Lesson Five – The Reign of Non-Divine Kings

The Reign Of Non-Divine Kings

Lesson Aim:  To show how God’s purposes were carried out through Israel, even though she functioned under non-divine kings for approximately one thousand years.


And after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’  Mark 1:14, 15

What times or things needed to be fulfilled before the Messiah would come and begin His reign as king?  In this lesson we want to focus on a few points that will help us to understand what God wanted to accomplish before He brought Jesus Christ into this world.  These thoughts will be taken from the Old Testament historical books of I Samuel through Nehemiah.

We have seen in our previous lessons that God planned to have the man-dimension of His kingdom in a physical nation on earth.  The citizens were Abraham’s seed through Isaac and Jacob.  When their seed became unfaithful God added the Law of Moses and moved on with His plan.  From our last lesson we saw how God started to accomplish His plan with the children of Israel as they settled in Canaan.  Samuel served God and Israel as their last judge (I Sam. 7:15).  He also served in the capacity of prophet (I Sam. 3:20).  God would send many messages to Israel by prophets in the years that followed because they were about to add one more evil to their long list of sins.  They would reject God as their king in favor of a non-divine king (I Sam. 12:19).  In the following scripture God acknowledges His rejection by the majority of the Israelites.

And 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.’  I Sam 8:7


Surely, according to man’s way of thinking, God would turn away from Israel after they rejected Him as their king, but no, He still had some unfinished business.  God had committed Himself to Abraham and his children until He was ready for the Messiah to appear.  In the meantime, He would use physical Israel to keep His name before the world.  Please consider the following scriptures.

For the Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the Lord has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.  I Sam. 12:22

So that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no one else.  I Kings 8:60

Let us not forget God made all people for one purpose.  We were created to be His children eternally.  At the point in history when Israel got her first non-divine king most of the world’s population was lost to God’s plan (Eph. 2:12).  The glorious nation of Israel with God as king was one way God had planned to show His glory to the Gentiles.  Actually, Israel was to function more like a family than what we generally think of as a nation.  God found it very difficult to accomplish His desires because of their sins; however, His love and patience prevailed and many people came to know, “The Lord is God.”

The credentials of Saul, the first king, were in keeping with the peoples’ motive for wanting a king, “like everybody else.”  God gave Israel a tall handsome king from a family of wealth and prestige (I Sam. 9:1, 2).  The people of Israel must have felt like many people do today who are not satisfied with Jesus’ plan for church government.  The plan for church government is for Jesus to reign as king in heaven.  The only visible leadership is a plurality of elders over each congregation.  Like the Israelites this does not satisfy many peoples’ concept of leadership.  They want a prestigious man or woman to rule over them; one they can call Father, Reverend or Preacher.  When men are weak in faith and cannot see themselves in God’s glory, they seek the leadership and glory of men.  The Corinthian church had this problem (I Cor. 3; 4-7).  Jesus may have had a similar type problem in mind when He said;

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another, and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?  John 5:44

Israel wanted a king like everybody else (I Sam. 8:19, 20).  They wanted to look good before other nations.  No doubt, they felt they could function better as a nation if they were “more tightly” organized.  The result of their “human wisdom” was that it greatly curtailed the benefit of their divine leadership.  It was not long until we hear God saying, “I regret that I have made Saul king.”  I Sam. 15:11.  Saul demonstrated why God does not want one man to oversee the church today.  Saul became infatuated with his own power and turned against God (I Sam. 13:13; 15:7-23; 16:14).

God replaced him with David; however, this time He chose a king based on what the people needed, rather than what they wanted.  He gave more consideration to David’s spiritual attributes than his physical qualities (I Sam. 16:7).  David properly understood his role in God’s overall plan.  He knew the source of his power was God (I Sam. 17:37).  Also, he knew why God was giving Israel power over ungodly nations.  He said, “…that all the earth may know there is a God in Israel.”  I Sam. 17:46.  During David’s reign God was able to expand Israel’s land area and bring the ark into Jerusalem (II Sam. 6:17; 7:1, 2)

So David reigned over all Israel and David administered justice and righteousness for all His people.  II Sam. 8:15

In spite of some serious mistakes, David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).  His name is closely connected with kings, especially with Christian’s king, the Lord Jesus Christ.  The New Testament begins with the genealogy of Jesus Christ as the son of David, the son of Abraham (Matt. 1:1ff).  This fulfilled God’s promise to David (Psa. 89:35-37; Acts 2:29-36).  God gave the following message to Nathan, the prophet, to give to David.  It was God’s promise that Jesus Christ would be born of a woman through his seed.

And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; and your throne shall be established forever.  II Sam. 7:16

Solomon, David’s son, was ordained by God as the next king over God’s kingdom after David expired (I Chron. 28:5).  God was able to establish a magnificent physical kingdom on earth under the reign of Solomon (I King 10:7).  We can but wonder what Israel’s height of glory might have been if they had not tampered with the sovereignty of God; even so, God was able to do great things before the world because He gave Solomon great wisdom.  The following is what God told Solomon at his coronation.

