God KNEW Israel would one day want a king like the rest of the nations around them. He set down requirements for their kings beforehand.
When I first came to this passage I was reminded of the stories I learned of Israel asking for a king. They were told that God was to be their King and that they were supposed to live with the judges system He instituted instead. I also learned that He tried to discourage them by telling them all the negative things involved with having a king. The people persisted and insisted so God relented.
But from our reading God said that they could have a king. “You may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord you God will choose” (verse 15a). We know that God would later use Israel’s insistence on a king to give a typecast of Jesus’ role as King. It just surprises me that this seemed to be His plan all along.
Reading the requirements for the king’s conduct shows a clear line between what God intended and what Israel’s kings did. They kept with the “from among your brothers” requirement, at least until the conquering nations had anything to do with appointing Israel’s leaders. That seems to be the only thing they did stay with.
Israel’s first king was Saul. I don’t know if he had many wives or became rich but his heart definitely turned away from God. David followed these requirements the closest but he had quite a few “wives” and “concubines.” Solomon, who was the wisest king, failed at nearly all of these requirements. Solomon brought horses from Egypt. He had MANY wives and concubines who brought idolatry into Israel and led his heart astray. God made him rich beyond his wildest dreams. He was also lifted so high above his “brothers” that he had no clue how the common man lived. I believe he probably studied the law though and most likely had his own copy of it. But he turned from those commandments by not keeping Israel pure to God.
It was mostly downhill from there. There were a few kings who were Godly but not many. The southern kingdom had more righteous kings than the northern kingdom did.
The king God described here in His specifications is a servant king. His heart is not lifted up above his brothers. He doesn’t turn aside from God’s commandments for ANY reason. He is as subject to the laws God put forth as his subjects are. He can relate to the people’s needs as he is not so far above them in wealth that he is immune to their concerns. He is not so wrapped up in matters in his own household that he doesn’t have time for the needs of the people. He uses the same modes of transportation and support as his subjects. He is TRULY a man of the people.
Jesus is the only King who fills these roles. He came into the world in the lowliest way possible. He had no palace to lay His head down in, even at the height of His ministry. He had no exceptional mode of transportation. He walked wherever He went and the one time He is recorded to have ridden on an animal it was a donkey. He wasn’t starving but neither was He obese from having excessive amounts of food. He served the people wherever He went. He understood their needs. He listened to their cries. He even put His own needs aside to attend to theirs. He cared for His mother but did not let her needs dictate His actions. He did not marry while with us as He is saving Himself for His bride, the Church. He laid aside ALL He had to be one of the people that He might relate to all of our struggles. There has NEVER been and NEVER will be another King like Him. He is the ONLY King I want for my life.
King Jesus, thank You for caring for me. Thank You that You understand fully my needs when I bring them to You. You walked the same “dusty streets” that I do. You know the same heartaches and joys. There is NOTHING I can ever go through that You haven’t already gone through too. And You willingly walk me through it all! I don’t walk my miles alone. You provide the resources out of Your own that I need in my journey. You open Your basket to feed me. You wrap me with Your cloak when I’m cold. You shelter me when I’m weary and need to rest. And You encourage me each step of the way. How could I not want to be with You?!
I look forward to being with You in person. I just can’t wait to see my King!