Amidst the anarchy during the time of the Judges, there is an express need for a king. Cue a childless mother who is crying out to God for a baby, a sure sign that God is about to bring about something significant. And so, a baby boy is born, Samuel, and our anticipation is building.
Samuel, however, is not raised up to be king. He’s a king-finding priest and prophet. First, the old priestly order is shifted out of the way by God because of its corruption. The hunt for a king can begin even though the people wanted a king to be like everyone else around them and to replace God. Nevertheless, God permits them a king: a man head and shoulders above the rest, and good looking too. Saul fits the bill.
Though he gets off to a good start as king, Saul quickly demonstrates an inability to submit to God and follow his lead. He is soon rejected, and God’s Spirit leaves him. To make this very clear, God summons Samuel for another king hunt. This time he anoints a mere shepherd boy, David, who may not look the part but whose heart is after God’s own. This is demonstrated in his victory over Goliath where he trusts God to win the battle.
Throughout the rest of Saul’s life, in bitter resentment he chases down David and tries to kill him. Despite having the opportunity to eliminate Saul, David refuses to take the life of God’s anointed, showing his godlikeness. But it all finishes for Saul in battle as, seriously wounded, he falls on his sword.
David is very quickly made king of the tribe of Judah, then not long after, the whole land. As he’s crowned king, so he takes the city, Jerusalem, for his home and moves God’s presence to its rightful place. What’s more, as he expresses a desire to build a house for God, so God promises to build David’s house so that a descendant of his will sit on the throne forever — a clear pointer to Jesus’ eternal kingship.
Yet David’s godly character reveals its imperfection as he commits sins of sexual immorality and murder. Though he is repentant and forgiven, his ability to rule with integrity and justice is compromised as his sons also commit the same sins. All this results in one of them usurping David’s position and hunting him down. It turns out, David is not the ultimate king — he is still to come.
As David reaches the end of his life, so Solomon his son is established as the next king. It all starts so well for him, as God offers to give him whatever he asks for, but instead of asking for wealth and influence, he asks for wisdom. God gives him wisdom, but also gives him wealth and influence as well.
Time passes, and Solomon increases in international influence and amasses great wealth. Solomon reaches great heights, and so do the people of the land as they flourish under God’s king. Solomon builds God’s Temple, as the promise to David foretold. God shows that he is among his people when the cloud of glory rushes into the Temple. The empire of God’s people has reached its glorious heights of peace, power and God’s presence. It seems they have arrived.
Except the story hasn’t ended. Solomon begins to show serious cracks in his character as he reaches his older years. Sin and idolatry are found in God’s king, and as goes the king, so go the people. So it won’t be until a long time later that a better king, a perfect king who leads his people in his own perfect ways, will come and permanently establish his empire.
Next in this series: Exile »