The book of Judges tells the story of the Israelites in the promised land after the death of their leader, Joshua. It’s a depressing story because the people very quickly rebelled, beginning a cycle that repeats itself throughout the book. First, the people sinned; second, God allowed them to be defeated and oppressed; third, they cried for help; and, fourth, God intervened by raising up a judge, or leader, to defeat Israel’s enemies and restore peace to the land. But peace never lasted for long before the sequence was repeated.
Throughout the period of the judges, Israel was collapsing—religiously, socially, morally, and economically. In response, the people started to think that life would be a lot better if only a king were appointed, as God had declared to Jacob one would be. Yet, seeking to be like the nations around them, they rejected God’s kingship—the very thing that made them unique. They wanted a monarchy instead of a theocracy. And, rather than looking for a king who would govern under God and lead them in obedience to His rule, they were looking for a king who would rule instead of Him.
Remarkably, despite the sinfulness of the Israelites’ motivations, God fulfilled their request. Many kings of Israel followed, but never the king they truly needed. There was still someone greater to come.
In a way that only He could orchestrate, God used the people’s shortsighted demand for a king like those of other nations to fulfill His ultimate purpose for a King who would one day rule those nations. Eventually, Israel’s royal line would culminate in Jesus, the coming King whom God had promised—one whose “scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Genesis 49:10). The true kingdom would be established by the Messiah, who would rule under God’s authority and would be His supreme gift to an unworthy people.
See how immense God is, that He is able to sweep into His purposes even foolish requests and bad motivations! God is bigger than our choices and even our mistakes. He is sovereign over every misstep. Though we, like Israel, may fail at times, we can surely trust God to overcome our failings as He accomplishes His purposes. And we can gladly obey His King in our lives today, rather than seeking to serve anyone or anything in His stead.
The Lord's Covenant with David
1Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, 2the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” 3And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.”
4But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, 5“Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? 6I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. 7In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges1 of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ 8Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince2 over my people Israel. 9And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me.3 Your throne shall be established forever.’” 17In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.
David's Prayer of Gratitude
18Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? 19And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant's house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God! 20And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! 21Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. 22Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 23And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them4 great and awesome things by driving out5 before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? 24And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. And you, O Lord, became their God. 25And now, O Lord God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken. 26And your name will be magnified forever, saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel,’ and the house of your servant David will be established before you. 27For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. 29Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”
Get the Program, Devotional, and Bible Reading Plan delivered daily right to your inbox.