Looking for a King, or President, to Govern Us

Posted on May 24, 2015

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I don’t usually write or comment about contemporary politics, especially as we approach a particularly contentious presidential election in 2016. There are enough pundits, OpEd writers, editorialists, and columnists out there to drive everyone crazy with the latest news, and their takes on what’s happening in the opening shots of what will be a looooong campaign season.

I heard a sound bite, for example, by Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, as he spoke at a Republican rally in South Carolina earlier this month. I’ll have to paraphrase but here’s the gist of what he observed.

“This country,” Jindall observed, “did not make religious liberty. Religious liberty made this country.”

I thought, how true, how true. Either Jindall is a close student of this country’s early history, or he has some good speech writers, or both.

Religious liberty (for another column) is the fundamental natural right of all humankind, and from this right flow all the other rights, so well expressed in the first ten amendments to the Constitution.

My observation: Jindal is worth listening to. I also like some of the other candidates but something caught my fancy one morning from the Old Testament reading that comes into my “in box” email every day.

Ok, I must admit, I read it—the email—zealously, just like all the other dingbat news junkies in our world.

The Hebrews, after their escape from slavery in Egypt, finally made it to the Promised Land of Canaan after forty years of wandering in the desert. They lived under the rule of a series of judges but startled mumbling and grumbling.

“The other tribes have kings, and we have just a bunch of grumpy old men.”

Their conclusion was that “we want a King just like the other people!” And, while they were at it, “stop the Prophets from nagging us all the time about sin and disobedience! We want to do what we feel like doing!”

Does this sound familiar? Or, expressed equally well: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” (Judges 21:25)

Today one of the popular principles on living is to do what you want to do. Laws and commandments (secular and religious) are all just relative to each other. There is no foundational truth, the bottom line, which is absolute.

After all, we even take the truth and interpret it our way. “Well, that was just a little white lie. It didn’t hurt anyone.”

This has been going on a long time. I hate to disappoint my Republican friends, but the Clintons did not invent political chicanery.

One of the greatest judges in the Old Testament was Samuel, but his kids were a mess. “His sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.” (1 Samuel 8: 3)

The people clamored for a king.

God relented because he loved his people. I personally think he was tired of their constant nagging, and gave them a King, a handsome young man named Saul.

End of story, and everyone lived happily ever after, the King and his subjects.

Of course, that is not the end of the story. The Jews have always been a cantankerous, stiff necked people to govern—just ask the Caesars or Pontius Pilate.

The crowd essentially carried the day, although their true King, God, warned them through Samuel.
You want a King? I’ll give you a King!

“You shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8:9)

The king turned out to be a disaster. He took from the people and “gave…to his servants,” those who obeyed and followed his orders. (1 Samuel 8: 14)

Today people are clamoring not for a king, but for a leader who will govern them justly and wisely. That’s a tall order. It was far too much for the ambitious Saul whose lack of scruples and vanity left much to be desired and brought him down.

Good leadership is a tricky, or, more exactly, complicated business. It is kind of like speaking of the wind. We know it’s there but it is sometimes hard to describe.

In our country, the people speak and govern through the ballot box. The official motto of the U. S. is “In God We Trust.” Let’s do that.

Let’s also read closely how God intervened in the lives of our Judeo-Christian forbearers.
Rather than complain and look for the quick fix like the Hebrews, let’s seek God’s will.

My goal will be to determine who among all the candidates walks closest to Scripture, and who demonstrates the qualities of an outstanding leader. They will have to reflect both those qualities to get my vote.

This OpEd published in my column, The Port Rail, as Searching for a President, or King, to Govern in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday May 24, 2015

Posted in: Politics