The King and His Ruler
Eternal God, You are the One in whom I live, move and have my being. I trust in You.
Read 1 Samuel 10:1-27
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Christians submit conscientiously to the state, in so far as it’s God-given authority is used to promote good and punish evil, but we will not worship it. It is Christ we worship” (John R. W. Stott).
There are three stages to Saul becoming king: private anointing (1-8), public process (17-25) and authentication in military victory (ch. 11). Throughout, it is the Lord who directs: he anoints through Samuel (1), the selection by lot is “before the Lord” (19,20) and he verifies (17-24); subsequently, he is in all the victory (11:6,7,13). The request for a “king” may have come from the people–and that a sign of rejection of God’s rule (19; reprising 8:7,8)–but Saul and the people must know that God, not they, made the appointment and he remains their king.
Significantly, Samuel does not initially use “king” (melek) but “ruler” (nagîd; 9:16; 10:1). A melek in the ancient Near East generally had absolute power, so nagîd is a reminder of accountability to the sovereign Lord to live out his character and purposes, doing what is just and right (25; cf. Deut. 17:18-20). Sadly, later Saul forgot (13:14). It was the Lord who anointed (1), as did Egyptian rulers their vassals. Israel is God’s “inheritance” (and “my people,” 9:16,17), not Saul’s. “Ruler” appears at the beginning of significant transitions in the future account of kingship (1 Sam. 25:30; 2 Sam. 7:8; 1 Kings 1:35; 14:7; 2 Kings 20:5), a repeated reminder that Israel’s kings are always “prince” (nagid) in Yahweh‘s eyes.
No present nation is “my people,” yet still “the authorities are God’s servants” (Rom. 13:6), irrespective of their faith or behavior (just like Israel’s kings!). How to recognize divine sovereignty appropriately in contemporary nations is a challenge. Christians clearly have a responsibility to pray constantly for all in authority (1 Tim. 2:1,2) and to serve under God in whatever position we may have. Pastors and leaders of Christian organizations need constant reminders that “my church/organization” is shorthand for “God’s church/organization in which he has given me responsibility with accountability.”
Spend time praying specifically for leaders in your nation, both nationally and locally. Then pray for your church leaders too.
Heavenly Father, I pray for my country. May justice and righteousness prevail in it. May those who lead do so for the greater good, not for personal gain.