Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Selecting a King: Part 2 Dt:17:14-15

"You shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses." (Deuteronomy 17:15)
When considering the choice of government and/or rulership, there are two principals that need our attention.

We must choose wisely. The choice of governments and rulerships can have significant consequences for a nation. Even a cursory study of the Kings of Israel and Judah will show that, as the king went, so went the nation. When a good king sat on the throne, the nation prospered. When an evil king, the nation suffered. For Israel, it started with King Jeroboam. Jeroboam committed sin against God and the people followed. The result was God's judgement on Israel and the house of Jeroboam. "He will give up Israel on account of the sins of Jeroboam, which he committed and with which he made Israel to sin." (1 Kings 14:16) In the case of Judah, God's forbearance continued with their good and evil kings until the reign of Manasseh. For fifty five years Manasseh reigned and he was more evil, and committed more sins, than any of the previous Kings of Judah. Though Manasseh did repent towards the end of his life, it was his sins, and the sins of the people, that were the nail in the coffin of God's judgement against Judah. "However, the Lord did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath with which His anger burned against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him. The Lord said, 'I will remove Judah also from My sight, as I have removed Israel. And I will cast off Jerusalem, this city which I have chosen, and the temple of which I said, "My name shall be there."'" (2 Kings 23:26-27)

Solomon spoke about the importance of our election of rulers. "When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan." (Proverbs 29:2) It is important to choose wisely. This scripture in Deuteronomy instructs us to elect those whom the Lord has chosen. The Hebrew word here means to examine and to choose. It also carries the idea of being acceptable to the one choosing. When selecting a government or a leader, it is important to chose those whom stand acceptable before God; to choose those of sound character; to choose those who are righteous. When selecting rulers, their plans and policies are not alone sufficient for their election; character matters! An evil man with good ideas will bring harm to a nation and cause the people to groan. We must be careful to choose those whom God has chosen.

Rulership is not an absolute right. In previous monarchical systems, there was a doctrine called the Divine Right of Kings. This doctrine stated that kings derived the right to rule directly from the will of God and they are not subject to the censure or deposition of the people. There was also a belief that the right to rule was passed from father to son in an unbroken chain of divine rulership. This doctrine assigns an absolute right to rule to a person and/or family line.

The truth is that God does not impute to anyone an absolute right to rule. Even though a promise was made to king David that his sons would sit on the throne of Judah, that promise was conditional. "You shall not lack a man to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your sons take heed to their way, to walk in My law as you have walked before Me." (2 Chronicles 6:16) The future of the monarchy was only as secure as the character of the currently reigning king. Each king was judged based on his own character and righteousness. For those who acted wickedly, their "right" to rule was rescinded. When King Saul acted presumptuously and did not obey the command of God, his kingdom was taken away. "So Samuel said to him, 'The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you.'" (1 Samuel 15:28)

No one can claim a right to rule, either by divine appointment or monarchical ascension. Rather, a person's "right" to rule flows from their character and their acceptance before God. "The Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes." (Daniel 4:25)

More to come... David Robison

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