Monday Musings for March 27, 2017
Good morning, Musers,
I have a devotional thought today — and it’s about honoring the king. But more specifically, it’s about not dishonoring the king… and we aren’t afraid to do that in America — either historically or today.
It’s always a challenge “pitching” the honor of kings to Americans. You see, not only did we rebel against King George III back in the day, but we were quite adamant that we didn’t want a king of any stripe... and we have the paperwork to prove it!
But that decision put us in a squeeze: our current age (nuclear et al) is such that we can no longer risk the caprice of kings (or its equivalent [c.f.North Korea’s Kim Jong-un]). Yet self-governance requires a moral populace — and without God, who gets to say what’s moral…a blue-ribbon commission on morality and fairness?
Both the age of our nations and our Western sensibilities have dumbed-down our cultural affections for the idea of a king — and this is an exegetical shame. God invested a lot in the symbolism of kings… and the exegete is wise to keep this in view.
One huge problem is that we contemporary Western people are decidedly unlike the ANE (Ancient Near Eastern) people — in many ways and in basic ways. For instance, America is a pragmatic society. If it works, we adopt it. That is one secret to our “success.” But success in one area often points to failure in another — and the ANE societies were honor-based… not what-ever-works-best-based — so we will often miss the Bible’s lessons because we don’t have a “feeling” for its cultures.
However… please note what I am not saying. I am not saying that America is not honorable — and I am not saying that America doesn’t contain honorable people. What I am saying is, when a country makes social decisions based more on pragmatism than with a view to the honor of God and the king, it misses the point of kings — that kings point to God. The idea was that a moral man would rule as a godly model. But perhaps more importantly, his rule would be symbolic of God’s rule as the King of kings (Rev. 19:16).
I must confess (— and this is part cultural and part personal —) that I cannot even postulate enough honor to understand king David… let alone live like him. My American pragmatism has me wondering why David didn’t say, “I’m the anointed now… and nobody’s really going to miss Saul… so let’s kill him.” David remained humble until Saul’s sad end.
Let’s consider the counterfactuals for a moment and ask, who would make the best king: a pragmatist — a guy who get things done? Or an honorable man — a man who respected the office itself — so much so that he would not harm the Lord’s anointed… although that man was sorely flawed… and although he was in the way of what everyone understood to be the kingdom’s progress? I must be honest here: I’d choose the former… but God chooses the latter… and that’s the type of thing we miss because we tossed-out King George.
You see, there is a sense of national honor that comes with having a king… but I’m not looking to return to our colonial days. What I would like is for us to tweak our cultural sensibilities a bit to help us understand today’s devotional. David was compelled not to harm Saul because of a basic sense of honor; it had to do with Saul’s category, not his character.
How unpractical! How un-American! … but how honorable and symbolic!
God bless America! Long live the King! Enjoy the musing!
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