4 occurrences in 4 dictionaries

Reference: King


is in Scripture very generally used to denote one invested with authority, whether extensive or limited. There were thirty-one kings in Canaan (Jos 12:9,24), whom Joshua subdued. Adonibezek subdued seventy kings (Jg 1:7). In the New Testament the Roman emperor is spoken of as a king (1Pe 2:13,17); and Herod Antipas, who was only a tetrarch, is also called a king (Mt 14:9; Mr 6:22).

This title is applied to God (1Ti 1:17), and to Christ, the Son of God (1Ti 6:15-16; Mt 27:11). The people of God are also called "kings" (Da 7:22,27; Mt 19:28; Re 1:6, etc.). Death is called the "king of terrors" (Job 18:14).

Jehovah was the sole King of the Jewish nation (1Sa 8:7; Isa 33:22). But there came a time in the history of that people when a king was demanded, that they might be like other nations (1Sa 8:5). The prophet Samuel remonstrated with them, but the people cried out, "Nay, but we will have a king over us." The misconduct of Samuel's sons was the immediate cause of this demand.

The Hebrew kings did not rule in their own right, nor in name of the people who had chosen them, but partly as servants and partly as representatives of Jehovah, the true King of Israel (1Sa 10:1). The limits of the king's power were prescribed (1Sa 10:25). The officers of his court were, (1) the recorder or remembrancer (2Sa 8:16; 1Ki 4:3); (2) the scribe (2Sa 8:17; 20:25); (3) the officer over the house, the chief steward (Isa 22:15); (4) the "king's friend," a confidential companion (1Ki 4:5); (5) the keeper of the wardrobe (2Ki 22:14); (6) captain of the bodyguard (2Sa 20:23); (7) officers over the king's treasures, etc. (1Ch 27:25-31); (8) commander-in-chief of the army (1Ch 27:34); (9) the royal counsellor (1Ch 27:32; 2Sa 16:20-23).

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Moses (De 17:14-17) contemplated the contingency of a king being set up in Israel as in all the adjoining nations. The theocracy and the law could be maintained under kings as under a commonwealth. God's promise was," kings of people shall be of Sarah" (Ge 17:16). Other allusions to kings to come occur (Ge 36:31; Nu 24:17; De 28:36). The request of the people (1Sa 8:5, etc.), "make us a king to judge us like all the nations," evidently is molded after De 17:14; so Samuel's language in presenting Saul to the people (1Sa 10:24) as "him whom the Lord hath chosen" alludes to Moses' direction (De 17:15), "thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee whom the Lord thy God shall choose." It was not the mere desire for a king which is blamed, but the spirit of their request and the circumstances under which they made it.

They set aside Samuel, though appointed by the heavenly King, on the pretext "behold thou art old," though he took a leading part in state affairs for 35 years afterward (1Sa 8:5), "they have not rejected thee but ... Me that I should not reign over them"; they distrusted God's power and will to save them from Nahash (1Sa 12:12), though He had delivered them from the Philistines (1 Samuel 7). Samuel's sons were corrupt, but that did not warrant their desire to set aside himself, whom none could accuse of corruption (1 Samuel 12). Impatience of God's yoke (the laws of the theocracy), eagerness to imitate the nations around, and unbelief in trial, instead of seeking for the cause of their misfortunes in themselves, were the sin of their request. God in retribution "gave them a king in His anger" (Ho 13:10-11).

Samuel by God's direction warned them of the evil results of their desire, the prerogative to dispose of their property and their children at will, which he would claim; yet they refused to obey: "nay, but we will have a king, that we also may be like all the nations, and that the king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles." The sacred record of Solomon's multiplying horses and chariots from Egypt, and foreign wives who turned away his heart, alludes to the prohibition (De 17:16-17; compare De 7:3-4; Ex 34:16), and proceeds to verify the prediction of the results of disobedience to it. God saves not by horses and horsemen, but by the Lord His people's God (Ho 1:7). Moses' caution against "returning to Egypt" accords with his experience (Nu 14:4). After the kingdom was set up in Israel the danger was no longer of a literal (but see Jer 42:14) but of a spiritual backsliding return to Egypt (Ho 11:5; Isa 30:1-2; 36:9; Eze 17:15).

Solomon's multiplication of horses and chariots from Egypt entailed constant traffic with that idolatrous nation, which the prohibition, De 17:16, was designed to prevent. The king when set up, as the judge previously, was but God's viceroy, enjoying only a delegated authority. The high priest, priests, and Levites, as God's ministers, were magistrates as well as religious officers. Saul was elected by the divine oracle from an obscure family, so that all saw his authority was held solely at God's pleasure. The king had the executive power under God; God reserved to Himself the executive. The words "Jehovah is our Judge, Jehovah is our Lawgiver, Jehovah is our King," embody the theocracy (Isa 33:22). The land itself was His (Le 25:23-42,55); and the people, as His servants, could not be permanently bondservants to men.

The king was closely connected with the priesthood, and was bound to "write (i.e. have written for him) a copy of the law out of that before the priests and Levites; he should read therein all his life, to keep all the words, that his heart might not be lifted up above his brethren, to the end that he might prolong his days in his kingdom" (De 17:18-20). Instead of being, like Eastern kings, of a distinct royal caste, he was simply to be first among equals, like his subjects bound by the fundamental law of the nation (compare Mt 23:9). None of the Israelite kings usurped the right to legislate. The people chose their king, but only in accordance with God's "choice" and from their "brethren" (1Sa 9:15; 10:24; 16:12; 1Ki 19:16; 1Ch 22:10). The rule ("one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee," De 17:15) that no stronger should reign gives point to the question (See JESUS CHRIST), Mt 22:17, "is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar?" (Jer 30:21).

