Monday, September 07, 2015

Social Architecture (13) Upside Down

Samuel warned of another serious consequence of the transition to kingship.

Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties (1 Sam 8:12).
The King will appoint some of the young people who have been conscripted into his service to be commanders over thousands and fifties. This was a radical change. Under the previous system, the leader of a Fifty or Hundred was appointed by the members of the Tens who joined it. The leader of a Thousand was appointed by the leaders of the Hundreds, who agreed to participate in it during the season of threat. These leaders would have already established trust within their Ten, Fifty and Hundred. Membership of a Hundred and a Thousand was voluntary, so if the Tens did not like the decisions of a commander of their thousand, they could withdraw. In this structure, leadership emerged from the bottom and submission to leadership was voluntary.

Leadership functions the same way in the Kingdom of God. Leaders are given authority by people who voluntarily submit to them. If this authority is abused, voluntary submission can be withdrawn and the authority will evaporate.

The emergence of kingship turned this model on its head. Instead of leaders emerging from within, they would be appointed from outside by the king. The members of a Fifty or Thousand had to submit to the King’s appointee, even if he was made foolish decisions. Refusal to obey the King’s lapdogs would bring down the wrath of the king. Submission ceased to be voluntary.

The king would tend to appoint younger people who had recently been in his service, because they would be more loyal to him. These leaders would often lack experience, so they would force the people they controlled to do foolish things. Authority imposed from above fosters foolishness.

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