“King: Demon, Lunatic, or Fink?”
June 07, 2015
By John Partridge
Scripture: 1 Samuel 8:4-20 Mark 3:20-35 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
How many of you read the comics in the newspapers?
Those of you that do are probably familiar with Brant Parker’s “Wizard of Id” comic. In the comic, it is understood that the king is not a particularly good ruler. He is focused on his own wealth and pleasure over any concerns that he might have for the welfare of the people. One recurring line voiced not only by the convict, Bung, but often by anonymous sources, and even by entire crowds as they listen to the king’s speeches is the phrase. “The King is a Fink!” In the comics, this is usually a punchline and the reader is meant to find humor in it, but in real life, this same sentiment can be deadly serious. In 1 Samuel 8:4-20, the people cry out for a king like other nations have, and Samuel warns them that any human king, apart from God, will be a fink.
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.”
My first reaction while reading this was that it would be nice if the king only took ten percent… but aside from that, Samuel’s point was that a king, or any kind of a government, regardless of how benevolent, will ultimately demand more from you than God does. In Samuel’s view, any king is a fink because he will take away your children, demand a portion of your labor, a portion of your property, and take the best of the things that you have for his own use and give some to his friends. But regardless of Samuel’s arguments, the people want to be like everybody else. They want an earthly king instead of God.
But after hundreds of years, perhaps a thousand years, under the rule of an earthly king, after several devastating wars in which their entire nation was destroyed and the people carried off in to captivity, after a succession of kings who were ungodly as well as flat-out horrible rulers who were angry, vindictive and mean, and finally after decades under the rule of a foreign nation with legions of soldiers who occupied their country to insure their obedience, Israel realized that Samuel had been right all along. After years of abuse Israel began to pray for a rescuer. It didn’t take a thousand years, people had been praying for rescue for a very long time, but God doesn’t change his mind right away. Samuel had said, “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.” And so, when the people began to pray for rescue from the very kings that they had begged for, God did as he said he would do, and took his time.
But finally, God did send his rescuer and he wasn’t what they expected. (Mark 3:20-35)
20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”
31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
So many people packed into the house to see Jesus that the disciples were unable to eat. Now, I have been in some crowded places that were sometimes packed shoulder to shoulder, but how tightly do you have to be pressed in, so that you can’t get your hand from your plate to your mouth? That is a lot of people. But even as Jesus is attracting this sort of crowd because of his preaching and his natural charisma, others are alarmed at his popularity. Jesus’ family worries that he is crazy. In today’s language Jesus would be accused of having delusions of grandeur because he had the outrageous idea that the son of a carpenter could preach and proclaim the words of God. The teachers of the law, who themselves may have come from parents of humble professions, aren’t concerned that he is the son of a carpenter, but that his preaching is more popular than theirs. Their fear causes them to accuse Jesus of being possessed and controlled by Satan.
Jesus corrects, or at least argues with, the teachers that, logically, he cannot be demon possessed because someone possessed by a demon, could not, sensibly, cast out demons. But Jesus doesn’t answer his family at all except to say that anyone who does the will of God is his brother, sister and mother. Those who are going in the right direction, God’s direction, are his family and those who are not, regardless of their blood relationship, should be left behind.
The problem that everyone had with Jesus was that he is a different sort of a king. Jesus was different than anyone that they had ever met. Jesus was not a fink, nor was he crazy or demon possessed.
Jesus was something entirely different.
Paul understood that this difference exists because we live in two different worlds.
(2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1)
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
Every king that the people had known had been an earthly king. After the thousand years since the time of David, no one could remember what it had been like for God to be their king. Everyone thought that fink-y kings were normal. Israel had gotten what they had asked for, they had kings that were just like the kings that everyone else had. There were some good ones, but many of them were immature, unfaithful, angry, vengeful, greedy, lustful, and sometimes almost purely evil.
But Jesus was different.
Jesus was different because he was not an earthly king. Jesus did not desire wealth or power on earth as other kings did because his kingdom was different. The kings of this earth live lives that are temporary, they have wealth and power and glory that are temporary, but the kingdom of Jesus was anything but temporary.
The king is a fink.
Every earthly king will be a disappointment because every earthly king and every earthly kingdom is temporary and imperfect.
The only king that satisfies is not an earthly king at all, but a king who lives and reigns for all of eternity in a kingdom that will never fade or pass away.
The only true king, the only eternal king, is Jesus.
And he is certainly not a fink.