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“The Kings”

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“The Kings”

Series: A Journey through the Old Testament [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

July 18, 2021

Introductory Comments:

Most of us here in America don’t know what it’s like to be led by an earthly king. In fact, our very founding as a nation was based on the fact that we didn’t want a king to rule us. However, many cultures and nations from the history of the world were not only used to being ruled by a monarch, but many of them wanted to be ruled by a monarch. 

That was the case for the people of Israel as well; they wanted to be ruled by a king. 

Today, in our journey through the Old Testament, we’ll learn about the period of Old Testament history called “The Kings.” [on screen]

Before we go any further, let’s pray together.


As we speak about the kings, there’s a lot to say that won’t be covered today. We’re not even going to name all of the kings, although there is a handout available that lists the kings, how long they were on the throne, and whether they were generally good or bad. 

Remember, we’re on a journey through the Old Testament, not a camping trip in the kings. So, thinking of the big story of the kings, let’s start with the . . .

I. Major elements [on screen]

1. As Samuel grew old, the people of Israel demanded a king. (1 Samuel 8:4-5) [on screen]

Samuel was a major figure in Israel who sort of served as the last judge and a prophet (we’ll talk more about the prophets in a different sermon). 

Towards, the end of Samuel’s days, the people wanted a new leader. 

Listen, to what the people said in 1 Samuel 8:4-5, “4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and went to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, ‘Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Therefore, appoint a king to judge us the same as all the other nations have.’” (read in paper Bible)

Pay attention to the end of this passage. This is problem number one: the people said the reason they wanted a king is because they wanted to be the same as the other nations. 

Church, when we neglect what God wants for us so that we can have what we want for us, we have a problem. 

When we trade what God plans for us for what others think about us, we have a problem. 

When we find our identity in anything else, whether it’s the way we dress, how many “likes” we have on social media, how much money we make, who accepts us, or what kind of leader we have for our country, we have a problem. 

The people of Israel wanted a king so they could be like the other nations who surrounded them. 

Next, we learn that . . .

2. The demand for a human king was a rejection of God’s kingship. (1 Samuel 8:6-7)  [on screen]

Not only was the people’s motivation wrong in demanding a king, but they were outright rejecting God as their true king.

Listen to what God said about this in 1 Samuel 8:6-7, 7 But the Lord told him, “Listen to the people and everything they say to you. They have not rejected you; they have rejected me as their king. 8 They are doing the same thing to you that they have done to me, since the day I brought them out of Egypt until this day, abandoning me and worshiping other gods. (read in paper Bible)

Remember Gideon, one of the Judges? Gideon understood that the Lord was supposed to be their ruler, not an earthly king. Gideon spoke to this in Judges 8:23: “But Gideon said to them, ‘I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.’”[on screen]

Isn’t this moment in 1 Samuel a sad moment? The Lord Himself makes clear that His people have rejected His leadership in their lives and in their land.

Church, may we never come to a place where we reject God’s leadership over us and His ways for us. He is the king who we need. 

However, God gave the people what they wanted; He gave them kings. Things started off fairly well for the kings:

3. The first three kings would rule Israel’s united kingdom. (1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings 1-11) [on screen]

The first human king of Israel was Saul. Well, things didn’t work out for Saul. He was the king the people wanted. However, He was not the king who God wanted; the king who God wanted was David. 

Listen to what God said to Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:1, 13, “The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long are you going to mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have selected for myself a king from his sons.’ . . .  So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully on David from that day forward. Then Samuel set out and went to Ramah.” (read in paper Bible)

It was also during the united kingdom of Israel that the great temple was built. It was a dream of David’s, but it was completed during Solomon’s reign. 

So, God would establish David as king. David and his son Solomon would rule Israel with great prosperity and great military victory. The kingdom was united and strong under the line of David . . . for a little while. 

Something happened:

4. After Solomon, the people of God would be divided into Judah and Israel. (1 Kings 12) [on screen]

Things went downhill after Solomon and the kingdom would be divided from that point on between Israel to the North and Judah to the South. Jerusalem was the capital of Judah and Samaria was the capital of Israel. 

The division started when Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, rejected the advice of the elders of Israel and he was harsh with the people. Israel would be led by Jeroboam, while Judah would be led by Rehoboam. 

This division continued until the people no longer had kings. 

As time went on, . . .

5. Throughout the time of the kings, there would be good kings and bad kings. [on screen]

There were several kings who were mostly good, including King David, Jehoshaphat of Judah, Hezekiah of Judah, and Josiah of Judah.

There were also some bad kings. Jeroboam I of Israel and Rehoboam of Judah were both bad at the same time. King Ahab of Israel was perhaps the most famous bad king. There was one queen, Queen Athaliah of Judah, who was bad. The final king, King Zedekiah of Judah, was also a bad king. 

As with most countries that had kings, Israel and Judah had good kings and bad. 

However, . . . 

6. Ultimately the reign of Israel’s earthly kings ended in failure. [on screen]

The people of Israel and Judah would eventually be conquered by other powerful kingdoms. 

The Assyrians conquered Israel (The Northern Kingdom) in the 700s BC. 

The Babylonians conquered Judah (The Southern Kingdom) in the 500s BC.

The Persians would conquer the Babylonians later and have rule over Israel. We’ll talk more about that in the coming weeks. 

Now, let us discover . . .

