Archive for the ‘kings’ Category

22:11 Gracious and Pure

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

He who loves purity of heart and has grace on his lips, the king will be his friend. Proverbs 22:11

Thomas Ken, author of the Doxology

Thomas Ken was a man with grace on his lips. Sometimes it came out as rebuke of kings—he rebuked both Charles II and William III. Sometimes it emerged as poetry, including one of the most-used verses of praise ever penned—the doxology: Praise God from whom all blessings flow…

One of the most famous incidents in Ken’s life was the time he refused to house Charles’ II’s mistress, Nell Gwynne. Ken did not think it appropriate for the Lord’s priest to offer his home for the convenience of a king’s lustful assignations. Surprisingly, Charles II took this in good part and befriended Ken by making him a bishop when a vacancy occured.

Christ the most pure, the most full of grace, was friend and more than friend of the highest king of all. His grace and virtue exalted him to the right hand of God.

21:1 Turning a King’s Heart

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; like rivers of water he turns it wherever he wishes. Proverbs 21:1

Harry Truman.

There are many instances in history in which the leader of a nation has changed his mind or acted against his own best interests in a way that leads people to believe God must have been at work.

Such an example could be the decision by Hitler not to launch an invasion of Britain (which might have won him the war), but rather to turn on his ally Stalin.

An even better example might be the about face of Stalin after World War II. Previously his government had been anti-zionist, but now he began to sponsor the cause of a Jewish homeland; the Soviet Union voted for the Palestine partition plan in the United Nations, under the illusion Israel would become a socialist state.

Truman, harking back to his Christian upbringing, quickly recognized the fledgling Israeli nation, although the State Department urged against it.

It was time for Israel to be reborn, and God moved the hearts of rulers to bring it about.

Until the end of his life, Christ had little contact with kings, rulers and governors. Nonetheless, that Pilate yield to the roar of the Jerusalem mob was necessary for our salvation, and turned his heart to do what he knew was wrong.

Following his resurrection God also turned the heart of kings. The first ruler recorded as accepting Christ was not a king, but the the proconsul Sergius Paulus on the island of Cyprus. Within three centuries, the history of Europe and Asia Minor would become a history of kings who bowed their knees to the Lord and brought their nations into the fold of Christendom, beginning with Armenia in the third century and ending with Lithuania in the fourteenth.

We cannot presume to determine why God has not chosen to turn the hearts of other kings to Christ. But as the history of this age draws to a close and we see prophecies fulfilled, we likely will get deeper insight into God’s plan.

31:8,9 Justice for the Little Guy

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8,9.

King Louis IX dispensing justice.

King Louis IX of France was named a saint just twenty-seven years after his death in part because he pled the cause of the little guy. He appointed just men to hear grievances throughout his kingdom. There are instances in which he punished powerful lords for contempt of the laws, compelling them to pay compensation to those they had trampled upon. If they were acting on an order from a previous king, he paid the compensation himself. As a consequence of his even-handedness, he was even asked to arbitrate the quarrels of other nations.

No one, however, embodied this dictum more faithfully than Christ, who not only spoke up for all of us, poor and needy in our sin, but died for us and remains our advocate to this hour in heaven.

14:28 Necessary People

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Alfred the Great at his studies.

In a multitude of people is a king’s honor, but in the lack of people is the downfall of a prince.

Unlike some historic princes who treated their people as so many creatures to be plundered, tortured, and misused at will, Alfred the Great recognized the importance of people and their diverse abilities.

In a famous comment in his translation of Boethius he wrote, “…no man can show any skill, nor exercise or control any power, without tools and materials. There are of every craft the materials without which man cannot exercise the craft. These, then, are a king’s materials and his tools to reign with: that he have his land well peopled; he must have prayer-men, and soldiers, and workmen. You know that without these tools no king can show his craft.”

Jesus accepted many of the limitations of earthly kings, choosing not to achieve his goals by fiat. Instead, he works through a people, who he himself draws and prepares for his work, and empowers with necessary gifts so that they can carry out his work. Like Alfred, he relies upon people to allow him to demonstrate his “craft.”

20:8 Royal Justice

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

King Alfred the Great, a stickler for justice.

King Alfred the Great, a stickler for justice.

A king that sits in the throne of judgment scatters away all evil with his eyes.

This proverb tells us how it ought to be, not how it is. Many kings have created injustice from their thrones.

One who genuinely tried to scatter evil was King Alfred the Great. Ruling at a time of war with serious social breakdown, he was determined to restore justice in his land. Consequently he required all his judges to learn to read the law, or to have it read to them. An old document says he hanged forty-four justices in a single year for sentencing men who had been acquitted, for allowing irregular juries, for sending a madman and a minor to death, for punishing a man for an offense committed by his wife, and for usurpation of jurisdiction. He also ejected a number of judges for lesser abuses.

When Christ comes, he will judge his church with faithful justice. There will be no eluding his piercing eyes and complete knowledge not only of our actions but of our motives. He is the ideal king who fulfills this verse perfectly.

22:29 Skillful Workers

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Christopher Wren, mastermind, was asked to rebuild St. Paul's Cathedral.

Christopher Wren, mastermind, was asked to rebuild St. Paul's Cathedral.

Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.

Rich and powerful people want the best. Not many White House invitations go out to obscure people. Business leaders, renowned stars, and meritorious teachers get them. In Great Britain, royal chaplains and medical consultants are not chosen at random, but from the prominent individuals in their field. Christopher Wren was asked to rebuild St. Paul’s Cathedral, not some farmer who threw up a sheep cote between breakfast and dinner.

Now Jesus’ business was the Father’s business—that is, showing holiness and testifying to the truth of God. As could be expected, this brought him to the attention of the powerful men of his day. We are told, for instance, that Herod wanted to see him, thinking John the Baptist had returned from the dead.

In the end, Herod got his wish. Jesus stood before this murderer. He also stood before the Jewish leaders and the more powerful Roman governor, Pilate. But Christ’s business was not of the kind worldly leaders ooh and ah over. Palestine’s power mongers did not solicit his services toward becoming better men, but derided and disposed of him.

17:7 Lying Leaders, Truthful Leaders

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Charles I on the scaffold.

Charles I on the scaffold.

Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool—how much worse lying lips to a ruler.

King Charles I of England had great difficulties with Parliament and his people. Eager to accept those Bible verses which seem to promote divine right of kings, he showed little regard for verses such as Proverbs 17:7 which would have restrained his dishonesty. Most of his problems were the result of two errors: his determination to be an absolute monarch and his disregard for truth. He seemed incapable of keeping his own word, and in the end perished on a scaffold at the hand of a rebellion which would never have succeeded had he been honest in his dealings.

By contrast, Jesus, who truly had divine right, became a servant of his people and died for the truth. He introduced many of his deepest sayings with the words “Truly I tell you…” or “Truly, truly I tell you….” He even asserted that He Himself was the truth, and at his trial declared to Governor Pilate, “for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”

Both Charles and Jesus perished, but Jesus for the nobler sake of truth. Because of this and his vindication in resurrection, he still appeals to us with the words, “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”

Solomon presented to us two kinds of leaders: the first arrogant and lying, the second humble and truthful. Which are you following?