There was a time in ancient Israel that the people were led by God through Judges, men and women set as administrators, put in place by God to take care of His people. But even back then power corrupted, and some of the Judges, sons of Samuel, abused the privileges which came with the office. The people revolted, and demanded that they should be allowed to have a King to rule over them rather than the Judges. In effect, they were turning away from their God, who had put the Judges in place.
God, through Samuel, warned them in advance of what would happen if they were ruled by a human king instead of the King:
10So Samuel spoke all the words of the LORD to the people who had asked of him a king. 11He said, “This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots. 12“He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13“He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14“He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants. 15“He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants. 16“He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys and use them for his work. 17“He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. 18“Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.”
19Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, “No, but there shall be a king over us, 20that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21Now after Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the LORD’S hearing. 22The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to their voice and appoint them a king.” So Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.” 1 Samuel 8:10-22
Those with long memories know that I’ve commented on this passage before. It is good to have a reminder every now and then of how weak men get when given power.
As mentioned in these verses, the king will:
Build a personal empire- “he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots” “He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.” “He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14“He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants.”
You can look at every tin hat dictator and would be world conqueror throughout history and find that they fit this profile. Human nature is to be greedy, abuse positions of authority and get as much as you can while you can. You find graft and corruption if you scratch the surface of any government, including the United States Federal and local governments all the way down to the office of dogcatcher. Chicago has nothing on New York and the Boss Tweed era. China today has a ruling elite which lives spectacularly
on the backs of peasants, going against their own charter where all citizens are supposedly equal. Every Saddam Hussein or Jacque Chirac or Bill Clinton will build a personal empire as large as he can get away with, building up personal wealth far beyond any realized by Saul, whom Samuel ordained as Israel’s first tin hat king.
“He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants.” Cronyism and passing out gifts of power to consolidate personal power. Buying loyalty with largesse.
Here we have an example from this week:
“Palestinian minister Mahmoud al-Zahar has been robbed of 450,000 dollars from his hotel room during his stay in Kuwait, according to Israeli news agency Itim. The agency says the Hamas minister had asked the Kuwaiti authorities not to make public the incident but a hotel official had confirmed the theft. Al-Zahar is currently on a fund-raising tour of various Arab and Muslim countries following the decision by the European Union and the United States to cut financing to the Palestinian Authority.”
So al-Zahar has walking around money-nearly a half a million dollars-while the Hamas faux government is supposedly bankrupt. I think we can assume his mission was to buy loyalty, influence for Hamas. They are as morally and financially corrupt as their predecessors the Palestinian Authority, who under Arafat reaped billions of dollars in aid from the world which was hoping to buy Peace in the Middle East. All that money has disappeared, and the PA handed over empty coffers to Hamas when they came to power.
Look at Africa, which has kept people starving for generations, while the rulers of the people have set up their own “money for food” scams. Ask a citizen who lives under the rule of Idriss Déby of Chad, for example, to read the description of the type of a king mentioned in the scripture above. Ask a political flack in the lower echelons of a ward boss in Chicago to read the same verses. You’ll hear the same answer: man cannot be trusted to watch over his fellow man without becoming corrupted by the power of the office.
But God, who cannot be corrupted, holds absolute power, and can be trusted with our lives. Obey the authorities set up to rule your nation, but remember that, being human, they will disappoint you by building their little empires, wearing their little paper mache crowns, getting all they can while in office. If their interests run with yours, be thankful. If they run contrary to your interests, work through the system to make their stay in the seat of power a short one. And Pray for deliverance from our human kings by the return of our real King, Jesus Christ!