JUDGES 21:25: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever seemed right to him.” CSB
OBSERVATION: Is it possible to live without a king? This may seem like a strange question for an American to contemplate. We don’t have a king. Or do we? One of the most sobering verses in Scripture is the closing verse in the book of Judges,
- “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever seemed right to him.”
If there is a verse that could sum up the current culture in America, I think this would be the one. No one wants a king. Yet, everyone wants the benefits of a kingdom. Everyone want to do their own thing, and at the same time reap all the benefits of a kingdom. One cannot take place in exclusion of the other.
Everyone needs a king!
God’s design for the nation of Israel was that He would be their King. They were not to be like other nations. They were not to look to a man as their source of provision and safety. They were to look to the Lord. When the Lord rescued Israel from Egypt, He gave them Moses to lead them. Yet Moses was not really their leader. Moses was the intermediary between Yahweh and the nation of Israel. Moses simply received the commands of the King and communicated them to the people.
When Moses died, Joshua took his place. The nation of Israel remained faithful during Joshua’s life, and a short time beyond. Yet, it did not take long until they cast off their need for a leader and decided that each one of them was capable of leading themselves. The book of Judges is the sorry cyclical story of this bad decision.
- “The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; they forgot the Lord their God and worshiped the Baals and the Asherahs. The Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and he sold them to King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram-naharaim, and the Israelites served him eight years. The Israelites cried out to the Lord. So the Lord raised up Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s youngest brother, as a deliverer to save the Israelites. The Spirit of the Lord came on him, and he judged Israel. Othniel went out to battle, and the Lord handed over King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram to him, so that Othniel overpowered him. Then the land had peace for forty years, and Othniel son of Kenaz died.” Judges 3:7-11 CSB
This is the story of the first judge in Israel after Joshua’s death. The cycle is repeated judge after judge. Israel rebelled against God as their King and worshipped other gods. God’s anger was then directed against Israel and he allowed other nations to defeat and persecute them. Israel then cried out to the Lord to deliver them. God in His mercy sent a judge that led them to victory. And a period of peace followed their deliverance, until they allowed the cycle to begin all over again. Israel wanted the peace and prosperity of the Lord, but they did not want to allow Him to be King.
Everyone needs a king!
In fact, everyone does have a king. Whoever, or whatever you serve, is your king. Paul makes this very clear in the book of Romans.
- “What then? Should we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Absolutely not! Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey — either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?” Romans 6:15-16 CSB
Notice, Paul makes it clear, everyone has a king. Whoever, or whatever we serve, we become a slave to. And whatever we become a slave to, we become. If we serve our own selfish desires, we become a slave to them. They become our king. And the ultimate outcome of serving sin, self, or the devil is death. However, if your honor God as King, if you serve Him, you become a slave to His love. And the ultimate outcome of serving the Lord is freedom, righteousness, and life – both abundant and eternal!
By surrendering to the Lord as our King, we become free. By casting off all restraint and doing whatever we want, we become bound. Bob Dylan, in a song he wrote years ago, makes it very clear.
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
Indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody
While I don’t know what is in Bob Dylan’s heart, from outward appearances it looks like he has followed the cycle of the nation of Israel in the book of Judges. Yet, the words in the chorus of this song still ring true. You are going to serve somebody. And when you distill it down to the very purest of choices, in reality it is only a choice between the devil or the Lord. Everybody is serving one of the two.
Everybody needs a king!
Lord, this morning I desire to make You the King of my life! I recommit my life to You. I ask You to search me deep within. Show me any areas where I have begun to follow the cycle of brokenness in the book of Judges. Help me to surrender all to you. Give me the grace to be a servant of righteousness. Be the King of my life!
In Jesus Name!