REASONS FOR AND AGAINST KINGSHIP IN ISRAEL
Yahweh remained the God of Israel and the sovereign ruler of his people.
Leadership refers to the manner in which a community’s way of life is ruled or controlled. When Israelites settled in Canaan, Judges ruled them for the first 200 years. Some of the judges were
Duties of judges
- Leading Israelites to war against their enemies
- Settling disputes among the people
- Acting as religious leaders and leading Israelites in worship –
- Offering sacrifices on behalf of the people.
- Some of the judges acted as God’s prophets
- They anointed kings, for example Samuel anointed King David.
Demands for a King in Israel
After Israelites settled in Canaan, the Promised Land, they started demanding for an earthly king to rule over them. These demands for a king rulers were brought about by:
- Samuel’s sons Joel and Abijah were corrupt and took bribes. The sons of Samuel, who were judges, lacked his good leadership qualities.
- The Israelites wanted a warrior king who could lead them to war against their enemies.
- The Israelites wanted to be like the other nations around them who had kings.
- The Israelites wanted a human leader whom they could see, approach, and talk to him face to face.
- The Israelites wanted security, which could be provided by a stable political government ruled by law and order.
- They wanted a government that had a regular army,
- They also wanted an established law court system.
Reasons against Kingship in Israel (Samuel 8:10 – 20)
By demanding for a king, the Israelites were seen as rejecting Yahweh – their unseen ruler. Two, there would be danger of hereditary kingship which would lead to oppression / dictatorship. God told Samuel to give Israelites strict warnings against Kingship by explaining how the king would treat them. A king would: -
- Recruit Israelites sons forcefully into the army.
- Grab peoples land.
- Force people to pay taxes to the government
- Turn people into slaves.
- Introduce forced labour.
- Force their daughters to work for his wives, sons, and for the royal house in general.
The people of Israel were distinct from other nations. Asking for a king meant rejecting God as their unseen king. Further to this, Israel could become like other nations, which did not worship Yahweh.
Then the covenant with God and the people of Israel would cease.
ACHIEVEMENTS AND FAILURES OF KING SAUL (Israel 13:8 – 14; 15:7 – 25)
Samuel was directed by God to choose and anoint Saul as the king of Israel. Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin. He became the first human king of the nation of Israel. He accomplished several things.
Successes of King Saul
- He was anointed by God; as king to rule the Israelites
- He was chosen even though it was not God’s idea for a king over his people.
- He was a great warrior. He led the Israelites to war and defeated their enemies
Failures of King Saul
- God told Saul through Samuel to destroy the Amalekites completely. Saul however disobeyed God. He spared the king and the fat livestock. He claimed to have spared the fat animals for sacrifice to God. Because of this disobedience, God rejected Saul as king.
- The Israelites were faced with many enemies. The worst were the Philistines. It was a custom for the king of Israel to enquire from God whether to go to the battle or not. The priest/prophet gave permission to the king to go to war. When Saul was faced with the dilemma whether to fight or not, Samuel enquired from God. Saul did not wait for permission to go to war from Samuel the priest. He decided to bypass Samuel by offering a sacrifice to God before going to war. This action displeased God because it was not his work to offer sacrifice to God. It was the work of priests.
- After God rejected Saul as the king of Israel, Samuel was guided by God to go to Bethlehem. He was asked to go to the home of Jesse who had eight (8) sons. In that home, God was to show Samuel the next king of Israel. Samuel would then anoint the chosen son of Jesse. Seven of Jesse’s sons were brought before Samuel one by one. God told Samuel that he had not chosen any of them. When David, a shepherd, was brought before Samuel God said to him ’this is the one – anoint him!” (1 Samuel 16:12).
- David was anointed (poured oil on) as the next king of Israel. However he had to wait until Saul died before he could take over kingship. After Samuel anointed David to become the next king of Israel, Saul was jealous and plotted many times to kill him. David was employed to serve Saul. He played the harp, lyre wherever an evil spirit possessed Saul.
- When Samuel died; the Philistines gathered to fight Israel. Saul was filled with terror. Saul enquired from God whether he should go to war, but did not get an answer. Saul disobeyed God by asking a medium (witch) to consult the dead for him. This act led to the death of Saul together with his son Jonathan in battle.
