Text: 2 Kings 23:1-3, Psalm 2:1-12, Psalm 89:1-4, Daniel 2:21, Romans 8:34
A king represents his people before God. When Israel’s kings followed the Lord, the nation experienced God’s blessing. But when her kings rejected the Lord, the people often suffered for it because the king represented the nation. Often, as it went for the king, so it went for the people.
I’ve never liked politics. I try to toe the line somewhere between being a responsible and engaged citizen and maintaining my sanity through a healthy dose of blissful ignorance. It isn’t that I don’t care; it’s the opposite. I do care, and the implications of political decisions overwhelm me. How can frail, human shoulders bear so much weight?
Israel’s kings knew this weightiness well, in a way our modern-day leaders often seem to forget. They knew from experience the far-reaching implications of how they chose to represent their people before God. When they followed the Lord, the nation experienced God’s blessing. But when a king rejected the Lord, the people often suffered for it because the king represented the nation. Often, as it went for the king, so it went for the people.
Take Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, for example. He feared the Lord, and during the third year of his reign, he sent 16 teachers throughout the land to reeducate the people about God’s law.
“The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the earlier ways of his father David. He did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments… Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand… And the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah, and they made no war against Jehoshaphat.”
- 2 Chronicles 17:3-5, 10
Zedekiah, on the other hand, did not fear the Lord. Some 300 years (and a full gamut of good and bad kings) later, King Zedekiah “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” and God “cast them out from his presence.” Finally, “in the ninth year of his reign… Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem, and laid siege to it” (Jeremiah 52:2-4). It was at the close of yet another unrighteous king’s reign that the temple was burned (52:13), the walls of Jerusalem were broken down (52:14), and nearly 5,000 of God’s chosen people were exiled to Babylon (52:30).
As it went for the king, so it went for the people—for better and for worse.
When a king interceded on behalf of his people, the nation was often protected from outside attacks. When he educated them in the law of the Lord and walked in the ways of God, the nation would experience blessing.
The kingdoms of Israel and Judah remained at the mercy of their good and bad kings throughout the Old Testament, but a King of kings would come—One who walked perfectly with God, though we and our kings do not. Even the good kings had flaws, and Israel would always be in need of righteous representation before God. But one King was coming—indeed, He is already here!—who would be our righteous representative.
It may not always appear as though our King represents us the way we wish He would, or that He protects us from wars and exile and destruction the way we think He should, but “our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12).
Jesus Christ, our perfect and just King, rules above all kings of earth—past, present, and future. We place our hope in Him today—not in “men who cannot save” (Psalm 146:3), but in our righteous, forever King.
Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33). Thanks be to God!