God’s instruction for a Democracy - Deuteronomy 1:9-15

  • Who decides on leaders? > the people > elective government
  • Where from leaders? > from every group > representative government
  • What kind of leaders? > wise (character), intelligent (skill), known (reputation)
  • How are they chosen? > consensus process

Short history of Israel

  • Israel establishes its government in 1446 BC at Sinai (Exo 18)
  • Israel under Joshua conquers Canaan and settles in it from 1405 BC
  • Israel starts disobeying the law (idolatry / injustices / etc.)
  • God lets their enemies get strong, Israel suffers and repents
  • Judges deliver Israel from around 1360-1050 BC (Book of Judges)
  • Israel is a loose collection of 12 self-governed tribes (no central government)

Israel demands a king

1 Sam 8:1-3   When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel…Yet his sons did not follow in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice.

1 Sam 8:4-5   Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel…“You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations”

What can we learn from this?
  • Corruption makes people willing to accept extremer solutions
  • Not even godly Samuel managed to pass his attitude on to the next generation!
  • Pass down even under best of conditions is not sure at all
  • They are in consensus, the process is healthy, though their goal is not good

1 Sam 8:6   “appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations”

  • Israel, wanting to be ‘like others’
  • Israel was meant to influence all other nations towards godliness & God’s law
  • Now the opposite is happening: Israel wants to model itself by other nations
  • This means a rejection of their calling in God. This means a rejection of God

Asking for a strong man

  • Why do we want kings? Why do we push power up?
  • We call for a ‘strong leader’, also today, if uncertainty, inefficiency or unpeace
  • But: If you can’t hold the current government accountable to law, how will you keep an even stronger leader accountable?

Trouble foretold

1 Sam 8:9-17    God:   “You shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them” 

  • 1 Sam 8:10-17 The king will take increasing license, people will be increasingly enslaved, the rich-poor gap will be widening
  • This is a very realistic description and is later fulfilled in detail

Problems with a Monarchy

  • The government is not elective
    • people have no power to decide, no power to replace bad leadership
    • bloodline decides, not people … first-birth, father’s preference, intrigue decides
    • fosters exclusivity, spoiling, hinders healthy competition
    • introduces competition, intrigue, power-games, conspiracies within the family and
      assassinations in general
    • If disastrous king, no good path left by which to bring change, only: assassination
  • Skilled, wise and reputed individuals?
    • leadership not by skill, wisdom, reputation, but birth
    • leadership quality becomes accidental, at best
    • no meritocracy > usually his means bad leadership
    • luxury, exclusivity will spoil the upbringing of the new king
    • intrigues and power-games seem to be more effective than good character
  • The government is not representative
    • people’s needs are less communicated, less heard, less addressed
    • which leads to inefficiency, neglect, bad rule, discontentment, injustice, insecurity
    • feeling of powerlessness
    • loss of hope
    • openness towards radical “solutions”
    • eventually rebellion

Israel insists on a king and herewith on monarchy - 1 Samuel 8:18, 19, 22

  • People’s answer to the warning: “No, but we want a king …”
    • They refuse to see cause & effect, wanting a thing but not its consequences
    • This will never work! Grow up! You can’t have a thing but refuse its consequences
  • God: “Listen to their voice and set a king over them”
    • God respecting his own principle of giving authority of government to the people

Monarchy's 1st king: - Saul 1 Samuel 9-31

  • Saul gives them the victory they want
  • But Saul quickly deteriorates
    • he is insecure, doesn’t trust God, neither people, takes things into his own hands
    • he quickly collects yeah-sayers (like Doeg, killing 85 priests at king’s order)
    • he envies, hunts and tries to kill his competition
    • he stays in power by force after God rejected him
  • Sad and depressing death after consulting a witch

Monarchy's 2nd king: David - 1 Samuel 16 – 2 Samuel 24

  • God indicates to choose him
  • Personally godly > a good king
  • Israel’s greatest king, but the system (monarchy) is bad
  • David also deteriorates
    • uses his power for adultery
    • uses his power for murder
    • refuses to judge his bad sons
    • refuses to reign in Absalon
  • Patterns laid for later?
  • Polygamy
    • multiple sons, partially related
    • competition, feuds, hatred
    • absence of judgment
    • struggle around succession
    • violence / assassinations
  • Centralized government
  • Elitist government

