Anyone who has studied the scriptures and the history of Israel as a nation knows that there have been numerous kings which have occupied her throne. Yet there are only three truly significant kings which have sat upon her earthly throne during the time of her rise to power as a kingdom of flesh and blood, before she became a kingdom divided.
The first truly installed king was Saul the son of Kish. He was the answer the LORD gave to Israel when they rebelled against HIM (see I Sam.8:7) and demanded a king like unto the other nations. Until that time, Israel was a theocracy which was ruled by prophets which GOD saw fit to raise up. (see Rom.3:2) Samuel was just such a prophet who warned the children of Israel against seeking an earthly king. He told them of the oppressive nature of earthly kings and their desire to tax and demand service from their subjects. (see I Sam.8:11-18) The LORD had instructed him to apprise them of this even though HE told him to do as they asked. “Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.” (1Sa 8:9) (see v.22)
Now it is interesting that the seeds of this rebellion were sown in part by the ungodly actions of Samuel’s sons who began to rule wickedly, and even Eli’s sons before them who had misused the priesthood unto the satisfaction of their own lusts, which Eli did not restrain. Yet in the LORD’s purpose HE ordained such actions which precipitated the very rejection of HIS own rule over the house of Israel that HE might demonstrate the utter futility of earthly rule and the ultimate end thereof of all of those who reject HIS PROPHET. “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Psa 9:17) We see every action which was undertaken by the prophet of GOD as well as the people of Israel to be that which was ordered by the LORD to fulfill HIS exact purpose. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Rom 11:33)
Saul was a fine specimen of a man, “when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.” (1Sa 10:23) He was anointed by GOD to be the ruler over Israel after the flesh and therefore it is fitting that he be perceived as strong and powerful above others. “And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.” (1Sam 10:24)
As this king, Saul is illustrative of man in his fleshly state as he has descended from Adam. The LORD made Adam exactly like HE purposed; nor did Adam walk in any fashion which was not according to that purpose. Nor was Saul anywise less than that one whom the LORD ordained to demonstrate the wickedness of that man who is of the earth. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Rom 3:10-18)
We are not surprised, therefore, to see Saul rejected from being king by the same GOD who appointed him as king, for Saul was a disobedient ruler in his own house. (see I Sam.15:23) Just as in like fashion was his ancestor Adam, driven from the Garden in which the LORD had placed him. Though men will seek to place their guilt upon anyone but themselves, they can blame no one for their wicked ways and are each one accountable unto HIM who makes vessels unto honor and unto dishonor as it hath pleased HIM. The kingdom of Saul came to an end as he was slain, even as it is appointed unto men once to die, ending the proud rule of Adam.
Then with the demise of Saul, David came to reign in Jerusalem as king, (see Rom.6:6) as he destroyed the stronghold of the Jebusites and united the children of Israel who were scattered. As such a conquering king he is illustrative of the LORD JESUS CHRIST who has led captivity captive and given gifts to men and does rule and reign without rival. It is interesting to note that he was anointed as king long before he actually entered into his kingdom. (see 1 Sam.16:1,13) Even as the LORD JESUS CHRIST came into the world as an ordained KING before HE was manifested in that capacity unto the sons of men as that voice from heaven spoke, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mat 3:17)
David began his reign during the thirtieth year of his life even as the LORD JESUS entered upon HIS own ministry at the same age. In contrast to Saul as an imposing figure in the flesh, David was of a more humble station and stature. Even as the scripture speaks of CHRIST as being ONE despised and rejected.
Though David’s reign is in many ways illustrative of the reign of CHRIST, yet David, a man after GOD’s “own heart” (see I Sam.13:14) was also even as Saul, a man of the flesh, and beset by his own sinful lusts and prone to disobedience. Yet David was not merely a man of the flesh (as was Saul) but his reign is illustrative of that man who is born again by the SPIRIT of GOD, who wars constantly with the sinful flesh in which he dwells by nature. By the work of the SPIRIT he glories in the deep things of GOD, “I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.” (Psa 119:99) but then by the work of that same SPIRIT is engaged in battle with the very flesh which he inherited from Adam. As Paul said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” (Rom 7:18-20)
David could not continue as king by reason of the same death which befell Saul. Saul died in despair as a man of the flesh. David, however, died with the hope of GOD’s promise before his eyes, as he was enabled to see Solomon, his beloved son (whose name literally means “loved of Yahweh” and is derived from the words “peaceful” and “to be quiet”) installed as king. (see I Kings 1:48), quite unlike Saul who died with no heir to his throne. Thus Solomon’s reign is illustrative of the enjoyment of peace and the hope of the resurrection, which is experienced by the sons of GOD as they are enabled to behold the promised ONE, the PRINCE OF PEACE.
But in order than no one should believe that flesh and blood can inherit the kingdom of GOD, Solomon, the wisest man upon the earth, also fell prey to his own sinful flesh and walked in disobedience. The most glorious reign of peace by any earthly king came to an end because of the necessity of the death of sinful flesh, and so too is the peace of all of the saints of GOD interrupted by this same malady.
While Israel after the flesh (along with all of her kings) has fallen away, yet there has arisen ONE whose Kingdom is not of this world. HE is that ONE who is set upon the “holy hill of Zion”. “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” (Isa 9:7)mam