In the United States, we don’t have a king who rules over us. In America, you don’t have to be a part of a certain family to lead the country one day. We have many leaders who help make, enforce, and interpret laws for our protection. We have a many people in our government who seek to rule and defend us. In fact, one of the main roles of the President of the United States is to defend the citizens as Commander-in-Chief. But a king is different. A king rules with absolute authority. No one can question or challenge the decisions of the king. This is why bad kings are so bad. They rule with total power, and no one can stop them. In a world filled with sin, kings with absolute authority are bad for the citizens of a country.
In the Bible, God was the rightful king of the people of Israel. But one day, they grew tired of God being their king. They wanted a human king like the other nations around them. God gave them what they wanted and from the first king until the exile, Israel experienced a succession of good and bad kings that at times led the nation in godliness and prosperity, and at other times in sin and destruction. The roles of these kings were to rule and defend the people from their enemies. But many of them failed to rule the people well. These kings led the nation into sin rather than holiness. They led the people away from God.
God is the eternal king of the universe because he is the creator of the universe. When Adam sinned against God, he rebelled against the King and his kingdom. Through sin, Adam refused to submit to God as King. God established kings once again when he allowed his people to be ruled by a king. King David was the closest thing to a godly king. But David failed to perfectly rule and defend his people. In fact, he even had one of his own people killed in order to hide his sin. David’s ultimate purpose was to point to a greater King who would come from his line to reign in a kingdom that will last forever.
As our King, Jesus rules over us and defends us against all our enemies. He has conquered sin, Satan, and death for us. And even now he guards our hearts from that which would do us greatest harm. He is a good king indeed. All who are in his kingdom must submit to his rule as King. In Jesus’ kingdom, no rebels exist. Jesus is a King who does not allow sin to reign over us. In the end, we can have one ruler, either sin or Jesus. Growing in Christ is a process of learning to walk in the way of the kingdom. The question for a Christian every day is: Will I submit to King Jesus or king self?
Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their sons, Jude and Jack. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.