Monarchy's 3rd king: Solomon - 2 Samuel 11-14, 1 Kings 1-11

  • Solomon is indicated by God to be next king
  • His mother Bathsheba … who sins, yet has wisdom (Pr 31:1-9)
  • He is set on the throne by his dying father David
  • God asks what he wants: > wisdom. God gives wisdom, and riches, life, victory
  • Builds the temple, at its dedication he prays a great prayer showing understanding
  • God answers by his prayer by manifesting His presence (cloud on the tabernacle), like in Moses’ times. This is great confirmation. This is the best start ever.
  • The law for kings in De 17:16-20: not too many horses, wives, wealth and honor
  • Solomon breaks every one of these laws!
  • Not too many horses?
    • Solomon imports horses from Egypt and all lands (2 Chr 9:28)
    • 1400 chariots
    • 12’000 horses
    • Chariot cities
    • Solomon not only imports but effectively controls horse trade (1 Ki 10:26-29)
  • Not too much wealth?
    • God promises him great wealth (1 Ki 3:13)
    • Gold, silver, ivory, great wealth (2 Ch 9:13-22)
    • Requirements of food for court (1 Ki 4:22-23)
    • Taxing system: 12 areas provide for the king for one month (1 Ki 4:7-19)
    • He taxes all tribes, except his own (Judah), though it is the most populous tribe
    • After 7y building temple, spends 13y on his own palace, and many other projects
    • Exacts forced labor of foreigners … allowed in the law (1 Ki 9:15-22)
    • Exacts forced labor of Israelites … not allowed in the law (1 Ki 5:13-18)
  • Israelites say about Solomon to his son (after Solomon’s death) “your father made our yoke heavy”. So much for the ‘golden times’. (2 Ch 10:4)
  • Not too many wives?
    > Solomon marries 700 princesses and 300 concubines > probably many children
    • Solomon marries many foreign women (against God’s command)
    • Foreign wives > He builds altars for their foreign gods > idolatry (1 Ki 11:1-8)
    • impossible family situation, children growing up discipled by foreign mother

Monarchy's 4th King: Rehoboam, David’s grandson - 1 Kings 12-14

  • Rehoboam’s mother: Naamah the Ammonite, discipling him in idolatry most likely
  • Rehoboam does evil, pursues idolatry
  • People of Israel come to him, request ‘lightening of the yoke’ after Solomon
  • Rehoboam refuses in pride and adds to the pressure
  • Israel falls apart North: Israel (10 tribes)                 > rebels against house of David
                                              South: Judah (2 tribes)     > reigned by house of David
  • never reunites, soon war against each other
  • both kingdoms eventually conquered and exiled

Split Monarchy: Judah - Kings, Chronicles

  • One dynasty only by God’s grace
  • 4 of 23 kings (17%) are assassinated
  • 2 of the 23 kings confirm their power by killing their brothers or others
  • Over 450 years 23 kings (931-586 BC)
  • Average reign per king = 20 years
  • Within 450 years they become a complete disaster
  • God judges by a wipe out & exile, there is a return

Split Monarchy: Israel - Kings

  • Over only 200 years 19 kings and 9 new dynasties (931-722 BC) > instability
  • 3 dynasties are terminated by an assassination of the entire family
  • The longest dynasty is Jehu’s (5 generations) by a promise of God
  • 8 of 19 kings (42%) die by assassination
  • Average reign per king = 10 ½ years
  • Within 200 years they are a disaster
  • God judges by a wipe out and exile, they never return

Monarchy's end stage: Jeremiah - Jeremiah

  • Persistent injustice and lawlessness
  • Last kings are completely corrupt
  • When Babylon finally conquers, Judah is more lawless than Babylon
  • For the poor of Judah: conquest makes things not worse than they are
  • God’s model nation (to reveal himself to all nations) ends in disaster