II. Major truths [on screen]

1. Faithfulness is more important than power. [on screen]

Ultimately, power will fail you. It will fail you as a king and it will fail you as a follower. 

In case we’re missing the obvious, let me just say it: God is not impressed with your power. God is not impressed with the power of any leaders. God is omnipotent, meaning He is “all-powerful!”

God doesn’t want us to be more powerful, He wants us to be more faithful! He can give us power when we need it! However, if we’re not faithful to Him, we will miss out on His blessings for us and His blessings for other people that He wants to give through us. 

We must realize that God will humble those whose top priority is power. You may remember this with King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He wasn’t a king of Israel, but he was king of Babylon who had conquered God’s people. Daniel 4:28-33 tells us about this:

28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of twelve months, as he was walking on the roof of the royal palace in Babylon, 30 the king exclaimed, “Is this not Babylon the Great that I have built to be a royal residence by my vast power and for my majestic glory?”

31 While the words were still in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared that the kingdom has departed from you. 32 You will be driven away from people to live with the wild animals, and you will feed on grass like cattle for seven periods of time, until you acknowledge that the Most High is ruler over human kingdoms, and he gives them to anyone he wants.”

33 At that moment the message against Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people. He ate grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with dew from the sky, until his hair grew like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws. [on screen]

So, let us seek faithfulness ourselves, expect faithfulness from our leaders, and celebrate faithfulness in others. 

Next, . . .

2. The way the kingship began in Israel is not the way that it will end. [on screen]

Saul was the first king, but it was David who would be the true king and it was his line that would have most of the good kings.

The Son of David, Jesus, would later come as a Suffering Servant and He will come again as a Conquering King. 

The human kings of Israel were not there when Israel began, they are not there today, and they will not be needed in the end. Israel has a new king, and His name is Jesus. 

That takes us to our final truth:

3. There is no king like our Heavenly King. [on screen]

Remember, God said that Israel rejected Him as king. He was the king who they truly needed. Israel’s rejection of God as king ultimately led to their destruction. 

Listen, church: it’s totally fine for us to have loyalties to certain leaders, including political leaders. However, they should never take the place of our Heavenly King!

Psalm 47:6-7 says, “6 Sing praise to God, sing praise; sing praise to our King, sing praise! 7 Sing a song of wisdom, for God is King of the whole earth.” [on screen]

III. The Gospel speaks [on screen]

1. Jesus is the King who Israel needed. [on screen]

Although it appeared like the line of David as king has died, there was actually a son of David who was coming much later than the time of the earthly kings of Israel. He would be the ultimate Son of David. 

We read about this in the very first verse of the New Testament. Matthew 1:1 says, “An account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham” [on screen]

The people of Israel wanted a king. Jesus is the King who they really needed. Jesus brings the ultimate blessings, the ultimate victory, true prosperity. He is the greatest leader, the greater protector, and the wisest ruler. 

The people of Israel only needed to look to God for their King, their Messiah, the Son of David. 

2. Jesus is the King that the entire world needs. [on screen]

The people of Israel aren’t the only ones who need a king. We all need a true king. One who will not let us down. One who is always victorious. One who can truly save us. His name is Jesus! Jesus is the King that the entire world needs!

The book of Revelation speaks of the coming of Jesus, when He will return as King. Revelation 19:16 says, “16 And he has a name written on his robe and on his thigh: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” [on screen]

Jesus will return one day as King! Are you ready to receive your King? For those of us who know Him, trust Him, and follow Him, we can receive Him with joy!

For those who are His enemies; for those who reject Him and His ways; He comes to bring judgment. Embrace Jesus as King now and live in the joy of following Him. 

Concluding Thoughts:

This takes us very smoothly into our bottom line:

Bottom Line: God provided earthly kings to lead His people. God sent the King of Kings to save the world[on screen]


God granted the request of His people. He gave them human kings. Some of those kings were better than others, and God worked through those kings. However, they were not the kings who the people ultimately needed.

God also establishes rulers in our world today. Romans 13:1 says, “Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God.” [on screen]

So, rulers and kings can be good, but Jesus is who we truly need. Learn from the kings of Israel. Human kings come and go, but the King of Kings, Jesus Christ, is the true King; yesterday, today, and forever. 

Challenge yourself to live out this sermon this week in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

1. Determine who your king is. [on screen]

Who or what occupies loyalty in your life? Who or what are you devoted to?

Perhaps your king is politics. Perhaps your kings are your children. Perhaps your king is Facebook, or Instagram, or TikTok, or Twitter, or whatever social media tool they come up with next. Perhaps your king is financial gain. Perhaps your king is your spouse. Perhaps your king is yourself.

Perhaps your king is Jesus! Take some time this week and determine who or what occupies your loyalty. Who is your king?

2. Declare the coming of the King. [on screen]

Jesus is coming again! Revelation 1:7 says, “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him . . .” [on screen]

He is coming soon and He is the only hope for the world. So, let us tell everyone about the return of the King! He can give your neighbor what they truly need, He can give your family member what they truly need, and He can give the world what they truly need. 

This week, remember and challenge yourself to declare the coming of the King. 


The kings of Israel were temporary and imperfect. You have an opportunity to serve an eternal and perfect king: King Jesus. 

Whom will you serve?

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: The text contained in this sermon is solely owned by its author. The reproduction, or distribution of this message, or any portion of it, should include the author’s name. The author intends to provide free resources in order to inspire believers and to assist preachers and teachers in Kingdom work.