The history of mankind is rife with numerous examples of men who were incapable of properly abiding within the authority bestowed upon them. Each generation has those who have promised to overcome the failures of our fathers, but then they make the same mistakes and our high hopes fall flat again. It does not matter which side of the aisle one chooses, because each side has its own glaring faults and mistakes. Where can we turn for stability in this chaotic world?
The nation of Israel endured a tumultuous period under the leadership of various judges/deliverers. Every generation of Israel during this period had experienced the lows of God’s abandonment because of their idolatry, and the highs of God’s deliverance through His chosen judges. Israel could have experienced tremendous success and blessings by fearing God and keeping His commandments, but they cared more for themselves than for their God. In the end, the nation of Israel asked for a king like all the other nations. Where God had called Israel from Egypt to become His own chosen nation, they had abandoned Him as their king, and desired to have one of their own appointed to rule over them.
The prophet Samuel’s response to Israel’s request was of heartache and failure. The Lord reassured Samuel that Israel’s request was not a rejection of his leadership, but rather His own (1 Samuel 8:4-22). The Lord instructed Samuel to warn the people of the procedure of the king who would reign over them. Samuel stood before the people and proclaimed the consequences of their request – the king would take their sons and daughters, the best of their fields and vineyards, a tenth of their seed and of their vineyards, their male and female servants to accomplish his work, and eventually they would all become the king’s servants. Samuel told the elders of Israel that they would cry out because of their king, but the Lord would not answer them in that day. The people were not deterred from their request and Samuel ultimately anointed Saul as Israel’s first king.
The nation of Israel would have kings set above them for the next 300-400 years. The majority of Israel’s kings would lead the nation into further depravity and away from the will of God. The United Kingdom ended with civil unrest and division early in the reign of Rehoboam, king of Judah, who was unwilling to lighten the burdens imposed upon the people during Solomon’s reign. Every warning of Samuel would be fulfilled multiple times by the kings of both Israel and Judah. The nation of Israel and Judah were eventually both taken into Assyrian and Babylonian captivity respectively. The reign of Israel’s kings ceased in the days of her captivity, but yet there remained an unfulfilled promise given to David.
David, Israel’s second king, was promised by God - “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16). This great promise of a future king and his kingdom went unfulfilled for nearly a thousand years, but at the fullness of time God sent forth His Son (Galatians 4:4). It was this promise of a coming king that the Jews of Jesus’ day were so eagerly looking forward to its fulfillment. The problem was that they were looking for its physical fulfillment and not the spiritual kingdom brought through Jesus. While the Jews may have rejected Jesus’ as their king, He has ascended to the throne and is the fulfillment of David’s great promise.
Jesus did not fulfill the promise merely by His word and power, but by His obedience through His sufferings and death on the cross. The crown given to Jesus was not one easily achieved because it required His ultimate self-sacrifice. Jesus’ life was taken from Him and in return He gives life to everyone who believes in Him (John 20:31). Jesus left the glory of heaven and came to this earth to die for our sins (Philippians 2:6-8). Upon His resurrection, Jesus was exalted to His throne at the righthand of God, because He had faithfully submitted to the Father’s will. Jesus now reigns upon His throne and promises to share the glory of heaven with all who have faithfully submitted to His will.
The numerous warnings given to Israel by Samuel are never repeated to those who yield allegiance to Jesus as their king. Our benevolent King reigns for all who live and has given everything to ensure we have the forgiveness of our sins, life in His name, and the hope of eternity in heaven with Him. We serve the resurrected Lamb of God! We serve the Savior of mankind! We serve the King of kings and Lord of lords! Long live our King!