GOD’S WORD FOR YOU
1 CHRONICLES 11:1-2
11:1 All Israel gathered together to David at Hebron and said, “Look at us! We are your own flesh and blood. 2 In the past, even while Saul was king, you were the one who led Israel into battle and back again. And the LORD your God said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will be ruler over my people Israel.’”
The author has jumped from the death of Saul, to the gathering of all Israel two years later when all the tribes asked for David to become their king. This was after David successfully put down the rebellion by Saul’s remaining son Ishbosheth. It was now 1008 BC, and David had already been king for two years. The people of Israel came to David to ask for him to be their king. Theirs was not a culture that voted. In fact, the only case of voting in the Bible is when, as a Pharisee, Paul had voted to put many Christians to death (Acts 26:10). But by turning up at Hebron, they all showed their common support of the young king (David was thirty-two). The gave three reasons that he should accept the crown:
1, True kinship. They were his own flesh and blood (in Hebrew, “flesh and bone”). This had also been true of Saul, but they did not want an outsider or a Canaanite showing up and forcing them to accept him as their king. God had commanded Moses: “When you ask for a king, be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite” (Deuteronomy 17:15).
2, True leadership. “Even while Saul was king,” they said, “you were the one who led Israel into battle and back again.” David was the one the women chanted their song about: “Saul has slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). Notice that the passage says “and back again” (not all translations include this phrase). When David went into battle, most or nearly all of his men returned. He was a good commander and strategist.
3, The true choice of God. David has been anointed by Samuel at God’s command (1 Samuel 16:13), and the Spirit of the Lord had come upon David that day in power. “He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens, from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob” (Psalm 78:70).
The nation had known brief times of peace under the Judges, but the war with the Philistines had gone on for many decades. They wanted peace, and they saw the Lord’s hand in choosing David. He was, as one poet said, “an unstain’d shepherd, with wisdom.”
We should not fail to see the connection between God’s people Israel turning to their rightful king, and God’s true Israel, that is, the Christian church, turning to their true King, who is Jesus Christ.
1, Christ is our king by kinship. He is the promised seed of the woman; the very Word of God who became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14). By becoming one of us, born of the virgin Mary, he placed himself under the law. “The two natures, divine and human, are so inseparably united in one person that there is one Christ, true God and true man, who was truly born, suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried in order to be a sacrifice not only for original sin but also for all other sins and to appease God’s wrath” (Augsburg Confession).
2, Christ is our king by true leadership. “He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:7-8). Also, he governs all things in heaven and earth, and he protects his church against its foes. In this life, this kingdom is called the kingdom of power (where all things are put under his feet, 1 Corinthians 15:27) or the kingdom of grace (where he sends out the gospel through his servants to gather the church, Mark 16:15). In heaven, it is known as the kingdom of glory. This is where he will raise all from the dead and glorify the elect (Matthew 25:46).
3, Christ is our king by the true choice of God. The prophets pointed ahead to his coming: “The revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it. It will certainly come and will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3). And again: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). The Father himself said, “This is my Son, whom I love. With him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5). And the Apostles affirm all of this: “He is the one God appointed as judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42).
There is no other way to heaven except through Christ (John 14:6), and anyone who tries to enter into eternal life through some other religion or through their own good works will find the door shut and Christ himself will say the terrible words, “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you” (Matthew 25:12). But for all who have put their faith in him, Christ our true King welcomes his people, the true Israel. When he says, “My people Israel,” he is no longer talking about a nation with borders in the land of Canaan. He is talking about everyone who has faith in him and trusts in him for the forgiveness of sins. “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel,” Paul says (Romans 9:6). “The Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the ‘stumbling stone’” (Romans 9:30-32).
But for everyone, without exception, who puts their faith in Christ, there is forgiveness, new life, the promise of the resurrection, and life forever with Christ in heaven. The gospel shows us God’s great mercy. The gospel comforts us whenever we are tempted and especially in the hour of our death that we surely have the merits of Christ and are saved for his sake, not on account of any worthiness in us. “If God had not given us salvation,” one ancient Christian said, “we certainly would not have it.” Praise God, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but will have eternal life!
Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, New Ulm, Minnesota
God’s Word for You – 1 Chronicles 11:1-2 Christ our King