Behold, I have done according to your words.  Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.  And I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days.  I Kings 3:12, 13

It had been four hundred and eighty years since Israel had left Egypt when Solomon first began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem (I Kings 6:1).  Seven years later the ark was moved into the Holy of Holies in the temple (I Kings 6:38; 8:4).  A worship service to God was carried out as He desired (I Kings 8:62).

And the Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your supplication, which you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built by putting My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.”  I Kings 9:3

Solomon built many other glorious buildings and developed the economy of Israel – so that all Israelites lived well.

Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance; they were eating and drinking and rejoicing.

So Judah and Israel lived in safety, every man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.  I Kings 4:20, 25

God wanted to show His glory to the entire world through Israel.  He surely accomplished His goal during Solomon’s rule.  The world learned that God blesses the faithful.  They also witnessed God’s wrath upon the unfaithful.  As we continue to follow the story of Israel the latter scene will become evident.  God had warned that just as Israel was known for her glory, so she would be known for her desolation, if she became unfaithful.  God’s righteousness and His wrath were made known to the world through Israel.  He warned:

Then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them, and the house which I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of My sight.  So Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.  I Kings 9:7

Solomon loved many foreign women and brought their gods into Israel (I Kings 11:1-8).  Long before Solomon’s rule was over God began to dismantle his kingdom (I Kings 11:11, 23, 26).  The twelve tribes of Israel split immediately after Solomon’s death (I Kings 12:19).  The southern portion, with Jerusalem as its capital, became known as Judah.  Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, was the first king of Judah (I Kings 12:1ff).  The northern territory retained the name Israel, and Jeroboam, who was not from the family of David, became their ruler (I Kings 12:25-33).  He immediately led them into idolatry.  They worshipped the golden calf and finally Baal.  The balance of the story of Israel is a mixture of disobedience, idol worship and war.

God destroyed many of the prophets of Baal by Elijah’s hand (I Kings 18:36-40).  Elijah, God’s prophet, was given the power over rain in Israel (I Kings 17:1; Jas. 5:17).  God was gracious to Israel because of His covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (II Kings 13:23).  However, according to the following scripture, there came a time when God had no more use for the ten tribes.

So the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them from sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah.  II Kings 17:18

Why did God not send the Messiah at the end of Solomon’s reign?  The time was not right, according to Paul’s statement to the church in Galatia (Gal. 4:4).  Perhaps the story of Judah’s and Israel’s disobedience and God’s corresponding wrath is as important for the world to witness as the story of God’s glory.

Jerusalem was quickly disgraced before the world.  It is hard to believe that Egypt was able to strip the temple of God within five years after Solomon’s death (I Kings 14:25, 26).  In this we see the hand of God behind the scenes working His wrath against evil and rewarding the righteous.  God used Israel and Judah to pour out His wrath on the heathen nations, then He turned on them when they did evil (II Kings 13:18, 19).

God worked with Judah for over one hundred years after He let Assyria replace the population of Israel with foreign people.  He performed many miracles during this time.  At one point God destroyed one hundred eighty five thousand Assyrian troops in one night as they besieged Jerusalem (II Kings 19:35).  God moved the shadows backward ten steps as a sign to Hezekiah that he would live another fifteen years.  Isaiah and other prophets were used by God to help and to warn the people.  Even so, there came a time when God could no longer tolerate Judah.

After Manasseh’s fifty-five years of evil rule, God declared He would wipe Jerusalem as “one wipes a dish.”  II Kings 21:13.  The following are hints of God’s impending wrath.

Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am bringing such calamity on Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears shall tingle.’  II Kings 21:12

Now on the seventh day of the fifth month, which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem.  And he burned the house of the Lord, the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem; even every great house he burned with fire.  II Kings 25:8, 9

Seventy years after the foregoing events, Ezra and Nehemiah tell of God’s people returning to Jerusalem.  They did learn a few lessons; however, they still had to be taught not to mix their marriages with the Gentiles.  Nehemiah tells us how he dealt with the offenders.

So I contended with them and cursed them and struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, ‘You shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor take of their daughters for your sons or for yourselves.’  Neh. 13:25

The Israelites did rebuild the temple and the walls around the city.  They never became a powerful nation again, even though today we see them still struggling to regain power.  They did make their presence known in their land in the centuries preceding the Messiah’s appearance.  This had to be accomplished before the many prophecies concerning Him could be fulfilled.  Why did God not send Jesus at that time?  Again we must conclude the time was not right, but we believe God was working behind the scene for His purposes – just as He is today.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What were some of the purposes for which God maintained the nation of Israel?
  2. What is the similarity between Israel’s problem that moved them to ask for another king and some religious problems today?
  3. What did God do differently when He replaced Saul with David as king?
  4. What are some of the things David accomplished that helped achieve God’s goal with Israel?
  5. Name the event that fulfilled God’s last promise to David.
  6. Give your view of God’s nation, if Israel had been faithful.
  7. List the accomplishments of Solomon that attained God’s purposes.
  8. What are some lessons we can learn from the story of God and Israel?
  9. Why did God not send the Messiah after Solomon’s kingdom became corrupt?
  10. List some things God did to “bring down” Israel.
  11. Explain II Kings 21:12, 13.
  12. What is one lesson Israel had not completely learned at the end of their Babylonian captivity?

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