Things started going downhill when Israel clamored for a king. “No,” they responded to Samuel’s pleas to reconsider. “but we will have a king over us, that we may also be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 1 Samuel 8:19b – 20.
- They wanted to be like all the nations around them, directly contradicting God’s injunction that Israel was “to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.” Leviticus 20:26
- They wanted their king to judge them, despite knowing that in the past, “the Lord [had] raised up judges, who saved them…” Judges 2:16
- They wanted their king to go out before them and fight their battles, stubbornly disregarding God’s promise that “The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes.” Deuteronomy 1:30
And so, Saul became the first of 42 total monarchs to rule God’s chosen people, including 20/21 overlaps when the tribes split. Aside from David and Solomon, only eight of these rulers were described as ‘good.’ Thus evil influence spread throughout Israel and Judah, and when it reached its height, God judged the land. Israel, who had only evil kings on record, fell to Assyria first. Judah’s eight good rulers deferred the judgment some, but eventually it too fell before Babylon.
Just as this series of unfortunate events began with the choice for a king, so too did the turnaround of captivity begin with a single decision. When the first batch of captives arrived in Babylon, the Bible narrative hones in on one remarkable young man and his three friends.
Next: Join me as we look at the landmark decision which marked Daniel and his friends for excellence. Can’t wait? Read ahead – Daniel Ch. 1.
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