“Wait … what? We Four Kings? You know the song says, ‘We Three Kings,’ right?!”
Yes … yes, we do.
The Christmas season is upon us and we’re taking a bit of a right turn onto a different road in lead-up to the celebration of the birth of Christ. For the next four weeks, we’re taking a look at four Kings of Israel. All were predecessors to the One True King, Jesus. All were chosen by God to lead His chosen people. The nation of Israel, at that particular time in their history, pleaded for a king. They believed that one thing was true of the great empires … all had a strong central leader, most with the title of “King.” They wanted to be great, and in their own wisdom, a king was the key. God gave them what they asked for, but in the final analysis, a ruler with a big title wasn’t what they needed. God would eventually give them that, too … what they really needed. Trouble is, although He was born into obscurity, lived a quiet childhood, began to turn heads and gain followers as a young adult, and eventually rode into town to a raucous reception being hailed as a King, Israel quickly rejected Him and handed Him over to the Romans to crucify Him.
What was Israel expecting? Who were these men? How did they rule? These are all questions we’ll touch on in the next four weeks. Our main objective, however, will be to draw a clear contrast between the men who were chosen and the God-man who was sent. We hope you’ll see, in the end, there was ever only (and will be) One True King.
A Good King
There is little to no argument that David was Israel’s best and strongest King. David’s life was blessed; God’s hand was clearly on him. He was a shepherd boy, the youngest of Jesse’s eight sons. He killed a lion and a bear in defense of lamb’s in his flock. He boldly took on Goliath when no other soldier would. God’s hand on his life prepared him to meet that moment and kill Goliath with the first stone from his sling. In being hunted by the then King Saul, David rejected multiple opportunities to turn the tables and kill Saul, because he was so committed to God being the only one who should remove him from power. David accomplished much, and amassed great wealth and power. There were several things that were true of David during his meteoric rise:
- Courage in adversity
- Integrity in weakness
- Humility at all times
But then, one day, it all began to go wrong. One day, David retreated to the rooftop of his palace and took notice of a beautiful woman in the garden of the home that bordered the palace. That woman was Bathsheba, and she was married to one of David’s best generals. David sent for Bathsheba, slept with her and got her pregnant. In the spiral that was the cover-up, David commissioned Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah to the front lines where he was killed in battle. David had wandered from his close communion with God, and was consumed with his own greatness. In another highly selfish act, David ordered a census be taken. When God instituted the practice of the census early in Israel’s history, it was a sacred thing that involved great sacrifice and was intended to bring glory to God. David’s motives were glory, but it was his own, not God’s, that David was solely interested in. God punished Israel with a plague because of David’s action. And when the final stroke of the pen fell on David’s reign, it was a pitiful picture of him riding out of town having been completely humiliated by the very public sin of adultery involving his eldest son. The very same private sin that was, arguably, David’s greatest failures as King.
At one point in David’s life, God said of him, “I’ve searched the land and found this David, son of Jesse. He’s a man whose heart beats to my heart, a man who will do what I tell him.” (Acts 13:22 The Message) God never gave up on David, but David wandered from that place where his heart beat to the very heart of God.
And this is the great contrast between Israel’s greatest King and the One True King, Jesus. The heart of Jesus is the heart of God and Jesus is always pursuing your best interest. Man will fail you eventually (and repeatedly). The God-Man will never fail, and He will never fail you. I’ll grant you that it doesn’t always feel like our best when things happen to us, but Jesus is the perfect judge of that and we are not. HE WILL NOT EVER FAIL YOU.
As we expectantly wait for the celebration of the birth of the One True King, let us hold onto that truth and show the love of Jesus to anyone who is in need. Let’s be, as a treasured friend of mine recently shared with me, “Jesus with skin on” in the lives of others.