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1 Kings 18:1 & 1 Samuel 8:10-18 by Robert Dean
Series:Kings (2007)
Duration:1 hr 6 mins 19 secs

The Tyranny of Arrogance. 1 Kings 18:1, 1 Samuel 8:10-18

 

Obadiah functions like a secretary of commerce or something of that nature, he is very high in the chain of command in the administration under Ahab. Ahab is married to the evil Queen Jezebel who has been responsible for bringing this horrible, perverted, depraved religion of Baal worship into the northern kingdom. She has sent out her hit squad group to take out all of the believers that she can find in the northern kingdom, especially all of the prophets. At great risk to his personal safety Obadiah has disobeyed the authority of the throne and he hides some of the prophets. So one of the questions that we must address as we get into this chapter is this whole issue of tyranny and the question of authority and when, if ever, is there a justified basis for a believer to resist tyrannical authority, and on what basis are we able to define when an authority becomes out of line and becomes tyrannical. That is going to necessitate a certain background review for us.

The book of Kings was written as one book originally. It traces the history of Israel from the end of David's reign through to the destruction of the southern kingdom by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. It begins in the first eleven chapters with the focus on the united kingdom which has three kings. Saul's reign is covered in 1 Samuel, David's in 2 Samuel, and then his last days in the first chapter of 1 Kings and was followed by Solomon's reign. Then the kingdom split. There was a tax revolt authorized by God and the northern kingdom, ten tribes, separated themselves from Judah and Benjamin, and the history of the divided kingdom is seen in 1 kings 12 to 2 Kings 17, covering a period of a little over 200 years. The last part of 2 Kings, chapters 18-25, covers the single kingdom of Judah after 722 BC when the northern kingdom was conquered by Assyria and people were redistributed among other populations. The episodes with Elijah occur about 60 years after the division of the kingdom, roughly around 870 BC.

As we go into this middle section of 1 Kings which focuses on the divided kingdom we see that there are five basic sections. There is the division of the kingdom in chapters 12-14, the reigns of various kings that preceded Ahab are covered in 15 and 16—four kings in the south and eight in the north, including Ahab. Then in chapters 16-22 we have the focus on Ahab—seven chapters, a big chunk of Scripture. That tells us that the focus is on this reign of Ahab. There is a lot to learn here and there are many principles that we see in the reign of Ahab that we can apply to the Christian life, many things about living in the midst of tyranny, living under an evil government, in the midst of hostility towards believers and how God continues to protect believers even in the midst of a hostile environment. Then chapters 22 through the end of 1 Kings and the first part of 2 Kings we look at the reigns of Jehoshaphat in Judah and the reign of Ahaziah in Israel. These are the kings who are covered in this section. Jehoshaphat is reigning in the south at the time of Elijah. In the northern kingdom there is tremendous instability during the period of approximately 60 years and eight different rulers.

The question we should address is, how in the world did Israel get into this mess? They lived in a golden age by 950 BC but it is just squandered, it falls away, and by 70-80 years later the nation has split by a civil war, the northern kingdom has gone through some terrible periods of economic disaster and depression, has been involved in seeing two different leaders assassinated, has had three dynastic changes, has had a civil war that lasted approximately seven years, and Omri engaged in an alliance with the Phoenician neighbors that brought a new bride to his son Ahab and brought with her one of the most degraded, perverted religions of all time, the fertility cults of the worship of Baal and the Asherah. So now there was an environment in the northern kingdom that was characterized by some of the grossest activities—child sacrifice, burning infants alive on altars, as well as engaging in ritual or cultic prostitution in order to try to motivate the gods to bring fertility and prosperity to the northern kingdom. So the nation is in a tremendous mess, morally and ethically depraved, and there is an overt hostility and antagonism to anyone who believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and anyone who was continuing to trust and obey the God of their forefathers.

The first answer to how they got into the mess is the religious syncretism of Solomon. There was his rejection of God's authority but what goes along with that is also the people's syncretism; they are willingly led by Solomon, and so the second factor has to do with the arrogance of the people. We see the seeds of this arrogance much earlier in Israel's history.

In 1 Samuel 8 we see the foreshadowing of the events that come with Solomon's fall in God's warning to Israel. This is a period before there was a monarchy, the end of the period known as the period of the judges. The last judge was Samuel; he was also a priest and a prophet. We are told that as Samuel became old the people became dissatisfied with his role and that of his children. There was a lack of integrity and virtue among his children. There cannot be order and stability in a culture, in a society, in a government if it is not grounded upon virtue and integrity. When a nation's government succumbs to bribery and leading by self-interest then the people suffer, and this is one of the marks of government that can be a part of a tyranny. It created chaos in the civil structure of Israel and so the people looked for a solution. But notice they don't look to God for their solution, they look to see how everybody else is doing it.

That is exactly what is going on in our culture. We see too many people in the elite ranks of leadership, in business, in military and politics who think that somehow Europe has a better way of doing it—socialized Europe, Europe that has been in a post-Christian environment since the 19th century. Somehow we are looking there as our model, as our pattern. We have those in our own judiciary who instead of looking to our heritage and the original intent of the founding fathers of this nation, instead of going to them to find out how to understand and the Constitution and how to interpret the law, they are looking at international law and to see how other nations have done it. In that process they are sacrificing our own heritage because they have a core belief that has rejected the foundation that gave virtue and integrity to the founding fathers—biblical Christianity. We see the same pattern down through history, that one generation wins freedom but the next generation doesn't have the capacity for it, and each generation has to win freedom for itself. Those who don't have the capacity for it will ultimately end up in slavery. This is what happens in first Samuel chapter eight.

