One of my favorite stops in Israel is the archeological tel known as popularly as Ancient Shiloh. This is the spot where the Tabernacle of God stood for more than 350 years before moving to Jerusalem.
This is where Hannah brought her son Samuel and dedicated him to the service of God. This is where the people later came to Samuel, rejecting the system of self-governance God had given them and demanding he establish a monarchy despite severe warnings from God.
Those warnings came to fruition over the next several decades; trading out God’s wisdom for the baubles of the world is never a good trade. The Psalmist – who was very likely Israel’s second king, David – grappled with being a king as surely as with his own painful awareness of his inadequacy and sin.
In Psalm 146:3-7 we find:
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry.
There is truly nothing new under the sun! Then as now we find too many people casting their hopes in the personalities of government rather than the eternal God of Jacob. True justice – peace and mercy – is found with the Creator of the Universe, not self-serving politicians.
Just as we cannot trust government agencies to save us, neither can we outsource our governing responsibilities to corrupt and corrupting politicians. The British statesman and philosopher Lord Acton was right: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” To protect our public servants from corruption, we must limit the power available to them.
The God who made us in His image calls us to be a self-governing people.