I have been spending some time in the Kings and looking at the life of the people who led Israel and Judah. I love the section from Samuel to Chronicles as I love history and story. These books are rife with incredible stories of intrigue, drama, romance, betrayal and action. If these books were turned into films by Peter Jackson, we would see epic battle scenes like in Lord of the Rings.
First a bit of overview. After the people of God demanded a king, God gave them Saul, ripped the kingdom away from him and gave it to David whose lineage led to Jesus. David’s grandson, Rehoboam incited a revolt by putting heavy burdens on the people and ruling with none of the tact and wisdom his father Solomon had. From that point forward, the kingdom split with Jeroboam ruling the 10 tribes to the north, Judah serving the descendants of David. In the North, Jeroboam set up idols to keep his people from traveling south to worship at the temple and thereby falling back in love with the idea of a united kingdom. Jeroboam led the people away from worshipping God and into sin. Every king who followed him led the northern tribes into sin with Ahab and Jezebel reaching a peak of wickedness.
However in the South, some kings followed God while others worshipped idols and led the people into sinfulness. I am struck by the epilogues given to each of the kings as the author gives a brief window into their character at the end of their life. There he shows how long they lived and how they led their people.
The righteous kings are said to have served the Lord, but… I am struck by the ‘but’. They were great kings except for this one thing. This reminds me of my Italian friend Lenny from Seattle. He was one of the rad parents of some kids in a youth group where I interned during my college years. He always said to me, “Andy, I love you. I really love you, except for that one thing.” Shocked, I replied, what one thing? To that he just said, you know, that one thing. He really played it up too, making me think I should know what one thing he meant as if everyone knew what character flaw he was talking about. After several go arounds like this, I realized Lenny was just giving me the what for and throwing me off of my game. As far as I know now, there was never that one thing. Or was there?
Back to the kings, character models for us as godly or ungodly leaders. Many of them were great, like Jehoshaphat and Asa, but they all had that ‘but’ in their eulogy. Even Asa, one of the great righteous kings, never removed the high places. These high places that tripped up Solomon as an area of weakness in his life from the very beginning led to him following the gods of his numerous wives and concubines. I have been reading biography after biography of these mighty kings and all their exploits, even how they turned the hearts of the people back to God, yet there is always a ‘but’. There is always that ‘one thing’.
As I read these stories, I am struck by the ‘one thing’ that hangs around in my life. There is always that one thing in our life that we are slow or negligent to give over to God. There is just one thing we cannot shake as we try to live fully sold out to God. Should I be encouraged that I am not alone, or discouraged that even great heroes of the faith couldn’t get it 100% right? I am not sure, but I know I want to work on getting all parts of my life handed over to God for him to work on.
Now, as I am writing about eulogies and life stories, what would you like your one sentence eulogy to say?
Here is mine…
He served God with a reckless abandon and lived life passionately as a loving husband and father all the years of his life.