Last week, the question was asked, “Does everybody need a king, even one that some might consider oppressive?
The answer I offered: Yes, and no.
The idea for this line of questioning originated from the last line in the Book of Judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).1
The lack of a reigning monarch in the Book of Judges resulted in sinful chaos.
Why did Israel need a king?
They needed a king because they were so sinfully messed up that they kept worshiping false gods and fighting against and killing each other. They needed a righteous king to tell them what to do, because what they were doing wasn’t working.
This is the behavior of God’s people we’re talking about here, the only people that He had chosen to represent Himself to the world.
This sinful chaos was not a good thing, but I suppose you already knew that.
Do people today need a king? Well, my Pakistani pastor friend asserted that the people in his country did—they needed a dictator to keep all the warring tribes in check (See previous post). All throughout history, this has been necessary according to the lights of those who hold secular power, and sometimes brutal oppression has been needed to accomplish that. Unfortunately, the use of oppression to attain “unity” and “peace” is not a good thing.
But I suppose you already knew that.
So, back to our original question: “Does everybody need a king, even one that some might consider oppressive?”
No, not a brutal, oppressive king (or queen) and not even a “good one,” because who knows how his or her son or daughter will reign. Then there’s the question of insuring a successor, which, if you’re familiar with the history of Great Britain, Rome, or Israel (those countries with which I’m most familiar), proves to be a bit problematic, to use an understatement.
However, everyone does need a spiritual king, even one that some might consider oppressive. People need a spiritual king because, to put it frankly, everyone is as sinfully messed up as the aforementioned people of Israel were. And to put it frankly again, we need to be told what to do.
Morally? Absolutely and unquestionably. We, in our sinfully-messed-up-ness, think all kinds of odd things will work for our good. Committing adultery with another’s spouse. Using drugs or alcohol to escape reality. Stealing from someone to get what one needs. Lying to keep out of trouble. Making the accumulation of goods and wealth our ultimate life goal.
Not loving God with all of one’s heart.
In everyday matters? Well, if you mean loving your neighbor as yourself, loving your wife as Jesus loved the Church and died for her, and submitting to your husband, yes. If you mean what job should you take or house should you buy, yes, guidance is from God is needed and wise (since He knows the future), but the sense we receive from Him after asking is often, “You have sought Me. I have heard you. Go in peace with your present decision.”
I know this insistence for being ruled may rankle those who cry out, “No! Freedom!” We don’t want to love our neighbors like ourselves. We don’t want to die daily for our wives. We don’t want to, heaven forbid, submit to our husbands. We don’t want to, heaven forbid, abstain from sex, well, in most every way possible. Because: Freedom!
But that kind of freedom is not freedom at all—it is bondage. You just don’t know it yet.
And, paradoxically, being in “bondage” to God, if that’s what you want to call it, is freedom indeed.
However, the Lord God gave us these truths—commands to be more accurate—for our good, not because He enjoys ordering people around like a cruel dictator.
Go, seek your King, Jesus. He will forgive you. Only good—love-filled good—awaits you.
1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.