The story behind this week’s first lesson is that God seems to have allowed herself to have reluctantly permitted Israel a king in spite of her own good judgment and, the objections of her prophet Samuel. It is one of the ironies of scripture and its interpretation that Samuel, person and the books that bear his name, is firmly anti-monarchal but also, the primary source of the account of the rules of Saul and, David in his early years. One way to look at it is that God permits us to make terrible choices with consequences that span generations if we insist on doing so but, provides a word of warning should we choose to heed it.
What terrible choices are we making today? What choices rooted in authoritarianism that like monarchy will shape the lives of generations to come for bad and for worse? The love of and lust for power and inability to imagine another way to relate to each other and care for the common good never get resolved in Israel’s story nor apparently, in our own. Paul is critical of those who would crown him, seeing in their adulation a trap. Jesus critiques the inequity of monarchy and its after effects using a parable about the enslaved that does not critique the social hierarchy and human trafficking of his time. But the Psalmist offers a vision of true majesty. The God of heaven and earth and all their creatures, human and divine, is the majesty of majesties and no power-hungry human can compare.