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The Only King We Need

(1 Samuel 8, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles)

When will we stop waiting for the next king, the next leader, the next hero to save the world?

When will we learn that kings and rulers will never meet our expectations, or fulfill our deepest hopes? Earthly leaders can never do what only God can do.

Israel never learned that lesson. I wonder if we will.

Like you and me, Israel wanted a leader who would make their nation look good. They wanted a ruler to reflect their values: strength, power, and maybe a little morality thrown in for good measure.

“Give us a king,” they said. “We want to be strong and respected, like all the other nations.”

So God gave them what they asked. They rejected His leadership and made idols out of their kings. And Israel’s monarchy was a disaster, just as God warned them it would be.

Saul, their first king, was power-hungry and godless. His successor David worshipped God, but was violent and deceitful. David’s son Solomon was wise, but his unrestrained lust led the people into idolatry.

Rehoboam’s arrogance split the nation in half. And on and on the cycle went.

There were nineteen kings in northern Israel, and every one of them worshipped idols. There were twenty kings in the southern kingdom, and most of them worshipped idols as well. Even the “good” kings of Judah were often violent, usually arrogant, and sometimes idolatrous.

The root of Israel’s problem was that they did not trust God’s leadership. For nearly 400 years, the people followed their kings into all sorts of evil, until God judged the nation by sending them into exile.

When they returned to the land, after 70 long years, they still clung stubbornly to their hope that a human king would save them.

And all the while, God kept sending prophets to tell them the truth: Only one King could save them. But they never listened.

They kept looking to their leaders, expecting them to do what only God could do.

So God Himself came, clothed in human flesh, to save His people from their enemies and from their sin. Born in a manger, raised by a carpenter, with no palace of His own, He didn’t fit their model of a what a king should be. So they killed Him.

But this King was not like Saul or David or Solomon or any of the others. He would not stay in the grave. He rose again to lead His people to victory and life, to save them from sin and death and Satan, once and for all.

And yet the people kept waiting and hoping for somebody else. Rather than submit to the Savior, they kept looking for a better option.

Will God’s people ever learn that there is no better option? Will His people ever see that there is only one Savior?

The pattern of Israel’s idolatry continues in the hearts of God’s people today. We look to governments and kings to save us. We want them to free us from our national sins and lead us into righteousness. But they won’t. They can’t. Because there is only one Savior.

Are you disappointed in your government? Are you disillusioned by your leaders? Well, that’s not a bad starting point on the pathway to trusting God. Because once we free ourselves from the old and tenacious lie that kings will save us, we become free to trust the only King who can.

He’s a good King. He’s a powerful King. And He will save us. Don’t lose heart, and don’t place your hope in the kingdoms of the world.  

Instead, worship the One True King. Proclaim His glory to those who need to hear.

And wait for His salvation, because He’s coming back soon.

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