Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Selecting a King: Part 1 Dt:17:14-15

"When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,' you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses." (Deuteronomy 17:14-15)
It was always God's intent that Israel would be a theocracy; a nation directly ruled by God. God was king and Israel was his kingdom. However, God knew that a day would come when Israel would reject His rulership and would ask for a human king to rule in His place. This prophesy was fulfilled in the days of Samuel the judge of Israel. "Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; and they said to him, 'Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.'" (1 Samuel 8:4-5) While this request grieved Samuel, God reassured him and instructed him to appoint for Israel a king saying, "Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them." (1 Sam 8:7)

Governments are chosen and those who rule do so by the consent of those over whom they rule. While God's intent, in the case of Israel, was to rule the nation directly as their king, it was ultimately up to the people to choose what form of government they would have and whom their rulers would be. Even though Samuel appointed a king of God's choosing, it was still the people who confirmed that choice and gave their consent to his rulership.

Samuel set forth Saul as God's choice for king and the people heartily confirmed the choice and made him king over Israel. "Samuel said to all the people, 'Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? Surely there is no one like him among all the people.' So all the people shouted and said, 'Long live the king!'" (1 Samuel 10:24) Later on, following the dissension of some in Israel, the nation again gathered and reconfirmed their choice of Saul as their king. "Then Samuel said to the people, 'Come and let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there.' So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal." (1 Samuel 11:14-15)

Following the death of Saul, Judah selected David as their king. "Then the men of Judah came and there anointed David king over the house of Judah." (2 Samuel 2:4) Seven years later, the rest of Israel came and made David their king as well. "Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, 'Behold, we are your bone and your flesh. Previously, when Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel out and in. And the LORD said to you, "You will shepherd My people Israel, and you will be a ruler over Israel.' So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them before the Lord at Hebron; then they anointed David king over Israel." (2 Samuel 5:1-3)

After the death of Solomon, the nation of Israel was divided as to who should be king. Israel selected Solomon's son Rehoboam as king, yet the rest of Israel rejected Solomon's son. "When all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying, 'What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; to your tents, O Israel! Now look after your own house, David!' So Israel departed to their tents." (1 Kings 12:16) The rest of Israel chose Jeroboam as their King. "It came about when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, that they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. None but the tribe of Judah followed the house of David." (1 Kings 12:20)

What is clearly seen in these examples is that, while God had one intent for the government of Israel, the ultimate choice was left up to the people. God never intended for government to be "forced" upon the people but rather to be elected and confirmed by the people's choice. Good government is always chosen, never dictated.

More to come... David Robison

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