Royal Enigma

In biblical historiography hardly any subject is more ambivalent than Israel’s adoption of monarchy toward the end of the eleventh century B.C. Notwithstanding a growing impulse for this form of polity at the time, resistance against it ran deep in the culture and tribal loyalties of the people. The chief spokesman for the resistance was none other than the last of Israel’s “Judges,” Samuel, to whom it ironically fell to anoint the people’s first kings: Saul and David.

Two reasons supported Samuel’s opposition to the monarchy: First, its proposed adoption was difficult to reconcile with the theological principle that the Lord himself was Israel’s king (1 Sam, 8:7; 10:19; 12:12). The true kingship was theocracy. Second, royal government would oppress the people with capricious and onerous demands (8:11–18). It was . . .

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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of Christ in the Psalms, Christ in His Saints, and The Trial of Job (all from Conciliar Press). He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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