The Old Testament kings faltered and failed in many ways. As we examine their lives, we can learn much about following God. We see Ahaz, who, when faced with trouble, stopped believing in God. And we wonder about our own ability to keep faith in the face of circumstantial despair.
We see Hoshea, who angered God so much by his determination to serve other gods that God destroyed his nation. And we pray for our own national leaders, and thereby for ourselves.
We see Hezekiah, who when faced with terminal illness, cried out to God. And God extended his life, which Hezekiah may have later regretted. And we wonder whether we will die with grace, or fear, or both.
We see Manasseh, the most wicked king of all. Yet God let him reign for forty-five years, the longest reign of any Hebrew king. We wonder how our faith, rattled by an afternoon of inconvenience, would endure in an era when the king killed God-worshipers every day.
We see Josiah, who became king at the age of eight, yet turned his nation to worship God. And we wonder about our influence for God on our own children—and the results of their influence on others.
We see Zedekiah, the last Hebrew king, presiding over a nation already dead. And we look for hope from a God who is not stopped by death.
When the narrative of the kings ends with the fall of Judah in 587 B.C., their names are not forgotten. In the opening pages of the New Testament, they live again. It seems that when God chose a family for his son, the infant Jesus, he chose from a line of kings. And so we read Joseph's genealogy, and we find, among all those hard-to-pronounce names, a familiar line: the kings of Israel.
Let us read from them and learn. None was perfect, and neither are we. But God was sovereign—even over the kings. And he is sovereign over us as well.