January 04, 2024

A Royal Mess

Isaiah 9:6-7

You have . . . crowned [human beings] with glory and honor. You have made them rulers over the works of your hands. . . .

—  Psalm 8:5-6

A few years ago, the prison church I serve spent 16 weeks reading the Bible books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings. It was mostly a depressing experience as the story turned from bad to worse. That’s when it struck me that the Old Testament is a long meditation on the subject of kingship.

The first Old Testament story (Genesis 1) assigns to human beings a royal responsibility over God’s created world. The next story (Genesis 2) pictures that responsibility as the careful tending of a garden. In the stories that follow, human beings quickly lose interest in serving God. Instead they want to become gods themselves.

From there it’s all misery and ruin. Until God takes things in hand and begins a long, even tortured process of putting things right. God sets out to establish his kingdom among the family of Abraham. God himself will be the King. But soon enough the people of that kingdom lose confidence in their divine King. They want the kind of king everyone else has. So that’s what they get. And as we can see in the books of Samuel and Kings, it’s not a pretty picture.

No wonder a hunger develops for an ideal king and an ideal kingdom. But that’s a kingdom only God can establish.

Jesus, you are the ideal King. You are God’s answer to the world’s aching need. You are the one who will make everything right. All glory belongs to you! Amen.

About the author — Bob Arbogast

Bob Arbogast is the pastor of Celebration Fellowship church in Ionia, Michigan. In his spare time, he plays guitar in a West Michigan blues band. He and his wife Jan have been married forty years and have three adult daughters. Bob has been praying the psalms since 2002.

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