1 Samuel 16:1-5 (ESV)
1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” 2 And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.” 4 Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5 And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
Saul, the first king of Israel, was a wash out. God sent Samuel the prophet to Bethlehem to identify a new king. His name would be David.
Under David, the kingdom of Israel prospered as never before. Borders were expanded, religion was centralized in Jerusalem, enemies were subdued. Despite profound moral failure, David is portrayed in the Old Testament as a man after God’s own heart. More importantly, he was a prototype and forebear of the coming messianic king.
When Jesus emerged out of backwater Nazareth, it would have been hard to recognize him as a king. Yes, the Magi came to see the newborn king of the Jews. But he never proclaimed that during his ministry. Scholars refer to it as the “messianic secret”.
In Jesus’s final week, however, his identity as king was revealed. First, he rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, (which we celebrate on Palm Sunday). On that day, Jesus fulfilled the ancient prophecy of Zechariah 9:9:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
The crowds recognized this dramatic, but non-verbal, proclamation of kingship and they received him joyfully. “Hosanna to the son of David”, they shouted.
Ironically, the only person to whom Jesus acknowledged his kingship with words was Pontius Pilate.
Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” (Mark 15:3)
It was at the cross, however, where Jesus’s regal identity was proclaimed for all eternity. Above his head was a placard that read,
“Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
Lord Jesus, we acknowledge you as King of kings and Lord of lords. Rule over all things in our lives. Amen.