Day 141

Good Government?

Wisdom Psalm 65:1-13
New Testament John 12:12-36
Old Testament 1 Samuel 8:1-10:8


Government is the system or group of people governing an organised community, often a state. It usually consists of legislative, executive and judiciary. Government is the mechanism for deciding state policies and the means by which those policies are enforced. Historically, forms of government have included theocracy, autocracy (such as monarchy), oligarchy, aristocracy and democracy.

Sir Winston Churchill once said that ‘Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.’

Governments have their ups and downs. Our politicians are human beings with human weaknesses like our own.

There is a certain ambivalence about all human government in the Bible. There are parts where human government is affirmed as God-given (for instance, in Romans 13), and others where it is pictured as being under demonic control (for instance, in Revelation 13). Together they represent the reality of human government. Governments reflect the mix that is in us all of what is good and true alongside what is sinful and flawed.

However, be assured that one day there will be a new type of government – the kingship of Jesus (John 12:12–36).


Psalm 65:1-13

For the director of music. A psalm of David. A song.

1 Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;
   to you our vows will be fulfilled.
2 You who answer prayer,
   to you all people will come.
3 When we were overwhelmed by sins,
   you forgave our transgressions.
4 Blessed are those you choose
   and bring near to live in your courts!
  We are filled with the good things of your house,
   of your holy temple.

5 You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
   God our Saviour,
  the hope of all the ends of the earth
   and of the farthest seas,
6 who formed the mountains by your power,
   having armed yourself with strength,
7 who stilled the roaring of the seas,
   the roaring of their waves,
   and the turmoil of the nations.
8 The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
   where morning dawns, where evening fades,
   you call forth songs of joy.

9 You care for the land and water it;
   you enrich it abundantly.
  The streams of God are filled with water
   to provide the people with grain,
   for so you have ordained it.
10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
   you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
11 You crown the year with your bounty,
   and your carts overflow with abundance.
12 The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
   the hills are clothed with gladness.
13 The meadows are covered with flocks
   and the valleys are mantled with corn;
   they shout for joy and sing.


Government of God

Do you realise how good God is? He loves you and wants you to enjoy his blessings today in your life. This psalm is all about the goodness of God. It paints a beautiful picture of what life can look like when lived under God’s rule. Meditate, today, on his goodness.

God hears your prayers (v.2), he forgives your sins, even when you may feel ‘overwhelmed by sins’ (v.3). God’s forgiveness is amazing.

‘We are filled with the good things’ (v.4) being in his presence. He gives you ‘hope’ (v.5b) and ‘joy’ (v.8b).

See his great love in the way he treats creation (the watering of the land, the provision of corn, crops, flocks, and so on, vv.9–13).

We don’t live in a society directly governed by God, but through Christ you have a direct relationship with God in your own personal life. You can follow his rule and experience the blessing of God’s presence. This is one of the ways in which you can experience ‘the kingdom of God’ in your life now.


Lord, thank you that one day your kingdom will come and every knee will bow before Jesus and he will rule rightly in a ‘new creation’.

New Testament

John 12:12-36

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King

12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,


  “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

  “Blessed is the king of Israel!”

14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:

  15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
   see, your king is coming,
   seated on a donkey’s colt.”

16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.

17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

Jesus Predicts His Death

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”

35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.


Government of Jesus

Are you troubled by something you are facing? Are you distressed by some trial in your life? If you are, you have a leader who understands. Jesus said, ‘My soul is troubled and distressed…’ (v.27a, AMP).

Jesus gives us a model of how to respond to difficulties in our lives and to a suffering world. Then, as now, was a time of crisis. As Jesus said, ‘the world is in crisis’ (v.30, MSG).

At the time of the Feast of Passover, ‘the great crowd’ came to Jerusalem (v.12). Josephus estimated that around 2.7 million people would assemble. This may well be an exaggeration. Nevertheless, it was a massive festival and there must have been a great sense of excitement and expectation.

