Why did God give his people an earthly king? (from “Spectacular Sins”)

Can you imagine telling God you need a different Savior? Jesus is nice and all, but he’s too shadowy, you might say. You need one that you can take a photo of, get an autograph from, maybe even vote on every few years.

That’s what the Israelites did when they begged for an earthly king, even though God had already proved faithful in that position (1 Samuel 8:7-8). This sin was a doozy.

But was God taken off guard by their request? Was he forced into Plan B to accommodate their sin?

Obviously not. Scriptures like Deuteronomy 28:36 and 1 Samuel 2:10 mention kings, long before there were kings in Israel. God knew it was coming. Jesus was to be born through a bloodline of physical kings to be the King of kings.

So why didn’t God just start off that way? Begin the nation of Israel with King Abraham or at least King Moses? Why wait around a few centuries for them to ask for one through sin?

This is the question of chapter 7 of Spectacular Sins. John Piper proposes there were 6 lessons God wanted us to learn from their asking for a king, and from God giving them one:

1. It reminds us how rebellious and unthankful we can be (1 Samuel 12:7-13).
In other words, don’t think, “I would have been above this.” Um, not likely. “Even as Christians, we are not steadfast in our affections for God. We have thankful days and unthankful days. And even our thankful days are not as thankful as they should be.”

2. Remember that God is always faithful to his own name (1 Samuel 12:22).
Not for my sake or for your sake—for HIS sake.

3. Because God is faithful to his name, we benefit—we receive his grace. (1 Samuel 12:19-22)
...because of who HE is, not because of our worth. He is grace personified and he cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13).

4. Kingship belongs only to the Lord.
God proved he was enough when he began his relationship with his people with no earthly king. When they asked for one anyway, they were rejecting perfection to settle for less (1 Samuel 8:7). How well did that work out for them?

5. A God-Man must be King.
All human kings failed...until the perfect King came along, who was both man AND God. God was restored as the true and only King once again.

6. The King must die for his people.
Sin cannot be overlooked; it has to be dealt with. Through death. But God can’t die. So God became man. And when this King rose again, it was to be king not only over the Jews, but to be King over all (Revelation 19:16).

Can I agree with certainty that these reasons are the definitive answers why God worked into his plan the spectacular sin of the Israelites asking for a king? No. But these reasons are valid arguments; they glorify the Father and Son; and they are valuable lessons to learn. That’s enough to rest my mind.

Next week, the final spectacular sin...any guesses?...

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