Judges 21:25. In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
This is one of the simplest yet most profound commentaries on the human condition. Everyone does what is right in their own eyes. This is our natural state. It’s been wired into us since the Garden. We make our own rules. Don’t tell me what to do. You’re not the boss of me. I can figure out right and wrong on my own.
But, just like in Judges, our attempts to rule our own lives always end in disaster. Judges ends with murder, rape, war, and genocide. There’s a complete abandonment of God and his law. It’s every person for themselves. There’s no love, no faith, and no hope.
Where are you trying to control your life? Is it working? Probably not. But often we are blind to the fact that exactly at the spot where we are seeking control we are usually losing control. For example, let’s say you’re trying to get your children to love and obey you. So, naturally, you do more and more for them to show them you love them. But soon you’re hovering at best and manipulating at worst. Your children begin to resent you, wanting to move farther away from you rather than closer. But because it seems right in your own eyes you press on.
Or take work for example. You go to work to earn more money so that you can afford more and make a better life for your family. But all that working keeps you away from your family. Soon you’re bitter that you work so hard and your family doesn’t seem to appreciate it. But they really just want your time. What seemed right in your own eyes is now destroying your family.
Let’s go one step deeper. What about your identity? It seems right in our own eyes that we determine our own identity, our own “true self” and therefore our own happiness. But it doesn’t take long for that self-constructed identity to fail you or even enslave you. For example, if “great pastor” is my identity, what happens if that goes away? What does it do to me if I lose my ministry?
All of this is why we need a king.
Judges ends by saying that there was evil in Israel because there was no king in Israel. Much of the Old Testament following the book of Judges will be the story of kings and a kingdom. You’ve probably heard of kings like Saul, David, and Solomon. There will be good kings like Jehoshaphat or Hezekiah, and there will be evil kings like Ahab or Manasseh. But whether good or bad, here’s what we see every single time – the heart of the king becomes the heart of the people. Good king – good nation. Evil king- evil nation. Repenting king – repenting people. Idolatrous king- idolatrous people.
Why is this?
Because our hearts were meant to follow a king. Even before humanity sinned we were created to be ruled. We were made to serve THE King in his garden temple. To image him and do his bidding. Our core identity given to us by God is follower. We weren’t made to rule the universe but to reflect the Ruler of the universe. Therefore, we need someone to show us the way. To teach us how to live.
We need a king.
Union with Christ has made Jesus the king of our hearts. The heart of the King has become the heart of his people. In Christ there is no more need to do what is right in your own eyes. Jesus has already done all that is right. So now there is only following him. Submitting to him. Listening to him. Abiding in him. Reflecting him. Becoming like him. There is no more need to control your own life. No need to figure it all out. No need to fight for your agenda. Just worship. Just love. Just “to live is Christ.”
Is there a part of your life that you are still trying to control? How’s it going?
You in Christ
How is union with Christ the standard for what is right in our lives, rather than our own discernment? And how does that comfort you?
Christ in you
In Christ you have the heart of your king. How can Christ’s heart of love guide you today?