These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots … He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards … He will take the tenth of your grain … He will take your male servants and female servants … He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.1 Samuel 8:11, 1 Samuel 8:13-17
All leaders always take: all except one.
When in Samuel’s time the Israelites requested a king so that they would be like the other nations, God granted their request. But He also told Samuel to solemnly warn the people about what to expect of a king’s ways (1 Samuel 8:7-9). The picture Samuel painted was of a king who would line his own pocket at the people’s expense and lead them back into a kind of slavery. It was a dismal prospect!
And it was one that, over the next few centuries, became a reality. Some kings had ups as well as downs, but the majority were corrupt; none of them were completely good. All the Israelites’ leaders always, in one way or another, took from them what the people had, instead of giving them what they had hoped.
Yet God would ultimately provide a King that was different from the rest. The New Testament begins with this King. “The time is fulfilled,” said Jesus, “and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). By establishing God’s kingdom, He was declaring Himself to be King. Afterward, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on the foal of a donkey, fulfilling the prophet’s words announcing that the King of God’s people would arrive in this manner (Zechariah 9:9). What kind of king comes on a donkey rather than in a chariot or on a war horse? The same King that would be crowned with thorns a few days later. Here was a King unlike any other king.
There is a great and prevalent lie that goes something like this: “If you trust Jesus, He’ll take away all the good stuff, and you won’t have a good time. If you want a good time, go with another leader. If you go with Jesus, it’ll be boring, restrictive, life-sapping.” But actually, the reverse is true! Unlike the kings of Israel, who would take from the people, Jesus was and is the King who gives—and He does so lavishly. He is the King who came to “give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45), who gives His sheep “eternal life, and they will never perish” (John 10:28), and who takes burdens and gives rest to those who accept His light yoke (Matthew 11:28-30).
Is Jesus your King? Many other voices will be attractive and persuasive—but if you let them rule you, you will be disappointed in the end. The Lord Jesus Christ will never disappoint you. He is the King who always gives all that you need, and the only thing He takes from you is your sin. Today, recognize and give thanks for the abundant goodness and generosity you have in your great King!