At the time of Jesus, people were awaiting the Messiah. They were looking for a human king, in the line of David, who would free them from their oppressors. As Jesus enters Jerusalem he is seen to be that king: ‘Blessed is the King of Israel!’ (v.13b). The crowd probably saw Jesus as a military king and were hoping for an immediate liberation from Roman rule.

Then, as now, there were different attitudes to the government. The Pharisees (v.19) took the view that Roman occupation, oppressive though it might be, must be endured until God removed it. The Sadducees favoured co-operation with the government. The Zealots were the most popular with the people. They wanted a violent revolt led by a messianic king.

Jesus is indeed the King. But he did not ride into Jerusalem triumphantly, powerfully, in a chariot or on a stallion. He is a different type of leader: ‘See, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt’ (v.15b) – humbly, gently, sitting on a baby donkey. He is the messianic King but not a military one. This acted parable was designed to correct the misguided expectations of the crowds and show the city of Jerusalem the way of peace.

He came as the victorious King – not by doing violence to the oppressors but by having violence done to him. He says, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified’ (v.23) – and yet he is talking about the cross. “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die’ (vv.32–33).

We see an insight here into the inner struggle in Jesus’ heart as he faces his imminent trial, suffering and death: ‘Now my heart is troubled and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!’ (vv.27–28a).

The victory of Jesus came not through military force but through his self-sacrificial death, which defeated the demonic powers (v.31). The death of Jesus signifies judgment on the world, the overthrow of evil, the glorification of Jesus and a drawing of all people to him.

Here, indeed, was a different kind of victorious king. Jesus not only fulfilled the prophecies about the messianic King, he also fulfilled the prophecies about the suffering servant. He brought the two lines of prophecy together.

One day Jesus will return as the triumphant King to rule and reign for all eternity. In the meantime, you are called to be light in the darkness. If you live under the leadership of Jesus ‘then the light will be within you, and shining through your lives. You’ll be children of light’ (v.36, MSG). And God will honour you – Jesus says ‘my Father will honour the one who serves me’ (v.26).


Lord, help me to serve you in such a way that my life brings light to a dark world.

Old Testament

1 Samuel 8:1-10:8

Israel Asks for a King

8 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.

4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”

6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”

10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day. ”

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. 22 The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”

Then Samuel said to the Israelites, “Everyone go back to your own town.”

Samuel Anoints Saul

9 There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bekorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. 2 Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else.

3 Now the donkeys belonging to Saul’s father Kish were lost, and Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servants with you and go and look for the donkeys.” 4 So he passed through the hill country of Ephraim and through the area around Shalisha, but they did not find them. They went on into the district of Shaalim, but the donkeys were not there. Then he passed through the territory of Benjamin, but they did not find them.

5 When they reached the district of Zuph, Saul said to the servant who was with him, “Come, let’s go back, or my father will stop thinking about the donkeys and start worrying about us.”

6 But the servant replied, “Look, in this town there is a man of God; he is highly respected, and everything he says comes true. Let’s go there now. Perhaps he will tell us what way to take.”

7 Saul said to his servant, “If we go, what can we give the man? The food in our sacks is gone. We have no gift to take to the man of God. What do we have?”

8 The servant answered him again. “Look,” he said, “I have a quarter of a shekel of silver. I will give it to the man of God so that he will tell us what way to take.” 9 (Formerly in Israel, if someone went to inquire of God, they would say, “Come, let us go to the seer,” because the prophet of today used to be called a seer.)

10 “Good,” Saul said to his servant. “Come, let’s go.” So they set out for the town where the man of God was.

11 As they were going up the hill to the town, they met some young women coming out to draw water, and they asked them, “Is the seer here?”

12 “He is,” they answered. “He’s ahead of you. Hurry now; he has just come to our town today, for the people have a sacrifice at the high place. 13 As soon as you enter the town, you will find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. The people will not begin eating until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward, those who are invited will eat. Go up now; you should find him about this time.”

14 They went up to the town, and as they were entering it, there was Samuel, coming toward them on his way up to the high place.

15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed this to Samuel: 16 “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over my people Israel; he will deliver them from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked on my people, for their cry has reached me.”

17 When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the Lord said to him, “This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people.”

