Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Selecting a King: Part 5 1 Sam 8:9-18

In this final installment of this mini-series, we divert from the Book of Deuteronomy.
"'Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.' So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. And he said,'This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.'" (1 Samuel 8:9-18 NKJV)
What a contrast between a nation that is ruled by God and one that is ruled by men! While good government can be a blessing to mankind, even the best governments are not without their risks, dangers, and their reasons for caution and vigilance. Coincident to the establishment of any government is the surrender of a measure of personal freedom. Some have termed this as a "Social Contract". A contract where a group of people agree to relinquish some of their personal freedoms in order to form a collective society that is beneficial to all. For example, we are willing to give up our freedom to drive however we want and chose rather to submit to various traffic laws that we might experience order on the roads and a safeguard against harm from other drivers.

This was also the case for the nation of Israel. Prior to the establishment of a formal government, each man lived as they pleased. "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes." (Judges 21:25) While they gave up the freedom to do as they pleased, they, as a society, experienced order, peace, tranquility, and prosperity due, in part, to the government they had established.

While any orderly society requires the handing over of certain personal freedoms and liberties, it must be remembered that irrespective of who the ruler is, they are not God. No human ruler, regardless of how enlighten, elevated, or charismatic they might be, is not God (nor a god), they are merely fallen men entrusted with the government of people made in God's image. We must never look to our leaders as gods or as our messiah, they are just men. We must always remain watchful and vigilant lest those whom we have trusted with governmental authority and power turn and seek to use that authority and power to oppress and deny the rights of those under their charge. As long as government remains in the hands of sinful man, there will always be cause for caution and the need for a watchful eye upon the government, and those who govern, that what remains of our freedoms may not be stripped from us.

Government is a temporary institution, in effect while we are here on this earth, yet one day, Jesus will return and put all things right.
"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this." (Isaiah 9:6-7)
David Robison

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