Kingship in Israel

The three dominant institutions during OT times are expressed in the persons of prophet, priest and king.

Exodus 19:4, 5 introduces the kingship of God over his own people.  Israel’s insistence on a human king to lead them into battle is thus a rejection by that generation of God (1 Sam 8:7, 10:17-19).  Yet, OT predicts a monarchy and carefully regulates the institution so that it might be an expression of the divine kingship (Deut. 17:14-20).  Under the Law the king is to be chosen by God, a brother Israelite, and is not to accumulate a standing army, wives, or personal wealth.  Like any other Jew, the king is to subject himself to the law.  He is to have a personal copy of the written word to study, meditate on, and obey.  In essence, the godly king will recognize the fact that he is only a representative of Israel’s true King.  Godly rulers like David and Hezekiah did exhibit personal failings.  But they also remained responsive to God; subject both to his written words, and to messages communicated by the prophets.

The kingship existed in Israel only between Saul and the Babylonian captivity (1050-586 B.C.)  Like the other forms of government under which God’s OT people lived at various times, it was successful when king and people were committed to God.  But it was a failure when the Lord was abandoned.  So social structure, or form of government, can ever guarantee utopia.  Personal commitment to the Lord by leaders and people is necessary for the experience of God’s blessing.

For Reading:  Psalm 93, 103; 1 Samuel 12; Deuteronomy 17:14-20


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  1. Pingback: 1 Samuel 9 Saul Chosen To Be King | Morning Hope

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