Israel's king

‘But today you have rejected your God who saves you from all your trouble and distress. You have said no, ‘No! Appoint a king over us.’ 1 Samuel 10.19

This week in our sermon text, the authorities begin to test Jesus and ask where he has gotten his authority. This is full of irony because he has authority by his very nature. He is the messiah, the coming king into the world and the Son of God. Now at the time of Jesus, they did not have a Jewish or Israelite king. Instead, they were ruled by outsiders. The Israelites in the time of Jesus longed for the messiah, which is the anointed king and implies a restored kingdom. That sounds all well and good until you begin to remember the first kingdom. It wasn’t anything to write home about. In fact, the first king was disobedient to God from the start. If there were to be another king like Saul, it really wasn’t anything to be excited about, but all their hope was in a coming, restored kingdom. How in the world would this new kingdom be any better? How in the world would righteousness be restored by just another king in the line of David, if most of the kings in the line of David had been utter failures?

When the Israelite kingdom was established under Saul, Samuel the prophet scolded the Israelites. What was their motivation for wanting a king? It wasn’t so that they would be more righteous or that they would keep Torah better. Instead, they wanted a king because all the other nations want a king. It isn’t too dissimilar to our day when nations desire to be democratic or socialist or totalitarian like America, Norway, or Russia. Look at them, they are doing so well, can’t we be like them? God had allowed Israel to be governed by judges, elders, priests and prophets. This was with the idea that God was their king. God ruled over the nation, and the judges and elders were delegated authority to judge and the priests taught and served in the tabernacle, and the prophets proclaimed God’s word to a new generation.

The problem, as we know, is that for the Israelites it didn’t work. The priest Eli had wicked sons, which eventually led to the destruction of the tabernacle and the capture of the ark of God. The sons of Samuel who served in an unapproved shrine in Beer-Sheba and were known to be wicked. They did not follow Samuel’s ways and made money dishonestly through bribes and perverted justice. So in some ways, you can understand the desire for change, but it wasn’t based on what God had revealed to them. Instead, their desire was based on what seemed to work so well for the other nations.

What is perhaps the most amazing thing about this whole thing is that the depraved kingship that was broken from the start was redeemed by a king. God worked through man’s brokenness ultimately to bring something good in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In what way was he a better king? One aspect is that because he was the son of a woman and the Son of God, he shared fully in human nature but was not tainted by it because he also shared in God’s nature fully. This means that although Jesus, the Messiah, was tempted in every way as we are, he was tempted but did not sin. Thus, as he becomes king, he may have been tempted by the evil that arises when a human is in such a position. Because of his Godly nature, however, he did not give into the temptation.

This means something wonderful: the kingdom has been restored by a king who will not fail. Unlike the Israelite kingdoms of the past, Jesus’ kingdom will not fail because he is both powerful and without evil. More than this, he is eternal. This implies that his kingdom will have no end. There is no end in sight to his rule because of his divine nature. Our response to this ought to be worship. Jesus is worthy to be praised for his perfect nature and his kingly nature. He is glorious and this should draw us to sing his praise and anticipate the day when all evil if done away with and our tears will be wiped away.

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