In those days Israel had no king

Today’s readings are Judges 18 and 1 Thessalonians 1.

Judges 18 begins by repeating something we read in Judges 17 that might have been easy to miss. “In those days Israel had no king”. In fact we start to pick up a theme here.

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.
In those days Israel had no king. And in those daysthe tribe of the Danites was seeking a place of their own where they might settle, because they had not yet come into an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.
In those days Israel had no king. Now a Levite who lived in a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim took a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah.
In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.

In this interesting little story about the tribe of Dan, I am struck by two things. The opening reminder that Israel had no king, with it’s sense of aimlessness or being directionless, and the clearly felt need for a priest in order to connect with God.

In God’s plan, Israel was never meant to have a king. Instead the living God set them apart to be His people. Yet the people, because of their sin, are separated from God. They need an intermediary to be connected with him. In this imperfect realisation of God’s plan, the sense of aimlessness with everyone doing as they saw fit, manifests itself in connecting with God through idols, which God had expressly forbidden, oxymoronically consecrated to Him.

This restlessness for a King instead of contentment with God remind me of Jesus’ trial before Pilate as John records in John 19:15,

‘Shall I crucify your king?’ Pilate asked.
‘We have no king but Caesar,’ the chief priests answered.

This is the exact opposite of God’s plan for Israel which was always ‘We have no king but God’. Fortunately, with the benefit of knowledge of the resurrection and the rest of the New Testament, we can see how the aimlessness and need to connect to God are eventually resolved in Jesus.

As we read over in 1 Thessalonians 1, aimlessness is replaced by purpose because of faith, love and hope (verse 3)

We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Believers are now members of God’s chosen people. In verses 4 and 5 we read

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.

Paul recounts how the Thessalonians turned from idols to wait for the true king in verses 9 and 10

They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

Today, as I go about my day, I am going to dwell on this thought…

In these days, I have no king but Jesus


2 thoughts on “In those days Israel had no king

  1. Thanks for this clear insight James & we too will be remembering that we ‘have no king but JESUS ‘

  2. Thx james. To me it seems incredulous that not having a king ends up with Israel wondering away from the Lord. I suppose a godly king made sure the law was being obeyed……by force if necessary. This is probably where the OT God anointed divine right of kings idea originated? Not sure the english monarchy historically were causative in the love for God though! I am thankful I have the holy spirit who points me toward king jesus as you say.

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