Thursday, July 17, 2008

Appoint for Us a King

"[Samuel,] Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the [other] nations." (1 Samuel 8:5)

With these (paraphrased) words around 1000 B.C., the political structure of Israel changed forever. No longer would the Law of Moses be the only official ruler of the land. Now, Israel would have a political leader, who had the choice to lead the people to worship the One True God or to lead them astray.

Most chose the second option, but there were a few success stories.
  • Saul started off somewhat obedient, and certainly commanded the respect of people.
  • David was known for his personal righteousness and political prowess: a rare combination in leaders.
  • Solomon was of course known for his wisdom and success in peaceful times.
Even after the kingdom divided at this point, there were several great leaders.
  • Josiah discovered the Law in the Temple and made sweeping reforms across the nation.
  • Hezekiah removed idolatry from the land and demonstrated humility before God and other nations.
  • Asa was known for reversing the foolish ways of his mother by removing places of pagan worship from the land.
  • Jehoshaphat was more willing to hear 1 truthful prophet (bearing bad news) than 450 who would say whatever he wanted.
Of course, several kings were evil to the core, too many to list here. What seems to have made the difference was their willingness to listen to the prophets of God and His law. Their reigns were not defined by political prowess alone (otherwise Omri would be quite famous biblically). Instead, they were known by their response to idolatry and commitment to the One True God. Nothing else was as important as this.

Next, we will see the event that made Hebrews into Jews; Yahwism into Judaism; the unified Israel into the Diaspora religion. No idea what I'm talking about? Stay tuned...

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