Sunday, First Methodist Houston began a worship series about King David. As summer emerges, it is a good time to go a little deeper into the Biblical story. If you want to come along with us check out our worship and resource for going the extra mile at fmhouston.com/david.
Occasionally, I find we fall into a trap of thinking that just because something is in the Bible we assume it is good. Readers think that because the Bible is a holy book every story must also be holy. While I believe the Bible is a holy book, every story in it is not faithful and a good example of this is the debate about whether Israel should have a king.
In 1 Samuel 6, the people of Israel ask the prophet Samuel to be led in a different way. Give us a king like other nations, they ask. Up until this time Israel has been led by judges, prophetic leaders. These people, however, could be corrupt – like Samuel’s own sons – and the form of government was not strong enough to fend off attacks by rival nations. The people, therefore, want a change.
Samuel, the prophet, is conflicted because what he knows is that a king will to a degree supplant God. People will look to a king to do what people should look to God to provide. I hear this even today. People ask the government to do what we in our own conversations with God should make happen because of our own faith and work.
Biblically, another reality to keep in mind is that political kingship is a disaster. Israel ends up destroyed by Babylon and scattered in 587 B.C. Kings – many corrupt and not as able a leader as David – are blamed by the prophets as part of the reason why. Israel trusted leaders over the Lord and paid the price – a truth in every age.
Which is to say, the Bible is book of answers while also being a book of the right questions. The question – Who should I follow? – is one of those right questions. We need people to lead us, while also keeping in perspective what a leader can really do for us verses what we should do and become ourselves.
As the Bible unfolds, ultimately we meet Jesus as the best answer for us. He is the one to follow. He does for us what we cannot do for ourselves while also insisting we take responsibility for our lives. Jesus also points us to a relationship above, understanding that God the Father ultimately is the relationship with which no one should interfere.
More on David and leadership in the next blog post. In the meantime, what do you think?