As we finished reading Judges, there was one phrase that jumped out because of its frequent use:

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit. Judges 17:6

In those days Israel had no king. Judges 18:1

In those days Israel had no king. Judges 19:1

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit. Judges 21:25

If you recall the reading, intermingled with these verses is a description of horrible decline among the Israelites. The sentence seems to be both an indictment and an explanation of their behavior.

I looked up the word “king” in the dictionary. Of the many definitions provided, I found this one to be interesting:

King: One that holds a preeminent position; especially: A chief among competitors (Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary)

Clearly the Israelites had rejected the Lord as their king. He no longer held a preeminent position in their lives – “everyone did as he saw fit.” They no longer asked the Lord what He wanted them to do (until after they got themselves into trouble by running headlong into whatever situation their emotions took them). And while He IS chief among all competitors (so much so that anything and anyone else can hardly be called a competitor because they lag so far behind in excellence and power), the Israelites chose to place other gods and their own desires above Him.

I am reminded of my last blog in which I quoted the following Scripture:

Where there is no vision/revelation/prophecy, the people perish/cast off restraint
Proverbs 29:18 (a combination of KJV, NIV and NRSV)

When the Israelites turned from the Lord, they lost the vision and revelation that He provided and it led to the people casting off all restraint – “everyone did as he saw fit.”

Who is your king today? Who (or what) holds the preeminent position in your life? To whom or what are you giving your allegiance today?
I pray that it is the King of all Kings, the Lord of all Lords, the only true God who is full of mercy and grace and has purposes and plans for your life that go way beyond all the other good things you’re pursuing.

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