What is a king?

When we hear about Christ being King, I sometimes find it hard to wrap my head around the concept. Here in the United States, we have a President, senators, congressmen, governors and mayors; none would be an example of a king. While there may be men in the world that hold the title of king, often they are not the “chief authority” as the dictionary definition for “king” specifies.

The role of king in ancient times was so important that the Israelites asked for one. Around 1050 BC, the people were envious of the  countries  with kings and wanted one themselves, a person they could rally behind — a ruler they could see. At that time, Israel was ruled by judges, but these judges were not the same as a king. “We too must be like other nations, with a king to rule us and to lead us in warfare and fight out battles.” (1 Sam 8:20) But at the time the people did have a king, God himself. When Samuel prayed to the Lord about the people’s request, God replied, “Grant the people’s every request. It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king.” (1 Sam 8:7)

Without a current example of a king, my notion of king may be more of the romantic or iconic version of when kings ruled on earth. I think of a king who leads his men into battle and is right in the thick of the fighting. He is an example to his men. A king should also look out for the interests of  his people, making sure they have what they need and are protected from harm. But isn’t that exactly what God does? God, through His Son, Jesus, came down and led us in battle, to the death and beyond. He fought sin and death and triumphed. He leads by His example. God does not leave us to own devices, He fights for us and with us every day. God looks out for His people by providing for us the sacraments: His Spirit (in baptism and confirmation), His mercy (in reconciliation and anointing of the sick), and His very self (in marriage, holy orders and the Eucharist).

And with all these amazing gifts given to us by our King,  what does He ask in return? “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all  your soul, and with all your might.” (Deut. 6:4). Praise Christ the King who reigns forever!

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