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When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, “I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,” you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. (Deuteronomy 17:14-15)

I have heard all my life that Israel was to be a theocracy — a nation whose King is the LORD. Yet, we see here that He did allow men to rule over His people, and so we must conclude that there was no problem with having a king — David was promised a perpetual kingdom. The problem arose because the people wanted a king in order to be “like all the nations around me.” In other words, when they desired to be like the other nations that surrounded them, they were threatening to abandon the call to be a set apart nation and being the proper example to the nations, as opposed to the nations being an example to them.

When Israel came to Samuel and asked for a king to be like the surrounding nations, he said: “Today, you have rejected your God, who Himself saved you from all your adversities and your tribulations; and you have said to Him, ‘No, set a king over us!'” (1 Samuel 10:18-19). Perhaps, if they had asked for a king who would lead them properly, to follow God’s ways, the prophet’s response may have been more pleasant. But that is not what they did — they wanted to imitate the nations around them, and in the process, reject the notion of imitating God. This has been the problem God’s people have continually run afoul of since the beginning of time — instead of wanting to be wheat, they have continually striven to be like the tares.

And so we come back to the original thought — Israel was to be a theocracy. Yes, God permitted earthly kings but it was always with the understanding that those kings, just as with the judges and other officers, would lead the people in the ways of righteousness. We are not to be like other people; we are to be peculiar people, which is to say a set apart people charged with inspiring the nations to quit their own way, come out of the darkness and into His light. Therefore, whatever nation we live in and under whatever form of government we find ourselves, it must always be that our loyalty, allegiance and service is dedicated first and foremost to the King of kings and the LORD of lords — and Him only shall we serve!

Blessings and Shalom,  




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