God’s all for kings and queens – and he said as much in Genesis 1:26-28 when creating male and female humans in his image. In his own words he said “let them rule over” the earth and its creatures. And the Hebrew word for rule, radah (rah-dah), really meant govern or reign. So in Genesis we’re introduced to King Adam and Queen Eve.
We’re also introduced in Genesis 3 to the problem that royalty has been up against ever since. It’s the evil thought put into their heads that they are more than kings and queens, they are also gods, verse 5. This has led to all sorts of unsavoury behaviour by ruling monarchs, who don’t take kindly to peasants, serfs, plebs and ordinary hard-working folk rising up in protest and demanding change. Such cheek from the “deplorables” has stirred many a reigning monarch to retaliate with violence and severe penalties.
But God did warn the Israelites who so desperately wanted a king that “This is what the kings who will reign over you will do,” and what follows in 1 Samuel 8 is an eerily accurate description of monarchs through the ages exploiting their people rather than serving them. Not all of them have been that awful, but even a man after God’s own heart, King David, abused his power by having the husband of the woman he wanted killed.
The history of the monarchy in England hasn’t exactly been prim and proper either. King Charles the first was convicted of high treason in 1649 and had his head chopped off, and kings were actually abolished after that. The Scots, however, proclaimed his son king and crowned him Charles 11 in 1651, but he ended up in exile for nine years after being trounced by the English. Rocky roads for both father and son.
I wonder how many kings through the ages, therefore, took note of that little gem of advice to monarchy in Proverbs 29:14, that “If a king judges the poor with fairness, his throne will always be secure.”
Note that it’s his attitude to the less fortunate in his realm that commands respect. He doesn’t treat their cries as an insult, nor does he scuttle off into hiding when his people are driven to protest. “The righteous,” verse 7 – those truly representing God – “care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”
It’s such a simple formula that identifies a good monarch from a bad one. And King Solomon, for all his faults, knew that. In Psalm 72:1 he begged God, “Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness,” for with that help from God, verse 12, “he (the king) will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help,” and in verse 13, “he will take pity on the weak and the needy.”
So with that in mind, are kings and queens a good idea? Yes, because with God’s help they can be a wonderful power for good. “By justice a king gives a country stability,” Proverbs 29:4. He doesn’t divide a country and set people against each other. He unites a country with a simple statement, “Where’s the need and how can we help?”
Imagine having a king or queen like that. So that when death comes there’s a queue of people stretching back for miles wanting to honour a life humbly lived in service and duty.