What does it mean to have a King?
I stole the title for this post (and for the category of my faith posts). My daughter once had a blog entitled Abdicating the Throne. Since it no longer exists, she said I could have it.
It so perfectly fits what God calls us to do every day. If we’re “in charge” of our own lives, we are, in essence, the king. What happens when we make someone else the King of our lives? Well, we have to get off the throne.
I’ve been doing a lot of pondering about what that looks like. I’ve read articles before about how we in America don’t understand what it means to have a king. (I would opine that many in England or other democratic monarchies don’t quite get that either, but that’s beside the point.)
One of the things I learned in studying this is just how similar the covenant God made with the Israelites was to the ancient treaties between greater and lesser kings. The vassal (the lesser king) would swear fealty and obedience to the suzerain (the greater king). The terms of these treaties often called for the vassal to “love the lord.” “The lesser king (or vassal) “loves” his lord by showing him exclusive loyalty and observing the norms of the treaty.”¹ (For more about these similarities and differences, click on the link below.)
So, when God commands us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength,” (Deut. 6:4) that command carries with it the understanding that we’ll “observe the norms of the treaty.” Obedience is the way we demonstrate our love for our King.
I’m sure there were times when those lesser kings didn’t want to obey the treaty. It probably included rendering military service and giving a portion of crops and animals to the suzerain. It might not have been convenient. But that didn’t matter. He’d made an agreement and it must be fulfilled or he’d face the consequences.
In our case, the same thing holds true. When we accept the sacrifice Jesus made for us, we enter into a treaty with God. That new covenant (or treaty) says, 30 (31) “Here, the days are coming,” says Adonai, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Isra’el and with the house of Y’hudah. 31 (32) It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers on the day I took them by their hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, violated my covenant, even though I, for my part, was a husband to them,” says Adonai. 32 (33) “For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Isra’el after those days,” says Adonai: “I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Jeremiah 31:31-33 (CJB)
Jesus said, “If you love me, you’ll keep my commands.” John 14:15 (CJB) Obedience. That’s what it comes down to.
So, the choice is ours. Do we or don’t we love our God and Saviour? Will we abdicate the throne and allow the greater King to sit there?
Thoughts? Let’s reason together—in the comments.
¹ The Shema and the Commandment to Love God in Its Ancient Contexts by Prof. Jon D. Levenson http://thetorah.com/the-shema-and-the-commandment-to-love-god-in-its-ancient-contexts/