1 Samuel 8:4-7 NASB "Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; and they said to him, 'Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.' But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, 'Give us a king to judge us.' And Samuel prayed to the LORD. The LORD said to Samuel, 'Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them'." This is the starting point, what foreshadows the problems in Israel. It was that they rejected the ultimate authority of God.

What else is going on in this time period is that they were coming out of the period of the judges and the key verse in the book of the Judges is that there was no king in Israel, everyone did what was right in his own eyes. This is not any different from the moral relativism that we have today, it did not come along with the publication of Situational Ethics by Joseph Fletcher. Moral relativism has been around since the fall, since Adam and Eve first decided to be the ultimate source of their own rectitude and deciding whether or not God was actually right in the way He defined the dangers of eating from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So the people had rejected the authority of God, and once we reject the authority of God and in ultimate reference points and eternal absolutes by which all things in life are evaluated then everybody becomes their own authority. All there is after that is a power struggle as to who is going to have the most power. It is not about genuine right or wrong anymore because an external reference point has been rejected. Once that happens all we are left with is power plays.  

1 Samuel 8:9 NASB "Now then, listen to their voice; however, you shall solemnly warn them and tell them of the procedure of the king who will reign over them." This was one of those chapters that the Puritans and the protestants in England and the continent went to in order to understand what God had to say about authority and about kingship and how government should be run in a way that would honor God. This warning is one that is just as true today as it was for Israel at that time. [11] He 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'." So he is going to increase the size of the military and establish a standing army. In order to pay for all that he is going to have to tax the people. [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." So now the king is going to increase his land holdings (which violated the Mosaic law) and government will have land and will have its own workers. He is increasing the whole size of government. That is what this chapter is warning against, i.e. if you get a king the end result is that there's always a struggle between those in power and those who have freedom. The point being made here is that if they get a king then the natural course of events is that government will seek to strengthen itself and enlarge itself, and this occurs at the expense of the people.  

1 Samuel 8:13 NASB "He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers." He is going to build the whole bureaucracy and the pomp and circumstance that goes with being a ruler. [14] "He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give {them} to his servants." So taxation will increase. [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." Look at that verse: "… and you yourselves will become his servants." The word "servant" is the Hebrew word for "slave." That is its first meaning. Basically what this is saying is that the people will no longer be working for themselves, they will be working for the king and the king will turn the entire country into his own personal workforce in order to pay off his debts and to buy all the things that will make his life more comfortable. So the warning that God gave to Israel under Solomon was that if they desired to have a king then they would lose freedom, lose liberty, they would see their taxes increase and they would lose their possessions.  

1 Samuel 8:18 NASB "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. [19] Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, "No, but there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles." Isn't it interesting how people are willing to sacrifice their freedom for security.

This comes true to one degree or another as the monarchy establishes itself under Saul and David, but where it really goes to its ultimate fulfillment is under Solomon. Solomon, though, has a heart for God as we saw in 1 Kings chapter four. He begins well but he ends so badly that his reign is characterized as being evil because of his acceptance, approval and recognition of all of the false gods that his wives had brought in. The problem was a problem of smorgasbord religion. Everybody could just pick what they wanted to. The technical word is syncretism, it is defined as the attempt to assimilate differing or opposite doctrines and practices, especially between philosophical and religious systems, resulting in a new system altogether in which the fundamental structure and tenets of each have been changed. In other words, people go around and saying, I'll take this pout of Buddhism, this out of Hinduism, this out of secular atheism, this out of Christianity, and that is going to be my religion. Everybody comes along with their own religion, and without an external absolute there is no basis for a solid ethic. Ethics always grow out of one's view of ultimate reality. Ultimate reality is behind everything that we look at and everything that we study. Our view of ultimate reality affects how we view knowledge and it affects our views of beauty, aesthetics, and it affects our views of values and right and wrong. When we live in a morally relative culture then we cannot continue to uphold the kind of government that we have in this nation, that those who have given their life to defend have given us.

John Adams, one of those who wrote the Declaration of Independence, said: "This form of government is productive of everything which is great and excellent among men, but its principles are as easily destroyed as human nature is corrupted. A government is only to be supported by pure religion or austere morals." He understood that virtue and integrity under girded everything. For Adams that could only come from Christianity. "Private and public virtue is the only foundation of republics."

They understood that the freedom that we have politically ultimately came from Jesus Christ. In Galatians 5:1 the apostle Paul said: NASB "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery." We are born enslaved to the sin nature. The sin nature's orientation is arrogance, and arrogance is the tyrant that rules the human heart and rules human history. But when men are set free from that tyrant by virtue of faith in Jesus Christ, and when men continue to develop their thinking based on what Scripture says, then they can exploit that spiritual freedom in Galatians 5:1, and we can develop an understanding of true civil, social and political freedom. That is the heritage that we have; that is what we should remember.

For us personally the only real freedom we can ever know is never going to be determined by a government. It is never going to be effected by the tax policies of government. True freedom is a matter of our relationship to God through Jesus Christ, and we can all have that by putting our faith in Christ, as savior, number one, and then exploiting that by studying the Word. It is through a study of God's Word that we learn what real freedom is, and real freedom is freedom of the soul that is not bound to the tyranny of our sin nature. That is one of the reasons that we are to be consistent in our study in our study of the Word and in its application.  

Illustrations