This demand from the people of Israel in 1 Samuel 8 understandably hurt Samuel’s feelings. After all, he’d devoted his life to serving as Israel’s spiritual and political leader. But when the going got tougher and his sons’ apples fell a little too far from their father’s tree, the Israelites demanded a king.
But, as the Almighty points out in 1 Samuel 8:7, “It is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.”
God is King.
Or, at least, He’s supposed to be.
I often lead worship songs that swear fealty to my Lord and King – some of them even use the words ‘You are my king’ – but there are many corners of my life where my actions sing the words ‘I am my king’.
And I suspect I’m not the only one…
Maybe part of the trouble (for us Canadians at least) is that we’re accustomed to living in a constitutional monarchy, where the Queen’s home and throne are in a far distant country, and for practical purposes, she’s just a figurehead. We, the people, look after our own affairs ‘on her behalf’ (wink, wink).
We don’t really ‘get’ the concept of a king.
And when you look at the track record of the institution of monarchy on Earth, who could blame us?
But God doesn’t offer us earthly monarchy, where the king is no more or less full of baloney than his subjects. Our Heavenly King is perfect. He never makes a mistake, He only wants the best for all of us collectively and each of us individually – and He can deliver it! When God reigns, the Needs of the Many vs. Needs of the Few dilemma never comes up.
And yet, ridiculous as it is, we resist God’s kingship – often deliberately, because we’re a stiff-necked people – but maybe more often, we just slip. We default to the reality where we’re kings of our own lives, and it’s only with the benefit of Hindsight that we see where we drifted off-track.
Look at the parade-goers on the first Palm Sunday. According to Mark 11:1-11, people welcomed Jesus as king, with shouts of Hosanna! Then He went to the temple, looked around and since it was late, went back to Bethany with the Twelve.
Twelve? What happened to the rest of his fair-weather followers? Maybe they were just caught up in the moment but their hearts weren’t in it. But maybe some of them were genuinely onboard, but after they watched Him pass by, and couldn’t see Him anymore, they just went back to their lives. If that’s true, all they had to do to keep following the King was to keep following the King. Instead, they declared themselves to be His followers, but then didn’t actively follow Him and therefore ceased to be followers.
Perhaps one of the lessons we can learn from Palm Sunday is that being subjects of Christ isn’t a once-and-done thing, and it’s not something that happens without deliberate action. We need to make and implement the decision a hundred times a day in order to make it an ongoing reality in our lives.
The upside of that reality is that we have a hundred opportunities a day to make that decision anew. So even if you messed up the first 99 times, you have another chance to cast away your crown and swear fealty to the King. Do so and you’ll be welcomed back into His courts with open arms and no hard feelings.
That’s what kind of King we have. When we choose Him.
Peace be with you.