While they were in the Promised Land, God gave Israel kings. The king’s role was to be God’s ‘representative’ on earth by ruling Israel and saving them in battle. The most famous king of Israel was David. The king also represented Israel before God. For example, when King David sinned, the whole nation was punished (see 2 Samuel 24). He came to represent Israel’s relationship with God.
“Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the Lord has set a king over you.14 If you fear the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God—good!” (ESV)
1 Samuel 12:13–14
God is patient, allowing fallible kings to make their own decisions, but continually calling them to account. He is also gracious and faithful, promising to build an everlasting “house” for himself through the line of King David.
“When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” (ESV)
2 Samuel 7:12-16
God calls his people to live as a holy nation under the rule of those he appoints.
“But when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me, ‘No, we want a king to rule over us’—even though the Lord your God was your king. 13 Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the Lord has set a king over you. 14 If you fear the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God—good! 15 But if you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your fathers.” (ESV)
1 Samuel 12:12-15
God makes use of a representative—the kings were to exercise God’s rule. And if the king sinned, the nation was judged.
“As for you, if you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, 5 I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’ 6 “But if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples.” (ESV)
1 Kings 9:4-7
I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (ESV)
This points forward to Jesus, the descendant of King David who preached the coming of the Kingdom of God. Jesus was a king like no other, a humble servant who was obedient to God even to the point of death. The risen Jesus will return as the ultimate King, and will judge the world and save God’s people, as he exercises God’s rule.
In what ways do the kings of Israel prepare the way for Jesus? How is Jesus different to those kings?
Pray for humble obedience to the king of kings, the lord of lords. Ask God that many more people would turn in repentance and give their allegiance to king Jesus.