The world has an intriguing history of kings and queens, thrones and kingdoms. And King Charles III is the latest name on this long list of monarchs. For whatever reason, human beings often crave a king to lead them.
When the Israelites became bored with God’s loving rule and reign over their daily life, they began to clamor for a king. They longed to operate like the nations around them. They seemingly forgot all about the Lord’s faithfulness to them.
In their spiritual stupor they expressed their wicked agenda to Samuel, who was the last in the line of judges of Israel: “Now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected but me. As they have done from the day I brought them out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do” (1 Samuel 8:5-9).
God allows his children to exercise their free will, even when it is not pleasing to God or in our best interest to make a particular decision.
The vast majority of the kings brought disaster upon God’s people. For example, “Nadab son of Jeroboam ... reigned over Israel two years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, walking in the ways of his father and in his sin, which he had caused Israel to commit” (1 Kings 15:25-26).
Likewise, “Ahab ... reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him” (1 Kings 16:29-33).
This is what happens when the children of God attempt to operate like the world. When God’s people crave a king other than the Lord, it is only a matter of time before we suffer the consequences of our worldly ambition.
Jesus told a parable about a man of noble birth. The people said, “We don’t want this man to be our king” (Luke 19:11). This is essentially what the Israelites were saying to God. We don’t need you to be our king any longer. We want an earthly ruler, just like the other nations.
Christians today can learn a lot from the experiences of God’s people in the Old Testament. Perhaps you have found yourself obsessed with a superstar president or a celebrity pastor. We must recognize that such obsessions do not come from the Lord. After all, why would God ever give his people a desire to focus more on an earthly leader than on our Heavenly King?
Spirit-filled believers crave the King who lived a perfect life, died a holy death, and rose from the dead on the third day for our eternal salvation. This godly passion trumps all other desires in every heart that is overflowing with God’s power. If a believer begins to crave an earthly kingdom or an earthly king, he finds himself placing an inordinate amount of attention on man, and less attention on King Jesus and his eternal kingdom.
This is a daily challenge for believers. May God grant us grace and power to crave Christ’s kingdom far above all other desires. You see, “the kingdom of God” is a matter of “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:19). The Lord has placed the strong desire within us to see “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
If you have repented of your sins and are relying upon Christ’s death on the cross to wash away your sins, then you can know that you have been redeemed, justified, forgiven, born again and saved (Romans 5:1-2; Ephesians 2:8-9; Galatians 2:16). And “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
When Christians walk closely to Christ, they crave the Lord’s kingly rule in every area of their heart and life. But when Christians live in spiritual immaturity as “infants in Christ” (1 Cor. 3:1), they spend more time focusing on a superstar president or a celebrity pastor than on the King of Kings.
When we as God’s people crave a king, we must ask ourselves: What kind of king am I seeking? And where does Jesus factor into my craving for a king?
Thankfully, the Messiah is the only true and everlasting superstar in the Universe. And the "King of kings” (1 Tim. 6:15) clearly told us: “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). We know as Christians that “our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
Craving the King of kings and His kingdom is a desire the Holy Spirit has placed within us who believe in Jesus. And we long for others to know this magnificent King as well.
Do you know the King? If not, what are you waiting for? Repent of your sins and “believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). The craving for an earthly leader will then begin to pale in comparison to your craving for the King of kings, especially as you walk closely with your King everyday.
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.