- Saul was concerned with what people thought of him than pleasing God. He wanted to please people and not God. He was disobedient with God (1 Samuel 15:24)
Lessons which Christians can learn from King Saul’s failures
- Value of being patient.
- Christian should obey God, follow His commands and not be afraid of people.
- Christian should obey religious leaders placed over them by God.
- Christian leaders should be humble
- It is against the teachings of God, against the will of God to consult the spirits of the dead through mediums.
- Without faith, it is impossible to please God. God desires sincere worship.
- Political leaders should consult and listen to religious leaders.
- Christians should not turn against their enemies or rivals. They should not plot to have them destroyed and killed.
IMPORTANCE OF DAVID (1 Samuel 16: 1 – 23, 2 Samuel 6:1 – 15)
David took over kingship of Israel though some people resisted his rule. At first he ruled the house of Judah. Later on the other tribes rallied behind him.
Importance of King David
David became king after the death of Saul. He ruled for over 40 years as king of Judah and Israel.
Achievements of David
- He was a brilliant military commander
- He captured the old fortress of Jerusalem from the Jebusites and made it his capital city.
- He removed the ark of covenant from the house of Abinadab in Shiloh and brought it to Jerusalem.
- He expressed great faith in God. Through his faith in God, he was able to kill Goliath, the great Philistine warrior.
- He was a skilled musician and composed marry psalms that were used and are still being used in temple and church worship.
- David respected the prophets of God and always consulted them whenever he wanted to do anything.
- He expanded the geographical boundaries of Israel through conquests.
- He was a great diplomat and established good political relations with the neighboring kings.
- He was a shrewd administrator who chose wise elders and counselors to advice him.
- God promised to establish an everlasting kingdom for David
- David ruled over Israel, administering law and justice to all people.
- He took a census of the Israelites and used the information to
- recruit young men into military service and
- decide on the policy of taxation.
- David had remarkable leadership qualities. He was kind. He spared mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson.
- David was humble. He was ready to accept sins he had committed and repent e.g. he repented after committing adultery with Bathsheba. David as an ancestor of Jesus Christ (2 Samuel 1 – 29, LK 1:26 – 33) David intended to build a splendid temple for God in Jerusalem. He felt it was not fair for the Ark of the Covenant to continue dwelling in a tent while he himself lived in a magnificent palace. To achieve this goal, David consulted Nathan, the prophet on whether to build the temple. The prophet approved the idea. But that night, Nathan received a revelation form God that stated that David was not to build a house (temple) for God. David’s son would build the temple of God (2 Samuel 7:5 – 6). Prophet Nathan gave David God’s message to David. The message was that:
- His son will build the temple
- God would give David’s descendants a place to settle
- God promised to raise up an heir from the house of David to sit on the throne
- God promised to make David’s name great or famous among all other leaders of the earth.
Reasons why God rejected David’s offer to build him a temple
- David had been involved in a lot of wars with the Israelites’ enemies and had thus shed a lot of blood.
- God was a God of the people and could not be confined to a house.
- It was the will of God to establish the house of David (build David a house) rather than David builds a house for him (God). The human body is the temple of God. God dwells in the hearts of people.
- David had grown old. God wanted him to rest.
- God had planned that David’s son would build a house for him – a place to house the Ark of the Covenant. King Solomon, David’s son built the temple and fulfilled God’s promises to David. Solomon’s rule was peaceful and prosperous.
The New Testament is a fulfillment of God’s promises to David
- The gospel writers tell us that Jesus was born in the family of David (Luke 1:26 – 27)
- The angel of God during the annunciation of the birth of Jesus said that He will be like his ancestor David (Luke 1:32 – 33)
- Jesus was born in Bethlehem which was also the birthplace of David (Luke 2:4)
- Bartimaeus the blind man of Jericho hailed Jesus as the son of David
- During his triumphal entry to Jerusalem, Jesus was hailed by the crowd as the messiah descended from David.
- In his genealogy, Saint Mathew says that Jesus was a descendant of David (Matt.1: 1)
Failures of King David
Although David had many virtues:
- He ordered Uriah to be placed at the battle forefront so that he can be killed.
- Uriah was the husband of Bathsheba. David had committed adultery with her.
- He took Bathsheba as his wife