Israel’s Choice, Pt. 8 – The Monarchy

What came next in the history of Israel? I am sure God would have continued raising judges to lead His people. But a change came in the thinking of the people, and they made the request to have a king, like the other nations had.

Was this request according to God’s plan or was it rebellion? Did it secure for Israel blessings or curses? The following paragraphs describe more of the reasons and consequences surrounding Israel’s request for a king.

“When the Israelites first settled in Canaan they acknowledged the principles of the theocracy, and the nation prospered under the rule of Joshua. But increase of population and intercourse with other nations brought a change. The people adopted many of the customs of their heathen neighbors and thus sacrificed to a great degree their own peculiar, holy character. Gradually they lost their reverence for God and ceased to prize the honor of being His chosen people. Attracted by the pomp and display of heathen monarchs, they tired of their own simplicity. Jealousy and envy sprang up between the tribes. Internal dissensions made them weak; they were continually exposed to the invasion of their heathen foes, and the people were coming to believe that in order to maintain their standing among the nations, the tribes must be united under a strong central government. As they departed from obedience to God’s law, they desired to be freed from the rule of their divine Sovereign; and thus the demand for a monarchy became widespread throughout Israel.”

Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 603 par. 3 {PP 603.3}

 

“The Lord had, through His prophets, foretold that Israel would be governed by a king; but it does not follow that this form of government was best for them or according to His will. He permitted the people to follow their own choice, because they refused to be guided by His counsel. Hosea declares that God gave them a king in His anger. Hosea 13:11. When men choose to have their own way, without seeking counsel from God, or in opposition to His revealed will, He often grants their desires, in order that, through the bitter experience that follows, they may be led to realize their folly and to repent of their sin. Human pride and wisdom will prove a dangerous guide. That which the heart desires contrary to the will of God will in the end be found a curse rather than a blessing.

“God desired His people to look to Him alone as their Law-giver and their Source of strength. Feeling their dependence upon God, they would be constantly drawn nearer to Him. They would become elevated and ennobled, fitted for the high destiny to which He had called them as His chosen people. But when a man was placed upon the throne, it would tend to turn the minds of the people from God. They would trust more to human strength, and less to divine power, and the errors of their king would lead them into sin and separate the nation from God.”

Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 605-606 {PP 605.3-606.1}

 

1 Samuel 8:6-8 “6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. 7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. 8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.”

 

“Before there could be any hope of prosperity for Israel they must be led to repentance before God. In consequence of sin they had lost their faith in God and their discernment of His power and wisdom to rule the nation–lost their confidence in His ability to vindicate His cause. Before they could find true peace they must be led to see and confess the very sin of which they had been guilty. They had declared the object of the demand for a king to be, ‘That our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.’ Samuel recounted the history of Israel, from the day when God brought them from Egypt. Jehovah, the King of kings, had gone out before them and had fought their battles. Often their sins had sold them into the power of their enemies, but no sooner did they turn from their evil ways than God’s mercy raised up a deliverer. The Lord sent Gideon and Barak, and ‘Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and ye dwelt safe.’ Yet when threatened with danger they had declared, ‘A king shall reign over us,’ when, said the prophet, ‘Jehovah your God was your King.’”

Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 614 par. 4 {PP 614.4}

So, in other words, Israel’s request for a king was foolish, because they should have had every confidence in God as their leader, who had always provided worthy men to judge and to bring deliverance for Israel. There was no need for Israel to ask for a king to do the work God had already been doing for them. Samuel himself had been raised up by God, and had done a good work for Israel, yet the people even took him for granted and sought to have a king instead.

God sent judgments to convict the people of their sin. Thunder and rain came in a time of harvest when no rain fell (see Patriarchs and Prophets, 615.1), and then the people acknowledged their sin. See 1 Sam. 12:19. But God still granted their request for a king.

Monarchical Period begins:

1031 BC                Saul anointed king

1005 BC               David anointed king

972 BC                  Solomon anointed king

 

SUMMARY OF THE FIRST THREE KINGS

Were these good kings or bad? Saul did some good, but had a bad end (1 Samuel 28:7, 31:4). David, except for his sin regarding Bathsheba, was a faithful king (1 Kings 11:38, 15:5). Therefore, Israel had some good years during David’s reign. Solomon started faithful also, but ended up leading the people into idolatry by his own idolatrous example (1 Kings 11:4).

One important point needs to be noted about King David. God made a promise to him,

2 Samuel 7:14-17 “I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:  15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.  16 And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.  17 According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David.”

You may not see the full significance of this promise at this point, but later we will see how it affected the way the curses were fulfilled; how it helped to preserve David’s descendants and hold back some of God’s wrath in later times of their rebellion. The greatest purpose of this promise was to preserve a line of descendants from which the Messiah, the “light” as mentioned in the promise (spoken to Jeroboam in 1 Kings 11:36) would come.

 

SUMMARY OF THE KINGS

“Under David’s rule, the people of Israel gained strength, and uprightness through obedience to God’s law. But the kings that followed strove for self exaltation. They took to themselves glory for the greatness of the kingdom, forgetting how utterly dependent they were upon God. They regarded themselves as wise and independent, because of the honor showed them by fallible, erring man. They became corrupt, immoral, and rebelled against the Lord, turning from him to the worship of idols.

“God bore long with them, calling them often to repentance. But they refused to hear, and at last God spoke in judgment, showing them how weak they were without him. He saw that they were determined to have their own way, and he gave them into the hands of their enemies, who spoiled their land, and took the people captive.

“The alliances made by the Israelites with their heathen neighbors resulted in the loss of their identity as God’s peculiar people. They became leavened by the evil practises of those with whom they formed forbidden alliances. Affiliation with worldlings caused them to lose their first love, and their zeal for God’s service. The advantages they sold themselves to gain, brought only disappointment, and caused the loss of many souls.”

The Review and Herald {RH, August 4, 1904 par. 7-9}

In the second paragraph of the above quote, notice how she describes the fulfillment of the curses. Remember how Leviticus 26 laid out an “if…then”, cause and effect scenario? If the people would not hear… curses would be upon them. And ultimately if they would not hear or be converted by the increasing judgments or curses, scattering was to be the effect of their stubborn rebellion. That is exactly being described in the aforementioned paragraph, correct?

Well, so far have seen several evidences that the scattering curse will go into effect. But that full execution is still ahead in our study. First we must do further study about the remaining kings.

 

To be continued…

 

References

Bible, King James Version

Quotes taken from the Ellen G. White Writings, Comprehensive Research Edition 2008 CD

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