Joshua 24 – Judges 13
8 “The trees went certainly, to anoint a king over themselves. And they said to the olive tree, ‘Rule over us.’ 9 And the olive tree replied, ‘Should I stop producing my oil, which by me gods and men are honored, to go sway over the trees?’ 10 Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You, come rule over us.’ 11 But the fig tree said to them, ‘Should I stop producing my sweetness, and my good crop, to go sway over the trees?’ 12 And the trees said to the vine, ‘You, come rule over us.’ 13 But the vine said to them, ‘Should I stop producing my wine that makes the gods and men happy, to go sway over the trees?’ 14 So all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘You, come rule over us.’ 15 And the thornbush said to the trees, ‘If in good faith you are anointing me as king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade; if not, may fire go out from the thornbush and devour the cedars of Lebanon.”
The person who seeks power for power’s sake is a dangerous person. The person who seeks power to affect change in their community is the ideal person. The difference between the two is the latter engages in action other than seeking power to affect change, while the former does not need any other desire outside of seeking power. We see this every election year, people complain about having to choose between two candidates and claim they selected the lesser of two evils. They begrudgingly vote at the polls and later wish that someone they admire who works at an efficient non-profit would run for office. Therein lies the issue; people who are successful in their ventures have little desire to seek governmental powers because they find themselves more effective at the positions they currently hold. Those who seek power may have an idea on how they want to affect change; however, the power itself may have an idea of how it ought to grow.
You’ll be hard pressed to find people in politics who had success outside of politics. This is a common characteristic because to succeed in politics you have to be single-minded in achieving one goal, staying in power. You can’t be relaxed about being in office because every election year someone is coming after you to seek that same power. So what happens? Your entire focus goes to pleasing your constituents no matter the cause, getting votes no matter the message, and currying favors no matter the cost.
There is no ideal system of governmental powers because all these systems require people to be in charge, and people with power cannot be trusted. A system of monarchs or oligarchs is not sustainable because the proletariats will revolt to the abuse of power. A system of democrats can be argued to be ideal, but with the constant shuffling of the board, you’re pitting one egomaniac against another to decide what industry or tax bracket will get more or less regulation. With a monarch perhaps you’ll luck into a benevolent ruler, and with a democrat perhaps you’re ideal candidate wins an election. These results still have little to do with the governmental powers in place and more to do the with the people who hold them.
The ideal ruler is one who doesn’t seek to rule. This person affects change in their local communities or their local business, ‘Should I stop producing my sweetness, and my good crop, to go sway over the trees?’ When we think of someone to have government authority we usually think of people who have been successful in their respective field. There’s the catch-22, the ideal person who is competent in their line of business, or philanthropic venture knows their effectiveness and views government power not as an aid but as an impediment. Consequently, we’re left with those who see power as their aid.
When God gave Israel over to their desires of having a king, we see how quickly things went wrong. This is not to say we shouldn’t have or submit to a government authority, but we shouldn’t view those in power as a representative of those they govern. That is the mistake the Israelites made; once they anointed a king of their own, they become subject to the whims of their king. God warns to be wary of those you select to lead and be wary of those who already lead. Take the throne to act, and the throne acts upon you.