"It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding. Daniel 2:21

…the Most High has power over human kingdoms. He gives them to whomever he wishes. — Daniel 4:17

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. — Romans 13:1

All throughout history, we see how various kings and leaders have come to the throne. Not all have ruled with justice or mercy, and quite a few have been evil in their dealings with others.

We remember about how the people of Israel had asked for a king and God had granted this for them. Saul was a man who stood head and shoulders above all others. He appeared to be one that would deliver the people from their enemies and lead the nation into peace. The name 'Saul,' from the Hebrew word pronounced shaw-ool, means 'asked.' It's interesting about his name, because the people had 'asked' for a king, and God granted their request.

Scripture states that "there was not a man among the sons of Israel more handsome than he, being taller than any of the people from his shoulder and upward" (1 Samuel 9:2). He was God's chosen one to lead the scattered nation of Israel, a collection of tribes that did not have a central leader other than God and no formal government. In times of trouble, leaders would arise but never consolidated power of the twelve tribes into one nation.

And yet, was he God's chosen one? We know that God was the one that allowed Saul to be made king. What may have begun in peace, ended up with continual problems with the Philistines, and Saul was tormented by an evil spirit and was left with little honor to his name.

An important lesson we can learn from the life of Saul is not to misuse the power given to us. It is quite obvious to us now that King Saul abused the power God had entrusted to him. Pride often creeps into our hearts when people are serving and honoring us. In time, receiving 'star treatment' can make us believe that we really are something special and worthy of praise. When these things happen, then we can easily forget who was the one behind the scenes opening doors for us, and enabling us to succeed. And Saul's pride may well have been the thing that helped bring about his fall.

We know that David was a man after God's own heart. We know that he often fell into temptation and various sins, but he continually sought God for guidance and forgiveness. David was chosen as a young shepherd boy and was anointed by the prophet Samuel to be king.

The kingdom and reign of David could never have been 'great' if he had thought that everything could be done through his own hands. The only way that anything could be 'great' would be as he sought the Lord, and listened to the voice of those who came to him, with a word from the Lord.

God sets whom he chooses to be set in office, and some say they vote because they know how God would want them to vote, but this is demonstrably false. For example, in this last election, the majority of the religious-right voted for the more religiously conservative candidate, but God appointed the opposing candidate. This suggests that God’s will was actually for the other candidate to win, and the religious-right didn’t understand God’s will at all.

If indeed God appoints kings to be set in office then why are some evil? This would seem to not make sense and would betray logic, but there may well be viable reasons for these things. For one, God can use a man or woman to bring about judgment, and also to bring about a greater good. And yet, then some would think how a greater good could possibly come out of an evil dictator or monarch that would reign?

We know that the kings of Babylon and Assyria were used by God to punish the Jews for their unfaithfulness and sin. And yet evil leaders don't discriminate against who they might punish, but all, even the innocent suffer. And yet they attack so that they can win and expand their borders.

If indeed there were only peaceful leaders who would rule, then perhaps there would be less evil in the world. But evil exists so that we would know what good is. If there was no darkness then how would we know what the light is?

Stephen Hanson