or joined in unholy alliances with them. This resulted in more wars. The history of Israel is the history of wars, where the people had to fight for the king. This produced a great deal of suffering for the nation.

The history of Israel demonstrates that good kings are usually succeeded by bad kings. Because their sons grow up in a privileged world, they generally do not have the character that such a powerful position needs. The trouble is that once power has been given to a king, the people can never get it back, even if his sons turn bad.
Where is your king, that he may save you? Where are your rulers in all your towns, of whom you said, Give me a king and princes'? So in my anger I gave you a king, and in my wrath I took him away. (Hos 13:10,11).
God gave Israel a king as punishment for disobedience, not for blessing.

Many Christians believe that human kingship is a good form of government. This is not true. God never blessed human kingship as an optimal form of government.

A King in heaven is great. A king on earth is dangerous.

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