Even though the people of Israel were under the leadership of the almighty God, they were not pleased. They wanted a human king, someone fallible and imperfect to lead them. Even then, God was forgiving and appointed a human king over them. As I intend to prove, kingship was not a good thing for the nation of Israel because kings were corrupt and sinful. They imposed harsh labors and laws on the people who followed them. But most importantly, by having a king, they were turning their backs on God. There were a few benefits that came from having a king, but these proved to be an illusion.
Many will argue that a king was good for Israel. Proponents for a king argue that kings brought political stability to the country. By imposing taxes and labors, they argue that the economic stability of the country was established. A king would unite all the tribes of Israel into a single country under his leadership. A human king was someone whom all the people could approach and talk to, whereas God only appeared to a select few people.
While David was king over Israel, the kingdom reached its peak in territory and conquests. He captured the strongholds of Zion and Jerusalem; 2 cities which held great importance to the people of Israel. Solomon, with the knowledge God gave him, was perhaps the wisest man of his time. He was a great arbiter of justice and the depths of his knowledge amazed all who came to seek his counsel. A king was also the leader of the army and would lead his troops into battle. Even though these were beneficial aspects of having a king, they did not overcome the negative aspects of kingship.
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I will argue that having a king was bad for the nation of Israel. I will refute the arguments that supporters of a king. Even though the Israelites made many territorial conquests under the leadership of King David, these gains would only be temporary. They would later lose much of the lands they gained. David, though he was a good king, also sinned against God. He coveted another’s wife and indirectly had her husband killed. Even though Solomon was wise, all his wisdom could not prevent him from sinning against God. A king and his reign are not permanent. A good king may sit on the throne, but he will die, and the king who follows him may not be a good king at all. In many cases, God did not anoint the kings that were chosen. God, on the other hand, is ever-present for his people in their time of need. God is good and almighty and will always do what is best for his people. God was the leader of the Israelites through the judges, but the people rejected Him in their want of having a king.
Sin and corruption are to be found in human nature. When God appointed a human to be king, it was inevitable that he would sin. Though they started out well as kings, they eventually lost their righteousness and faith. We can see that no king has been all good and just. Saul, the first king of the Israelites, sinned quickly against God. He does not wait for Samuel to arrive and makes a sacrifice of his own to God. After Saul did so, God “regrets that [He] made Saul King over Israel” (I Samuel 15.28).
David, who has been widely regarded as being the best king in Israel, also sinned against God. In his lust for his soldier’s woman, David sends her husband to the front lines of battle where he is killed. David then marries his wife. God was angry at David for this sin and punished him. Solomon, regardless of all his wisdom, sinned against God. Because he took so many wives and concubines, they overwhelmed him and convinced him to build up statues of their gods for worship. God was angry that he made false idols of worship and that he worshipped them with his wives. Moreover to the sins of the kings, the rivalry for kingship was also a fierce one. Inevitably, sons of the king would contest the throne. David’s own son, Absalom, revolts against him for the position of king. The kings of Judah and the kings of Israel also fought for the throne of Israel. With the king’s lack of faith and the bitter squabbles of their sons, sin and corruption ran rampant throughout the kingships.
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As by the practices of kings set forth by God, kings forced labor and taxes on the Israelites. They took crops, children, flocks, and slaves from the people. When the Israelites first wanted a king, God told the people, through Samuel, the practices of a king. He told them that a king would impose labors and laws upon the people. He even tells them that there will come “the day when you cry out because of the king whom you yourselves have chose; and the Lord will not answer you on that day” (I Samuel 9.16).
The people chose to not listen to God or to Samuel. They wanted very badly to be like other nations, no matter the price. Solomon used the people’s labor to build the House of the Lord and his own castle. When Solomon died, his son Rehoboam became king. The Israelites asked him to “lighten the yoke your father placed upon us” (I Kings 12.10).
Not only did Rehoboam not listen, but said, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father flogged you with whips, but I will flog you with scorpion” (I Kings 12.10).
The kings abused their position for their own benefit and made the people suffer greatly.
When the Israelites cried out for a human king, they were turning their backs on God. They would not heed the warnings of Samuel; the people were adamant about having a human king. They wanted to, “be like all other nations” (I Samuel 8.3).
Though God was their king, He tells Samuel that he will appoint a human king for the Israelites. The Lord tells Samuel that, “it is not you they have rejected; it is Me they have rejected as their king” (I Samuel 8.3).
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Having God as their king was very beneficial to the Israelites. In the time before kingship, judges would rule with the help of God. Each time that they would march out to do battle and had God at their side, they would be victorious, no matter how outnumbered and outmatched they were. The Israelites were too blind to see this however. They wanted above all else to have a king and to have him lead them into battle. They wanted a human king to give their country an identity, not to be the nation of God. But without the help of God, the king and its nation would not survive.
Ultimately, a kingship was detrimental for the nation of Israel. Though there seemed to have short-term benefits, in the long run, having a king was not good. The kings would consistently sin against God. They were morally corrupt and would do what they pleased, not what pleased the people. And finally, by having their king, they turned their backs to God. This alone should have been reason enough to not have a king. God was their protector and savior, no human being could ever come close to matching Him.