The wise man knows that there is both an orange and an orange tree. The tree and a given orange are non-identical, distinct, and related. Ah yes, Daniel San, there is a point to all of this. Stick with me. As goes the orange tree, so goes the oranges. Go to the groves, you atomized Americans, consider their ways and be wise. That is the lesson for us in 1 Samuel 31: As goes the king, so goes the kingdom.
The Text – A Summary
The Philistines fought against Israel, and the men of Israel fled. They fell slain on Mount Gilboa. Then, the Philistines got to Saul’s sons, even Jonathan that great man of faith. The archers found Saul and he was badly wounded by their arrows. Saul told his armor bearer to kill him so the Philistines would not thrust him through and abuse him. But his armor-bearer would not. So Saul fell on his own sword and died. When his armor bearer saw, he too fell on his own sword and died with the king and the king’s sons.
When the men of Israel across the valley and on the other side of the Jordan River saw that the men fled, they too forsook the cities and headed for the hills. The Philistines captured those cities and dwelt in them. The Philistines scoured the battlefield the following day and, finding Saul, stripped him of his armor, cut off his head and sent it around their lands publishing Israel’s defeat. They put Saul’s armor in the house of their false gods and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan. Some brave men from Jabesh-gilead went by night and retrieved Saul and his sons’ bodies from the wall, burned them and buried their bones.
The first book of Samuel comes to a close in this chapter. And it is a gut-wrenching story. The king fell and the kingdom fell with him. The king was struck and the soldiers scattered. The king’s sons, army, and cities all fell when the king fell. God has wired the world this way, and we ignore it to our own peril.
Christ the King
The good news is that Jesus Christ is a King unlike King Saul. And the principle holds true which ever way the king goes. In 1 Samuel 31, King Saul fell and the kingdom fell with him. But the logic runs in the other direction with King Jesus. He has conquered and we conquer in him. Indeed, we are more than conquerors through him that loved us (Romans 8:37). Herein lies the glory of Christianity. We are not the tree. We are but the oranges. And we follow the King in triumphal procession. We possess genuine peace which only comes from knowing that as goes our king so go we.
He Hath Made Us Kings
So Christ is our King and we have the victory in him. Having this settled, we never get over it. And having this settled, we come to discover that he tells us to be kingly ourselves. He tells us we are kings—“Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).
So we have been made kings. And not only kings, but priests too. And not only are we priest-kings, but we are priest-kings on earth. It follows that we need to be done with our complaining and abdication. We need to observe the bent places of the earth. Manifold are these dark places, weeds, dragons, and corruptions. But we have no business shirking our responsibility to rectify the situation. Who are the kings around here, you ask? That would be us. And as goes the king, so goes the kingdom.
The man who is thoroughly convinced that he is justified, sanctified, adopted, and will one day be glorified in Christ the King is the man who is genuinely freed to live as a priest-king on earth. He will not fear the serpents in the land. He will want to do something about them. He will not cower at strongholds, but tear them down. He will take responsibility. And that starts at home, with a man leading, providing for, and protecting his home as a king. And it extends to his community, with him leading, providing for, and protecting his neighbors.
Such a man, and this is the man that we all ought to be, does not march through life like the solitary, self-made man. He is rather a Christ-made man who sees kingdom responsibilities in every direction.