Our Need for a Righteous King
Open Your Bible
2 Samuel 7:1-17, 1 Chronicles 28:1-8, Isaiah 33:22, Jeremiah 23:5-6
As an undergrad, I studied political science and economics, and spent more hours than I can count learning, arguing, unlearning, and repositioning my political compass. But after four years of study, it was clear to me that there is no perfect form of government, no flawless ideology or leader.
And yet, I find myself wrapped up in the political whirlwind even now. I think, But what if the promises are true? What if this person really can make a difference? What if she or he will make my life easier, my money stretch farther, my kids safer?
It is easy to fall into the same trap as the Israelites oh-so long ago. When things get tough, personally or globally, the lure of a strong leader is hard to resist. They must have thought, What if we had a king to protect us from our enemies? What if we had someone who could make us into a strong nation?
God gave Israel a king: first Saul, then the great King David, then Solomon. Saul fought for them, David led them, and Solomon dispensed wisdom from his throne. But ultimately, these men failed, as all earthly kings do. This narrative is a rather simple one to unpack: the people asked for a king, God gave them kings, those kings failed, and then God promised to send them the real King, all of which is true, of course.
But our need for a king goes back further than Solomon, David, and Saul. It goes back to the garden, when Adam and Eve walked with God and the serpent tempted them with power. Because isn’t that the root of our desire for a king? Power. Power over our enemies, our circumstances, and our future.
From the beginning, God was wiring us for a king and setting the stage for the King of kings. He called Abraham to become the father of a nation. He called Moses and His people to a land. He gave Moses a law rooted in His character, brimming with justice and righteousness. He sent judges to call His people back to Him, to remind them of the boundaries the law provided. And then He gave them earthly kings, men whose résumés were filled with both successes and failures but who, ultimately, could never be the King the people truly needed.
In Jeremiah, during the cycle of mostly terrible kings, the prophet wrote on behalf of the Lord: “I will raise up a Righteous Branch… He will reign wisely as king and administer justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. This is the name he will be called: The LORD Is Our Righteousness” (23:5–6).
This was the promise, but also the deep desire, God had sown into the hearts of His people. The pieces were there: a people, a land, a just law. But the King was missing, and one day, the King would come.