The unlimited polygamy of Eastern kings was forbidden. Samuel wrote down "the manner of the kingdom" (1Sa 10:25), i.e. the rights and duties of the king in relation to Jehovah the supreme King, and to the nation. Despotic murders were committed as that of the 85 priests at Nob, besides the other inhabitants, by Saul (1Sa 22:18-19); but mostly the kings observed forms of law. Even Ahab did not seize at once Naboth's vineyard, but did it with the show of a trial. David slew Rechab and Baanah because they were self convicted of Ishbosheth's murder. The king was commander in chief, supreme judge, and imposer of taxes (Menahem, 2Ki 15:19-20; Jehoiakim, 2Ki 23:35) and levies of men (1Ki 5:13-15). He was "the Lord's anointed," consecrated with the holy oil heretofore reserved for the priests (Ex 30:23-33; 1Ki 1:39; 2Sa 7:14; Ps 89:19-20,26-27; 2:2,6-7). It was sacrilegious to kill him, even at his own request (1Sa 24:5-6,10; 26:9,16; 2Sa 1:14; La 4:20).

Type of Messiah (Da 9:26). The prophets were his advisers, reprovers (12/type/leb'>2 Samuel 12, 1 Kings 21) and intercessors with God (1Ki 12:21-24; Isa 37:22-36; Jer 37:17; 38:2,4,14-26). He was bound to consult God by the Urim and Thummim of the high priest in every important step (1Sa 14:18-19; 28:6; 2Sa 2:1; 5:19,23). He held office on condition of loyalty to his supreme Lord. Saul, failing herein, forfeited his throne; he usurped the place of God's will: "we inquired not at the ark in the days of Saul" (1Ch 13:3). David, on the contrary, could not bear that God's throne, the ark, should lie neglected while his throne was so elevated, and he stripped off his royal robe for the linen ephod to do homage before the symbol of God's throne (2Sa 6:14).

The king selected his successor, under God's direction, as David chose Solomon before the elder son Adonijah (1Ki 1:30; 2:22; 2Sa 12:24-25); compare 2Ch 11:21-22, Rehoboam, Abijah; the firstborn was usually appointed (2Ch 21:3-4). The queen mother was regent during a son's minority, and always held a high position of power at court (1Ki 2:19; 2Ki 24:12,15; 11:1-3; Athaliah). His chief officers were the recorder, who wrote annals of his reign (2Sa 8:16); the scribe or secretary wrote dispatches and conducted his correspondence (2Sa 8:17); the officer over the house, arrayed in a distinctive robe of office and girdle (Isa 22:15, etc., Isa 36:3); the king's friend or companion (1Ki 4:5); the captain of the body guard (2Sa 20:23; 1Ki 2:25,34,46), who was also chief executioner; the commander in chief under the king (2Sa 3:30-39; 20:23); his counselor (25/type/leb'>2Sa 24:25,25; 1Ch 27:32). Besides demesnes, flocks, tenths (1Sa 8:15), levies, he enjoyed a large revenue by "presents," which virtually became a regular tax.

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1. Etymology and use of the term.

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a chief ruler, one invested with supreme authority over a nation, tribe or country. --Webster. In the Bible the word does not necessarily imply great power or great extent of country. Many persons are called kings whom we should rather call chiefs or leaders. The word is applied in the Bible to God as the sovereign and ruler of the universe, and to Christ the Son of God as the head and governor of the Church. The Hebrews were ruled by a king during a period of about 500 years previous to the destruction of Jerusalem, B.C. 586. The immediate occasion of the substitution of a regal form of government for that of judges seems to have been the siege of Jabesh-gilead by Nahash king of the Ammonites.

1Sa 11:1; 12:12

The conviction seems to have forced itself on the Israelites that they could not resist their formidable neighbor unless they placed themselves under the sway of a king, like surrounding nations. The original idea of a Hebrew King was twofold: first, that he should lead the people to battle in time of war; and, a second, that he should execute judgment and justice to them in war and in peace.

1Sa 8:20

In both respects the desired end was attained. Besides being commander-in-chief of the army, supreme judge, and absolute master, as it were, of the lives of his subjects, the king exercised the power of imposing taxes on them, and of exacting from them personal service and labor. In addition to these earthly powers, the king of Israel had a more awful claim to respect and obedience. He was the vicegerent of Jehovah,

1Sa 10:1; 16:13

and as it were his son, if just and holy.

2Sa 7:14; Ps 2:6-7; 89:26-27

he had been set apart as a consecrated ruler. Upon his dead had been poured the holy anointing oil, which had hitherto been reserved exclusively for the priests of Jehovah. He had become, in fact, emphatically "the Lord's anointed." He had a court of Oriental magnificence. The king was dressed in royal robes,

1Ki 22:10; 2Ch 18:9

his insignia were, a crown or diadem of pure gold, or perhaps radiant with precious gems,

2Sa 1:10; 12:30; 2Ki 11:12; Ps 21:3

and a royal sceptre. Those who approached him did him obeisance, bowing down and touching the ground with their foreheads,

1Sa 24:8; 2Sa 19:24

and this was done even by a king's wife, the mother of Solomon.

1Ki 1:16

His officers and subjects called themselves his servants or slaves. He had a large harem, which was guarded by eunuchs. The law of succession to the throne is somewhat obscure, but it seems most probable that the king during his lifetime named his successor. At the same time, if no partiality for a favorite wife or son intervened, there would always be a natural bias of affection in favor of the eldest son.

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