18 Saul approached Samuel in the gateway and asked, “Would you please tell me where the seer’s house is?”

19 “I am the seer,” Samuel replied. “Go up ahead of me to the high place, for today you are to eat with me, and in the morning I will send you on your way and will tell you all that is in your heart. 20 As for the donkeys you lost three days ago, do not worry about them; they have been found. And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and your whole family line?”

21 Saul answered, “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?”

22 Then Samuel brought Saul and his servant into the hall and seated them at the head of those who were invited—about thirty in number. 23 Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the piece of meat I gave you, the one I told you to lay aside.”

24 So the cook took up the thigh with what was on it and set it in front of Saul. Samuel said, “Here is what has been kept for you. Eat, because it was set aside for you for this occasion from the time I said, ‘I have invited guests.’” And Saul dined with Samuel that day.

25 After they came down from the high place to the town, Samuel talked with Saul on the roof of his house. 26 They rose about daybreak, and Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Get ready, and I will send you on your way.” When Saul got ready, he and Samuel went outside together. 27 As they were going down to the edge of the town, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to go on ahead of us”—and the servant did so—“but you stay here for a while, so that I may give you a message from God.”

10 Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the Lord anointed you ruler over his inheritance? 2 When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel’s tomb, at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you set out to look for have been found. And now your father has stopped thinking about them and is worried about you. He is asking, “What shall I do about my son?”’

3 “Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to worship God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine. 4 They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them.

5 “After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, timbrels, pipes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. 6 The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. 7 Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.

8 “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.”


Government of humans

God had planned that his people would be different from others. He planned a society in which God himself was the King. But Israel wanted to be like everyone else. Direct rule of God only works when the people are wholly devoted to God. If not, it results in the chaos we saw in Judges. It is better to have a human king than no king at all. We might list the preferences like this:

a. God as King (theocracy): The government God wanted – his perfect will
b. A human king (monarchy): The government God allowed – his permissive will
c. No king (anarchy): The government in Judges – chaos

The people of God rejected his rule. The Lord says, ‘they have rejected me as their king’ (8:7). The people ask for a king. They say, ‘appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have’ (v.5).

Samuel warns them that human governments are weak and fallible. Power corrupts. Samuel warns that the king who will rule over them will take some of their families, land, possessions and employees and use them for his own benefit and that of his inner circle (vv.11–16).

In other words, he warns them about the failings and weaknesses of all human government. He also warns them about taxes and ‘extensive bureaucracy’! (v.15, MSG).

In spite of the warning, the people say, ‘We want a king over us’ (v.19). The Lord allowed ‘plan B’: he gave them a king (v.22). Saul is chosen to be the anointed leader of Israel to deliver his people (9:16). The moment Samuel sees Saul, in the blink of an eye he recognises that this was the man who was going to govern the people of God (v.17). Saul, who comes from a humble background (v.21), becomes the anointed king (10:1).

God graciously blesses this new plan. Three remarkable things happen to Saul (which now happen to you and every Christian). First, when he is anointed the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him in power (v.6b). Second, he is ‘transformed’. He becomes a new person (v.6c, see 2 Corinthians 5:17). Third, Samuel tells him, ‘Whatever job you’re given to do, do it. God is with you!’ (v.7, MSG).

This was true of Saul and it is true of you. However down you might feel about a circumstance, however far from God you may feel, however difficult you may find it to pray, whatever doubts you have, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you; you are being transformed into his likeness and God is with you.


Lord, give wisdom to our leaders that they may lay aside their own personal agendas and work together to maintain justice, peace and unity in the nation for the glory of your name.

Pippa adds

1 Samuel 8:3, we see that Samuel’s sons did not walk in the ways of their father. Samuel had led so many people in the ways of God. How sad that his sons were not among them. We need to pray particularly for children of Christian leaders.

Verse of the Day

1 Samuel 10:7, MSG

‘Whatever job you’re given to do, do it. God is with you!’



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Winston S. Churchill, Churchill Speaks: Collected Speeches in Peace and War, 1897–1963 (Atheneum, 1981) (Speech in the House of Commons, 11 November 1947)

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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