Qualifications of a King (May 2023)
As we reflect on the coronation of King Charles, where does it come from and what is involved?
Since God’s people had their first king, the role of king has been distinct from any other form of earthly leadership.
In 1 Samuel 8, Israel asks God for a King to lead them. Up until that point, Israel was led by God himself, bringing deliverance in battle and anointing prophets and judges to help lead his people. Living by faith in God frustrated Israel, and for this reason they eventually asked for a King to rule over them so they could be like the other nations.
Once the decision to appoint a king had been made, the people had to determine the qualifications.
God did not ignore His people; He gave guidelines for the leaders they would appoint.
First, the king must be anointed by God.
“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, ‘Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,’ be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses” (Deuteronomy 17:14–15)
Second, the king must belong to God’s people.
“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). In our modern minds this may sound strange; however, the emphasis is on the king being able to lead and 'give it all' for others. This is only possible from a member of the family (the people he serves).
Third, the king must exercise faith.
The king is to model faith. He is to put his trust in the living God. When the church appointed the first deacons, they chose Stephen because he was “a man full of faith” (Acts 6:5). Leadership among God’s people must always be in the hands of people who know how to trust in the living God.
Fourth, the king must be loyal.
“He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray” (Deuteronomy 17:17). The same principle is reflected in the New Testament: The elder must be “the husband of but one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2). In Old Testament times it was common for kings to seal alliances with marriages. God said, “Don’t do that.” Fidelity is the ultimate test of love, loyalty, and integrity.
Fifth, the king must be ready for sacrifice.
“He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold” (Deuteronomy 17:17). He must not be greedy; instead, he must use his power for the benefit of the people.
Sixth, the king must know the Scriptures.
“When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law… It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees” (Deuteronomy 17:18–19). The king was to make a handwritten copy of God’s Law for himself. This emphasises the importance of God's Word being evident in the life and person of the king.
Seventh, the king must be an example of obedience.
The king must “not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left” (Deuteronomy 17:20). The most powerful man in the land must be the first to model commitment to the 'Law' (Word) of God.
When King Charles III takes the weight of the crown upon his head and receives his royal sceptre, he will be holding the Word of God (Bible) and is reminded that he reigns in deference and obedience to Christ (also known as the Word of God). He takes on the role of servant and earthly intermediary between God and his subjects. The only way to bear this responsibility is to ensure he is following in the footsteps of his humble and heavenly King, Christ our eternal King.
Almighty God, the fountain of all goodness, bless our Sovereign Lord, King Charles, and all who are in authority under him; that they may order all things in wisdom and equity, righteousness and peace, to the honour of your name, and the good of your Church and people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O God, who providest for thy people by thy power, and rulest over them in love: Grant unto thy servant CHARLES, our King, the Spirit of wisdom and government, that being devoted unto thee with his whole heart, he may so wisely govern, that in his time thy Church may be in safety, and Christian devotion may continue in peace; that so persevering in good works unto the end, he may by thy mercy come to thine everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen [1953 Coronation Collect]
Gracious God, in company with our King, we rededicate ourselves to your service. Take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire with love for you and your kingdom; that here we may have your peace, and in the world to come may see you face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord.