About Kings

Enlightenment theory, which formed the basis of our country’s political philosophy, held that people exchange liberty for security, and this has to be done with care.  This is usually the debate in our politics today – where to draw the line. 

There are two interesting biblical texts along this line. 

Deuteronomy 17:14-20 makes provision for a king to be established, with warnings against having an alliance with Egypt, or with a king having foreign wives, and a provision for the king to make and keep a copy of the covenant law.  This is at best an allowance for kings, not an endorsement.  Which is interesting because of the role that kings, including David and Solomon played.

I Samuel 8 is the account of the people asking Samuel to give them a king.  Samuel gives a very grave warning of the dangers the king poses to their liberties, but they insist.

1 Samuel 8:11-18  ESV
    He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. [12] And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. [13] He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. [14] He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. [15] He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. [16] He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. [17] He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. [18] And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

So here is an interesting couple of passages to set against both biblical history of the kings, as well as against our own history.  How much can we entrust to a leader?  Can we get along without one?   

 

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One thought on “About Kings

  1. The answer to both (rhetorical?) questions seem to be: it depends on the who the leader is.

    After all, NOT having a leader isn’t a real option. Either you follow someone or you’re on your own.

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