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The throne of the Lord

The king at the time of the Exodus and for the next nearly 400 years was the Rock of Israel, the Eternal God Himself—in fact, the preincarnate Word, Jesus Christ...

...(compare Deuteronomy 32:4; 1 Corinthians 10:4; John 1:1-3, 14; 17:5; and to learn more, request our free booklet Who Is God?).

Though ruling through His chosen "judges"—from Moses and Joshua all the way to Samuel—God in the person of Christ sat on the throne of Israel (compare Judges 8:22-23). Samuel described this period as the time "when the LORD your God was your king" (1 Samuel 12:12). That's why, when the Israelites told Samuel around 1050 B.C. that they wanted a human king like the nations around them, the Lord told him, "They have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them" (8:7).

So God then gave them a physical monarch—though surprisingly not of the tribe of Judah. Rather, King Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin.

It is interesting to note that unlike other ancient rulers, the king of Israel was not an absolute despot. God had Samuel anoint Saul "commander" (9:16; 10:1) or "captain" (KJV) over His people. This Hebrew term nagiyd used here could be rendered in English as viceroy or governor-general—the stand-in for the real monarch. In fact, the very act of anointing a ruler in the ancient world implied a vassal relationship. It is later explained that Israel's king "sat on the throne of the LORD," essentially reigning as king for Him (1 Chronicles 29:23; 2 Chronicles 9:6-8).

Also quite different than in other realms was the fact that in other countries, kings made law and were thus above it. But in Israel, God's prophet explained "the rights and duties of the kingship" (1 Samuel 10:22
, NRSV). The ruler was subject to the law (compare Deuteronomy 17:14-20). Essentially, the Almighty set up a constitutional limited monarchy—in which He would send prophets as His representatives to the king to give him his "report card." Tragically, Saul failed and God removed him from office by bringing about his death.

Then, around 1010 B.C., more than 650 years after the scepter prophecy had been given to Judah, God at last did raise up a man from that tribe, of the preeminent branch of Perez, to be king: "I have found David . . . a man after My own heart, who will do all My will" (Acts 13:22).

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