Sunday, August 5, 2007

The King of Kings

The concept of God as King is one that extends back to the time before Israel had a king. As it says in Samuel 8:
In his old age Samuel appointed his sons judges over Israel. ... His sons did not follow his example but sought illicit gain and accepted bribes, perverting justice. Therefore all the elders of Israel came in a body to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Now that you are old, and your sons do not follow your example, appoint a king over us, as other nations have, to judge us.”

Samuel was displeased when they asked for a king to judge them. He prayed to the LORD, however, who said in answer: “Grant the people’s every request. It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king. As they have treated me constantly from the day I brought them up from Egypt to this day, deserting me and worshiping strange gods, so do they treat you too. Now grant their request; but at the same time, warn them solemnly and inform them of the rights of the king who will rule them.”
So as can be seen by asking for a human king the Israelites were rejecting God as their king. But before he gives them a king God has Samuel describe to the people the rights of the king.
This, the rights of monarchy, is a concept that we in the modern west do not understand well. It has been said, about America anyway, that here every man is a king, every woman a queen. Who hasn't heard the old saying, "A man's home is his castle?" The perceived notion is that a man is king in his own home.
And we act in the way of nobility of the past. We stand for our rights, we stand for the rights of others. Our motto might be said to be, "I respect all men and bow to none."
In ancient times it was thought that people were not all equal. The king was, as in scripture, thought to be appointed by God. People had a duty to give the king his due. And the king had a divine right to this authority, because this authority did not come from the consensus the governed, but by the authority of God.
When men marched into battle they did not, generally debate the right or wrong of the act, they answered the call of the king. That was why great dynastic wars, such as the War of the Roses, were such long bloody things, because generally once a person pledged their service to their monarch they were committed for life.
We in the modern world find the concept of such unthinking, mindless devotion alien. But in many ways that is what God asks of us. Its not that we can't discern the truth of many Church teachings from inquiry, St. Thomas Aquinas did that, but of the Great Mysteries, we must give ourselves over to God and trust with our whole heart. We must not be our own little king or queen but pledge ourselves to the Great King of all.

1 comment:

victor said...

I believe in god and his is king of kings