Everyone wants to be a king.
Some of us want to be the king of our workplace, or the king of our house. Some of us want to be the king of our fantasy football league, or the king of our neighborhood’s Christmas light displays. Some of us treat the highway as our own little kingdom, demanding that our minions ask our permission before they change lanes or slow down.
Kings stand above everyone else, receiving praise and reverence from everyone around them. Nothing is withheld from kings, after all. They never come in second place, and they never have to acquiesce to another’s needs.
It’s good to be king.
Adam and Eve were God’s appointed rulers of his kingdom. Unlike most kingdoms we see today, they had all the power a king had. They exercised ordained dominance over their territory. They named animals, ate their fill, and had almost no one to answer to. Almost.
There was still a King on his throne. With all their privileges, they still had a restriction — the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The King knew what would happen if they ate of it. He was a good King, one who wasn’t domineering, but loving. But they didn’t care. They ate of its fruit, and they lost all they had been given. Their lowercase-t throne was ripped out from under them.
From then on, human kings didn’t stand a chance. Sin had infiltrated the kingdom. The Earth, their delegated territory, was compromised.
The King the People Wanted
In 1 Samuel 8, Israel wants to install a king to make them like other nations. Despite God’s warnings, they were adamant — enough with this judge stuff; give us a king! So God gave them their hearts’ desire in King Saul. And his line of kings was no all-star lineup. It was hit-or-miss on whether or not Israel’s king would be anywhere close to David — a man after God’s own heart — but even David failed.
Asa, Jehoshaphat, Uzziah, Hezekiah, and a few others had decent reigns overall. Ahaz, Manasseh, Amon, and Johoiakim? Not so much. The people wanted a king instead of the King, and they often paid for it.
Because of sin, Lord Acton was correct: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” History bears this out. Personal experience bears this out. Even in a democracy like the United States with its “checks and balances,” it’s inescapable. We’re still trading peace with the King for rotting apples.
Praise be to God, our King stepped into human history in the person of Jesus Christ. He wasn’t sitting on his hands. The Incarnation is proof that he didn’t forget his suffering people, even though they were receiving the punishment they deserved.
The kingdom of God was brought back to the decaying kingdom of the world. The curse was being reversed.
The King the People Need
We’re always either wanting to be king, or we’re looking to imperfect people to lead us perfectly. Our kings never fulfill us. And like Israel, we never look to the King we already have.
The King of the universe is perfect. He’s just, loving, merciful, and full of grace. He doesn’t barter with lesser kings, he can’t be bribed, and he’s not corruptible. He doesn’t just do good — he is good.
Though we live in constant revolt, lobbing grenades at his doorstep, he loves and leads. He doesn’t smite us. He doesn’t send us into exile. He still welcomes us to his table. We still can approach his throne boldly (Hebrews 4:16).
Let us go to him, saying with the wise men, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2). He was born to die, and raised to reign. He is a King who didn’t send orders from his throne, but rather walked into battle for his people. His death was the death of death; his victory was our victory; his kingdom is our kingdom.
He’s the King we need because he’s the king we can never be, never find, and never elect. Our search was over before it began. He’s the answer to every question. He’s the King we’re longing for, and the King we already have.