See God,Names of
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is in Scripture very generally used to denote one invested with authority, whether extensive or limited. There were thirty-one kings in Canaan ( Joshua 12:9 Joshua 12:24 ), whom Joshua subdued. Adonibezek subdued seventy kings ( Judges 1:7 ). In the New Testament the Roman emperor is spoken of as a king ( 1 Peter 2:13 1 Peter 2:17 ); and Herod Antipas, who was only a tetrarch, is also called a king ( Matthew 14:9 ; Mark 6:22 ).
This title is applied to God ( 1 Timothy 1:17 ), and to Christ, the Son of God ( 1 Timothy 6:15 1 Timothy 6:16 ; Matthew 27:11 ). The people of God are also called "kings" ( Daniel 7:22 Daniel 7:27 ; Matthew 19:28 ; Revelation 1:6 , etc.). Death is called the "king of terrors" ( Job 18:14 ).
Jehovah was the sole King of the Jewish nation ( 1 Samuel 8:7 ; Isaiah 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 ( 1 Samuel 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 ( 1 Samuel 10:1 ). The limits of the king's power were prescribed ( 1 Samuel 10:25 ). The officers of his court were, (1) the recorder or remembrancer ( 2 Samuel 8:16 ; 1 Kings 4:3 ); (2) the scribe ( 2 Samuel 8:17 ; 20:25 ); (3) the officer over the house, the chief steward ( Isaiah 22:15 ); (4) the "king's friend," a confidential companion ( 1 Kings 4:5 ); (5) the keeper of the wardrobe ( 2 Kings 22:14 ); (6) captain of the bodyguard ( 2 Samuel 20:23 ); (7) officers over the king's treasures, etc. ( 1 Chronicles 27:25-31 ); (8) commander-in-chief of the army ( 1 Chronicles 27:34 ); (9) the royal counsellor ( 1 Chronicles 27:32 ; 2 Sam 16:20-23 ).
(For catalogue of kings of Israel and Judah see chronological table in Appendix.)
"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. ( 1 Samuel 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. ( 1 Samuel 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, ( 1 Samuel 10:1 ; 16:13 ) and as it were his son, if just and holy. ( 2 Samuel 7:14 ; Psalms 2:6 Psalms 2:7 ; Psalms 89:26 Psalms 89:27 ) 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 Lords anointed." He had a court of Oriental magnificence. The king was dressed in royal robes, ( 1 Kings 22:10 ; 2 Chronicles 18:9 ) his insignia were, a crown or diadem of pure gold, or perhaps radiant with precious gems, ( 2 Samuel 1:10 ; 12:30 ; 2 Kings 11:12 ; Psalms 21:3 ) and a royal sceptre. Those who approached him did him obeisance, bowing down and touching the ground with their foreheads, ( 1 Samuel 24:8 ; 2 Samuel 19:24 ) and this was done even by a kings wife, the mother of Solomon. ( 1 Kings 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.